Photograph by Karen McBride

Photograph by Karen McBride

Back in July, as I perused the Mememachine, I came across a cover of the insanely infectious ‘Sleepyhead’ by Passion Pit. I was interested to see how the song could possibly be covered with its fat layered synths, Irish harp samples, and window-breaking falsettos. It certainly was not the typical candidate for a remix, let alone a cover. To my sweet surprise, a band I had never heard of had breathed new-gentle life into the track through its lead singer’s delicate, trained vocals and the use of xylophones, a cittern, a violin, and what looked like an old as nails Casio MT45. The band turned out to be Run Toto Run, an up and coming trio from the burgeoning music scene of Manchester, and the song turned out to be one of my favorites of the Summer.

A few weeks later at Lollapalooza, I realized the true magic of the song. As the exhausted, red bull-fueled youth gang that I attended the festival with sat in our hotel room in the wee hours of the night on Day 2, I played Run Toto Run’s cover of the festival’s anthem. By the track’s end, we were all fast asleep with silly smiles on our faces. I realized that unlike the original, Run Toto Run’s cover had the ability to evoke the mood of the song’s title. The cover became the soundtrack to my last waking minutes of each day for a good month and I soon discovered the Plastic Gold EP, a breezy 5 track debut fusing together the instrumentation found on the cover with gentle electronic beats of the Postal Service variety.

I corresponded with lead vocalist Rachael Kichenside to ask about the influence of fairytales on the band’s music, Manchester’s evolving music scene, and what’s to come for the band.

Run Toto Run – Catch My Breath
Run Toto Run – Plastic Gold
Run Toto Run – Good Coat

Sal: First off, who are Run Toto Run and how did you come together?

Rachael Kichenside: Run Toto Run are Rachael Kichenside, Matt Farthing and Mike Kelly. We had a fourth member Cazz until a few weeks ago, but sadly she couldn’t keep up with all we were doing so we’re down to three again. We were all playing in various bands around Manchester and recognized similar sensibilities in each other, so over time we got together and started our own band.

Sal: Toto, the rambunctious Terrier canine from the stories of Oz was one of my favourite characters because he had the ability to speak, but simply chose not to – a playful observer and thinker. How would you say the character of Toto relates to the band’s musical aesthetic?

Rachael: It wasn’t so much the specific character, it was the idea of relating to something whimsical and a bit magical. It was also a bit of a playful thing. We try not to take ourselves too seriously.

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— , September 24, 2009    Comments Off on Run Toto Run

The Big Pink

Seasons heavily affect the kind of music I listen to. For a few summers now I’ve turned to synth-driven electro, rock and pop to guide me through a variety of romps, walkabouts, dance parties, swims and trips. Synths feel like bright happy colours. I don’t really care about their rampant over-usage of anything and everything from indie to hip hop these days. They still make me giddy and amplify my summer experiences more than either Bang or Olufsen could. In this vein I’ve put together a playlist of lovely synth-esque music which I hope will be a nice companion to your Summer adventures.

Download | The ‘Summer in Synths’ Mixtape

01 | Gold Panda – Quitters Raga

One of the most interesting songs of the year so far, Gold Panda sample the distinct sounds of a sitar and fuse choral raga chants with gimmicky DJ chops and skips over top of a steady hand clap rhythm. It’s world music gone nutty, and while it may not be the best song to play at a party, it’s a nice headphone banger.

02 | The Big Pink – Dominos

“These girls fall like dominos,” Robbie Furze repeats on the British duo The Big Pink’s fourth single – wishful thinking, at least for this guy. The song’s got anthemic qualities and is sure to help the band blow before disappearing into Much Music’s “One Hit Wonders” territory. Good luck Big Pink, and thank you for this song that Blink 182 and MGMT are somehow both going to wish they’d made first.

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— , August 12, 2009    11 Comments