Welcome to Montreal, Favours! How does it compare to your hometown Toronto? Have you spent a lot of time in the city?
Hey thanks so much, and thank you for taking the time to talk with us! Special thanks to Sarah from Hot Tramp, as well, for connecting us all! We’ve played a few shows in Montreal during the past year, and we always love hitting up some vintage stores and stuffing our faces with good food. This city feels like the perfect place to be an artist, with rent being way cheaper than in Toronto. There are so many bloody condos coming up in Toronto that it’s starting to feel like it’s losing a little je ne sais quoi.
What’s the DIY music scene like nowadays in Toronto? With the rising rent and closing venues, it seems that supporting the community is more important than ever.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Toronto is almost unaffordable to live in, but music and art keep finding places to grow. New spaces are popping up just a bit farther out of your typical areas. We recently renovated a former halfway house in Mimico into a DIY art space, and soon we’ll start throwing art parties and playing shows in it. We’re really big on artists supporting artists—which is incredibly important when the gatekeepers are holding their keys very tightly.
How have you navigated the music industry? Your band name was inspired by the favours you have to call in as an artist, and I’m interested to hear what that means in the context of being a musician.
Everyone on the project has more than one specialty in the arts, and we’re constantly doing each other favours. We’re sort of a collective in that way. In addition to writing the music together, we also have a photographer, a painter, a director, and a music producer as our bandmates. We’ve all spent our lives navigating different artistic industries, and a lot of that involves doing favours for other artists. The band name is our way of asking people to help us out—whether it’s creating content, recording music, or supporting us live—but it’s also us saying that we’re here to support and create alongside other people in the industry. We feel like it’s important in music to have a larger team than just us four, and this is where the idea of the name originated. We want to open the door for a sort of barter system between like-minded artists who want to make something special with people they can trust.
Let’s talk about your music videos. They often have a surreal element, with heavy colour themes, and you’ve previously stated that you find inspiration in Criterion films. How do you come up with the concepts? What’s the technical process behind bringing them to life?
As individuals, we love taking photos and making videos, so Favours gives us an outlet to create these weird little worlds. We’re definitely influenced by Criterion films, Italian cinema, and spiritual kinda vibes. When we wrote the video concepts for “In The Night” and “She is Soul,” the process involved a lot of lying in bed for hours, listening to the songs, and seeing what images came to mind. After we have some kind of “A-ha!” moment, we scour the internet for reference photos, create a storyboard, and let the cameras do the talking. It’s incredibly fun getting to make our own videos with creative freedom. We’ve made most of them with little to no money, which gives us restrictions that help push our boundaries and forces us to get creative. Mostly shot with almost no crew, zero helpers, and doing our own directing, we find ourselves running around like chickens with our heads cut off—dancing and having fun along the way.
“She is Soul” includes yellow captions, dreamy montage sequences, and the Aquarian Tarot deck. Why did you include the captions, and how did you choose the cards that you included in the shots? Was the narrative of the video reflected in the card spread?
The High Priestess was the main focus with the card spread because it represents the ideal lover, wife, and mother that is supportive of those she loves; but, in reverse, it indicates the superficial qualities including physical passion divorced from love. We’ve shown the woman in reverse and the card straight forward to represent the idea that you can’t be sure of someone’s true intentions when you’re in a destructive relationship. The song is about pouring yourself into the wrong kind of relationship without thinking about the future. The captions/lyrics are like a stream of consciousness in each person’s mind when entering into a new relationship—constantly questioning decisions, feelings, and passion for the other person.
Last but not least, where’s your go-to spot in Toronto to get inspired?
Our go-to spot would have to be the DIY space on Lakeshore where we write, record, practice, and shoot music videos. The house has a really special energy, and having the space to invite over different creative minds really helped us collaborate and create more freely than before. We feel like we have a home base where we belong and can make our own. Other than that, we’re all quite outdoorsy, and we love a walk through High Park or even a trip up north to get the creative juices flowing.
Malaika Astorga is a Mexican Canadian artist, currently based in Montreal. She is a writer, illustrator, photographer, and is currently the Creative Director of Pink Things Magazine. Malaika is a passionate Xicanista, focused on supporting Latinx and femme representation in music.