Two Saxxy Gentlemen

Electro-jazz Hybrid Duo Saxsyndrum Pump Up the Funk

Saxsyndrum are bringing live electro-swing to POP.

Jazz might be the last genre you’d expect to see at POP Montreal. After all, some might say it’s best reserved for middle-aged couples sipping wine in tasteful-yet-stuffy establishments, not for the unwashed youth at one of the city’s biggest indie festivals.

Saxsyndrum is challenging the status quo by merging electro dance music with sweet saxophone licks to revitalize jazz in a whole new way.

Saxsyndrum is made up of David Switchenko on saxophone and Nick Schofield, a Concordia electroacoustics alumnus, on drums and sampling. The pair were originally in a full six-piece rock band together, but when members started dropping out, they played just the two of them, and were happy with what they heard.

“We were just jamming casually, and in a matter of days, we had put together a set’s worth of songs,” says Schofield at a café near McGill University.

“Literally, in a week, we wrote six songs. It was intense,” Switchenko added, laughing.

The two coined “Saxsyndrum” as their name, which has an Inception-like level of meaning. The name could be interpreted as “sax-and-drums” or “sax-synth-drums,” both of which are accurate. It’s also a play on “sax syndrome,” in reference to having jazz fever.

Sample This

Merging jazz and electro as a two-piece onstage is no easy feat, so Schofield does double-duty onstage, playing the drums while working a sampler attached to his drum pad to queue electro melodies or vocal one-hits.

“We can perform live with high energy on top of the samples,” Switchenko says.

“The sampler is often the third member in our group,” adds Schofield.

But while they often employ electronic elements in their work, Saxsyndrum are starting to branch into performing acoustically, leaving the sampler by the wayside and adding a contrabass and violin player.

“It’s a different way to bring songs to life,” Schofield says.

“We’re getting into more organic jamming onstage; it’s nice to break away from the rigid sampler element. There’s a time and place for upbeat, banging electro songs when it’s just the two of us, then there are low-key situations where the acoustic set is ideal,” he adds.

“It’s about choosing the right set for the right time.”

Next on the horizon, the pair will release their new album Future Circus on Halloween night at Casa del Popolo.

Saxsyndrum is going on at 1 a.m. for their POP set the night of Sept. 26, and will be playing a loft after-party following that as their acoustic outfit.

Saxsyndrum // Sept. 26 // Club Balattou (4372 St. Laurent Blvd.) // 9 p.m. // $10