Co-founded by Jane Penny and her childhood friend David Carriere in Montreal in 2011, TOPS emerged from the same local DIY scene as the likes of Grimes and Mac DeMarco. The band quickly found themselves touring and selling out shows internationally, earning praise and critical acclaim, scoring highly sought-after festival slots, and racking up streaming numbers in the millions. The band had just released their fourth studio album when Penny became sick herself with long COVID for over a year while acting as a caretaker for her partner in Berlin who had become bedridden. Inspired by the musical scene in Berlin, but also separated by distance and time zones from her usual collaborators in Montreal, it became necessary for Penny to explore an independent creative practice. When she was finally well enough to return to Montreal, Penny put the finishing touches on the EP with her neighbor and long-time collaborator, producer and musician Patrick Holland, who provided additional production and mixing on the EP.
“There are things I wanted to explore sonically and creatively, which would be impossible in the context of TOPS. I wanted to challenge myself to create a whole world of my own, to write all of the parts, program the drums, choose every sample, write the bass line. When I took control over the entire world of music that I was creating I felt that it also opened up a lot of emotional space, sensuality and intuition that comes through solitude. It took a while to reach a point where I feel it’s ready to share, but now the gates are open and I’ll definitely be continuing on this path. “
TOPS is still going strong – they’re currently working on a new record. “There isn’t a more soul-satisfying way to make music than to play it with other people, but a band format has certain limitations to its scope sonically. Making music with TOPS is still one of my main priorities in life, and the band definitely isn’t taking a back seat to my solo work.“
“This EP comes out of a period of darkness, and a point of weakness, but I feel responsible to leave listeners with a certain level of resilience,” Penny says. “As an artist, it’s my job to show people that it’s freeing to explore some of these feelings, but I always want to leave them with a ray of light, an escape hatch, because then I’m reminded of it, too.”
Jaclyn Ulman | firstname.lastname@example.org
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