Courteney Cox Dancing in the Dark with The Boss. Björk sporting a swan dress at the Oscars. The Beatles: Shea Stadium, 1965. Every performer experiences a defining moment. For Victoria band Isobel Trigger, now is that moment – at least locally.
Isobel is a shimmering alt pop/rock gem that caught the eye of Victoria’s music scene makers at exactly the same time, one shining 24-hour period.
Late one evening Ariel Tseng, drummer of the synth-driven four-piece opens an email offering a gig at the UVic graduation party – a show she really wanted to land as a grad herself. The next morning, Tseng awakes to a text from vocalist, synth and guitarist Felicia Harding: they were named Zone Band of the Month for April.
“I’m screaming,” Tseng says. “I can’t go to school. I can’t handle anything. I need to go in an isolation chamber, I’m so excited. And I’m like: ‘What am I going to wear? I need all new rockstar clothes. We’re blowing up right now.’”
While at Uptown to purchase said attire, Harding calls Tseng with more big news: the group will be among acts playing the historic Royal Theatre as a part of the Royal & McPherson Theatres Society 100th anniversary.
“No. Stop it. This is too much in one day,” says Tseng, wearing what can only be described as head-to-toe classic rock star black, in the moments before soundcheck for the grad party at the Strathcona. “I can’t handle this. I’m having a meltdown.”
The windfall continued that evening, when Isobel Trigger was offered a spot at the Tall Tree Music Festival and hasn’t let up. The band soon landed their first fly date for the Smithers Midsummer Music Festival, their latest music video just went live and come July, they’ll release their latest EP, Nocturnal.
But good fortune didn’t follow them straight out of the gate. Former Selkirk College classmates Harding and lead guitarist Brett Faulkner have been developing Isobel Trigger since 2009. Isobel – for softness and femininity – and Trigger – a symbol of explosive rock – began with a jazzier sound, built on the foundation of Harding’s solo songwriting efforts. Since bassist Kyle Lowther joined two years ago and Tseng in 2013 – via “Craigslist: online dating for bands” – the writing process has become a collaborative, organic experience and their complementary musical interests have yielded super-charged danceable beats with unexpected vocals all their own.
“As a songwriter, I always felt like I wanted a band,” says Harding, rising to Tseng’s stage fashion standards in glistening body paint and gold-studded boots. “I enjoy doing solo stuff from time to time, but in my head I heard this full-band sound and I really, really wanted to work in a team with other people bringing their flavour to the music. Making these recordings has really been my dream.”
Her passion for Isobel Trigger and their tight relationship with supporters is one shared by each of its members. Despite upholding the truly bassist understated presence in the conversation, Lowther chimes in with gratitude for sharing the experience to aspiring musicians in the audience.
“I always want to see people out watching our band and thinking: ‘Cool, I want to be in a band now,’” he says. “I really enjoy giving inspiration to others to make music and play music.”
Inspiration, positive energy, good vibes – Harding chalks it up to universally accepted communication.
“You get to this place with an audience where you’re all creating a collaborative moment that’s really enriching, extremely gratifying – and really addictive.”
“And it’s really fun,” Faulkner says. “Who doesn’t love a rock show? I’m not sure if it’s narcissism or hedonism, but somewhere in the middle, that’s what it’s about.”
Isobel Trigger rocks the Royal Theatre on May 24
For tickets, visit rmts.bc.ca