Photo of The I Spies by David Wladman - FormerTransformer.com

NXNE Preview: The I Spies


Interviewing Toronto's The I Spies was one of the more surreal experiences I've had leading up to North by Northeast. On a three-way call with singer/guitarist/keyboardist Johnny Kay (in his kitchen "cooking up a whole mess of farfalle pasta") and lead guitarist/singer/keyboardist James Roberston (on his cell being chauffeured around town), I found myself in the middle of an arsenal of snappy one-liners and in-jokes that one might expect from a comedy troupe.

That's not to say that their music is a joke by any stretch of the imagination. The I Spies deliver powerful guitar-fueled pop songs reminiscent of the early days of new wave (Television, not Culture Club). With energy to spare and hooks galore, their debut album, In the Night, stands as testament to a local act ready to take on the world.

"It's killer," Robertson concedes (with maybe just a slight, barely noticable trace of irony), "just listen to it, it speaks for itself."

First stop on their tour of global domination is Reykjavik, Iceland. The band is currently plotting dates in Northern Europe this fall. Autumn will also bring another record from the TO quartet (filled out by Steve Payne on bass and Markus Saks behind the drum kit). "We have an EP we're probably going to be following up with maybe toward the end of the summer, if not the fall," explains Robertson. "We're working on that right now. We're going to continue; we just released our first album but we already got some new material coming out soon."

A big fan of the first record, I tell Robertson that I'm looking forward to the new one, to which he quickly replies, "As am I."

The I Spies play [the] el Mocambo Saturday night at 10 PM as part of NXNE with We Are Wolves, The Two Koreas, and The High Dials.

Photo of The I Spies by David Waldman

Related links:


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in Music

The Mod Club is reopening in Toronto under a new name

Toronto's newest radio station is hidden inside a shipping container

Win a Beaches Jazz Festival season pass

Toronto shops slammed with orders after record store day lands on reopening weekend

Massey Hall announces its re-opening after 3 years and here are what the first shows will be

The history of the most spectacular theatre Toronto probably ever had

Toronto just approved outdoor live music this summer but only in certain neighbourhoods

MuchMusic is relaunching as a TikTok channel