Canadians Spy On Their Citizens Too!

Canada has always had an inferiority complex with the United States. Our little buddies to the north have always been regarded and underappreciated as a US Lite, or perhaps our little continental suburb. But now Canada has something to be very proud about (along with the latest Michael J. Fox sitcom): Documents have just released documents have revealed that Canada’s electronic spy agency used information obtained from the free internet service at a major Canadian airport to track the wireless devices of thousands of ordinary airline passengers — even for days after they left the airport. Oh Holy Fuck, Canada!

Yes, free airport Wi-Fi is not as free as you think. What did people expect, that the pay-less wireless service was purposed for the selling of Cinnabon ads? Documents obtained by our boy, Edward Snowden, revealed the Cannuck electronic snooping antics.

Is this a bad thing that the Canadian intelligence did? Ronald Deibert, one of Canada’s foremost authorities on cyber-security, stated that the citizen spying operation was certainly illegal.

“I can’t see any circumstance in which this would not be unlawful, under current Canadian law, under our Charter, under CSEC’s mandates.”

Break for typical Canadian email: “I like hockey. Do you like hockey? Let’s go have some maple syrup soon and buy some new toques. Bye-bye.”)

According to the CBC:

The spy agency is supposed to be collecting primarily foreign intelligence by intercepting overseas phone and internet traffic, and is prohibited by law from targeting Canadians or anyone in Canada without a judicial warrant.

Egg on CSEC chief John Forster face: he recently stated, “I can tell you that we do not target Canadians at home or abroad in our foreign intelligence activities, nor do we target anyone in Canada. In fact, it’s prohibited by law. Protecting the privacy of Canadians is our most important principle.”

Congratulations, Canada! You and your passive aggressive nature, your crack smoking Toronto mayor, and your free healthcare are just as sleazy, when it comes down to it, as the United States of America!

So once again, in case you’ve been keeping track, the only thing we have to fear is the NSA, guys wearing Google Glass watching us pee, revenge porn, and now… Canadians!

Canadian Doctors Want To Prescribe Heroin For Select Patients

Have you ever walked by the Downtown Eastside neighborhood in Vancouver B.C.? If you haven’t, it very much resembles the zombie apocalypse. The dozen square blocks of dilapidated tenements and boarded storefronts that comprises the area is the home to one of the highest concentrations of drug addicts in the world. I’ve traveled to some shady places in my life – and I’ve never seen anything like it. The concentration of drug addicts conjures up imagery of a real-life The Walking Dead. But a solution has been proposed. 

According to the Globe and Mail:

Doctors in British Columbia are calling on Health Canada to permit prescription heroin for severely addicted patients exiting a groundbreaking clinical trial, insisting a promising alternative is not yet supported by scientific evidence.

The idea is a bit controversial: Prescribe herion to chronic addicts so they wont have to resort to crime to feed their habits. Naturally the idea is disputed with Canada’s medical community on a solution to the fight against addition and societal problems in "Drug Central of North America." 

Will this program work? Before you decide your opinion, here’s a few stats on Downtown Eastside: 


-The first needle exchange program in North America started in Vancouver in 1989. Currently it distributes around 3 million free needles per year.

-The advocacy group, Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU),was set up to lobby for the rights and freedoms of residents of Vancouver who use drugs.

-40% of homeless people living in this area suffer from a mental illness

-The most common drugs used in Downtown Eastside are heroin, crack cocaine, and crystal meth.

– Over 1.4 billion dollars has been spent by federal, provincial and municipal governments since 2001 on health, social and justice efforts aimed at improving the numerous problems faced by the neighborhood’s residents.


What’s your opinion on Canadian doctors prescribing heroin? Let BlackBook know in the comments below…

Stars’ Torquil Campbell on Touring, Loving and Hating New York, and the Cult of Larry David

“Ask away,” says Torquil Campbell casually to me on Monday after our long distance call is connected. Ultimately, the lead singer of Canadian indie pop band Stars proves disarmingly entertaining. Between his tweets and his demeanor during interviews (at least ours), there’s no lack of laughs. A few questions in, the line cuts out. Upon being reconnected, he teases, “I just gave, like, a ten-minute answer and, at the end of it, there was nobody there. You missed some amazing shit, man. Never to be repeated. That’s too bad. That’s it.” I like this guy. (And, for the record, I got some other “amazing shit,” so not to worry.)

The forty-year-old singer-songwriter and actor, perhaps best known for his membership in Stars, but also other notable ensembles such as Broken Social Scene, is gearing up to tour pretty consistently through most of next month. He and his fellow bandmates—comprising Chris Seligman, Evan Cranley, Amy Millan, and Pat McGee—who released their seventh album in September, kicked things off on Wednesday and make their way to New York City today. Catch them in Brooklyn, to be exact, at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, where tonight and tomorrow they’ll split the bill with L.A.-based band Milo Greene.

In the half-hour allotted to talk, Campbell didn’t hold back, opening up about making music, growing up, picking battles and taking revenge. From his distaste for touring to his stance on fame, his love of Larry David to his dream of limo driving, this Vancouver-based artist bears all, including the fact that this path is not technically what he wanted.

Did you approach The North differently than past albums, or is it sort of a consistent process?
It’s both. After 13 years and so many records, we definitely have a method and a system that works. It changes a little bit every time, but now I think we’re pretty set on the way we do it together. In terms of the methodology, it wasn’t that different. But every time you make a record, you choose different gears, different places to record, and different things are happening to you in your life. You’re a different person. So, those three things always inform the same methodology and that’s what changes: the filters through which the work passes. Sometimes they bear a striking resemblance to the last time, but, this time, I knew it was 180 degrees [different]. This was definitely the most fun, least painful project ever.

The most fun and least painful?
After 35, or after you have kids, it’s like, “Well, who really gives a shit, ultimately?” Am I really going to go to war with this person I love and lose sleep and have fucking anxiety attacks just because we can’t figure out what bassline works? As a young band, it’s the only thing that matters to you. Then, time passes, and so many other things mean so much more. It’s not that the work isn’t important; it’s just that it’s in the context of the rest of your life. You learn how to calm down and get on with it. So much of life is learning that you lose about seventy percent of the battles you choose to fight. That’s the average. There’s no point getting upset about it.

Going back to your time together, what’s that kind of longevity like? And what do you foresee for the future?
It’s amazing. I think it’s something we’re all very proud of. We’re proud of the music, but I think we’re prouder, in a way, of this co-existence we’ve built together. All the things we’ve been through together. [Laughs] It’s an endless parade of bad decisions and big mistakes, and yet nobody pulled the plug. Nobody ever did that. At one point or another, every single member of the band has had a right to do that or been the cause of someone else having a right to do that. And yet we haven’t. In that respect, it’s a lot like marriage. It’s hoping for the best. [This is the point at which we were disconnected.] As for the future, we’re going to keep going and probably play fewer shows.

But you love shows.
Oh yeah. I love playing shows. If everyone could just come here, to Vancouver, I would play, easily, 300 shows a year. No problem at all. But, I think being on the bus and being away from my family and that aspect of it, it’s fun for, I don’t know, let’s say ten years. And then, after that, it’s like, “Okay. This is a fuckin’ ridiculous way to live my life. I’m spending an hour-and-a-half looking for my sock. Where am I going anyway? Why do I need socks? It’s not as if anybody knows whether I’m alive or dead, until 9 PM tonight. So, why don’t I just not wear socks?” It’s just a pointless way to exist. And then you play a show and you’re like, “Oh, life means something and, god, I love my job and it’s so great and aren’t we lucky to have people cheering for us?”But, then you wake up the next day and you’re in the middle of nowhere without your family. So, that aspect of it is getting old, for sure.

I hear that. Makes sense. So, how do you feel about fame?
Ever since I was a kid, people have been telling me I’m going to be famous, all my life, and I never have been. I’m not famous at all. Nobody knows who the fuck I am. I’m nobody. First of all, obviously—it goes without saying—I’m in a tiny indie band [that] nobody gives a shit about. But, even people who give a shit about us, I’m just some forty-year-old guy. The only time I’m famous is when I’m singing those songs. Other than that, I give myself a solid 4.7 out of 10 on the human impact scale.

If you say so! How do you like returning to New York?
Well, I lived in New York for ten years and the band started in New York. I like coming to New York like a New Yorker likes to come to New York. There’s a part of me that loves that place and it’s very deep inside me. To this day, my wife still says that, even though I was born in England and I grew up in Canada, I act like a New Yorker. That was where my personality came into full fruition, where I found 11 million assholes just like me. [Laughs] I feel very at home there. On the other hand, I hate New York. Like everybody does. New York is a reflection of you. It’s whatever you imagine yourself to be. On a bad day, New York is a bitch. And, on a good day, New York is an angel, I think. I like coming to New York and having something to do. I like the fact that I come to New York and play shows and people come to the shows. There’s an element of revenge I enjoy. I think a lot of people end up living in New York to try to get revenge on New York for all that New York has done to them over the years. People are motivated by revenge. I feel that. It’s satisfying to come and get a little revenge on New York every once in a while.

Revenge, huh?
It’s about my personal relationship with New York. The experience of ten years trying to make it work there. Sometimes it did work, but a lot of the time it doesn’t work. New York is so tiny and there’s so many people doing amazing things; if shit isn’t going your way, it’s very palpable, and you feel very much left out of the shit that is going right. It can be a cruel place. I love it.

Ditto. What do you get into when you’re here?
Well, we work most of the time. I’m a person who just goes to the same place, no matter where I am in the world. In New York, I still go to the bars I went to in 1996. I have no idea what’s happening in New York. I just go to New York and I recreate 1996.

In another interview, Amy Millan claims Stars is like Seinfeld. She says, “If you really looked into the deep psyche of Stars, it’s like Seinfeld, but Larry David is actually in Seinfeld instead of behind the scenes writing it. That’s my life. I swear to God we are a Seinfeld episode in normal life, like there’s the glamorous aspect of getting up on stage and writing amazing music, but then there’s the daytime stuff that’s pure Seinfeld.” Can you speak to this?
[Laughs] All I can say is, I think Larry David is a big person in all our lives. I have a t-shirt with his face on it. That’s how much I love Larry David. I suffer from anxiety. When I’m in the throws of anxiety attacks, I don’t have a prescription for Xanax—I just watch Curb Your Enthusiasm. Or sometimes I just listen to it on my headphones. I’m obsessed with Larry David and the work of Larry David and I think everyone else in the band is pretty obsessed with Larry David. The thing about Larry David is, he’s a dark motherfucker. Like, he doesn’t care how dark it gets, as long as it’s funny. I think, in Stars, that’s the kind of people we are. We really don’t care. There are things we would never say in public, obviously, but there are jokes made in our band that are truly morally reprehensible. But, if they’re funny, everybody has a good laugh. At least half the reason we’re in the band is just for jokes, just to hang out and wait for punch lines. The one thing we all have in common is, we share a fucked up sense of humor. And our cult leader is Larry David. We would follow him anywhere. We’d do anything for him. We worship him. We think he’s fucking genius.

Oh, we’re not alone. We’re among the legion.

What would you be doing if not this?
The only job I can think of that I would actually be able to do would be driving a cab or, like, driving people to the airport in a limo. I could do that. And I would like to do that. I really would. People think I’m joking and I’m not joking. I think it would be awesome. You just put on the soft rock station. You have water bottles—my car would be fucking awesome. Like, I’d have Evian bottles in the back, maybe a couple of newspapers to read. If you want to talk we can talk. If not, I’ll leave you alone. It’s fine. We don’t have to talk. And I would drive very smoothly. If you’re in a rush, I’ll drive fast, but I’m not going to go crazy. I’d be really good at that. Wouldn’t that be a great job?

[Laughs] Can you please make a music video where you’re the limo driver and the rest of the band’s in the back?
That’s a great idea! Actually, that’s a very good idea. Yes, we can. I’m going to do that for you. I’ll get right on that. I’m going to steal that from you.

Yesss. [Laughs] Lastly, have you always wanted to make music and act?
No. I’ve never wanted to. I’ve never wanted to act and I’ve never wanted to make music. I just had to. I couldn’t do anything else. I didn’t want to do anything else. So, by elimination, that’s what happened. That’s what I am. It’s what everybody in my family is. It’s what my father was, what my mother is, my brothers, my sisters, my wife, my child. Everybody in my life is obsessed with art and is a performer of one kind or another. There’s not a single person I love who isn’t in that field or doesn’t have that within them. Even the people I’m close to in my family who are not performers, that’s our religion. We’re fundamentalists. I was raised in a house where groceries were bought [with] money made from art. Art was the Bible and art was the devil and art was everything in between. I was told art could change people’s lives and you could change the world and you could start revolutions with it. That’s my fate. I have never wanted to. It’s what I am. 

Photo by Kevin Barnett

Smooth Monday Jams: Canadian Edition

Hello! Kim Robinson here, one-half of the awesome party Sea Level that I put on with your regular scribe, Obey City.

For this week’s edition of Smooth Monday Jams, I’ve decided to take us on a journey northward to visit our pals in Canada. While some of the best smooth music has come from the states, there is no denying that the Canadians have a respectable catalog of smooth cuts. Here’s five songs that’ll tell you what some of our Canadian friends are aboot.

Dont forget: Sea Level has moved to Wednesdays at The Tender Trap, with the next party happening on March 6th! Come check us out and vibe to the smooth jams that will have you smiling throughout the rest of your week. Like Sea Level on Facebook to receive updates on our event

Destroyer – "Kaputt" (2011)

Dan Bejar of Destroyer excels at writing low-maintenance glam rock and indispensable smooth jams like the title cut from his album Kaputt. From the beginning of the track you know he means business with the filthy saxophone treatments sprinkled throughout. It’s a truly epic smooth jam that just keeps going on and on.

Feist – "One Evening" (2004)

Everyone knows Leslie Feist for the monster indie hit "1,2,3,4," but upon heavy inspection of her catalog we know that she’s a big fan of sultry R&B akin to Sade and Maxwell. Check this awesome video and song for this sleeper cut from the album Let It Die.

Gonzales – "Slow Down" (2008)

What can’t Gonzales do? Besides producing music for our previous artist Feist, he’s also worked with electroclash icon Peaches. On the side he plays amazing live solo piano recitals and records smooth jams for the intimate moments he’s created as a solo artist .

Joni Mitchell – "Coyote" (1976)  

You can’t go to Canada without visiting Joni. I’m a big fan of her early folk stuff, but have began to fully embrace her fusion-jazz work of the late ’70s. This track featuring the late, great bassist Jaco Pastorius was her first full jump into fusion, adding her beautiful vocals to a smooth jazzy landscape.


Drake – "Karaoke" (2010)


Produced by Sea Level fave Francis Starlight of "Francis & The Lights," this deep-cut was on Drake’s debut album, Thank Me Later. Over a smooth synth beat, Drake laments a lost love that doesn’t want the spotlight or attention of his new fame at the time. Sea Level would like to see more collaborations like this, especially when the results are this smooth. Thanks, Canada!

Follow Kim Robinson on Twitter

It’s Time for a Canadian Pope

No word on whether Pope Benedict XVI will keep his Twitter account going when he officially steps down at the end of this month, but all in all we seem to have heard the last from this weirdo. Let the reign of an entirely new weirdo begin! May I suggest a Canadian one?

Specifically, Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec, considered by betting houses to be a number two pick for papal succession, behind Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, who would be the first black pope and therefore probably known here in the states as Pope Obama. Let’s get real, though: the Vatican only recently acknowledged heliocentricity—it’ll be a while before they get to the existence of non-Caucasians.

We do, however, have the opportunity to shift the seat of Catholic power westward. As pope, Ouellet could teach the world “aboot” Christ’s love, organize the Holy See’s ragtag hockey team, make moose chili for church potluck dinners and give up poutine for Lent. It’s high time someone ran this religion like the extra-bigoted branch of the Boy Scouts it is, don’t you think?

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

Stupid Canada Makes Stupid Mistake

As Americans (you’re American, aren’t you? Just see yourself out if not, no hard feelings) we have to endure a lot of criticism, re: our collective and individual intellects. In particular, it is assumed that Canada, like a nerdy older brother who has already moved out of mom and dad’s basement while we sit in its damp and feel our varsity football muscles atrophy, has figured out most of the stuff we can’t. Not this time.

You see, the supposedly reliable Bank of Canada, allegedly run by non-idiots, came out with new plastic bills—trying to make the U.S.’s hideous green paper stuff look cheap and flammable, what else. But, according to one botanist, the improved design got one thing wrong: there’s a Norway maple leaf on it, not the traditional sugar maple leaf depicted on the rest of Canadian everything. NOW WHO’S SMART.

Well, still Canada, because the guy who figured it out is Canadian. He also notes that the Norway maple is common throughout North America anyway, so it’s not totally inaccurate? Come to think of it, this isn’t nearly as big a deal as what happened a few months prior, according to Reuters: “The Bank of Canada had to apologize in August after news broke that it replaced the picture of an Asian lab assistant on its new C$100 banknote with a woman who looked more Caucasian.”

Live Band On the Prairie: A Q&A With Rah Rah

Get ready to cheer on Rah Rah, the folk-rockers from the prairies of Regina, Saskatchewan. On their new album The Poet’s Dead, out now digitally on Hidden Pony, it’s clear that they’re a band that knows what it’s doing, delivering tight performances with plenty of personality. It’s music that speaks to wide-open spaces, jubilantly delivered and unafraid of getting expansive. Opening track “Art & A Wife” evokes a rowdy country jam session, while “20s” gets introspective. There’s energy and character to spare.

Ahead of the Canadians’ trip to New York for CMJ, I talked to the very polite multi-instrumentalist Erin Passmore about her hometown, touring, and being a “Prairie Girl.”

You don’t hear of much coming out of Saskatchewan. How does emerging from a smaller scene impact how you approach things?

There’s good and bad to it. Coming out of Regina, I think we get a head start, there’s not a whole lot coming out of it. We have a pretty tightly knit music community, which is obviously a lot smaller than you’d have in a big city. Through that, we support each other. When we’re making our way outside of the province and such, we do our best to promote each other. So if we came out of Toronto, I think it would be more difficult, because there are so many musical people to make a name for yourself. It’s probably more challenging.

Who are some other local acts from your scene you’d like to recommend?
Jeanette Stewart, she’s got a pretty unique style. It’s a little bit grunge, a little bit singer-songwriter, but she can wail. There’s Julia and Her Piano out of Regina; she’s a pal of mine. She’s got an interesting style, and she’s incredible at piano. We’re kind of seeing this influx of harder bands, too. My sister-in-law is starting this sort of ’90s-inspired two-piece called The Spoils. It’s just really neat; there’s anything you could imagine. You just gotta look for it.

You’re all coming down to New York for CMJ. What are you most looking forward to?
Just being back in the city. We were at CMJ last year, and it was incredible. The city is obviously ridiculous and amazing, but CMJ itself felt like a sort of homecoming because all of our management is there. It just felt like a really nice sort of family party, but in an awesome bar with really cool New Yorkers. It’s kind of neat being from a small town and coming in to see the big city.

It’s about finding your place, even in a totally different environment?
Yeah, I think we’re pretty good at that now. We’ve been touring for so long, and I think we’re pretty good at finding a place for ourselves within our own little community. We’re basically like a family when we’re on the road, so it’s pretty easy to feel comfortable wherever you are. It’s a little bit of a nomadic life; you don’t really have your basic creature comforts. The van becomes your traveling home.

Your music has this sort of innately homey feel to it, too.
Yeah, I totally agree with that.

Do you think that comes with just being the sort of person who can bring that feeling out?
Over the past couple of years, we’ve just been experiencing what it’s like to go back and forth from home. I think through that we’ve really been able to analyze what that means for relationships and our hometown identity as we’re coming into these big cities. It helps you compare where we go and where we’re coming from. That inspires me in my songwriting, because you get this automatic outside perspective. Then you come home and it’s like, "Oh, right, things are completely different or completely the same here." Nothing’s changed.

How else would you describe Rah Rah?
I think we do have that sort of prairie identity, that’s at the forefront of my mind. In Marshall’s and Kristina’s songs, we all sort of touched on that prairie storytelling: talking about where you come from and where your family comes from and where you are now. My songs have a lot to do with the disconnect that comes when you’re away from home a lot and the good and the bad that comes with that. The good perspective that you get, and you almost feel like an outcast when you come home because either things are all too familiar, like nothing’s changed, or nothing’s familiar anymore and you don’t really have that sense of home. At least that’s what I’ve been exploring in my songwriting. I think that a lot of the songs on this record are about what happens when you travel, what happens when you devote yourself to something that seems a little insane and [being] willing to ride that out and just experience it in the present and not get too caught up in the what-ifs.

Can you talk a little more about the prairie identity?
Where we come from is not the smallest town, but in our own sort of community, around downtown Regina, pretty much everyone will know your business. It’s got that kind of small town aspect to it. From the prairie perspective, it’s less big city; it’s more finding peace in your surroundings. Which is interesting, because there’s not really any surroundings, it’s all just flat and you can see land forever. There are no huge buildings, there’s not a ton of people. The population is growing, but not on the same scale as a big city. As for the prairie identity, it’s this sort of relaxed way of being, I think. It’s a feeling like there are more important things than stressing yourself out as far as work or having to get someplace [goes].

What’s your favorite song that you’ve written?
I really like where "Prairie Girl" ended up. That song started out as a sad little folksy country song, and now it’s got these old school pop elements to it. That’s probably the most thematically important one for me, because it’s about coming from the prairies and trying to make it in the world. You want to keep that prairie identity, but you also see all the shitty things about it, small town ideals. Trying to grow out of that is a little bit difficult sometimes, unless you get out of the city. I really like where that song ended up, and I think it’s the most honest thing I’ve written in a while. I was a little bit afraid of that, because I didn’t want to offend anyone in my hometown, I don’t want to offend my parents or anyone who really cares for the province. Because I do, too, but it’s more about, how do you change with a community that doesn’t really change? How do you change within a community that’s evolving beyond what you want it to? It’s kind of weird.

Wow, you’re definitely reinforcing the polite Canadian thing here.
(Laughs) It’s purely by accident, I swear.

So that was a song where it was particularly exciting to watch it grow and change in the writing process?
Yes. It’s been really amazing for me to see how many people identify with it. It’s a little nerve-wracking putting something like that out there and explaining that you’re not 100 percent happy where you are. But seeing everyone that identifies with this—I don’t want to say anthem, but I know a couple of friends of mine totally agree—even people in Ontario, they were singing along to every word at this one festival that we played at. I was like, "That’s so cool! Thank you for understanding!" It’s really cool to see it grow like that.

What can people expect from a Rah Rah show?
We’re pretty energetic. We try to basically jump up and down and party onstage and really get the audience engaged. I think that’s one of the best things about our show; we love when people get into it and dance and we love interacting with them. We’ve got certain stage props; sometimes we have piñatas or balloons. We try to just amp it up a little bit, because we know that shows can get tedious. We try to go beyond that and make it really exciting.

Follow Katie Chow on Twitter.

Dragonette’s Martina Sorbara on Songwriting, Life on the Road, and ‘Girls’

If you haven’t heard the masterful music of award-winning electropop prodigy Dragonette, your ears are about to be elevated to a heavenly level. Listeners can’t help but bounce around to the catchy tunes of this energetic trio, comprising singer-songwriter Martina Sorbara, her husband, bassist and producer Dan Kurtz, and their trusty drummer Joel Stouffer.

Three years ago to the date they unveiled their sophomore effort, Fixin’ to Thrill, and today, at long last, they return to the record release scene with Bodyparts, via Universal Music Canada. Fans have waited quite some time for this moment to arrive and, finally, it’s here. As for the anticipation? It was worth it. The 13-track gem proves an audible assault of the best breed, with addictive numbers ranging in aesthetic from fist-pumping bangers (“Riot”) to electric-meets-cheeky (“Right Woman”), from old school-cum-modern (“Giddy Up”) to ‘80s-esque romantic jams (“Untouchable”), from sing-along ditties (“Live In This City”) to booty-moving anthems (“Let It Go”). We dare you not to dance. Speaking of which, they’re in the midst of a US tour. Have you secured your tickets yet?

The only thing better than a spankin‘ new album from our favorite Canadian-born, London-based band? Access to the talents responsible for our remarkably upbeat demeanor.

We had the privilege of catching up with Sorbara recently, a discussion during which the vocalist talked about the Bodyparts process, lyrics versus poetry, and the title she proposed that was summarily shot down. Bonus: the pint-sized singer confesses she loves continent-hopping with her hubs and dubs HBO’s Girls the best thing to ever reach TV screens. Read on for the amusing scoop straight from the source herself.

Why the title Bodyparts?
I feel like I saw the words. I saw a piece of art and it was called “Body Parts.” It was not macabre; it was the opposite. I thought it was musical, in a way. There’s a song on the album called “My Legs,” and I realized [our] lyrics often have body parts in them. I don’t know why. I like the way the words could be construed as musical or sexual or physical, depending how you look at it or what you’re looking at when you see that word.

Did you know you wanted it to be one word?
No. I had another title in mind, too, that was many, many words. But no one would go for it.

What was it?
Everything’s Happening All At Once.

I like that!
Me too. I want to write a song with that lyric.

I feel like listeners take for granted how difficult it is to write songs, to make music.
Yeah. My weakness is planning ahead with lyrics. If someone said, “Okay, use this lyric and write a song,” it would take a very long time. Unless the song is building itself up subconsciously in my mind, kind of creating itself, it’s going to take a long time for it to come.

Does it usually start with lyrics or sitting down to the music?
Sitting down and hearing the music and counting syllables, generally. And it always feels like, after a song is written, that it was already planned out, that I just had to listen to the syllables I was saying and figure out what the words were. In a way.

Like in a way it’s already written.
It sounds really cheesy, but I think the reason I like writing is because I’m not a very eloquent speaker and I’m not quick-witted in conversation. But when I get to sit down and listen to what’s happening in the back of my mind, what comes out when I pay attention, I get to know better what’s inside me.

Do you also compose poetry?
To me, those two aren’t connected at all. To a lot of writers they are. I think some lyrics are poetic, but, when I read poetry, it’s a very different thing than with lyrics.

Was the Bodyparts process different from past albums?
Kind of. Writing has generally been sort of tag-teaming. Spending very little time in the studio at the same time, spending a lot of time alone. Dan does his thing, I do my thing. I think this time around we were very insolated. We didn’t go rent a big studio. We did the whole thing at home, aside from mixing the album; we did that in Paris. Other than that, it was our really tiny studio. And a lot of software. [Laughs]

Awesome to be in Paris, I bet.
It was fun to spend so much time just the two of us, having other people tinker with stuff that, until then, had been something that existed only in our little house. No one had touched it. [I enjoyed the experience of] bringing it to another place and having someone else’s ears experience it.

You’re presently based out of London, yes?
Yeah, although it’s going to be two months total that I will be away from my house. We’re based there but we’re not there very much.

What’s it like to disappear from home for so long?
It’s kind of normal. That’s the way my life has been for the past seven years. It’s, like, we’ve been living in London, but we’ve had so much time in North America that it kind of feels like we don’t live anywhere. In a good way.

You don’t mind that feeling?
No, mostly not. Mostly I feel lucky. I’m sure there’s going to be a time in my life when I’m very stationary. Whether it’s in the next five years or the next ten years or I don’t know. I think I’ll miss the jump-around of this life.

Do you feel like you’re in a unique position because you have your husband with you?
Yeah. If I was going away for two months and I was leaving my husband or if he was going away for two months and leaving me, I think either one of those scenarios would be untenable and unsustainable. Our home is each other. We become each other’s comfort zone. The stability of home isn’t as important when we’re with each other.

I feel like so many people don’t have it that way, so you have to feel fortunate.
Yeah, totally. I think that was part of the incentive, initially.

Well, we were both in different bands. I was solo and he was playing with The New Deal, so we spent a lot of time apart in the [beginning] of our relationship. Then Dan suggested, “Oh, let’s write songs together.” I think that was the light at the end of the tunnel after touring separately and spending weeks and weeks apart.

Speaking of traveling together, you played in New York City two weeks ago at Webster Hall. When you come here, what do you like to do and where do you like to go?
I have a lot of good friends there, so I generally just find my friends and have them take me somewhere fun. The problem I have when I go to New York City is that I end up almost exclusively in Soho, so I don’t even know one other part of the city. It’s ridiculous. For how many times I’ve been there, I haven’t seen a lot of Manhattan. What is wrong with me?!

So, no favorite places to eat?
I have gone to some amazing restaurants there. [One] time we finished our show [at] almost midnight, probably past midnight, and my girlfriends took me to Veselka, because I was starving. Everyone had gone to party at some nightclub, but it was late night perogies for me, which was the most satisfying thing. I was very happy about that. It was a girl dinner, like an episode of Girls.

You watch that show?!
Oh my God, it’s so good. It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen on television.

Who’s your favorite character?
I have a crush on Jessa. But I want to be best friends with Lena. And, I want to be the nerdy virgin next door. What’s her name? I don’t know her name.

Shoshanna! That’s it. Of course!

I’m also obsessed. Clearly.
I can’t think of one show on television that [features] women I can relate to or that I feel represent me. Am I supposed to relate to the women on Sex and the City? I don’t think so. 

Photo by Kristin Vicari

Toronto Opening: Shangri-La Hotel

With a “phantom” opening cleverly orchestrated in time for the Toronto Film Festival, Toronto’s Shangri-La is now prepped to welcome those not necessarily hunted by the paparazzi.

Taking up just 17 floors of a spectacular new 66-story tower, the Shangri-La’s guests are greeted by Zhang Huan’s epic, stainless steel Rising sculpture, leading to a light-flooded lobby and loung adorned with stunning Chinese calligraphy paintings. The artistic flourishes continue on into The Bar, which features 180 hand-blown overhead glass fixtures. Jean Paul Lourdes, um, lords over the intimate Bosk restaurant, which proffers Asian-influenced international cuisine. Eastern aesthetic accents prevail throughout the hotel, including some particularly extravagant repros of Chinese Emperor chairs. The Health Club features chandeliers, natural light, and a 20-meter saltwater lap pool. As close to “paradise” as the name suggests.