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5 things you need to know about Toronto artist Twist

Melody Lau

You may not know who Twist is but you’re about to hear that name a lot this summer. Toronto artist Laura Hermiston has been a staple in the local scene for the past few years, performing and working with other musicians, but for her latest project, performing as Twist, she's gearing up for her first release under burgeoning powerhouse label Buzz Records and we think it’s just a matter of months before Twist becomes a staple on your playlists.

Her ‘80s-influenced brand of guitar-led pop gems are instant earworms, simple yet so addictive with each play. Just listen to her two tracks “Slums and Seaports” and “Soaked” for a taste of what’s to come. CBC Music sat down with Hermiston recently to talk about collaborations, being a Buzz act and what we can expect with her debut album. Below: five things you need to know about Twist.

1. Hermiston was in a band called the BB Guns

Before Hermiston focused on her solo efforts as Twist, she performed in a band called BB Guns. The Toronto four-piece paired infectious ‘60s girl-group harmonies with psych-rock grit and put out two EPs in 2013 and 2014, both produced by Holy F--k’s Brian Borcherdt. As time passed, Hermiston began writing songs that didn’t fit BB Guns’ sonic mold (“I wanted to experiment more with synths and drum machines,” she said) but she continued to bring her ideas to Borcherdt, building a new working relationship outside the band.

2. She calls Holy F--k’s Brian Borcherdt her mentor

While Borcherdt originally played in Twist’s live band, he has since migrated to just producer duties, which includes credits on Twist’s upcoming debut album. “He’s one of my best friends and kind of like a music mentor,” Hermiston said. “We’ve now been working together for like six years, it’s a really nice partnership.”

3. She chose to sign with Buzz Records for a great reason

Local label Buzz Records is still relatively young compared to other Toronto establishments but in that short period of time, it has created a lot of, well, buzz with its impressive roster which includes bands like Weaves, Dilly Dally, Greys, Fake Palms and Anamai. When asked why she chose to sign with Buzz, Hermiston said she was very proud of the label’s strong representation of women, adding, “I didn’t feel like it was a token to be a female; they were like, ‘We just like good music.’”

4. She loves to collaborate

Last month, Twist released a new song called “Soaked” which included percussion and guitar contributions from San Diego garage pop band Crocodiles’ Charles Rowell. The two first met when BB Guns opened for Crocodiles in Toronto, after which Rowell offered to play guitar on her songs if she ever wanted him to. “I was like, I’ve got to write a song so I can work with him because he’s one of my favourite guitar players,” she said, explaining how “Soaked” ended up in his inbox. “As soon as I sent it to him I thought, 'f--k, I shouldn’t have sent that sh-tty demo to him, but he liked it!'”

In addition to Rowell, Hermiston also teased collaborations with musician Jennie Vee (Courtney Love, Lana Del Rey) and, surprisingly, her dad. “My dad plays bass on a song,” she revealed. “I love collaborating with people, I like branching out.”

5. Twist’s debut album is coming very soon

While an official release date hasn’t been announced just yet for Twist’s debut album, Hermiston can confirm that the 10-track LP will be out soon. What can we expect from this release? “The first half is more poppy and the second half has newer songs,” she explained, of the album which has been a year-plus in the making. “They’re all pop songs, I love hooks. That’s what makes me happy.”