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Cherry Pop

Small Sins Small Sins

'The Sins of The Maker: Revealed'

Thomas D’Arcy marches to the beat of his own drum machine. That’s what D’Arcy — the solo mastermind behind Small Sins (formerly known as The Ladies And Gentlemen), who released its self-titled Astralwerks debut back in June of this year — discovered after spending the better chunk of a decade in bands percolating around the indie-rock scene of his Toronto, Canada hometown.

By Christmas 2004, D’Arcy found his band broken up and himself in the midst of a “mid-twenties crisis.” “I was really questioning what I was doing with my life,” D’Arcy says. “Why am I in this band I don’t love? Why am I not making music that I do love? I was thinking back to how things used to be, when it was pure spirit and fun. Music had become work, yet I still felt like I should be getting to work on something.”

And get to work he did. D’Arcy retreated alone to the basement of his childhood home: armed with little more than a Roland 707 drum machine, a clutch of vintage Moog keyboards, and a sixteen-track recorder, he was determined to create sounds that reflected the passion that led him to music in the first place.

After nearly a year of woodshedding, D’Arcy fulfilled his goal, emerging with Small Sins. A masterpiece of heartfelt electro chamber-pop, Small Sins bubbles with gorgeously layered harmonies, synth gurgles, and hook-filled tales of love lost and found as honest and bracing as the Canadian winter. Despite its intensely personal nature, Small Sins became D’Arcy’s most well-received musical venture yet.

Chatting recently with Thomas D’Arcy, and noting that he had now come to the realization that he was better off as a solo mastermind - as opposed to being beholden to other supposedly creative geniuses - I first wondered what it had been that finally got him to this point and how had his music changed because of it? "When I quit my old band, there were about a thousand different reasons for doing so. We can talk about our creative direction, our personal relationships, my ego or the weather, but the reaity is that there was no specific reason. One day, it just felt like the right thing to do. At the time, people would ask me why, and I would give them a different answer every day. Ultimately, it was a time of self realization of what I wanted to do, and it made sense for every reason. Now I work alone, and I'm more happy with what I produce. There is no such thing as compromise anymore, and I find myself making music because it makes me happy, not because I'm worried about anyone else's opinion. This might not even be for the best, but it is the best thing for me personally."

For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of buying your upcoming self-titled 'Small Sins' CD, how would you yourself describe your sound? "That question never gets any less difficult. I would like to think that my music is original, and I usually respond with something that somebody else compares me to. It's so much easier that way because I don't really feel like I can answer on my own."

"My favourite was 'Crosby Stills and Nash meet Grandaddy'."

Your album title being named after that of the band is either a choice born of creative genius or pure laziness ... which is it in your case?! "Originally, the band was called 'The Ladies and Gentlemen'. Turns out that some other bands already had that name. This original version was titled 'Small Sins', which is where I took my new name from. So, lazy band name, not lazy album title I guess."

If there was one track on 'Small Sins' that truly encapsulated you at your musical and lyrical finest, which one would it be? "My favourite I think is the song 'Small Sins/Big Within'."

What would be your smallest sin that you could please reveal to us today? Just to get it off your chest, you understand! "Selling myself!"

Noting that you created this new album with the aid of your trusty Roland 707 drum machine, some vintage Moog keyboards, and a sixteen-track recorder, I'm wondering how this back-to-basics approach was greeted by your friends and industry colleagues? "I don't know if they really care. At this point, it is assumed that everyone uses a computer to make their records. In fact, I am using a computer these days. It is a point of pride though I suppose - all those little keyboard loops and generally repetitive bits were actually played the whole way through. It would have been easy to cut and paste, but I'd like to think that the songs have a subconscious human touch that a lot of records that use electronic sounds are missing."

It's also been said that 'Small Sins' lyrically documents the ins, outs, ups, downs, and betrayals of your mid-twenties crisis. So which is the most personal track to you in the manner that it reveals the most about you? "I think they all do. Some of the songs are about really little things, like walking home at night or something. Some of them are about bigger and more important things. We could put them on some sort of rating system I guess, but at the time, the song about walking home at night was just as important to me as a song about drug addiction would become the next week."

Just for fun, and taking the titles of a few of your album tracks, please let us know:
'Threw It All Away' - OK, as we've all done once or twice in our lives, what has been the most important thing that you've ever thrown away and regretted immediately thereafter ... and why?! "I'm always deleting emails and forgetting to do things because of it."

'It's Easy' - What's easy? Please name something in life that everyone thinks is so hard to accomplish but yet you find quite easy to perform or achieve?! "I find it easy to write songs. Not every one of them is great, but I find them easy to write."

'At Least You Feel Something' - What is one of the most disgusting feelings that you have ever felt ... and why?! "Every time I see a fight in public. Especially if someone is really losing. Makes me feel sick."

What '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today if asked ... and why?! "'Pop Goes the World' by Men Without Hats. It's electronic, it's catchy and it's Canadian."

Lastly, I like Penguins ... do you?! "Just watched that documentary about Penguins. Pretty amazing. I didn't know I liked penguins, but I guess now I do!"

Thanx again for doing this for us today, and we wish you all the best for the future. "No problem! Thank you."

Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk

If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Small Sin's new CD, just answer this easy question: D’Arcy was born on an island in the English Channel with a rich history. But, which one?!

Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great new and AUTOGRAPHED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before October 1st with your answer and the subject title 'CONTEST: SMALL SINS SIGNED CDs' to:

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