It’s entirely possible that Snowblink has the best Internet bio of any band going, even if its online autobiography says not a word about the Toronto-based duo of Daniela Gesundheit and Dan Goldman. Instead, it consists of an entirely unexplained video of four animated preteens whacking away at a mix of toy and real instruments (love that vintage Hagstrom!) while singing along to the Beach Boys’ 1988 hit “Kokomo” (view it for yourself at the Snowblink website).
It takes a little sleuthing to discover that it’s Gesundheit on lead vocals, the role she assumes in Snowblink in addition to playing various guitars, percussion, harp, bowed banjo, and bells. (Goldman plays guitars and keyboards, and sings background vocals; in concert, he and Gesundheit are joined by Fond of Tigers drummer Dan Gaucher.) She’s an assured presence, a fact she attributes to her birthplace and early training.
“I don’t know if you knew this,” she explains from a Brooklyn tour stop, “but I grew up in Southern California, where everyone wants to be a performer. If you went to an after-school activity, it was theatre or dance.”
The “bio” video, she adds, was taped at a beachside fun fair near Santa Monica, and was one of her first documented performances. It’s a hilarious look into the roots of one of Canada’s most beguiling dream-pop acts, and it’s also possible that it says quite a bit more about Snowblink’s current approach than even Gesundheit realizes.
“Kokomo” is a classic surfer-boy ode to escapism, including as it does a list of party hot spots such as Aruba, Key Largo, and Montserrat. Snowblink’s second full-length, Inner Classics, is also set in a variety of locales; intriguingly, it opens with the lush textures and yearning, overdubbed vocals of “Pray for Surf” before exploring the steamy depths of Gesundheit’s “Inner Mini-Mississippi”. The singer didn’t know that the real-life Kokomo is a Mississippi hamlet once immortalized by blues guitarist Fred McDowell, but she admits that there might be something to the Beach Boys connection, even if it’s largely subconscious. One difference, though, is that her locations are more often imagined than actual.
“Music, for me, is a safe place to go,” she says, adding that her songs are often a means of dealing with some of the harsh life lessons she learned in SoCal’s semitropical paradise. “I lost my brother in a car accident when I was just a teenager, and then my first love died suddenly, of a brain aneurysm,” she explains. “That was a decade ago, or more than that, but I still think of them, and that sometimes comes through in the songs.”
Don’t think of Inner Classics as a downer, though. Gesundheit and Goldman—partners in life as well as in music—are far too happy for that, and their wistful moments are always balanced by joy.