10 side projects from Toronto bands
Toronto musicians like to keep busy, so one band often just isn't enough. That's where "side projects" come in or, in other words, just other projects. It's not for us to dub one band more important than the other, but musicians are often recognized for one "main act." With so many familiar faces popping up onstage throughout the city, here's a list of Toronto bands and their side projects just so you don't have to do a double take the next time you check out a local act and have a strange sense of déjà vu.
Main act: Austra
Side project: Trust
Austra's Maya Poptepski splits her time between Austra and her project with Robert Alfons, Trust. Together with Alfons, they create a similar brand of moody dance music as she does with Katie Stelmanis in Austra, but imagine something even darker and more atmospheric.
Main act: The D'Urbervilles
Side project: Diamond Rings
Although Matters (formerly known as The D'Urbervilles) are not currently active, John O'Regan's highly successful solo work as Diamond Rings was first seen by many as a side project to his main rock band. Diamond Rings, at the time, was a huge departure from his indie rock roots, but now we've come to know O'Regan more for his glam-pop mix of electronic beats and catchy riffs — still the same guitar-wielding rocker, but with a few extra layers of make-up and glittery outfits.
Main act: Forest City Lovers
Side project: Kashka
Forest City Lovers is no longer together — they played their final show this past year at the Great Hall — but just as things were dying down with the band, lead singer Kat Burns began a new project. Burns now goes under the moniker of Kashka and has rebranded herself as an electronic songstress, leaving behind the delicate folk-pop melodies she spent years crafting. Kashka might be a complete left turn for Forest City Lovers fans, but underneath the shiny new layers of electronics is still the same songwriting and shy vocals of Burns.
Main act: Hooded Fang
Side project: Phedre / Hut
April Aliermo and Daniel Lee of Hooded Fang are quite synonymous with being multi-tasking musicians with a bit of ADD. Having starting quite a few other bands — most notably Hut and the gradually rising status of Phedre, their band with Doldrums' Airick Woodhead — Aliermo and Lee split their time between all of their projects fairly equally, making it hard to distinguish one as a "main act."
Main act: Ohbijou
Side project: Warm Myth / Kite Hill
Whether they're organizing Friends in Bellwoods compilations or starting new bands, the members of Ohbijou are well-known for their numerous creative outlets. Most notably, though, are Warm Myth and Kite Hill, two bands who boast quite the familiar faces of Ohbijou's main lineup.
Main act: Army Girls
Side project: DIANA
Carmen Elle is quite the ubiquitous musician around the city. Having been in a handful of different bands - from a brief stint with Austra to her current gig fronting Army Girls — Elle is probably one of the city's most restless musicians. In her latest band, she teams up with Everything All The Time/Destroyer's Joseph Shabason to create a dance outfit called DIANA. The duo is still relatively new, but with a handful of songs and a few tour dates ahead of them, prepare to hear a lot more from this new act. Hopefully this doesn't take too much time away from Army Girls, though, as we're still dying with anticipation for a full-length debut from them.
Main act: Gentleman Reg
Side project: Light Fires
If you've seen Reg lately, you must've met his alter-ego, Regina. Regina made one of her first appearances in Light Fires, Reg's side project with Ohbijou's James Bunton. Unlike his main band, which is known for guitar-heavy indie-pop, Light Fires is an all-out dance act. Between Bunton's post behind a sea of electronics and Regina's stage presence up front (sans-guitar), Lightfires sees both musicians trying a little something new and we'll admit that we love it.
Main act: Holy Fuck
Side project: Dusted
Holy Fuck's Brian Borcherdt has always kept busy outside of Holy Fuck with his solo work. Instead of going under his own name, Borcherdt has recently taken up the band name of Dusted. Alongside drummer, Leon Taheny, Dusted is nothing like Holy Fuck — it's quieter, it's more atmospheric and completely worth listening to if you haven't checked it out already.
Main act: Broken Social Scene
Side project: Eight and a Half / Cookie Duster
We've reached yet another hiatus period in the Broken Social Scene timeline and, of course, members of the Toronto collective were going to branch off and work on some projects in the meantime. Enter drummer Justin Peroff's Eight and a Half and Brendan Canning's old/new project, Cookie Duster. Both smaller and arguably less ambitious projects (let's face it, BSS was a really ambitious band), Eight and a Half and Cookie Duster are a bit of a departure from the collective that launched their careers, but both show promise and until we get another BSS reunion, we'd happily take in these fine acts.
Main act: Fucked Up
Side project: Smartboys
We recently interviewed Fucked Up's Mike Haliechuk, discussing his new side project with fellow band member Jonah Falco. Smartboys shows lots of potential and if their opening slot for Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees last week was any indications, will be a force to be reckoned with in live settings.
Main act: Woodhands / Maylee Todd
Side Project: Ark Analog
Ark Analog is the new project of Woodhands' Dan Werb — who also performs solo as well as under the moniker of Grapes Godly — and local indie darling, Maylee Todd. To those who are familiar with Todd's guest appearances on past Woodhands records, Ark Analog draws from the same frenetic energy and electronic-based sounds as their previous works. With two equally captivating personalities onstage and a whole bunch of synths between them, Ark Analog marks the next logical chapter in Werb and Todd's successful string of collaborations.
Photo of Trust by Denise McMullin