Toronto band looks for Asian inspiration

Amidst the music scene in Toronto, one band is sending a message to other local musicians.

Fancy Girls Market says Western bands are falling behind the Asian scene.

Key philosophy: perfect what you do.

Practising in a tiny room in The Rehearsal Factory at Queen St. and Bathurst St., Fancy Girls Market reveal their goals of being great at what they do.

They formed about four years ago with lead singer Keith Burkett and lead guitarist Justin Jun meeting through the Internet and eventually adding the rest of the members: drummer Izydor (Izzy) Centeno, bassist Steph Croteau, and guitarist and backup vocalist Michael Ha.

They describe their music as punk, rock, and pop.

“It is unique in that it doesn’t fit into one genre but it’s definitely a mix of a lot of things like that – so like pop, punk. So like the melody sounds poppy. You know, the beats are really punkish and really rockish,” says Ha.

He also says there are rap elements.

“To be honest with you, it’s unclassifiable,” Burkett adds. He does describe his band in one word though: electric.

Jun was recently in Korea and he says there is still a lot to learn in terms of music and dedication.

Both Jun and Ha are Korean. They are also cousins. Ha currently studies music at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus while Jun is a web designer.

“We are two ginormous Korean guys in a band – I think that’s pretty unique,” Ha jokes.

But on a more serious note, Jun maintains talking about striving to be better in his music.
“I think a lot of Western bands think they’re so good but I just came back from Korea and I listened to a band called Crash – they’re phenomenal. We got a long way to go.”.

Croteau says Asians are perfectionists and Western society is a society of “just being good enough”.

Though they may have a long way to go to perfect their music, they say they continue to thoroughly enjoy what they do.

Judging from the band’s dynamic and their communication with each other, it’s apparent they are still getting to know each other since they haven’t been together for that long. Their personalities are diverse and they each contribute something unique to the band as a whole.

Ha says the union of their melody and their riffs makes it really crazy how it all works out.

But he says he feels the pressure of these perfectionists as he says nothing is ever good enough with them.

“Even if it’s 98 per cent, they’ll strive to perfect it with that two per cent by saying it could’ve been better,” he says.

“We do our best with what we got and that’s the end of it,” says Burkett on their music.

As they get ready to practise, every one of them seem like they’re just itching to get on with the music. They practise two to three times a week.

Burkett says he likes the ladies but that has nothing to do with what the band is about.

“It’s all about the music, man. It’s all about rocking out and writing good tunes and feeling it. I know that sounds cliche but it’s really, what else but music? If we could make a living off of it, that’d be pretty cool too. But we’re already good having fun,” Burkett says.

This is something he always wanted to do since he was a kid. “I like just performing and writing lyrics that people can feel and can understand and that’s it, really, just rockin’ out.”

The drummer, Centeno, remains relatively quiet  but he says he also loves performing and showing off on stage. And he should have a lot to show off since he’s been playing the drums since he was seven and he has 13 years of drum school knowledge.

Aside from playing music, Croteau is a hairstylist.

“It’s the only thing in the world I love as much as [music]. When I started doing hair is when I realized if I never become a rock star, I’ll still be happy,” Croteau explains.

“Through hair I lead – I have – the rock star lifestyle, basically, the whole partying late until the morning. And that’s what I realize, that I don’t have to do music to get towards the goal.

“I just have to do it because I enjoy it. I still work hard at it, but really, the only reason I play music now is because I enjoy it.”

As much as they joke and make fun of each other, they still say that music is core to their lives – it is an essential part of enjoying life.

“I think we all see ourselves as just being happy and just like having fun at the end of the day, you know what I mean. To be honest with you, no matter where we go, we might end up on tour – we probably will, as far as I’m concerned,” Burkett says.

“But you know what, we’re going to have a good time no matter what. And that’s the honest truth of the matter.”

Fancy Girls Market won the Toronto Independent Music Award for Best Young Songwriters last year. They also appeared on the Much Music show disBAND.

Croteau says he wants to tour and play in front of a lot of people.

Most of the band agrees they would like to go on tour, but Jun pipes up,  “I think you speak for everyone except me. I see the band pushing me to be better. I just want to be better.”

“I mean, you can talk and plan … but it doesn’t really matter until you really perform.”

About this article

By: Michelle Liao
Posted: Nov 25 2008 4:10 am
Filed under: Features