Bad Channels Conjure an 80s Prom In a Garage on “Exo”

Like a scene from a John Hughes movie, but with more eyeliner and grimacing.
May 18, 2017, 5:00pm
Photo by David Waldman

Toronto's Bad Channels embody a dreamlike space that lies between dark wave, synth pop, and the grunge of their Buzz Records labelmates; a nostalgic tension that conjures the feeling of watching old John Hughes movies as you slip into obsessive longing for someone. That sound is crystallized on their latest single "Exo," a hypnotic, arpeggiated synth line that suddenly crashes into lo-fi guitar and drums with Jess Gierusz's vocals luring you in and refusing to let go. "Exo" comes off Bad Channels' fittingly–titled EP Lost Time I, the duo's Buzz debut due out June 9. Songwriter Nick Grottick explains how "Exo" evolved into serene chaos, not unlike an 80s prom stuffed into a garage:


"When Jess overlaid her vocals over mine, she ended up doing so many amazing vocal harmonies that she started to sound like a vocoder without any effects at all, to the point where we decided to cut my original vocals entirely," Grottick says. "We'd been making a conscious effort to stop burying our vocals in reverb and effects on our new material, but on this song we wanted the vocals to sound different than the other songs because it's sung from the perspective of a character who's basically a monster. The character in the song is a representation of the way people tend to get defensive when called out on their privilege, like a dog baring its teeth when you try to take its bone."

Listen to "Exo" below and catch Bad Channels on tour:

May 18 – Smiling Buddha – Toronto (with Mannequin Pussy)
June 1 – Avant-Garde Bar – Ottawa (with ZONES)
June 2 – L'Escogriffe – Montreal (with ZONES)
June 3 – Van Gogh's Ear – Guelph (with ZONES)

Jill Krajewski is a writer living in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter.