"Avant-rock with a classical touch"
Square is a modern avant-rock band based in Vancouver that epitomizes the ethos of the Canadian middle-aged experience. Multicultural, overeducated, and ironically trying to justify art-making in our current (dis)information age, Square asks a unique musical question: what happens when you know all the rules, and where all the roads in life lead, and somehow still get lost?
Square began in 2017, after three well-established composers in the Canadian contemporary music scene, James Maxwell, Edward Top, and Alfredo Santa Ana, imagined a new creative output for their work. Together with Vancouver's indie-music scene legend Nathan Dillon, the songs they have created are powerful, complex, and uniquely wrought out, resulting not as an experiment of their combined musical lives but as a staunch statement of musical mastery.
On drums, composer James Maxwell, holds a PhD in Computer-Assisted Composition from Simon Fraser University and a musical range borne out by commissions from the Tiresias, Tempest Flute Ensemble, Ballet Kelowna, Music On Main, Vancouver New Music, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and collaborative work with choreographers Claire French, Rachel Meyer, Simone Orlando, and Helen Walkley. Unlike Top and Santa Ana’s initial classical paths, Maxwell cut his teeth playing drums in the Vancouver indie music scene of the 80s and 90s with bands like 4th Floor, Coast 1040 darlings Rotorcloud, Belter, experimental Drum-and-Bass juggernaut Ottobon, and Jackalope.
Alfredo Santa Ana
Playing guitar is Alfredo Santa Ana, a Mexican/Canadian composer who has been writing music in Canada since 2003. His post-classical compositions have been performed by a wide-range of artists across Canada including the National Youth Orchestra of Canada, the Toronto, Vancouver, and Victoria Symphony Orchestras, and artists like Veda Hille, Caroline Shaw, and Gabriel Kahane. He holds a doctorate in music composition from the University of British Columbia and his work in film has been won several awards. Top and Santa Ana’s guitar work blends intricate contrapuntal techniques with a desire for sonic experimentation.
Composer Edward Top was born in the Netherlands, and has lived and worked in London, Bangkok, and Rotterdam, before arriving in Vancouver where he served as Composer in Residence with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra from 2011-2014. His commissioned piece Helix recently opened the orchestra’s 100th anniversary season and is influenced by rock-guitar delay effects. In 2017, his thrash-metal inspired Eruption was commissioned and performed on tour in Eastern Canada by the Toronto Symphony and Toronto Symphony Youth orchestras. Now Top’s orchestral rock sound has turned full circle in the electric violin and guitar of Square.
Dillon’s raw vocal intensity, earnest lyrics, and electrifying live shows led A&M recording artist Another White Male to international acclaim in the 1990’s. Another White Male spent the ’90’s splitting genres and touring extensively with bands like the Rheostatics, NoMeansno, Fishbone and Mr. Bungle. His overdriven vocals for Square, shared with Top’s clean singing, create a wide sonic range, expressing lyrics that centre around pseudo-religion, man against nature, absurdism, and alienation from an immigrant’s perspective.