Gimme Your Answers: An Interview w/ The Thing Is

Tova Kardonne
Photo by Shlomi Amiga

So, the Soundclash music festival happened, and the waterfront never sounded better. Soundclash, a annual festival celebrating Canadian music, offers up-and-coming Toronto-based musicians an opportunity to share their music with perhaps not hard core music fans, but music lovers nonetheless. AMBY had the pleasure of interviewing several of the bands, KASHKA, Grounders, and The Thing Is, who are among those competing for $10,000 worth of prizes. The winners will be chosen on the harbourfront website, which viewers may enter to vote for their favourite band (

Interview with The Thing Is lead singer, Tova Kardonne

AMBY: So, how is everybody? What’s the band been up to lately?

TOVA: Oh, well lots of things. We played at the Transac, on Brunswick, south of Bloor. We also played with this choir called the Vespera Choir. The conductor asked me to make some arrangements for band and choir, which was a great time. And then we played Canadian Music Week.

AMBY: So you haven’t been touring around at all?

TOVA: Well, you know, with an eight-piece band it’s kind of hard. This year it almost happened, and so next year I’m going to make another attempt, and I think the momentum is building so it’s going to happen.

AMBY: How did the band come to be?

TOVA: Well I was studying music at Humber College, and I was in an ensemble. We were encouraged to bring our own compositions, mine was Wonder, one of the songs we played tonight. The drummer asked to include my song in his final year presentation. The bass player, here with us tonight, at the end of playing my song, turned to me and said that when I started my own band, he wanted to be my bass player. And that was kind of when the light went on, like “when I start my own band…? I should start a band!”

AMBY: If you were to describe your sound to someone who hadn’t really heard it before, what would you say?

TOVA: I have ongoing difficulty with putting it into any category. I guess that the best I can do is say it’s world fusion. I wouldn’t compose music unless I felt like I had something to add, and to me, to add something doesn’t mean to continue a genre and stay on its path. It means to look at the society that I live in, and the societies that had created the best music in the world, and that music reflects that time and those circumstances. This [Toronto] is a unique fusion of cultures, and the wealth of that is something that is largely unexploited artistically.

AMBY: Your debut, self-titled album, was released back in April of last year. Do you have any plans to come out with a new album?

TOVA: Yeah, sure! I sing in a vocal ensemble called Grex, it does a lot of new, neoclassical, new form classical music. I’m hoping to do a collaboration between Grex and my band. I have very grandiose plans for my new album.

AMBY: What was the inspiration behind The Guest?

TOVA: It was named after a book by Simone de Beauvoir about a girl who is invited into a couple’s life, and the shenanigans they get up to and the horrible tragedies that abound because of it… But they have to remember, she was their Guest.

AMBY: If you could play anywhere in the world, where would you play and why?

TOVA: Because of my background, South Africa and eastern Europe. I’d love to play in all of those places, like “Here we go we’re going to play in Brazil and we’re going to play in Cuba and we’re going to play in South Africa”.

AMBY: Your music seems like it would be very popular in those places.

TOVA: I conjecture that it would! I think so, and it’s very interesting to see the people who come up to me after shows. Today I had some south Indian people and some Bulgarian people and some South American people and asked “Where are you from? Are you from where I’m from? Because I can hear where I’m from in your music.”

AMBY: But that’s the point, right?

TOVA: Exactly.

AMBY: Who are some of your influences?

TOVA: Growing up I listened to a lot of Miriam Makeba.

AMBY: What, in your opinion, is the best release of the year so far?

TOVA: Hmm, ok. There’s a CD called Pattern Time by Lukas Ligeti. It is very abstract, and it lives in the space between improvised music and scored music, and it creates these structures that evolve organically and have a lot of emotional content without really knowing why, ever. It’s a really innovative sound. An art form expanding. For me it’s a very inspiring thing to hear.

AMBY: And finally, what’s something about the band that nobody knows yet?

TOVA: Well, nobody knows yet that the next album is going to be a collaboration between the band and the Grex choir, but nobody knows yet that, if that album actually does happen the way we all would hope, it would include a special guest, named Jane Bunnett.

Emily Fox

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