Mav Karlo: Detonator
Hollerado’s mainman delivers a killer solo cut full of self-deprecating lyrics.
By Kerry Doole
Mav Karlo: Detonator (Royal Mountain Records): One of the most keenly-anticipated Canadian releases of the fall is Strangers Like Us, the debut album from Mav Karlo that comes out on Oct. 16. This is the solo project of Menno Versteeg, founder of respected indie imprint Royal Mountain Records (the domestic home of Mac DeMarco, Alvvays, U.S. Girls, Orville Peck, and more) and the former leader of Hollerado, one of the most successful Canadian indie rock bands of the past decade.
An advance single, Detonator, is now out, and, in a label press release, Versteeg describes the track this way: "Detonator is about that moment when you stop saying to yourself 'I’m such a fuck up' and start asking 'why am I such a fuck up?' It’s a long and a hard process, but an important one, and that’s reflected in the wordier than usual verses. I wanted the detail in the lyrics to act like dots in a pointillist painting, disparate images that when taken together convey a singular emotion.”
The track is a slow burn, with Versteeg's drawled vocals joined by female harmonies. The self-deprecating lyrics refer to "waking up with Beethoven hair" and being late to the only riot he's attended, and he gets bonus points for name-checking infamous Toronto dive hotel The Waverly.
About the accompanying video, which was directed by Justin Singer, Versteeg notes: "I grew up in a small town in Ontario and it seemed like everyone drove a dirtbike or a Ski-Doo or an ATV or all three. When the director suggested the video revolve around a daredevil dirt biker who experiences a tragic crash and the subsequent anguish of imagining how his life might have turned out, I thought it would make the perfect visual metaphor for the subject of the song."
Strangers Like Us is described as "a document of an especially tough period in Versteeg’s life, and ultimately arrives at undeniable courage in its commitment to truth-telling and unsparing self-examination." It was produced by Chris Coady (Amen Dunes, Beach House, Future Islands) and recorded at two famed US studios (Sunset Sound in LA and Sonic Ranch in the Texas border town of Tornillo). Guest musicians include Katy Goodman of Vivian Girls (on vocals), Charlie Spencer of Dizzy (keys, drums), and Versteeg’s Hollerado bandmate Nixon Boyd (guitar, bass).
Count us amongst those very eager to hear more.
Publicity: Conor, Hive Mind PR
Agent: Steven Himmelfarb, Feldman Agency