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- Posted on Oct 19th 2009 1:00PM by Tabassum Siddiqui
Five albums into a career that's taken many sonic twists and turns along the way, the Hidden Cameras' musical mastermind Joel Gibb keeps pushing the boundaries of his artistic vision, drawing on the vast and varied talents of the small army of contributors who drift in and out of the indie collective at any given time.
Despite establishing the Hidden Cameras as a vital part of the close-knit Toronto indie scene over the past decade, Gibb decamped for the artistic hotbed of Berlin in recent years, splitting his time between both cities as he pieced together what would become the band's ambitious new release, 'Origin: Orphan'.
Given that the Hidden Cameras is a benevolent dictatorship -- Gibb laughingly prefers to think of himself as the "musical director" -- revolving around Gibb's theatrical, melodic tunes, one would imagine it might have been tricky to corral the troops to record new material when their ringleader was halfway around the globe.
"Well, I never really went away," Gibb tells Spinner during a trip back home to Toronto. Trim and dapper in a pale trench coat, he's fighting exhaustion even before embarking on a lengthy North American tour in support of 'Origin: Orphan,' but perks up when discussing the album.
"The record was recorded over many different times, so the earliest sessions would have been during [previous album] 'Awoo.' 'He Falls To Me' and 'Colour of a Man' were done then -- and they were worked on over the following years," he explains, noting nearly all the songs on the new album were written long before his move to Berlin and fleshed out during the recording process.
"Some of them were recorded without the band, too. 'Underage' was all done by sampling little licks that I would play and then the horns were overdubbed in Toronto. Same with the title track -- it was all just my guitar and this one tiny little keyboard. You don't need 20 musicians and a big string section to get a big sound."
That's somewhat ironic coming from a man who led the trend towards sprawling indie-rock collective. The Cameras' elastic membership has seen several notable artists come and go from the ranks -- including Gentleman Reg, Laura Barrett and Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy -- and the band's albums still continue to feature whoever's available.
"You don't have to be on the record to be 'in the band' and you're not necessarily 'in the band' if you're on the record. It's really just about what the song needs," Gibb says. "I have certain limitations, too, but that doesn't mean I want my music to be contained by my own inabilities. I'm sort of an okay musician on a lot of different instruments -- so the studio is a way for me to play different instruments, because live I don't really get to do that.
"But even though I write the songs, everyone in the band brings something unique to them. Each song goes in different directions and has different flavours."