Making it big
As I made my way through throngs of students adorned by glow sticks in Faculty Hollow, the sheer anticipation for Adventure Club was as palpable as the heavy evening air that hung above us. Just moments ago, Toronto-based synth-pop duo Featurette had set the stage ablaze with infectious energy by playing a dynamic set in front of hundreds of McMaster students at the annual Welcome Week concert. Although the combination of bright lights and loud cheering jarred my nerves, they were quickly quelled as I was warmly welcomed into the duo’s trailer for our interview.
Comprised of singer Lexie Jay and drummer Jon Fedorsen, Featurette is a synth-pop band that features a combination of tantalizing synth hooks and emotionally-charged lyrics. There is a filigree quality to Jay’s voice that infuses every song with a dreamy, iridescent quality on top of punchy bass lines. Similar to other artists in the genre, Featurette draws influences from electro-pop sounds that originate from Northern Europe, Denmark and New Zealand. In 2015, the duo released a two-part debut EP titled Crave Volumes 1 and 2.
Although Featurette is now a synth-pop band, Jay and Fedorsen started off as a folk outfit who later traded in soft acoustic tunes for electronic beats.
“We actually met at band camp. We were both teaching and I knew she played a little of bit of music on her own so I kind of bullied her into playing with me. She had a song book she had been keeping for a couple years and there were some pretty great songs in it,” said Fedorson.
Jay added that the pair were able to fulfill the gaps they each felt in their own music.
Fedorsen said, “Honestly, no real instrument can really give you that sub-bass fullness with as much control as the technology we use does. Having the freedom to dial in certain sounds makes the [process of making music] awesome.”
“It was all [Fedorsen],” Jay said. “He came to me with the concept [for the name of our band].”
“I’ve been in a couple bands when I was really young and what I found happened was that after some initial success with radio tours and perhaps a second album, [the band] would get bullied into making an album of singles,” Fedorson explained.
“And this process would kind of would lose a lot of fans who liked the first work. So I thought it would be nicer– it’s so hard to make an album these days, it takes so long– to have a band that did small featurettes, small stories. [Jay] had a book of songs so essentially that’s the story to our EP.”
“Exactly. It’s the story of a girl. It’s the girl you see on stage,” Jay added.
“In our next album, or the next featurette I should say, she might be angrier. Something else might have happened to her,” Fedorson said.
Jay explained that each vignette will feature a different concept.
“It doesn’t limit us either, we’re allowed to be angry and change with her mood.”
When asked how she began to write songs, Jay accredits her talent to her classical training in music theory and musical theatre.
“I got a guitar for my birthday and I’ve always loved music… In my own deepest darkest moments I would write things down in this book that were just for me; creative but more introverted. But when you take these ideas and put them together with this massively extroverted music [Fedorsen] and I come up with the juxtaposition just makes some really cool [stuff]…In fact, when we wrote our first bio we described our music as 18th century song cycle meets modern day digital romance.”
And it is this juxtaposition that seems to give Featurette its unique persona. Talented musicians who produce great music aside, the duo possess an air that sets them apart from the rest of their field.
The combination of Jay’s classical training in musical theatre, theory and orchestra along with Fedorsen’s experience from playing in jazz, rock and funk bands offers them a diverse array of talent to cultivate their music from.
Judging by the looks on the audiences faces after their set, I’m confident to say on behalf of everyone that we look forward to what story the next EP– or the next featurette– will tell.