Come See Cannons for “Dancing, feeling nostalgic, and just an all-around dreamy escape from reality…” (9/11 at UT)

The last time glittery, retro electropoppers Cannons were in town was March of last year, when they sold out 175-capacity PhilaMOCA.  Well, they’re about to make their return, and...

The last time glittery, retro electropoppers Cannons were in town was March of last year, when they sold out 175-capacity PhilaMOCA.  Well, they’re about to make their return, and this time they’ll be across the street, headlining the 1,300-capacity Union Transer.  The Los Angeles band’s last stop in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection was on the release date of their third LP (and major label debut), Fever Dream, which dropped courtesy of Columbia Records.  The band are currently a little more than a week into The Heartbeat Highway Tour, which kicked off August 24th to a sold-out crowd at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR.  I recently got a chance to chat with Cannons vocalist Michelle Joy from the road.  We discussed the band’s two most recent singles, their current live show, what’s to come, and just how they got to looking so fabulous.

Izzy Cihak: You released your most recent single, “Desire,” in early August.  How did this particular track come about?  What kinds of things were on your mind (or on your playlist) when writing and recording it?

Michelle Joy: “Desire” was inspired by some of our favorite artists we were listening to at the time, including Psychedelic Furs, Gerry Rafferty, Madonna, and Fleetwood Mac.

Izzy: Have you had any favorite reactions to the song so far, whether from critics, fans, or just live audiences?

Michelle: We love that Billboard instantly added “Desire” to their 10 Cool New Pop Songs list, and the crowd reaction on tour has been incredible!  It gets people dancing, and there’s no better feeling than that.

Izzy: I kind of can’t stop watching the music video you released earlier this year for your previous single, “Loving You.” What were the inspirations behind the video’s concept?

Michelle: The video was inspired by the past year of touring, meeting our fans, hearing their stories, and seeing the array of different walks of life coming together night after night.  Our fans are all there to get lost in the magic of music with us, and we’ve gotten to witness firsthand the ability music has to create a sense of belonging between individuals, a safe space and a family.  This experience has given us some of the most stunningly beautiful moments over the past year, and we wanted to recreate the experience in this video.  Music is also something that brought my parents, an interracial couple in the 70’s, together at a discotheque, and I felt it was important to represent that in the video as well.

Izzy: You just kicked off The Heartbeat Highway Tour.  How has that been going so far?

Michelle: The tour has been incredible so far!  We’ve met so many new fans and have seen a lot of faces from previous tours coming back to support us.

Izzy: What can be expected of the live show when you’re here in Philadelphia, in terms of setlist, production, and just the general vibe of the night?

Michelle: You can expect a lot of brand new and unreleased music off our upcoming album, Heartbeat Highway, and a set that will get you dancing, feeling nostalgic, and just an all-around dreamy escape from reality for the evening.  We have really beautiful lighting, visuals, and stage production on this tour that we’ve been excited about.

Izzy: You’re going to be joined by Two Another and Jane Leo. How did you get hooked up with them?  And what are your thoughts on their music?

Michelle: We’re fans of both bands!  We picked artists that we would be excited to hear every night and feel our fans would enjoy as well!

Izzy: In addition to all of the nightclubs that you play, you also play a lot of really huge festivals. Do you approach the two types of shows differently?

Michelle: We give every show our best on tour and at festivals, and we always try to do what we can to create a vibe and a mood that represents us and our music to the best of our ability.

Izzy: What’s next for you, after these dates wrap?

Michelle: We will be going to play in Australia and Tokyo for the first time and releasing our full-length album, Heartbeat Highway, on Columbia Records, as well as continuing to play festivals and writing more new music.  We’re always writing once we get back home!

Izzy: Not to detract from your music, but you all (both individually and collectively) have an amazing sense of sartorial style.  What does your sense of fashion draw inspiration from?  Do you have any particularly significant “style icons?”

Michelle: Thank you!  We work with our incredible stylist, Lyn Alyson, to create nostalgic yet fresh looks onstage inspired by the sound of our music, a dreamy retro sound with current shimmery production.  Some style icons would be Cher, Blondie, Pat Benatar, and Jane Fonda…

Izzy: And, finally, is there anything you’d especially love to see fans wear out to these shows?  I know most artists say they just want their fans to wear whatever they’re comfortable in, but if fans are looking to you for some inspiration, what might you suggest?

Michelle: We love to see our fans dress up in their shiniest, sparkliest fits!  We’re seeing a lot of red sequin jumpsuits, like in our video for “Hurricane,” sequin blazers, shiny Studio 54-style dresses, and knee-high boots.  It’s fun for us to look in the crowd and see our fans dressed up for the night and having a good time.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.