Canadian duo Frontperson -- aka New Pornographers' keyboardist/vocalist Kathryn Calder and Mark Andrew Hamilton (aka Woodpigeon) -- are back with their second album, Parade, that's out now via Oscar St. Records / Where It's At Is Where You Are Records. The album is rich in soaring melodies, harmonies and lush production, that winningly blends indie rock with electronics. You can stream the whole album, and watch the just-released video for "Table of Contents," below.

We asked Kathryn and Mark to tell us about the influences behind Parade, and they each gave us five items that inspired the record, including art, activism, synthesizers, tacos, fellow musicians and more. Read that, along with their commentary, below.

FRONTPERSON - 10 INSPIRATIONS BEHIND NEW ALBUM 'PARADE'

‘Reach The Sky’ by the Queer Songbook Orchestra
I’m infinitely moved by Toronto’s Queer Songbook Orchestra who perform radical reworkings of songs that played a part in the self-discovery of queer elders including Beverly Glenn Copeland, who introduce the pieces or sing along in their live performances. This animated music video for their epic retelling of Rita McNeil’s ‘Reach the Sky’ (arranged by Thom Gill, who is also a wonder, animated by Daniel Sterlin-Altman, whose other films are worth seeking out too—especially “Hi, It’s Your Mother") is an epically moving portrait of queer identity all in less than 6 minutes. I’ve watched this thing hundreds of times and live for it every time. [MH]

The Gaelic Psalm Singers
I try my best to not listen to anything new when writing or recording a record, and what usually cuts through are things like the Gaelic Psalm Singers, whose two records are live recordings of psalms recorded in the outer Hebrides of Scotland. I’m presently the co-president of Montréal’s Monday Night Choir, a 40-person community choir, and so in love with the way voices blend and music lifts when sung by a group of singers all together. I find this group’s work particularly moving because of their untrained beauty, and I’ve also spent some particularly transformative times in the Hebrides—were it possible to set those soundscapes to music, this would come very close. [MH]

Broad City
Usually after a day of recording, we’d sit down and watch something to cleanse the palette and make us laugh. ‘Fleabag’ was one. ‘Rick and Morty’ another. But when I want to smile, I head for ‘Broad City’ which is infinitely re-watchable. I also love how they handled the end of the series. I’ve been that best friend who moved away, and the show captured that separation in all its messy, complicated ways while still being hilarious. [MH]

ACT UP Montréal
I’m presently mid-way through an MA in History at Concordia University in Montréal, and my research looks at the graphic ephemera created by ACT UP Montréal between 1990-1993 including posters, T-shirts, banners and also performance as protest. I find their work so incredibly moving and inspirational, even if it’s long been overshadowed by the taller trees of ACT UP NY, Paris and London. We’re all lucky that several of the original organizers are still alive and approachable. I think they’re some of the most inspirational people I’ve ever met. [MH]

Prins Póló (and The Prins Póló International Appreciation Society)
Svavar Pétur Aldísarog Eysteinsson Häsler is not only one of the best musicians I’ve ever met, but also one of the kindest, most giving people on the planet. He makes music as Prins Póló that’s huge in Iceland—I’ve had the chance to watch him perform on opposite ends of the country and get a full-house loving response every time. This year, for his birthday, a few friends and I got together and covered some of his songs as The Prins Póló International Appreciation Society which we printed up on a single copy lathe cut 10” with full artwork. Because he���s king of Iceland, we were also able to arrange a presentation and first listen of the record on RÁS radio, the national broadcaster. I think it’s the most limited record any of us will ever make, but given how much love and inspiration Svavar’s given to so many of us, it’s definitely deserved. [MH]

Clavinet/pianet
I get inspired and kind of obsessed with certain instruments with every record I make. For Parade, anytime I didn't have an immediate idea for what to try next, I would suggest the clavinet/pianet that we had just fixed up in our studio. It is so versatile, it can be ambient but also rhythmic. The clavinet/pianet (the bottom one in the photo) is a great multi-tasker and it never failed us! [KC]

attachment-frontperson clavinet pianet
loading...

Tacos
We ate a lot of tacos while making this album. We like to talk and eat good food when we're recording, it's part of the fun, and it's crucial to feed our brains so we can continue to think and work! [KC]

Deadlines
We had the studio booked and, unusually for me, I had only one song written until the week before recording. Mark and I each wrote half the songs on the record, and in order to bring in enough songs of mine to work on, I had to write quickly. This meant trusting my instincts, not over-thinking, and essentially getting out of my own way. I like writing this way! [KC]

The Buchla
I used a lot of software synths on our new record, particularly the Buchla. It's chaotic and hard to rein in, but once you find that sweet spot of just the right amount of randomness, it adds movement and surprise, and I found myself going back to it again and again for inspiration. Here's a video of Suzanne Ciani playing the Buchla, it's incredible! [KC]

Friends
Mark and I are good friends, and we had amazing friends join us too. Jen Severtson was on bass and background vocals, Melissa McWilliams was on drums and we also had Colin Stewart, our producer (and my husband!) on our team. We recorded our album before the pandemic, so I took it a bit for granted that we could get together and record in the same space, but now I don't, and I will try to never forget it! [KC]

--

More From Brooklyn Vegan