Why Buzz Records are buzzing at NXNE (and beyond)
Toronto label Buzz Records is having an exceptional year. In 2014, records from Odonis Odonis, Weaves, The Beverleys, HSY and Greys are catching the ears of fans and critics in their hometown, south of the border and overseas. Ian Chai, label co-founder remarks over coffee, "It's been absolutely phenomenal. When you focus on things for the right reasons and things materialize on the creative, artistic and the practical, there's nothing more we could ask for. We're really grateful."
Buzz has put out 11 releases so far this year and it's only half-way over. There have been seven singles (listen to "So Cold" by Beta Frontiers featuring Carmen Elle of DIANA); two EPs (Weaves and The Beverleys); Odonis Odonis' Hard Boiled Soft Boiled LP, and the hotly-anticipated full-length from Greys, If Anything (released yesterday by Buzz/Carpark). "Then in July we have Mexican Slang which is a new band that we just actually signed...who are fucking phenomenal." Buzz is also home to Anamai, the dream-folk solo project from Anna Mayberry of HSY.
The output is pretty staggering for a shop so small. Operating as a team of five - the other four include Stefi, who handles the visual component of the label; Dean Tzenos and Denholm Whale who both play in Odonis Odonis, and Jude from HSY - Chai says the pace is "non-stop, and that's what we want." Though Ian describes himself and Denholm as confessed workaholics, the label functions as a community-minded collective - an important reason why Buzz is succeeding.
Buzz adheres to a strict DIY work ethic that took shape when they met in 2011 putting on shows in a garage behind a shared house on Cecil Street, just east of Chinatown. Capacity was maybe 50 people, shows were BYOB, and the atmosphere was hot and sweaty. Live recordings from The Garage captured sets from some of the best in Toronto's independent scene including the first-ever show by Odonis Odonis, and bands like The Connoisseurs Of Porn, Moon King, Doldrums, Sean Nicholas Savage, Hooded Fang, Rituals and Digits. Cassette recordings were sold on consignment, store-to-store.
Three years later, Buzz bands HSY and Odonis Odonis are now ON REPEAT and getting 8/10 reviews in NME; Weaves are a Rolling Stone Band to Watch, and the L.A. Times referred to Greys as "the most impressive" at SXSW in March. When asked to describe what he thinks the international music press is starting to notice, Chai responds that fans and critics alike are genuinely interested in the music. "I think people can see that this wasn't something contrived and manufactured, but something that's, for lack of a better word, sincere and real."
From the angular, obtuse pop of Weaves; the deep, bedroom grooves of Beta Frontiers; to the brutal, blindside assault of Greys, the Buzz Records roster offers diverse expressions of a common aesthetic. Asked to put it into words, Chai quoted bootleg-recording blog, Mechanical Forest Sound, who in reference to The Beverleys wrote, "the city's finest purveyors of fuzzy noise and catchy hooks." It seems that audiences at home and around the world are starting to agree.
Buzz Records bands were all over our Top Toronto bands at NXNE preview. Catch their showcase take-overs tonight (Wednesday, June 18) at Smiling Buddha with WHIMM, Dirty Frigs, Teen Tits Wild Wives, Mexican Slang, Greys, and Beta Frontiers. Then on Saturday, June 21 Buzz is at Great Hall all day from 12pm onward with BAMBARA (NY), Mexican Slang, Weaves, HSY, and Perfect Pussy in the Main Room, plus New Positions, Ancient Ocean, STKA, //HUREN//, ANAMAI, and Black Walls in the Conversation Room. You can find more Buzz Records bands playing NXNE here.