While he once thought of himself as primarily an indie rocker, the last year has been something of a musical awakening for Josh White. The Toronto area musician is back with a double shot of new singles, “Let’s Dance” and “See All The People,” only a few months since the release of the debut Other Infinities record Smaller Than Some. We introduced you to that album last fall, with the talented White using that record as a springboard into new musical adventures, quite a change from the guitar rock he was previously writing and playing. After Smaller Than Some was released last October, White started to become more and more enthralled with 1980s era dance music, and these two new songs are a reflection of that, with their heavy synths and club beats that manage to sound both modern and retro at the very same time.
Explaining more about these two new tracks and the motivating factor behind them, White said, “After a few months off since releasing Smaller Than Some back in October, the urge to make music made its return. At its core, both songs on this release came from a place of missing friends during the COVID lockdown. ‘Let’s Dance’ is a song about using a fun night out, no matter what that may be to you, to forget about the issues in your life. As the song came together, it became increasingly Bowie-esque so I decided to just lean into it. In response, ‘See All The People’ is yearning for those nights. Missing my friends and the fun times that now seem like forever ago.”
Other Infinities became White’s solo venture after he had recorded an album with his rock band Modest Apollo in 2018. He writes and produces all Other Infinities songs right from the comfort of his Toronto area apartment, and like all great artists, he uses each new release to dive deeper into a different sound or genre. His interest in 1980s dance music has paid off in a big way, with White using this as an opportunity to completely reinvent himself. He has plans to keep the momentum going, with these songs providing a blueprint of what may come on a new record.
We recently caught up with White to ask him a few questions about “Let’s Dance,” how it differs in comparison to the Smaller Than Some record, and his plans for a new album.
I really like the beat you’ve created for “Let’s Dance.” It’s a fairly simple electronic beat, but very effective. How did you come up with it? Just messing around with different beat structures?
Josh White: “As I remember it, I came up with the simple beat for ‘Let’s Dance’ in a dream. Around the time I was finishing up my last album, I woke up with those three beats just playing over and over in my head with the drums filling out the sound. I knew I had to turn it into something, but the album was too close to finished to add a whole new song. It would have to wait. Months later, it was still sticking around in my head and I got to it. I’m glad I waited; I feel it’s simple structure wouldn’t have fit on the last album and I’ve learned a lot about mixing since then.”
I also really like the little guitar parts you put in with those slick little riffs. They really give the song a certain flair, even a sexiness. Did you come up with these riffs yourself on the guitar?
“I’m really happy with how those little licks worked out. When I was writing the verses, I could just hear a guitar coming in and knew I had to put something together. I wanted them to have a similar sound to the guitars in ‘You Do Mutilate?’ by of Montreal or ‘I’m in Love’ by Mini Mansions. It took a bit of improvising different things before I landed on the ones that ended up in the song, but I finally nailed what I was hearing in my head.”
The vocals are very strong and perfectly complement the musical backdrop. Who is the vocalist on this song and how did they come to be involved on this track?
“The vocals on this track are all me. Vocals have always been my least favourite part of the recording process, so when I actually end up satisfied with how they turn out it feels like a real success. I was really trying to go for a mix between Bowie and Win Butler from Arcade Fire.”
You released the Smaller Than Some album back in October, which was more of an indie rock record, whereas “Let’s Dance” has more of a vintage electronic sound. What motivated this turn towards a more electronic/dance sound?
“While recording Smaller Than Some, I started getting really into more ‘80s (or ‘80s influenced) dance music. But most of the songs that I was working on were written with an indie rock sound in mind. I did start leaning more into synths on songs like ‘Torschlusspanik,’ but overall I was weary of making music that was too dancey or repetitive. After getting more into that ‘80s sound, I realized keeping it simple and fun doesn’t have to mean it becomes generic.”
Who are some of the electronic artists who are you taking inspiration from with this new musical direction you’re taking?
“The number one influence for my new music is definitely LCD Soundsystem. I started getting into them while writing my last album, but this time around I’m active looking to them as an influence when working on music. Another that I made abundantly obvious on this single in David Bowie. I’ve been a fan for many years, but more recently I got into his late ‘70s and ‘80 era that has made its way into my songwriting and production. On top of that are quintessential ‘80s groups like New Order, The Human League, and Talking Heads.”
You are off to way too strong of a start with this dance sound to stop with just a single. Are you recording an album of songs like this, or do you have plans to?
“I’m slowly getting more songs written that will likely have a similar sound to ‘Let’s Dance.’ I don’t expect to have a whole album together anytime too soon, but off the excitement of this single, new song ideas have started to flood in. I’m hoping for a full album release early next year.”