9/27 - Kidstreet - 'Fuh Yeah'

“When I saw three dorky-looking twenty somethings setting up a row of synthesizers at the front of the stage, I wasn’t expecting much. Boy, was I wrong.”

“That’s an extremely accurate description of us,” admits Karl Snyder, one-third of the electro-dance trio of siblings known as Kidstreet. “We’re not terribly serious, and we don’t dress to the nines. But we’re high energy, and our goal is for everyone to have fun, including us.”

So the operative word for Kidstreet (fun fact: the band is unofficially named after a Canadian game show from the early 90s) is fun, but with a whole lot going on underneath the party vibes. On record, the group is a synthesis of beats, moods, tempos and surprises – you could call it groovy headphone music. Live? It’s a sweaty-ass dance party, a Ting Tings/Peaches/Go Team/Daft Punk orgy, if you please.

You wouldn’t necessarily expect that kind of free-flowing energy from a bunch of siblings; family bands usually bring to mind something like the Osmonds (creepy, homogenized) or Kings of Leon (…let’s say “moody”). But hailing from Waterloo, Ontario, a nice but rather small university town, meant that Karl, Cliff and Edna Snyder sometimes had to make their own fun. And if that meant creating music within the same household, so be it.

Thankfully, Kidstreet prefer working together. They rock the nepotism.

“We’ve all played in different bands, sometimes together, sometimes with other people,” says Cliff, Kidstreet’s on-stage party starter. “But what we’re making together in Kidstreet is the first time we’ve made music that we can all agree on.” Still, it was a bit after Karl (the creative force of the group) and Cliff started collaborating when they realized they needed one more element: Edna.

“I wouldn’t have done it if they hadn’t asked,” says the younger sister, a keyboard player, budding lyricist and altogether charming front-woman. “It was odd at the beginning: we’re related, so it’s tough to take constructive criticism at times. Plus, Karl and I, like most siblings, didn’t always get along growing up. He used to try karate moves he learned from the Ninja Turtles on me.” She laughs. “I think around 17 or 18 they started taking me more seriously.”

Together, the three quickly found their own rhythm in the studio. Musically, it all begins with Karl. “I start with something simple,” he says. “Actually, I credit LEGO. I put things together and the song starts to form itself.” Cliff, meanwhile, is the “technical wizard” of the group, and Edna handles the vocals, some keyboards, and, as time’s gone on, more of the lyrics.

“It’s becoming more collaborative,” says Karl. “And we’re comfortable veto-ing each other now…although Edna’s opinion weighs more, because she’s younger, which means she’s automatically cooler.”

Thanks to hype about their wild live show (more on that in a minute) and some music Karl put online, the band caught the ears of Nettwerk Records, home to Sarah McLachlan, BT, Peter Murphy, Guster and dozens of other wildly divergent acts. The label obviously heard something more in Kidstreet than just a dance band…and that something is more than apparent on the group’s debut Fuh Yeah. It’s a diverse outing: the trio mixes and matches grooves, feeding off of icy dance beats (“X”), sped-up synth-pop (“Penny Candy”), mellower, almost trip-hop grooves (“Out Loud”) and percussive club bangers (“Never Coming Back”). Throughout, Edna’s vocals morph and twist, moving from whispers to coos, from quick raps to sexy come-ons.

Sexy come-ons? Yeah, some of this is PG-13. So how do brothers and sisters feel about harmonizing on lyrics like “we can do this all night long/I want you so bad it’s wrong,” as they do on album opener “X”?

“Well, when we did that one in the studio, none of us made eye contact,” says Edna. “But there’s only so much you can write about that doesn’t involve romance, love and sex. We deal with it. And when you’re on stage, you’re not looking at the band—you’re connecting with the audience.

And live is where you should be connecting with the band – and hopefully will, once the album is released and tour plans across North America are finalized. Kidstreet is a different beast in concert. In front: the lovely Edna. “Edna has all the necessary charisma of a lead singer,” says Cliff. “And she’s pretty and talented. It’s a deadly combo.” Karl, meanwhile, takes over on drums, while Cliff, a musical utility player, transforms into the band’s de facto hype man, alternately fist-pumping, headbanging and running through the crowd. (“I’ve never seen anyone live with that much energy,” Karl admits).

So credit their talent, energy and shared musical DNA with making Kidstreet more than (as that first reviewer suggested) “a bunch of dorky twenty-somethings.” Besides, the band pretty much never leaves a venue with any naysayers. “We go up there and let the music speak for itself,” says Karl. “And we tend to end up with a dance party by the end of the night, anyway. It’s something we strongly encourage.”

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