Secret Sign, Toronto’s synth pop darlings will be no less than captivating during their performance this Saturday at Grickle Grass. Bright lights, haunting melodies, and a dance floor… what else could you need?

These guys are the music of romance so, London… “bring you lover.”

Why do you play the music you play? 

Phil: When I was growing up my dad had a very loud sound system in his car and he would drive my sister and I around listening to synth pop music like Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, and Kraftwerk. This had a huge effect on me, though in my teenage years I tried to diminish that influence.

Later I got more into Disco and Funk. A few years ago I really wanted to start making my own music like this. Danny and Kaila joined with me and Secret Sign was formed

Danny: Prior to Secret Sign, the bands I played in were not very pop-oriented. In fact, I strived to create music that was complicated and noisy. I attribute Phil with introducing me to a variety of 80’s synth and funk sounds. Learning more about that era of music was a pre-requisite for playing guitar in this band. It took some time to fully embrace the poppy-er side of song writing, but it has been a fun challenge to create hooks designed to make people dance.

Photo courtesy of the Grickle Grass Festival

Kaila: This band has been a great creative outlet for me. Songwriting helps to ease my mind and give me focus. My music is the thing I feel most proud of and I feel very fortunate to be able to what we do.

Grickle Grass is a DIY festival. What is the most DIY thing about you and your music? 

Phil: I’m a big advocate of DIY. I fix my own gear, build my own synthesizers and effects, record and mix our music. I’ve taught workshops and firmly believe in sharing information and techniques. Sometimes I am stubbornly DIY, even.

Are there other artists you like to work with? 

Danny: We’re good friends with Twin Rains, a great synth-pop duo in Toronto. Years ago, our indie rock bands used to tour around together, so I find it interesting that we have both shifted towards synth-pop and that our current bands now compliment each other so well. Phil did a remix of their song “Pons’ off their premiere album.

What is your live music ritual, if you have one? 

Phil: Personally, I have no live music ritual other than getting extremely stressed and anxious. We don’t gather dressed in robes around a sigil lit by candles, although we should.

What do you do when you’re not playing music?

Phil: I do a number of things when I’m not playing music — I work for a Virtual Reality company called Occupied VR, where I mostly do camera operating or drone flying; but do other various things as well. I’m currently designing video synthesizer modules for a company, while also trying to design a system of my own. I also produce video art with the tools I create, and sometimes if I’m lucky that stuff is exhibited in galleries (I have an opening in July in London, ON.)

Danny: Other musical projects, concert promotion, and video work. And supporting as much live music as possible. 

Kaila: I work at a bar in Toronto called Sneaky Dee’s. It is a family owned establishment that has been around since the late 80’s, and just about everyone I work with is a musician. The upstairs is also a concert venue by night, and it has helped me network with other like-minded individuals.

Why electronic music? What does it do for you that other genres and instrument combos don’t?

Phil: Electronic music is a completely malleable form, you can tailor every aspect of the music exactly how you want. You can have a computer perform parts for you. I think, sonically, electronic sounds have always had more of an impact on me. It’s like creating complete worlds with the compositions and mixes. It’s not that other genres and instruments don’t do it for me, it’s just that, for the specific things we are trying to evoke it fits best. Early 80’s post-disco, new wave, and synth pop. I listen to a lot of other genres of music, but I like to compartmentalize.

You can check out more Secret Sign on Facebook. And while you’re at it, stay up to date on what’s happening and who’s playing at Grickle right here on LondonFuse with ‘Grickle Talks,’ every day leading up to the festival.

Feature photo via Facebook / Secret Sign


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