Christian Hansen was craving change when he packed his bags for Toronto nearly two-and-a-half years ago.
“We love Edmonton; we still love Edmonton,” says Hansen, who moved to Toronto with his wife and bandmate, Molly Flood. “It was one of those things where if we don’t go we’d always be wondering what would happen if we had gone.”
Hansen was known throughout Edmonton’s music scene for his eclectic electro anthems, but he had to start from scratch in Toronto as the new kid in a saturated industry. He had gone from packed rooms to being able to count the amount of people in the crowd at the band’s first Toronto shows on one hand.
“You don’t realize what that does to your head until you’re outside of that situation,” he says of his local prominence. “I’m always very conscious of just being a good person and treating people with respect and when you have people coming to your shows and caring about what you do it’s a blessing, right? But when we moved here and that was all gone, you maybe realize, whoa, I guess that did get inside my head a little bit and I think it maybe informs your expectations, so it was good. That was another good benefit of the move, just being humble—not that I wasn’t humble—but taking it back to the basics and having to prove yourself.”
The crowds are larger these days, however, and often include a dedicated contingent Hansen affectionately refers to as the “Edmonton Mafia.”
“There’s people from Edmonton I think at every show we’ve played in Toronto,” he adds. “It’s so funny because there’s an Edmonton connection with everything, I feel like, and I don’t think it’s just because I’m from Edmonton. You’ll meet someone that knows someone or we’ll overhear conversations of people talking about Edmonton that we don’t even know. It’s weird.”
Toronto feels like home now, but Hansen took those initial feelings of loneliness and isolation and chanelled them into the band’s new EP, Small Fry. The disc is an introspective collection that also offers a new sound for the band, melding influences of hip-hop acts like early Three 6 Mafia and UGK with post punk and Hansen’s baritone vocals and eerie synth melodies.
“I think that the first year, it’s kind of like a honeymoon period because it’s a new city, new people and you’re discovering all these new places and meeting new social circles and all the challenges that come with a new city. Once you’re here you get down to the brass tacks of everyday life in this new city,” Hansen recalls, noting it was at this point that he realized just how disconnected they felt, a sense that put him into a darker headspace to write the record.
“When you’re going into a new place you cannot expect anything. The onus is on you to make of it what you’ll make of it. You can’t come to a big city and expect people to just want to be your friend; you have to open yourself up to meeting new people and open yourself up to, as terrifying as it is, going to a show by yourself and saying hey to someone, you know what I mean? That was kind of our mindset going here and I think it’s paid off.”
Fri, Apr 18 (7 pm)
With Doug Hoyer
Artery, $15 in advance, $20 at the door, all ages
Sat, Apr 19 (8 pm)
With Doug Hoyer, Mark Mills
Pawn Shop, $20