‘Winnipeg’ and ‘vampiric slouchy dance-pop’ might not normally be used in the same sentence, but they describe Robert Alfons, the man behind Trust, one of Canada’s recent breakthrough indie acts.
Alfons has been on the road almost continuously since the release of 2012’s TRST, his band’s debut full-length album.
Working on the album was a “very stressful” experience, “because you’re living out of a suitcase,” says Alfons. “Even though you’re surrounded by people all the time, it’s still very isolating.”
Trust has also recently gone through a noticeable lineup change—perhaps adding to the tour’s loneliness—since Maya Postepski, who also plays in the band Austra, has been conspicuously absent from the tour. In response to this, and very keenly avoiding any clear confirmation of the split, Alfons says that Trust is “just [his] project” and “definitely very separate from Austra.”
“I have no connection to that band,” he reiterates.
TRST is a dark record, but that doesn’t mean that all of its creator’s influences are dark. Alfons cites himself as a big fan of Ace of Base’s first album The Sign, having been introduced to the band as a child by his sister.
“It’s still to this day a very solid record,” says Alfons. “It was one of the first albums that I remember loving from start to finish, and it’s … really good dance music.”
In fact, his fondness for ’80s and ’90s music has been monumental in shaping his sound.
“There is a nostalgia to the music I make, which is not a bad thing,” says Alfons. “Sometimes it just feels like you’ve known these sounds for a long time.”
Interestingly, Alfons also admits to preferring the experience of recording to performing for a live audience.
“The creating of music and the studio stuff is where most of my love lies,” he says. “But the touring thing has … been really enjoyable. It’s a nice companion to making music.”
Recently, he’s been combining the two by working on his follow up to TRST while touring, and cites “the energy at shows” as an inspiration for influencing his writing and creating.
“There’s new people around all the time, and there’s a party every night, essentially, and that’s very different from a solemn, solitude [way of working] where you can make music every day,” says Alfons.
When the ‘sophomore slump’ comes up, he replies, “I just feel lucky to be able to put out a record…. I think there’s pressure there if I want to dig into it but I don’t generally feel like there is…. I’m fine if people hate it.”
Although hesitant to disclose too much about the new album’s sound, Alfons reveals that “It’s going to be different because it has to be, but I’m sure similar in a lot of ways…. After this tour I’m going to have more time to sit down and work on it.”
In the meantime, TRST has been nominated for Electronic Album of the Year at the 2013 Junos, alongside breakthrough acts Crystal Castles, Grimes, and Purity Ring.
The recognition is something Alfons appreciates: “It’s definitely an honour; it’s really exciting to be in a group with those artists. That’s a really amazing group to be looking at that’s just from Canada.”
Trust performs Mar. 22 at S.A.T. (1201 St. Laurent). Advanced tickets $17.50; $20 door.