Without darkness, there cannot be light. So it goes for Trust, whose 2012 debut TRST invited the goth label with black-clad arms. With Joyland, out next week on Arts & Crafts, main man Robert Alfons is back to throw a dance party at the end of the world. (TRST co-conspirator Maya Postepski’s since departed to focus on her work with Austra.)
Alfons is based in Toronto, but Joyland is his own world, a space both eerie and intimate. “Four Gut” and “Rescue, Mister” pulse with dark energy, though the sunrise is never far away. The title track arches toward great heights, befitting the name “Joyland.” There’s an urgency here, channeling 80-style sullen euphoria into raw catharsis. For Alfons, whose background is in photography, synth-pop is another outlet for making art that’s unsettling, but also immediate. I caught up with the singer/producer via email to talk Toronto, volcanoes, and the call of the night.
What does the concept of Joyland mean to you?
Joyland is elemental, fantastical, and about never being afraid again.
How did the title and title track come about?
The song was written many years ago in fact, before my first Trust recordings. It’s a comment on why spontaneity saddens me and the pathetic nature of rejection.
What do you think people should be doing when they listen to this record?
Climbing a volcano.
You’d previously suggested that your second album would have a tropical vibe to it. Does Joyland fulfill that?
I may have hinted at the recordings being volcanic…
Your music has a particularly nocturnal feel to it. What’s most inspiring about the nighttime?
It’s important to have dark corners to really get lost in. There’s a solitude and a mystery there that is essential for my creativity.
What have you learned from working solo?
I definitely better understand drum programming!
Were there any new influences that came out more on Joyland?
I definitely challenged myself vocally, showcasing different ranges then on the previous record. This record feels more fluid or lava like, it’s moving and oozing, whereas the last record felt more concrete and solid.
How do you think your background in photography impacts your sound?
I think it allows me to find that secret world that is so wonderful to create inside. There’s always got to be mystery still left somewhere.
What do you do to find peace of mind?
I like to find nature, I like listening to music, I like to play hockey.
What’s good in the Toronto music scene right now?
Tarantula X, El V Gore, Kontravoid.