Trust: “Ace Of Base Were A Big Influence On Me When I Was Little”

We talk to Robert Alfons, photographer and guttural voice of one of the key bands in the renaissance of the dark-wave, goth spirit

Trust is the project of photographer Robert Alfons, who explores his particular vision on pop: dark, gothic, homo-erotic, dirty, guttural and beefy, according to the rules of EBM and leather-wrapped dark wave. He'll be playing at Sónar 2012, and we had a little chat.

It's been a few months since we discovered their world of venereal indecency and bad vibes - we're still recovering from TRST (Arts & Crafts, 2012), a debut full-length of the kind that leaves one black and blue. Pitch-black homo-erotic EBM, analogue junk and primitive techno stabs made for one of the sickest and most fascinating albums of the season. The makers of that piece of synthetic pop are Canadians Robert Alfons and Austra drummer Maya Pstepski (who doesn't accompany the former on stage, as she's busy with Katie Stelmanis' band); they are responsible for the fact we have to dig out our leather suits to go and see them play at Sónar 2012.

Days before Trust's appearance at the Barcelona festival, we spoke to Robert in order to get up close and personal. Although, as you'll see, the man is not very keen on letting anyone in just like that. His answers are short and on the phone he displays a shyness that has little to do with the outright dirtiness of his songs.

"I would simply say it's a pop record rather than an album influenced by goth music"

How did you meet Maya Pstepski? Was it love at first sight?

We had seen each other around in Toronto. We coincided at a photo shoot one day, and started to connect creatively.

You're still combining your career as a photographer with the band. Have you ever felt giddy in the spotlights?

I feel very comfortable on stage. And anyway, in order to disconnect from the music, I always resort to my photos. My camera goes where I go.

Were you inspired by other records or artists when making this morbid debut?

When I'm working on my music, I don't listen to anything or anyone, I prefer to do it like that so I won't copy the sound of others and make something that's not entirely me.

Are the roles between Maya and you well defined? How do you work?

Every song is and requires something different. I write all the lyrics, but on an instrumental level we have often worked closely together.

Has there ever been a moment when you got desperate because you didn't know how to finish a song?

I can only think of something like that when I was working on “ Sulk”. It was the hardest track to finish because I didn't know how to 'dress' it.

When listening to yourself, your bizarre voice, can you see why there are people who don't feel your music, precisely because of the oddness of your vocal chords?

I can see that people could find it somewhat confusing. However, I think the voice is just another instrument, maybe the most interesting one, as you can do with it whatever you want. I suppose that whether you like it or not is a question of taste.

Inevitably, everybody tags you as a goth-pop band. At the same time, bands and artists such as Zola Jesus, Light Asylum and of course Austra have surfaced recently, who pride themselves on remodelling the most unfriendly face of the dance floor. Coincidence, or trend?

I would simply say it's a pop record rather than an album influenced by goth music. I don't mind if people tag it like they do, but there's much more to it. The fact that other artists have emerged who like their melodies less bright is simply coincidence, I think. There's no scene or anything.

Looking back, what are your first electronic memories?

I grew up listening to Ace Of Base, thanks to my sister. The synthesisers they used were of great influence on me.

Any song in particular?

The first two albums. Well, mostly the first one, which was exceptional and still sounds good after all these years.

Almost all of your lyrics are about fear and amorous insecurities, both in and out of the bed. How autobiographical are they?

They're pretty personal. So what I sing is pretty close to reality.

They also have a very (homo-)erotic feel to them. The softest thing that comes to mind is a bondage session.

I don't know what people imagine when they listen to me. That's up to them.

Well, a song called “Gloryhole” doesn't allow much room for misinterpretation...

I think that's a beautiful word. Like something you could find in space.

Returning to something more tangible, who's the woman on the album sleeve?

It's a woman in a club in Toronto.

After your first gig in Madrid at the Valle Eléctrico event, now you're going to be playing at Sónar. What are your expectations? Are there any other artists you would like to see there?

I'm very happy to play there. It could be a great opportunity to let people who don't know us yet get to know us. If my agenda allows for it, I hope to see some of the other gigs as well.

What are your plans for the near future? Any new tracks coming up?

When I'm on tour I don't stop writing new songs. Once the live shows are done I'll head back to Toronto to work on them. I can't say anything about what they're going to sound like right now.

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