Who Stole Kontravoid's Paintball Masks?

By Patrick McGuire

Kontravoid, shedding a tear after an "emotional show."

If you're familiar with Kontravoid, you'll know that it's the dark, electronic dance music version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera if the Phantom lived in a low-rent, industrial art loft in downtown Toronto. Kontravoid is a guy in a mask with a traveling, one-man, synth driven band that's the creation of a gentleman named Cam Findlay. Cam started a band called Parallels a few years ago, tours with Trust sometimes when they need a drummer, and also used to play for some other group called Crystal Castles. Anyway, after a lengthy North American tour with Crystal Castles that concluded in Toronto earlier this month, Kontravoid’s trademark masks were stolen from his dressing room. He’s understandably upset about this brazen burglary and wants the damn masks back. I sent him a text the other day to see if he wanted to talk about all this, and he shot down to the VICE Toronto office to speak with me about his dearly departed face protectors.

So Cam, why is the mask important to Kontravoid?
It’s something that I've used since the project started, which is really only a year now. It's the image of the band. It's a good visual to put with the music, and the mask brings a bit of a creepy element that goes well with my songs.

Absolutely. You just finished a tour with Crystal Castles. Up until the point the mask got stolen, how was the tour going?
The tour was great. It was amazing. For the first four weeks of the tour I was the first support along with HEALTH, so I was playing before HEALTH, and they dropped off the tour halfway through. It was unfortunate that they had to leave, because they’re good friends of ours, but I was able to get bumped up to the main support slot. Being able to play an hour later and have a larger audience at that point, was amazing. The majority of the tour was sold out, so in a lot of the big cities like L.A. and Chicago specifically, I was playing in front of 4000 kids.

Awesome. Now, what happened in Toronto?
The Toronto show was great too and it’s lucky that my masks were stolen then, on the last night of the tour, and not halfway through it. But, people were inviting too many of their friends backstage. When I perform at a show, I have to also deal with my gear and sell merch. So I'm running around at all these shows and I can't always be watching my stuff backstage. When I finally went back to collect my things, my masks were gone. Somebody stole them. I don't know who, but I'm trying to figure that out and get to the bottom of it.

Are they custom made?
No, they're not custom made. They're paintball masks. People wear them for paintballing so that they don't get shot in the face. I painted one of them white, actually, so I guess that's somewhat custom.

Well then what's the big deal? Buy some new paintball masks to replace the stolen ones.
I could buy new ones, but the thing was that I wore the stolen masks on this tour, and it was …

Yeah! It was a personal thing. This was a big break for me. I got to wear these masks in front of all these kids and had an awesome time performing. I still want to have them, and they're gone now.

Strobe lit footage of Kontravoid performing in Minneapolis.

Do you have any leads on the mask thief?
No, not really. I've just been putting it out there on the internet. I'd like to get them back, obviously, but it's actually kind of a good thing because I'm in the process of getting a custom one made out of leather with a little bit more detail. I've been asking some theatre groups and prop designers on quotes on masks. I'm going to get something really nice made up. I was thinking of getting rid of that look, anyway. You can just buy these masks on Amazon. I want to get something a little more original.

What would you add to your mask? What kind of flare are we talking about here?
I'm not sure. I'd like to keep that original look and keep it similar to the original face that the mask was modeled after, but I'd like to add some custom details and make it custom fitted to my face.

You've been using your Facebook page as a vehicle for vigilante justice, asking your fans in Toronto for leads, to find the person that stole the mask. What would you do if you actually found the thief?
I'm not going to do anything, I'm hoping that, whether or not they think I'm joking or if I'm serious, they'll realize that the masks they have are stolen and they'll return them. They're stolen property. Obviously the value of the masks is like five bucks, so I don't know what the fuck they're going to do with them.

I put it out there on Facebook, not as a joke, but just to see what kind of reaction I could get. I realized that the fans I have are very supportive and protective of me, which is awesome. I put some posts up about it and I got a lot of people sounding outraged, like: "I'm going to fucking kill that guy" or "You should beat him up." I didn't really expect that, but it's nice to have that kind of support from fans. People like venting about that kind of thing online.

Would you feel bad if the thief got found by one of your fans and beaten up?
I'd probably feel bad if he got beaten up. I'd just like to get the masks returned. I don't want anyone to beat anyone up on my behalf.

What would you say to someone who says that you should just buy some new masks and get over it?
People have said that and suggested it. They're on Amazon for three dollars. It's easy. But it's the principle of the matter. It's about finding someone, who stole something from someone else's dressing room.

The whole thing reminds me of Dan Deacon's skull getting stolen from his gig in Toronto in 2010.
Oh yeah! I remember that. Did that ever get returned?

I don't think it did.
Toronto's getting a bad reputation for people stealing from bands.

And not just stealing, but stealing strange, kinda funny, niche items. Why do you think that is?
I have no idea. It's not something I would have ever thought people in Toronto would be doing.

In rap, Toronto has been known as the “Screwface Capital” for so long, since people make screwy, sour faces at rap shows in Toronto... but now we're becoming known as the: “Stealing Novelty Items from Indie/Electronic Acts Capital.”
It sucks. Toronto's not really like that. Maybe the same guy that stole my masks is the guy that stole Dan Deacon’s skull.

Yeah, maybe he's putting your mask on Dan Deacon's skull right now.
Exactly, like: "Look what I stole from these guys!"

If you have any information about Kontravoid's stolen, cheap, easily replaceable paintball masks, shout him out on Twitter.