Yamantaka//Sonic Titan Facebook Say what you like about Eastern Canadian…
- Posted on Sep 24th 2012 11:15AM by Aaron Brophy
Yamantaka Sonic Titan
Squirreled away at the bottom of that list, however, was a mostly-unknown, decidedly unusual addition to the 10 names -- the Montreal/Toronto art collective YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN.
Less a "band" than what they call "a multidisciplinary hyper-orientalist cesspool of 'eastern' culture in giant monochrome paper sets," YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN's art project-ness works itself out on stage as the death metal equivalent of kabuki theater, complete with elaborate costumes. Meanwhile, their YT//ST album sounds like all the big, noisy crescendo parts on Godspeed You! Black Emperor records. They call it "noh wave." And they're fine being the "unknown" on the list.
"We want that underdog cred," Ruby Kato Attwood, credited with performing "vocals, keys, percussion, art," tells Spinner. "We want to come up."
The underdog role is a familiar one to YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN. After all, when you're a LGBT-positive theater metal "evolving art cult that brings together individuals of diasporic and indigenous identity to perform/create as a collective," there's lots at risk of getting lost in the translation. YT//ST -- made up of Attwood, Alaska B on drums, electronic drums, keys, electronics, programming, vocals, art, Ange Loft, vocals, stage and costume, John Ancheta, bass, guitar, Brendan Swanson, lighting, and Walter Scott, drums, art -- are continually winning people over, though.
"We've met fans on the road who've been like, 'Normally I wouldn't like this kind of music on paper, but this is really amazing," says Ancheta.
Attwood says she can see that same reaction in the media.
"Normally there's a lot of press that's like, 'This sounds like pretentious trash. I didn't even want to like it from the outset... but I love the album and the music is really solid,'" she says. "So I'm usually like, 'Ha-ha! You have to like me! You like me! C'mon!'"
Even old metalheads are digging YAMANTAKA. The softer parts of their set, apparently.
"We find some of the metal dudes that come to our show actually like some of the more chill music," says Attwood. "So that's always interesting to me."
The Polaris Prize -- the best Canadian album of the year based on artistic merit -- gets determined September 24 at the Polaris Gala in Toronto, Ontario. It will be decided by a grand jury of 11 music critics selected from a greater juror pool of over 200 Canadian music writers, editors, broadcasters and radio people. In addition to YT//ST, Feist, Drake, Grimes, Fucked Up and Japandroids, the other nominees include Cold Specks, Handsome Furs, Cadence Weapon and Kathleen Edwards.
While Damian Abraham of Fucked Up believes YT//ST will win, the YAMANTAKA crew are quick to spread their love around to the other nominees.
"I really like Grimes," says Loft. "I also love Cold Specks. She's got a straight up awesome voice."
Ancheta's behind the recently-broken up Handsome Furs because "they're from Montreal."
Attwood saves her praise for past-Broken Social Scene member and author of the Metals album, Leslie Feist.
"She's pretty incredible. She's the princess," says Attwood. "And she's so talented, so I feel really honored to be mixed with all these artists."
Considering the Polaris galas are jammed with about 500 of the most studied and savvy music critics, musicians, industry people and tastemakers from across Canada, acts have often used it as a forum throw down the artistic gauntlet, so to speak. In 2009 K'naan debuted his inspirational song "Wavin' Flag" there. Considering YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN will be performing a brand new opera titled "33" at Pop Montreal this weekend, there's legitimately no telling what they'll do at the gala. In fact, they don't even have any idea.
"We'll see what comes of it," says Attwood. "We're honestly not really sure. It's kind of a thing where we get together and throw ideas around."
Adds Loft, "It used to be a different show every time we'd get together to perform. We'd only get together once every two months or three months and do a show. And this time we've got a semi-solid sort of performance piece. We'll see. We'll probably try to blow something new up."
Chances are people will know who they are after that.