Dylan Konrad Obront likely shouldn’t be picking up a phone to do an interview.
About 12 hours beforehand, the producer/songwriter of Montreal’s Sorry Girls was pedalling his bike to a friend’s house when something got stuck in his tire. He was thrown from his ride, but lived to tell the tale.
“I got a concussion, but I’m totally fine,” he says with a groggy tone. “I was wearing a helmet but I hit my face pretty good and lost a tooth. It’s all a blur, to be honest.”
Luckily for him, Obront had his bandmate Heather Foster Kirkpatrick by his side, waiting in the hospital for the all-clear. That support for one another has been there for the past decade, since the two met at Concordia University, after they both relocated to Montreal from Toronto.
In the beginning, music wasn’t much of a priority for the pair. But nestled in Montreal’s flourishing arts scene, it was tough not to get involved.
“Everyone we were hanging out with was a musician,” explains Kirkpatrick. “But Dylan and I didn’t start making music until after we graduated.”
They formed Sorry Girls as a duo in which they shared responsibilities: Kirkpatrick wrote the lyrics, Obront produced the music. When they were ready they self-released an EP, Awesome Secrets, on Bandcamp in 2016 without any real expectations.
“We got way more attention than we thought we would,” Kirkpatrick says. “We didn’t really have a plan. We didn’t even totally consider ourselves a band. It was more like, ‘Well, we’ve made six songs. Let’s see if anyone cares.’ Then we put it out and a bunch of things happened that we didn’t put forth any effort to achieve. It was then we thought people might be into what we were doing.”
A plan was put into place when Sebastian Cowan, Arbutus Records’ label boss and founder, came knocking. He emailed them “out of the blue” to ask about releasing some of their new music.
“After that, we said, ‘Maybe we should get serious about this and write an album,’” admits Kirkpatrick. “We were still writing music at the time, but I feel like it was pretty unfocused. Him contacting us made it more of a concrete decision to focus more on music. I’m not sure if we would have made an album without him.”
Mixed by David Carriere (TOPS), their debut album, Deborah, is an evolution from the sound they first introduced on the EP, which they describe as the blueprint. “We developed a sound of our own, but the album is more about polishing it, and honing in on what we want to do musically.”
This sound, somewhere along the line, was christened “blob pop,” which Kirkpatrick describes as music “for introverted people, indoor people, really trying to reach out.” But Deborah (named after a close friend) runs far deeper than blob. This is an album of dreamy, romantic pop music.
“Historically we’ve been way more into music from the 50s to the 70s, like Roy Orbison or Fleetwood Mac.” -Dylan Obront
“I would say it’s an album of love songs,” says Kirkpatrick. “That’s a huge thread from the EP to the album. It’s also about self-discovery, but I think that’s part of love as well.”
Deborah sounds as though it could have originally come out in 1984 and shared the Top 40 with Cyndi Lauper and Corey Hart thanks to such affecting bops like “Dirty Laundry,” “One You Want,” and “Something’s Gotta Give.” But Sorry Girls don’t feel an 80s influence is as prevalent as others.
“When we started, at least for me, the 80s wasn’t my favourite era of music,” explains Kirkpatrick. “But I love a hook. I love a melody. I love a strong vocal. I love thinking about drums and rhythms. When we figured out our sound, we gravitated more towards that kind of music than ever before.”
“Historically we’ve been way more into music from the 50s to the 70s, like Roy Orbison or Fleetwood Mac,” adds Obront. “But even Roy Orbison made music in the 80s that was rooted in 50s pop, which is what really resonates with us. I think the whole synth thing is the technology around us. I do really like ambient synth stuff. The Twin Peaks soundtrack is a good example. I think it was just all of these things coming together. But how the album sounds is not what we pictured ourselves being. It just feels beyond anything I would have imagined. It’s exciting to me.”