NXNE questionnaire: Sexy Merlin explains his dense dance music
by Mark Teo
June 14, 2013
Within the last few years, drummer Sean Dunal has become one of Toronto’s most prolific musicians: He mans kits for bands like Moon King, a project helmed by Daniel Woodhead that occasionally features his Doldrums-focused brother, Airick. He’s spent time with Mausoleum, a wonderful cold wave-tinged post-punk act who cut an EP with Hand Drawn Dracula. But his most mysterious, and infectious, work has come with his cerebral dance-music project, Sexy Merlin—a moniker that’s surely a nod to Dunal’s tangled tresses—which puts his creative chops front and centre.
The result is, we must admit, sexy as fuck. His Heater EP, released via Toronto mainstay Pleasance Records, is a wonderful introduction to Dunal’s work, boasting waves of layered percussion—his tribal drumming is accented with cowbell, bongos, and more, before menacing synths wash away the good times—with his tracks warping from dancefloor scorchers, to deranged bangers, to arthouse disco. We caught up with Dunal to talk about sketchy parties, his various projects, and his plans for the rest of 2013.
Hey Sean! What’s 2013 been like for Sexy Merlin and your other projects?
2013 has been good so far. I’ve down some U.S. touring with a band I play with, called Moon King. Thats been fun. I played a bunch of Sexy M shows as well, mostly local. But I got to play NYC and Montreal, both were quite nice. I recorded a song for a “secret single” compilation put together by a label called Deathbomb Arc. Check it out!
There’s going to be a lot of visitors to NXNE this year. If you could show one of them around town, where would you bring them?
The BLK BOX theatre, underneath the Great Hall, has been doing cool stuff lately, and they’ve got some great shows for NXNE. Creatures Creating at Dundas and Bathurst is hosting Wavelength for the fest this year, with some real good bands playing. And there’s the Comfort Zone which has a rich history of sketchy parties and weirdness. It’s my essential venue this year.
NXNE, along with everything music-related, also have film, comedy and art segments this year. What are you most excited to see this year?
I want to check out some comedy this year. I feel all our lives could use more laughter.
Tell us why your shows are the ones to see at NXNE. Do you have anything special planned for your performance?
The Silent Shout / Gorilla vs. Bear show at Comfort Zone on the 15th has a really great lineup with me closing the night. [ED: AUX-approved Vancouver odd-pop gem Jay Arner and Tonstartssbandht, an incredible band with an incredibly difficult name, also round out the bill.] I can’t reveal too much, but it will be an experience for me AND you.
We’re there. Beyond the fest, who’s you are your favourite bands in the city right now?
Two of my favourite acts in the city right now are Cellphone and Man Made Hill. Both are amazing performers, but aesthetically, they’re very different. Man Made does what I would describe as implied dance music; it has all these common elements, but it’s vague and interesting. Cellphone is more concrete, they’ve really got something going on.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I’m booking some cool shows for the summer and I’d like to record again. In September I’m going to Europe with Moon King. Those guys are really special.
Excellent, thanks Sean!
Sexy Merlin plays at The Comfort Zone on.Saturday, June 15 @ 1 a.m. Full schedule details can be found at NXNE.com.