By Samuel Swanson
Pinhead from Hellraiser. Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Bicycle Face from Winnipeg.
“I always felt like it has a touch of the whimsical, or people will think it’s funny, but I never really knew it had such a dark kind of association,” laughs guitarist Ava Glendinning. “The name actually comes from an eighteenth-century fictitious disease. When women started riding bicycles, they ended up suddenly having more freedom. They were just coming out of this very rigid Victorian age where they’d been wearing huge constrictive dresses, and so they were suddenly riding bicycles, had their own mode of transport, and were wearing clothes that were a little bit more freeing, and some people didn’t like this and started diagnosing people with Bicycle Face.”
Today, Bicycle Face exists not in the DSM-5, but in the form of a musical duo – academically trained second cousins who found melodic chemistry whilst pursuing degrees in their passions.
“We’re second cousins once removed, but we only got to know each other in university,” Glendinning says.
Glendinning was studying jazz guitar and Theresa Thordarson classical piano, both at Brandon University.
“We barely played music together there, but as soon as we were living in Winnipeg we needed projects and wanted to be playing music, and started jamming together.”
Strange things have been part of the Bicycle Face project from its onset.
“We started off doing really bizarre things, like a cover of a viral YouTube video called Can’t Hug Every Cat.”
Can’t Hug Every Cat is an edited video of a woman in tears describing her love of cats, autotuned to a fluffy, dance-y, sarcastic soundtrack.
But Bicycle Face wasn’t satisfied with catatonic covers.
“We both had some original music that we had never really had a chance to play or the right kind of projects to bring it to, and just kind of fit together and went from there, and that was four years ago.”
Over those four years the cousins developed complementary styles for the project, and affections for oddity.
“We keep it pretty light. Our themes are a little weird,” Glendinning admits.
The Bicycle Face telling of Snow White, for example, remarks on her mere fictionality.
“Snow White, you’re just a fairy tale,” the song goes.
So, what sounds are the makings of a classical piano and jazz guitar cousin duo?
“We like to compare ourselves to a more whimsical Metric, or maybe there’s Joanna Newsom.”
The Unicorns and The Beatles are also major influences, according to Glendinning.
“We both listened to a lot of The Beatles growing up. Not that we sound like The Beatles, but I think we both try to write some catchy hooks but keep things, not your typical chord progressions, keep it a little bit unusual.”
The duo recorded an EP a year ago, but its release was delayed by a busy summer and Thordarson’s departure for graduate studies at the State University of New York at Fredonia, which, unlike Snow White, somehow actually exists, Thordarson assures us.
“Those six songs are a collection from the last three years that we’d been playing together when we recorded the EP, so it was about time. We finished it last spring but then we didn’t have time to plan an EP release show. And my cousin left for the winter, so we are now releasing it this June,” Glendinning informs.
Alongside guests Daniel Peloquin-Hopfner and iansucks, Bicycle Face will finally release an EP of their unusual chord progressions on June 11 at the Good Will Social Club.