Last night I had the immeasurable pleasure of meeting up with Taylor Evans (bass), Kyle Jacques (drums), Chris Tagelöhner (lead guitar), and Taylor Berce (guitar/vox) of Trade Secrets at Montreal’s Casa del Popolo before their first show in four long, sad, Trade-Secrets-deprived months. We laughed, we cried, and we tried to make sure they came across as the fine, upstanding gentlemen that they are. There was also some talk about Janet Jackson, but we don’t have to go there.
Trade Secrets originated in McGill’s Gardiner residence, where Kyle, Chris, and Taylor Berce lived on the same floor in their first year of uni. Their first show was in one of the residence’s communal bathrooms, where they played covers by the showers for 60 or 70 people among an over-abundance of sinks. “We peaked there!” says Kyle.
Taylor Evans had his own story about his roots in Trade Secrets:
“For me, which didn’t become apparent until later in life, the seed for Trade Secrets was planted with me in grade 9, grade 10. I worked with this woman named Janet and all the time she was like, ‘I know you play music, and my nephew, he plays music as well. He’s a hardcore drummer in a touring band, um, you just gotta meet him and play music with him.’ And I was like, ‘Okay, Janet, I’ll meet your nephew and play music with him.’ Then I get to university and Kyle’s like, ‘Oh, you’re from Kingston? You know a place called Pan Chancho?” I was like, ‘Yeah, worked there for like 5 years.’ He’s like, ‘You know my aunt Janet?!'” (Hint: here’s where Janet Jackson came in).
The moral of the story is, Trade Secrets was meant 2 b.
But where, you might be wondering, does the name Trade Secrets come from? Do they mean the verb or the business term? Will they be mad if I make a bunch of trading-secrets puns (resist resist)? The straight answer is that Taylor Berce decided on the name while watching a documentary about Google, in which one of the most important lines is, as dramatized by Chris: “The trade secrets that those guys are attuned to really account for their success!” The squirmy answer is that they like it when you tell them the answer.
The Trade Secrets boys also like it when you tell them the answer to the question of the elusive genre. Most people liken them to Pavement, early Weezer, and Modest Mouse, hitting “the very broadly defined nail on the head” with the label ’90’s college rock.’ “I say indie rock,” says Kyle, “Guitars are involved, but there are very few guitar solos, which, to me, that’s what indie rock is.” I’ll take a page out of Taylor Evans’s book and go with sludge pop, because that’s just what their music sounds like. Beautiful, catchy-as-fuck tunes covered in dirty (good-dirty, duh) sludge. “It’s basically, Taylor Berce writes a folk song on guitar and then he brings it to us, and we destroy it,” says Chris of the band’s songwriting process. “I think that’s a really strong suit of our songs,” says Taylor Evans, “at the heart of them, they’re catchy folk songs that we’ve just covered in sluuudge.”
Then I proceeded to gush about how much I love their song “Saturday.” Which I will now strongly encourage you to listen to.