Atlantic Canada is known for producing a wide array of musicians covering almost every musical genre under the sun. While the region might be best known for traditional Celtic music, rock, indie rock and folk, there is also a burgeoning electronic-influenced music scene.
Halifax’s Scientists of Sound are perhaps one of the biggest bands to emerge from the electronic scene here in the Maritimes.
Performing as a part of Messtival Friday night, Scientists of Sound didn’t dive into electronic music in efforts to capitalize upon the popularity of the genre. Comprised of Craig Mercer and Colin Crowell, the duo’s musical background, like the scene from which they have emerged, is a diverse one.
From approximately the turn of the century through 2011, Mercer fronted the highly acclaimed and wildly popular rock group the Jimmy Swift Band. Along with former Jimmy Swift Band member Aaron Collier, Scientists of Sound began making music together while Jimmy Swift was still very much a going concern.
In the year following the Jimmy Swift Band’s dissolution, Collier and Mercer released the full-length album Wealth and Hellness under the Scientists of Sound moniker. They would go on to share the stage with influential electronic artists including MSTRKRFT and Kid Koala.
Mercer tells The Times & Transcript that while Scientists of Sound may have come out of left field to many fans of the Jimmy Swift Band, he had actually been compiling songs for the group while the Jimmy Swift Band was still active.
“I had been writing songs that didn’t necessarily fit the Jimmy Swift Band for a long time,” Mercer says. “The Jimmy Swift Band started as a group that had a lot of songs; songwriting was our focus. In the later years of the band, the sound of the group ended up moving towards more of an electronic direction.”
Building the Scientists of Sound name was a virtual given after Jimmy Swift Band closed up shop. But before Collier and Mercer would have the opportunity to release the group’s latest record Electric Scissors, Collier would amicably exit the group.
“Aaron was living in Lethbridge, Alberta where his husband was teaching and it simply became very trying on him and his relationship to be spending so much time in Halifax. He and I actually had discussed the possibility of him not doing this anymore and it was around that time that Colin called asking for the job.”
Crowell’s history with fellow Haligonians Ruby Jean and the Thoughtful Bees would help serve Scientists of Sound well.
“Colin and I took the time to step back and look at what Aaron and I had already assembled for Electric Scissors and took the opportunity to re-write some of the songs in addition to writing some new songs. We have never been ones to sit down and set out to deliberately write radio singles or anything like that. We have always made the music we want to make. We spent a lot of time on the record but I’m really proud of it. It is probably the best sounding record I have ever made and it was done in my basement,” he laughs.
While The Jimmy Swift Band’s reputation for being road hogs, playing upwards of 150 shows per year precedes him, Mercer says that his focus has shifted to simply writing and releasing good music with live shows thrown in for good measure.
“Scientists of Sound played around 70 shows last year, which was great. Where I am at with my life now and with a child on the way, playing 150 shows all over the country just isn’t in the cards anymore. My focus has shifted from being out on the road all the time to putting out good music as often as possible. Now that I spend much more time at home, I am writing more music than I ever have before. That is a definite upside to being at home.”
Scientists of Sound’s newest record Electric Scissors is available for purchase on iTunes Canada.
Article published in the August 9, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript