Volume 91, Issue 78

Wednesday, February 18, 1998

aspartame pop


Cornershop's a varied market

©Joe Dilworth
"LOOK AT ME MATE, I'M JUST A BLOODY HEAD! BRILLIANT!" The phantom-like qualities of Cornershop are demonstrated here. The limey bastards are prove to be a rather challenging interview as well.

By Jamie Lynn

Gazette Staff

Dressed in a raggedy pin-striped jacket and glancing up from his bag of Doritos, Tjinder Singh, Cornershop's principle singer and songwriter, does not appear much like a pop star.

Then again, Cornershop is by no means a typical pop band. Their music is an eclectic mix of sounds and moods ranging from sitar-based hip-hop, to spoken-word Allen Ginsberg poems, to country hinged Beatle's cover tunes which are not sung in English.

While the initial listen may seem overwhelming, the results are ultimately warm and satisfying.

From his Toronto hotel room where a pungent scent of freshly smoked spliff still lingers in the air, Singh's first words are "would you care for some crisps?" While Singh and his fellow bandmate Ben Ayres are quite giving with their snacks, they are less generous with their words. These U.K. popsters are notoriously soft spoken and, as a result, have built a reputation for being a frustrating interview.

"The perspective of a lot of journalists is that we analyze a lot of things and we don't," defended Singh from behind a chemically-influenced smile. "It's more exciting to see what other people think about it."

Nonetheless, many of these same journalists can not contain their enthusiasm about Cornershop's music. While their latest release, Born for the 7th Time, was released quietly last fall, critics praised the album overwhelmingly and it made numerous publications' Top-10 lists, including Spin magazine who awarded them with Record of the Year. This, with the aid of a new Top-10 single, has created some expanded enthusiasm around the group.

Singh explains why he thinks this is. "People are just catching on and telling other people. That's why it has taken time for people to get it. [Born for the 7th time] is a much more immediate album than our other records."

Despite its infectious chorus and obvious pop flavour, Singh finds their label's choice of single, "Brimful of Asha," rather bizarre. "People wouldn't understand it and they don't understand it. It's quite strange." Nonetheless, singles are not one of Cornershop's major concerns, as they are far more interested in making a complete album that works as a package.

"It's so easy just to program your CD player to play certain tracks and that's bullocks. We wanted a record that would flow so that people could get glued into."

When writing, both claim their approach to composition is quite varied. It may start with a sample, or a scratch or even a lyric. While Born for the 7th Time is loaded with all these sounds, many sounds from Singh's ethnic background are also very prominent on the record, though he claims this is not necessarily planned.

"I didn't really think about it that much. I mean, I did grow up with that type of music, but I didn't like it and I didn't think about recording it. It's just that when we did get things together, we had listened to a lot of different kinds of music and we wanted to go over everything."

While Cornershop's albums are very texture-rich with many musical layers, Ayres insists it is the band's wisdom that enables them to know what will work with each track.

"We have a strong sense of what we think is right in a song and what we know is wrong. And that's bloody important. It's not just as easy as throwing anything together for more sources."

In the end, Singh just wants to make positive music and "inspire with a record, rather than just talking about shit all the time." He has strong feelings about the state of the music industry today. "Music is supposed to make you happy, man. And that's what music has lost over the past 15 years. [Music today] is bullocks. It's not reflective of any life and that's pretty sad. That just shows how much major labels run things."

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

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