Music outside the lines

Columbia Bible College grad takes his musical training electronic

June 22, 2011 | Young Voices
Emily Loewen | Young Voices Editor

When you think “Mennonite,” you think music, but lo-fi electro pop probably isn’t what you have in mind, even if you know what it might sound like. Yet musician Teen Daze embodies and embraces that contradiction. Steeped in Mennonite culture, he may not play traditional Menno music, but this 25-year-old’s electronic tracks are earning followers at home in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia and internationally.

Growing up with the obligatory piano lessons many a child has endured, Teen Daze, who doesn’t use his real name with his music, says he never wanted to play notes as they existed on the page. “My lessons didn’t really work,” he says. “I liked to colour outside the lines.” From piano, he moved to percussion in high school and then to guitar, which became his primary instrument by the time he began studying music at Columbia Bible College, Abbotsford, B.C.

It was at Columbia that the name “Teen Daze” emerged. Although he had been making electronic music for seven years, “mostly the music stayed on my hard drive, or I would burn a CD for friends,” he says. That was until April 2010, when the Teen Daze sound began as a way to explore a slower, hazier tone. And although he made his first record as a musical photo album of his last year in college, filled with inside jokes and experiences, independent music powerhouse Pitchfork has since reviewed it and Teen Daze has played at major festivals in New York City, N.Y., and Austin, Tex.

When the Teen Daze project started picking up momentum online, he decided to keep his real name out of the media. While the artist tries to live holistically, not making distinctions between music, faith and life, he says, “I also didn’t want Teen Daze to define who I am. I didn’t want to just become an entity of the Internet.”

That may get harder this summer when his new album, A Silent Planet, comes out. Based largely on C.S. Lewis’s science-fiction novel, Out of the Silent Planet, the album is heavy with ideas of adjusting to a new environment. While Lewis uses language to depict an experience on a new planet, the location in this case exists closer to home: Fraser Valley’s Mount Cheam. But both author and musician take on the same task of making an experience in their imagination accessible to their respective audiences. Teen Daze liked the way Lewis’s words created powerful visuals. “I tried to emulate that with this record,” he says, “taking an idea that is only in the imagination of most, and make it something we can all access.”

A Silent Planet will be released on Aug. 9 by Waaga Records. Teen Daze will tour British Columbia and Alberta this summer along with a few U.S. dates.

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