Montreal by Brooklyn's How to Be Topp emerged on the scene early in 2013 with the singles "Stickup Girl" and "Hold Your Tongue" off the recently released Offshore Accounts EP. Today we are proud to debut the eponymous track from the EP. The visual treatment finds the Topp crew of Yona, Elan, Arun, and Alejandro getting their own glamor screen test film portraits with fluorescent action-painted make-up applications to their images onscreen.
The song's slow percolating opening of sleepy guitar distortion and awakening chords lead you into the lilac hearted undergrounds of How To Be Topp. To match the band's psyched but serious fury, videographer Deborah Forrest uses a soft focus that provides psychedelic portraits of the band with splashes of painted and illuminated color flashes set to the motions of the band's own chosen chord and rhythm timings. The twin tales of an impoverished kid getting locked up for slanging rocks is measured against a lyrical portrait of Wall Street legal loopholes of fiscal theft sans prosecution or moral oversight. With an imaginative approach to the b/w screen test shots, the song's rave-up finale rails against the criminal upper-financial-echelons, set to colorful visual sequences that further contribute to the fuzzy bliss.
How To Be Topp take us inside their Offshore Accounts EP, the title track, the video, and a little insight on what's next.
Give us some insights into the making of your Offshore Accounts EP.
How To Be Topp started out as Yona’s solo project while he was living in Montreal. Most of the songs on the EP are from that era, but we had been playing them and modifying them as a band for a few months. "Offshore Accounts" was the first one we wrote together from scratch. We recorded the EP at Gravesend Recordings in Brooklyn.
What are the ups and downs of offshore accounts, especially since Swiss bank accounts ain't what they used to be?
The title "Offshore Accounts" is supposed to have a double meaning—one relating to banks and another that refers to the idea of a narrative coming from far away—or one that is not often heard. Thematically the song also has two parts. The first part tells the story of a kid growing up in poverty who starts dealing drugs and ends up in jail for a minor drug offense. The second looks at the other end of society where a wealthy banker is using tax and legal loopholes to steal millions with no legal consequences.
The video for the title track is fun, what was the process like on developing the single into visuals with Deborah Forrest?
Alejandro: We knew we wanted a video that was abstract and hypnotic. I feel like most of the time I remember music visually rather than sonically, so we wanted something that reflected the different textures and dynamic range of the song. I’m a big fan of Deborah’s work, particularly her animations, and I was curious to see what she could do with "Offshore Accounts". Almost everything in the video was her idea.
Is there some kind of philosophy running through your work about retreating to some kind of sun-shiny "Boardwalk" amid the "Tough Luck" of life lived on "Borrowed Time"?
Yona: I don't know if there is any over-arching philosophy. All the songs deal with quite different themes. "Borrowed Time" is about the bitterness felt over the time wasted in a failed relationship. The lyrics to "Tough Luck" describe the hardships faced by bands who come to NY hoping for success—with some specific jabs directed at the many bands I've seen play here who only look to the past for inspiration—at that vintage and retro sound that's so trendy. The past is great, and we definitely get plenty of our inspiration from there, but you've still got to be looking forward, and trying, even if you're failing, to do something new and different. The final song, "Boardwalk" throws together a lot of different imagery, most of it actually pretty dark. I wanted to set the scene of a kind of seedy, underground, noir-ish freak-show and 'under the boardwalk' (I was imaging Coney Island) seemed like the right place.
What's the next move for How To Be Topp, and what is the secret on being Topp?
We’re recording new material next month that will hopefully come out some time this summer. We’re also planning a short tour for August. As for the secret to being 'Topp'—you’d have to ask Geoffrey Willans.
How To Be Topp's Offshore Accounts EP is available now via Bandcamp.