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Touched Fables, evoking cold sepia tones, brooding loss & steeped in half remembered nostalgia | Interview

Touched Fables brings to life the ghosts of our youth through melodic dark electronics and post-punk!


It's been a while that I was impressed by the debut album of this newcomer duo. Touched Fables are hailing from Ottawa, Canada, consisting of two very talented musicians, Paul Anthony and Jim Roditis, they introduced their new music project and their dark sonic journey, through the beautiful debut album "A Thousand Goodbyes", released via DisownMe Recordings in September 2023.

"A Thousand Goodbyes" is the outcome of a new adventure for the two band members, started after this old companionship was strengthen through a life experience that was transformed to creation and inspiration. Touched Fables shared with us an album with 10 unique tracks, all exploring emotional paths through the variety and mixture of different genres and influences, creating a dark wave, electronic, post-punk album. "A Thousand Goodbyes" stands on the solid electronic music background of Paul Anthony and Jim Roditis and builds a new dark, unexplored until now, soundscape for the duo.

Touched Fables and the "A Thousand Goodbyes" is Paul and Jim looking back to their youth and the rebirth of their teenage ghost ideas, delivering a sound that resonates with a sense of purity and authenticity, while avoiding having it feeling contrived or maudlin.

It's been some time now since we had this really interesting chat with the duo and now I am really glad that I share it with you! 

ES: Hi Touched Fables. I am really glad to have you here, in ElektroSpank. Before going into the "A Thousand Goodbyes" would you like to introduce yourselves to our readers?

Paul Anthony: Thanks for having us. We are huge fans of the whole ElektroSpank aesthetic and vibe, promoting amazing music that skirts the mainstream! Jim Roditis and I have been friends for years, and for the last decade each have been independently producing techno (Jim as Upper Regions, me as KI and Canada High – with a house track called “Le Chiffre” out recently on Bill Brewster's After Dark - Vespertine compilation on UK based Late Night Stories). We started to collaborate as Touched Fables in the fall of 2022.

ES: Touched Fables is a very emotional project that came out of some incidents that forced you, in a way, to express these feelings through the creation process. How did you two meet and what brought you together, under Touched Fables?

PA: We were fans of each other's work before we were introduced in real life by a mutual friend. Jim recently moved from a city 4 hours away to a neighborhood just 10 minutes from my home here in Ottawa, Canada. This new availability was one of the catalyst that lead to the formation of Touched Fables.” Unfortunately, we both lost a parent last year. That stress, coupled with the inability to work together during the lock downs, motivated us to try something new. We left our usual productions behind, and through a shared love of dark music, challenged ourselves to pay homage to the music of our youth.

ES: You've been into the electronic music scene for some time before diving into the dark paths of Touched Fables. Which are your influences and inspirations in creating a pure dark wave album?

PA: I was lucky my older sister Susan had great taste in music. I credit her for exposing me to Bauhaus, The Cure, Joy Division, Clan Of Xymox etc. at a very young age. She also had friends who owned a local independent record store here in Ottawa called Shake Records. Many weekends were spent taking the bus downtown to hang out in the store and listen to brand new underground releases. She even influenced how I looked and dressed. One summer we got matching pink Mohawk haircuts. Our parents were not pleased! I was unknowingly being steeped in music that most of my school friends were not aware of.

As well, my sister's boyfriend at the time was a drummer in a local punk band called The Restless Virgins. I watched as they released a handful of records independently... which seemed like magic to me. Up until then, being in a band and releasing records was something unattainable. Something out of reach that belonged to the rarefied world of major labels and stuffy businessmen in suits. Seeing that DIY attitude first hand obviously had a major influence on me. Years later it would lead me to think “maybe I can do this too” when it came to wanting to make my own music.

ES: "A Thousand Goodbyes" could sound to someone, that is coming straight out of the 80's heart of dark/new wave but built with strong elements of today's music. Could that album be an unfulfilled need that had been always in your mind?

PA: That's a great question. We deliberately placed the production of “A Thousand Goodbyes” in the mid-1980s to embrace not only technological constraints, but also grant us the freedom to delve into our past. This choice provided a disciplined framework and structure for our creative process. Personally, I grappled with the stress and anxiety of complex relationships during my high school years, navigating challenges that exceeded my adolescent understanding at the time.

Reflecting on the past, we often yearn to rewrite certain incidents. The process of crafting lyrics for this album compelled me to revisit pivotal events, allowing me to articulate the sentiments I wished I had expressed or actions I wished I had taken. This creative journey became a means for me to reconcile with lingering challenges from my youth.

ES: It's been a while now that "A Thousand Goodbyes" released. Could you tell us about the first reactions and the feedback so far?

PA: Jim and I are delighted with our acceptance within the Goth / Darkwave community. Locally, we've received support on the airwaves and have been warmly invited to participate in events by a new circle of friends. "A Thousand Goodbyes" has garnered positive reviews and airplay on FM radio in several countries worldwide, while also finding a place on playlists across various YouTube channels. This recognition humbles us, serving as a gratifying affirmation not only of being understood but also as confirmation of the authenticity of our work. You never really know how people are going to react to your art until you release it into the world, and we are so grateful for the support of so many.

ES: How was the creation process of "A Thousand Goodbyes"? Would you like to tell us about the things that you remember the most and about anything that, perhaps, you are going to do differently in the second album?

PA: In keeping with the retro vibe, our creative toolkit was limited to a basic drum machine, a synthesizer, a guitar, and a microphone—forming the foundation for our productions. Devoid of modern conveniences. Fast forward to today, and producers enjoy an expansive array of sounds and recording capabilities, significantly shaping the production and sonic landscape of music. Our deliberate embrace of sonic minimalism aimed to imbue our record with a nostalgic authenticity, capturing the essence of a bygone era. Our album serves as a deliberate homage to that period, intentionally set in the past.

Additionally, the fact that producing Darkwave tracks was uncharted territory for us added an element of youthful exploration, as if we were teenagers discovering something entirely new together. In terms of the future, the album is still fresh to us, and Jim and I have not explored what a sophomore release might sound like.

ES: Touched Fables just started and with a beautiful album and, for this, you had to dive into some new tasks, like the guitar lines for Jim and the vocal and lyric parts for Paul. How easy or difficult was that for you?

PA: It was pure hubris on our part to think we could dive intentionally into a new genre and record an entire album over such a short period of time. But when you lose someone you love, it's no myth that your whole world perspective changes, and in this case, we felt we really had nothing to lose trying. Getting older ourselves and having less days ahead rather than behind is also a real motivator to shake things up and work outside your comfort zones. Life is short.

Jim has obviously been playing guitar for years, but was not using his skills while producing techno and house music. Forming a band opened the door in a way for him. I've never sung a note in my life, but I think the fact I am such a music fan (with a collection that covers everything from 1940s swing up to releases that came out last week) gave me a library of inspiration to draw from.

For me the songwriting turned out to be just as challenging as recording vocals, as I had to learn the fact that great lyrics on paper often don't translate to anything usable in real life. Words have to be broken down into syllables and you have to factor in the rhythm, repetition and cadence while writing. It was both fun and challenging at the same time.

ES: I think that one of the main scopes behind the creation of Touched Fables, other than getting into the dark side of music, was to present you new project on a live stage? Could you tell us more on this? And how did you experience the first show as Touched Fables and the recent live appearance for a Halloween event?

PA: While we were writing the album, Jim and I were very conscious of the fact we wanted to present these songs live. As such, we made sure that any vocal and guitar parts were ultimately laid down in real time, without the aid of technology and editing. Producers these days have an endless supply of tricks they can employ in the studio to shape and finesse audio. We wanted to avoid that - and record in such a way that what we presented live on stage was an accurate representation of the tracks on the album. We spent many many days fine tuning our live gear and practicing, aiming to sound as professional as possible. The hard work paid off, as the crowds at our shows so far have been loudly voicing their approval between songs and dancing like crazy!

ES: And what does the future steps now for Touched Fables? Any plans for the near future? Would you see a possibility of doing more concerts with this new project?

PA: After enjoying a few well-received local performances, our intention was to introduce 'A Thousand Goodbyes' to a broader audience in Ontario and Quebec in the upcoming year. Unfortunately, unforeseen and significant health issues within one of our families has temporarily halted any such plans. Jim and I deeply appreciate the encouraging words and support from our newfound global fans. We look forward to presenting our music live to fresh audiences as soon as circumstances permit. Thank you for your understanding and support.

ES: If you had to describe "A Thousand Goodbyes" sound using colours and landscapes how would it be?

PA: I'm by nature a very visual person, so I love this question. I feel we conveyed the essence of the songs through the album artwork. There are contradictory themes of dark green weathered walls versus dimly lit delicate wild plants. I think subconsciously it's the age old metaphor for teenage life – nature trying to find a way to survive living within an uncaring concrete environment. A landscape would definitely consist of cones of sodium lights in the fog at the centre of a silent city at night.

ES: Thank you very much for this chat and I am leaving this last question for you to say anything else that you would like to add.

PA: Thank you for supporting not only established artists, but emerging acts as well! Cheers!

 

Info:

https://www.disownmerecordings.com/

https://touchedfables.bandcamp.com/

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ElektroSpank FMA is an online music magazine about the darkest side of our lives.

We write about Gothic, industrial, dark wave and all of their sub genres. ElektroSpank FMA is not only about music, but for the dark, Gothic lifestyle as well. We try to support the music and scenes we love. For those who have never heard about ElektroSpank before please visit our about page for more info and history.

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