POP Montreal Diary: Sax Sells with Saxsyndrum

Saxsyndrum’s bombastic style of jazz-meets-electro-meets-funk usually sounds like it’s being pumped out by a full six-piece band—you’d never guess it’s just two guys with a saxophone and an arsenal of mixers and synthesizers at their fingertips.

The last time I saw Saxsyndrum was for their Halloween album launch party at Casa del Popolo, celebrating the release of their EP Future Circus. Since then, the Montreal duo has released a remix album titled Fairground: Future Circus Remixed, and they’re on the eve of dropping their next EP.

According to Nick Schofield, percussionist and synth player for Saxsyndrum, the remix album was born from friends remixing their songs for fun, and when they eventually stockpiled a larger collection, decided to make it an official release.

“We had 16 tracks in the end, and they’re all awesome. We were so happy to get a new remix each week […] and that would be the jam for the week,” said Dave Switchenko, saxophone player and other half of Saxsyndrum.

“Especially ‘cause there’s only seven songs on Future Circus, to have 16 renditions of that album, it’s a whole new take on it, and there’s like solo piano, electronic stuff, and very trippy trance remixes. It really runs the gambit,” said Schofield.

Saxsyndrum played a two-fer for POP Montreal 2014: I was able to speak with them right after their first set in Empire Exchange, a cozy thrift store in the Mile End and an unlikely venue for the pair’s adrenaline-esque rush of jazzy beats.

Switchenko explained they’d be keeping their sound more mellow to fit the environment and atmosphere of the thrift shop, and would be “getting groovy” at their other 1:00 a.m. set that night at Divan Orange.

It was a side of Saxsyndrum I had never heard before: in their 40-minute set, they played about four songs, which often started with slow, eerie rises into their more signature sound of synthesizers encased in a glowing saxophone embrace.

Switchenko said their upcoming EP titled SXD EP will reflect this shift in musical direction, delving into more experimental sounds.

“It’s not all ambient but some of it is pretty chill, I had this idea to try some new recording techniques,” he said.

Showgoers at POP were able to hear a sample of the new EP, a track called “Maceonectar,” named after the great saxophonist Maceo Parker.

SXD EP will be out Nov. 4 on Art Not Love Records, and you can catch Saxsyndrum playing shows around Montreal regularly.

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