Canadian collective The Hidden Cameras is led by the singer, guitar player and songwriter Joel Gibb and a routing line-up of musicians. Their sound's always been defined as "gay-church-folk music" and compared to some openly gay artists such as Rufus Wainwright, Antony Hegarty and Stephin Merrit, The Magnetic Fields's frontman, who tend to deal with homosexual topics in their lyrics. Indeed, Gibb uses his sexuality as a defiant identity behind risqué songs 'bout taboo sex acts and explicit references to masturbation and anal douching as analogies for immaturity and body obsession, for instance. Despite this marked sexual nature, the band's tracks are not sordid, but contain a provocative sense of humor.
Thus, the albums are pretty advance and innovative, considering that all these songs have organ and guitar arrangements straight out of church and that most indie rockers would rather gaze at their shoes than ever discuss sex, least of all gay sex. In their concerts one can see a zombie chorus, ninja-masked go-go boys doing interpretive stripping, video projections and energetic dancers handing out lollipops to the audience. But Gibb insists his subject matter isn't meant to provoke or titillate. In the past, the band used to perform in porn theaters, art galleries, and abandoned churches (I know, there's a thorny relationship between homosexuality and religion...). Their fifth studio album, Origin: Orphan, was launched September last year, and since then they've moved to a darker psychadelic sound. However, they still manage to bring out their old gay-church-folk flavor from time to time.
What is revolutionary, though, is Gibb's overall approach to making music. He first began creating The Hidden Cameras' songs without any formal training on a four-track that he learned to use in twenty minutes. Since then, he's written, scored, and produced every song, designed their CD covers, directed their videos, chosen venues, promoted shows, and designed staging. This is what's really called an indie band!
Now check out some of the controversial videos from the outfit:
Do I Belong?
This one doesn't need any explanations, does it?
Death Of a Tune