“Nothing new under the sun” rings true for a lot of things. And the current music scene? No exception. But “nothing new” doesn’t mean homage to history is a bad thing – especially, say, for fans of Madonna circa 1983.
Taking their place among the new wave of New Wave enthusiasts, Toronto-based electro-pop perfectionists Parallels will take the stage this Sunday, Aug. 12 at Soda Bar with two local acts, Church Hustlers and Beat Panther, for a night that’s sure to be straight ‘80s synth-sational.
Chatting with SoundDiego from San Francisco, Calif., Parallels front woman and vocalist Holly Dodson caught us up on the band’s past and present, beginning with her own beginnings.
Born into a musical family, Dodson, the daughter of ‘70s rocker and producer Rich Dodson of the Stampeders (Google ‘em), grew up around the studio.
Citing her father’s influence, Dodson says, “My dad did some work with Toronto house acts when I was growing up so I would always hear pop music going on.”
She was also influenced by listening to her parents’ album collection, and it was ultimately the discovery of David Bowie that began Dodson’s odyssey into the world of ‘80s rock.
Likewise, Bowie was the catalyst for Dodson’s decision to collaborate with fellow Canadian and ex-Crystal Castles drummer Camron Fidaly, who co-wrote Dodson Parallel’s first single, 2008’s “Ultralight.” Aligned on the musical direction they wished the album to take, in 2010 Dodson and Fidaly expanded an earlier EP into Visionaries, Parallel’s debut album. Dotted with dark, static synths, Visionaries drew comparisons to the classic pop sentiments of Depeche Mode and established the band in the burgeoning Canadian electronic scene.
Since its beginning, inevitably, the band has evolved from its earlier roots. Findlay has moved on to a new project, Kontravoid, and Dodson’s brother Nick has joined as drummer along with synth accompanist Artem Galperine. Musically, the project has shifted as well, though Dodson remains at the forefront, hailed for her eerily Madonna-esque vocals.
Parallels are now on tour in support of their second album, XII, released this past June.
“I wanted to explore the pop side of things,” says Dodson, citing the danceability of the album. “It’s a little brighter and more uplifting, very colorful,” she says. Indeed, XII is a fitting soundtrack to the band’s “love the West Coast” motto and growing California fan-base.
With long blonde hair and Cyndi Lauper dance moves, Dodson has retro pop-princess swagger, but like any modern musician, knows predictability isn’t trending in the pop scene.
Much like the infamous reinventionist to whom her vocals are compared, Dodson plans to spend the months post tour working on remixing the work of friends, explaining, “I’m a Gemini, so my interests are vast.”
Touring as a solo unit, Parallels often plays with a different band every night. The prospect of encountering new sounds and a fresh musical community from city to city has excited Dodson about heading back to Canada and spending the next few months forming Parallel’s third album, which will be co-written with her brother.
“Fall is a good time to be back in the studio…what else is can you do in Canada? Go outside?” she says, laughing.
But for now, Dodson seems content with tour life, bringing crowds indoors for a dance party reincarnation of Cyndi Lauper in her glory days.