By Jacob Katel
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By Nate "Igor" Smith
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Parallels' setup is lean but efficient. The Canadian synth-pop duo comprises Holly Dodson and Cameron Findley. She is the vocalist; he is the drummer. Both write. Both produce. But each one is responsible for her/his respective parts.
The band was Findley's brainchild, rooted in his love for electronic music and a desire to compose his own tracks. "I've actually been into electronic music for a while now," he says. "I went to school for about a year and a half in Toronto, taking electro-acoustics, which was sort of an electronic music production course.
"I was sort of always into it, since I was 17 or 18," he recalls. "So I've had these demos built up. And then me and Holly got together and I showed her some of the stuff that I'd recorded." Which isn't to say Findley was merely an inexperienced bedroom producer when he and Dodson first linked up via email. In fact, he had already put in some time on the road with a band well known to many New Times readers — Crystal Castles.
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"I was just back from Toronto and they asked me to play drums," he explains and then quantifies, "before they got really big." Comparing the two experiences, he insists, "It's totally different on almost every level. Their music and ours, I don't think, are very similar. Now it's just a lot more fulfilling working in a band where I've added some creative contribution."
Indeed, Findley's instrumental parts aren't just the backbone of Parallels' synth-pop sound. They're the source of the band's beginnings. From those early demos, the project was born when Findley sent Dodson some tracks over which to lay lyrics.
"We got together after I'd done quite a few of the recordings on my own. I just sent her off some tracks to record over and that's how it happened," he says. "Initially, they were just intended to be instrumental tracks. We had both been working separately up until that point.
"The first track, 'Ultralight,' was just recorded with a vocoder on top of it," Findley explains. "When we work together, it's just kind of a back-and-forth. I do one part and she does another. And we go mix all the tracks and oversee them together."
That formula seems to work well for them. Since the band's inception only three short years ago, Parallels has produced a pair of EPs — 2009's Ultralight and this year's Salome — as well as a 2010 full-length album, Visionaries, using that back-and-forth approach to workflow. Though Findley reveals that Visionaries actually brought the duo face-to-face: "Most of the time was spent in the studio, me and her, mixing and going over the tracks and polishing them up a bit.
"It was a good process," he says. "Because up until that point, we hadn't really sat down together to work on anything. We got to go produce our own record and work in the studio. And it was something we'd always been looking forward to."