Toronto alt rock quartet DILLY DALLY have blazed onto the scene over the past year, with debut album Sore drawing praise from all quarters for its turbulent laments. By melding together guttural grunge worthy of comparison to Pixies with the searing intensity of front-woman Katie Monks’ vocals, they’ve arrived at a sound simultaneously nostalgic and unfamiliar. Intrigued, we sent Matty Hogarth to grill Monks on grunge, gender, and Drake ahead of their appearance on the North Stage on Sunday.
Bido Lito!: People are always comparing you to artists like Pixies, Kim Gordon and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Do you see this as a compliment or does the constant need to categorise you irritate you?
Katie Monks: I’m not surprised when people say Pixies or early grunge. I mean, it’s just what I was listening to at the time when we were making the record, amongst other things. It’s the palette of sounds we were using to create our own picture, you know? However, I think we are doing something new and interesting both vocally and melodically. Face value – when people listen to the singles, yeah they get the comparisons, but I love those bands.
BL!: As a band, you deal with many gender issues. Do you feel female artists within the music industry are disadvantaged?
KM: We never set out to write songs about female issues, but I’m a girl and my songs are about my life. Like, Snakehead is a song for your guy friends, to try and tell them what it’s like to be on your period. I mean, it’s pretty chill really. In terms of sexism in the music industry, it’s hard for me to compare really. I mean, I wasn’t round in the 50s! I guess people say it’s got better. I can only draw from my life, but for me the music industry is the one place where I can be myself and get congratulated for it. I’m encouraged to speak my mind. I have no complaints, but in reality the world has a long way to go in terms of equality, so that’s going to seep into every business. Let me tell you it was a lot worse when I used to work as a waitress.
BL!: What impact do you hope to have as a band?
KM: I guess it sounds corny but just to connect with people. Liz [Ball, guitarist] and I were crazily obsessed fan girls when we were in high school and we wanna share that with everyone else. We want people to feel like that they can pick up a guitar too. The music that we make is pretty accessible in terms of playing it; it’s not pretentious and it’s not too much about the science of it all. We wanna empower people and make people feel like they can live their dreams.
BL!: You recently said that Sore is an album that must be seen in real life. Do you thrive more off live performance than the recording process itself?
KM: Absolutely, we’re a live band. Sound guys love us because we haven’t got 12 members, you know? What I mean is that we’re practical. It translates well in a small setting. We just love to get out on stage and, as we say in Canada, “giv’er”!
BL!: In your live shows you have made Drake’s Know Yourself a regular track. Do you feel that Drake is the enemy or do you admire him?
KM: I feel that everyone in the band has their own opinions on Drake and they change all the time. Depends on the weather, your mood, you know!? The best thing about the Drake cover is that when everyone’s fucking sick of hearing Drake everywhere we get it on stage and it feels dope to do it. I don’t think that anyone in the band is religious about Drake. I mean, he has become saturated in pop culture. The best bit is that everyone can relate, whether they love it or hate it.
BL!: Has Toronto influenced your sound?
KM: Totally! We moved to the city to a small flat and there’s a good scene there; a lot of indie labels and a lot of heavy music. That’s where we met Ben and Tony [Dilly Dally’s bassist and drummer]. I mean, we are one of the more poppy bands but all of our favourite live bands are from Toronto. It’s kind of self-sufficient because you don’t get a lot of touring bands, so it’s like a bubble that feeds itself.
BL!: At the moment you’re signed to an indie label, Partisan Records. Is it important to you to stay independent?
KM: Nah, we just want to work with people who we get a good vibe from. It doesn’t really matter at this point; we just want to get our message out there. I mean, everyone has to shop in Walmart once in a while. We’re not like, “Let’s be punk forever!” If more opportunities come along which allow us to make our art, then why wouldn’t we do that? At the moment we are more than happy with Partisan. We love those guys. They get our music, but it’s not a bold political statement.
BL!: In light of that, do you feel that politics is important whilst in a band?
KM: To me personally, yes, but for the band, no. I love the idea of creating a song that people can pull different meanings out of. I care more about emotional connection than political message. I mean, we grew up with radicals and protestors but we don’t want a political agenda in the band. Really, we just wanna make music which allows people to be themselves.
BL!: Sore has seen much critical acclaim. What’s next for Dilly Dally?
KM: We haven’t got any new material just yet. The plan for the meantime is to just tour the hell out of this album. I mean, we worked really hard for it, you know, and I’m just really proud of it. It was six years in the making and after it I just felt emotionally exhausted. I’m not too sure how much of me I have left, you know? Hopefully, though, when we’ve done enough touring I can get back to Toronto, get a nice little flat and just get down to me and the guitar. I’ve got imagery floating about but I need time to just sit and write.
Dilly Dally play the North Stage on Sunday 29th May / Onstage at 21:30.