Toy’s kaleidoscopic shoe-gaze is one of the most exciting sounds to come out of London in the past 18 months, warranting inclusion in our ‘Ones To Watch’. They’re leading a new wave of ethereal guitar bands, who exploit the innovation of post-punk and breezy psychedelic pop, while throwing out the lo-fi subtlety of the muso-elite to create expansive and ambitious nu-noir.
Their debut single Left Myself Behind, is an eight minute epic assault of chrome chords and layered effects, while forthcoming single Motoring has the killer pop chorus of the year wrapped in Cure-goes-ELO virtuosity. Being friends with the Horrors and coming from the ashes of Joe Lean and The Jing Jang Jong has set them on the right path, but Toy have phenomenal momentum in their own right.
We caught up with s keyboardist Alejandra Diez to learn more.
What do Toy sound like in a sentence?
A little bit of what you fancy
Describe your musical philosophy to us.
I'd say it's about creating something exciting, avoiding musical conformism. We love layers of sound and movement and experimenting with structures, melodies and noise.
Your sound is somewhere between 70’s Krautrock, MBV shredding and Sonic Youth sonic ambition. Who brings what sound to the band and do you all have different styles you like draw from?
We all love pretty much the same types of music, so it's all very equal in that sense. Each song inspires different sounds and different styles. I don't think there is an specific one that we individually draw from. It's all about state of mind, feelings, energy, and so on.
What made you want to start making music together?
We've known each other for years and one of our favourite things has always been listening to music together, we spend hours doing this. And as I said before, we all share musical taste, so it was a very easy transition to start making songs. We just really wanted to be in a band together.
Talk me through how you write your songs.
It is a very co-operative process. Somebody will come with an idea and we all develop it until we’re happy with the final product. We usually record a demo in Dom's and my house and work on it in rehearsal. The more you play a song, the more ideas suddenly come to your head so we usually don't feel that a song is finished until we've played it for a while.
So who were you listening to?
I love bands like Syd Barret's Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Velvet Underground, the MC5, 13th Floor Elevators, the Stooges, Television, The Byrds, Neil Young, The Beach Boys, Silver Apples, Can, Harmonia and Eno, Cluster, Roxy Music, some Led Zeppelin, The Modern Lovers, The Ramones, Wire, I could go on and on and on. But we’re also influenced by films or great books. When you get so involved in a good book that can alter you general mood and can also affect the way you write and listen to music.
What goes through your mind on the eve of a release and is there different kinds of excitement between releasing your debut Left My Self Behind and next single Motoring?
When we released Left Myself Behind I wasn't nervous at all, it was pure excitement. When I held the first copy in my hands I was just incredibly happy, suddenly seeing our work finally materialised was a pretty great feeling. The fact that it was our first single made the whole thing pretty stress free as there weren't any specific expectations. I guess your second single is a bit different, just because there is already a starting point or level that you want to sustain. People keep on showing us support which is amazing and I am just very excited about recording our LP.
Which area of London are you based in, has that area influenced Toy’s music?
We all live in East London where there are lots of great venues and bands are playing gigs constantly, that probably influences our music. If we lived in a temple on a Japanese mountain we probably would be writing a different type of music.
What’s your favourite London venue and why?
I would probably say The Cave Club at The Buffalo Bar, we meet our friends there and they are great DJs with plenty of good music. The 100 Club is another great venue but there are lots of great venues around and many to discover.
What’s the London gig circuit like for bands starting out?
There is a great gig circuit around London, definitely. There are millions of places where you can just walk in and listen to an amazing new band. There is great support and the exposure is real, that's how we met our management and record label so at least it worked for us.
Where would Toy like to play if they could play anywhere in London?
The roof of the House of Lords.
What’s your favourite…
London Bridge, I remembered it from a picture in a school geography book from Spain. Love it.
…tube line and why?
Victoria, it’s the classic
…place to hang out?
The terrace of the top flat of the Pembury Tavern. I used to live in that flat and we had some great times there.
…Area for food?
Highbury and Islington. I like walking up and down Upper Street deciding what type of food I fancy the most.
What’s been Toy’s career highlight so far?
Signing our record deal with Heavenly, it's all very exciting and it's great working with them.
Why choose Toy as a name? It’s not exactly Google friendly, with lots of other, well, toys coming up first.
We liked it because it's short and direct, it sticks to your mind easily. We didn't consider the Google aspect.
Motoring’s on next week and you just played a huge XOYO show so what are Toy’s future plans?
Record, release, play live shows, record, release, play live shows, record, release play.... the more the better.
If it all failed tomorrow what would you do instead of music?
Easy, I am a nurse so I would go back to the frenzy of A&E.