The DIY culture of 00s indie is making a comeback - and while the smudged eyeliner and back-combed side partings have yet to transpire from the internet into IRL - the era’s trippy electronic pop and punchy guitar bands have returned with enormous success. There are socials dedicated to documenting the subculture; there’s even a Spotify playlist called ‘Indie Sleaze’ featuring icons such as Peaches, MGMT and Hot Chip. But it's the new artists that are leading the indie renaissance - and one not to be missed is Toronto-based producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist The Ugly Fun with his latest track ‘Bounce’.
The single combines oscillating octaves, sunny lo-fi pop and garage with a unique and progressive guitar lead to bring the electroclash and bloghouse scenes of the late aughts into 2022. It’s innovative, catchy, and like all music of that time, is the cumulation of collaboration; he had been approached by a UK producer via Instagram to write 20 pop tracks, in the hope that they might appeal to one of his artists, and is now mixing and releasing the best of them. This one, ‘Bounce’, is about a childhood friend he can’t find anywhere, despite living in an age of social media and hyper-connectivity.
"We used to sleep on the roof of his house, make cassette tapes of our private conversations and break into the local high school on weekends hiding from the janitors behind costumes in the drama room, but I can’t find him. It’s like he disappeared. I hope he’s still alive; our childhood friendship will always haunt me. I’m building a video for ‘Bounce’ now and it will be along the lines of what I’ve been calling beat-collages on my instagram account. I’ll push it on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, but I’m not a fan of the highly popular rinse and repeat method of posting repetitive messages on a daily basis. I like to be a touch more sparse and creative if I can. The pedaling of our private life for attention and metrics is troubling, but I’ve met some of the best people in my life on social media and I look to them for suggestions and strategies.”
The Ugly Fun will be unveiling more tracks ahead of his EP release next year, but this is just the beginning of an exciting new future for the artist, who has been making music for 40 years. He began by tracking songs on a Tascam Portastudio that his dad rented for him once a year, where he’d piece together crudely recorded songs on a cassette tape for his friends to listen to. This solidified his passion for the music making process and he turned to playing drums and piano, before discovering a love for guitar at the age of 12 after finding an out-of-tune, fake stratocaster and giving it a second chance at life. In 2015 he launched indie garage trio The Sleepovers, playing shows and recording a few EPs until the trio eventually went their separate ways. Inspired by the abundance of voice notes left unfinished on his phone, he is now injecting new life into old ideas under solo and collaborative rebrand The Ugly Fun. He concludes, “I’m determined to put as much music out as possible in the hopes of collaborating, writing, producing and mixing for various artists. I want to be in this creative space as long as humanly possible.”