Stars frontman takes different route with Memphis





Chris Dumont and Torquil Campbell of Memphis recently released their sophomore album, A Little Place In The Wilderness. The band plays Lee’s Palace tomorrow night.


“I make a bit of an effort to try and stay away from the kind of directness that I've employed with Stars.”— Memphis’ Torquil Campbell

It’s difficult separating fact from fiction when it comes to musical duo Memphis, the brainchild of Stars frontman Torquil Campbell.

The group’s sophomore album, A Little Place In The Wilderness, is one example.

Full of dream, sleep and ghost references, the album is a collage of what is and isn’t happening: people lingering in and out of dreams; nightmares; existing in a state nearing sleep and the haunting of each other and oneself.

Poetic, bedroom lyrics are a natural extension to Campbell’s heart-struck whisper voice and bandmate Chris Dumont’s soft piano, organ and strings accompaniment.

(Also present on the record are bandmates/friends James Shaw of Metric and Josh Trager of the Sam Roberts Band).

One exception is Incredibly Drunk on Whiskey, an up-beat, jazzy tune about mutual intoxication.

Then there are the men behind the music — did they actually meet in a hospital in Egypt recovering from chronic addiction to sleeping pills? And does Dumont really dream his days away as carousel operator in Central Park?

That’s one way the band maintains separation from Campbell’s indie pop band Stars.

“I make a bit of an effort to try and stay away from the kind of directness that I’ve employed with Stars,” says Campbell, who also performs and records with Broken Social Scene. “Memphis is a little more elliptical and a little less easy to get.”

The Toronto-raised musician strongly credits his Vancouver residence as a strong influence on the album.

“It’s a beautiful place, but it’s also kind of a lonely place and a place where people … try to create something out of their dreams and sometimes that’s a wonderful thing and sometimes it’s a very dark and sad thing.”

Despite the distance he sometimes feels in his surroundings, Campbell, a former actor, admits his friendships are what keep him motivated and that the music is simply a byproduct of these relationships.

“This entire thing has been about trying to preserve my friendships and preserve that moment in my life when I did nothing but hang out with these people … (It’s) trying to make these people think I’m cool, make them want to hang around me and give them something that makes them believe in me.”

• Memphis performs tomorrow at Lee’s Palace, tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door.