Land of Talk live in a world of buzz.
The Montreal-based trio has garnered much of it lately — from a string of shows in New York to getting churned out of the Canadian Music Week hype-factory, from enamoured bloggers to indie radio attention. In a world devoid of million-dollar marketing ploys, the independent music scene runs on buzz. It’s the machinery that makes a star as quickly as it breaks one.
And Elizabeth Powell doesn’t buy any of it.
Land Of Talk’s singer and songwriter appreciates the praise but says these successes are often short-lived. “It’s almost detrimental to a band that has good intentions and just wants to make music,” Powell says of the hype. “It’s a shitty thing because then you inevitably get the backlash. As a buzz band, you’re an easy target — especially from scenesters and hipsters — you can lose all your integrity but have nothing to do with it.”
Her reference to “scenesters and hipsters” is an educated one. Moving from Guelph, Ont. to Montreal, Powell found herself in “a business town that disguises itself as an art town.” Powell calls the move coming-of-age and describes herself in Montreal as depressed, missing the warmly supportive music scene back home.
But it was out of this environment that Land Of Talk was born. She dropped out of university but had taken two fellow students with her — drummer Bucky Wheaton and bassist Chris McCarron. And the band name itself was drawn from the artists’ clique in the city. “I was living in a community where you go to a café everyday,” she says, “and after three hours, you’re jacked up on coffee and then you start talking about your big plans, your big ideas, your art. You have all these ideas but then months go by and you’re still there in the café — completely paralyzed in this world of talking about your ideas and never actually having the balls to do anything.
“But mind you, I was one of those people. And the only thing that saved me was actually doing something. Land Of Talk was the cure.”
Here’s the irony: We wouldn’t be chatting with Powell if it wasn’t for buzz. And another: Their seven-song EP Applause Cheer Boo Hiss — a title that seems to map the arc of indie success — has been generating a lot of, ahem, you know what.