Signed by Arbutus Records, Canadian band TOPS deliver a clever blend of groovy indie pop and gentle rock with their album Sugar at the Gate
From Unknown Mortal Orchestra to music festivals like Clockenflap and Shi Fu Miz, we can’t get enough of all the live music events in Hong Kong. We interviewed Jane Penny, singer of the five-piece band TOPS, on how their album Sugar at the Gate came about.
A chat with TOPS
Coming from Montreal, Quebec, TOPS currently consist of Jane Penny, David Carriere, Riley Fleck, Jackson Macintosh and Marta Cikojevic. After releasing their debut album Tender Opposites in 2012 and its critically acclaimed follow-up Picture You Staring in 2014 through Arbutus Records (the prominent Montreal label behind Grimes, Sean Nicholas Savage and Braids), their latest release in 2017 – Sugar at the Gate – displays an intriguing mix of sadness and romance that hits deep to their listeners’ emotional core.
Hi, Jane. How did you guys first come together as TOPS?
The band started in Montreal at a loft space called La Brique. David and I were making music there and Riley was practicing drums, so we asked him to start a band with us.
The underground music scene in Montreal is pretty rad; it’s probably one of my favourite cities of all time. How does coming from Montreal influence your music?
Montreal is a very supportive scene. Everyone is always trying to do their own thing, I think that’s why there are so many unique artists from there. For us it’s been a great place to record because it’s cheap and we can spend the time we need to making our songs as good as we can.
How would you describe your latest album Sugar at the Gate?
I didn’t realize I was going through such an emotional time when I was making the record but you can definitely hear it. For us the vision was just to make songs we really like, and pursue what came naturally when we play together and when we write on our own.
Which song on the album is most close to heart?
For me my favourite is Cloudy Skies. I’m really happy with how the recording came out and I think it’s a powerful song.
What helps you stay centered when you feel creatively blocked?
Usually when I’m not feeling creative on my own I can still go make music with the band and something will happen. It’s nice to collaborate with other people because it forces you to have fun and get out of your head.
Keep up-to-date with TOPS.