Nostalgic cityscapes and urban grit inform “Fictional Dreamer,” the single from Toronto electro-shoegazers Jo Ryder.
An audio-visual project that began when two friends were reminiscing about Toronto’s DIY music scene circa 2009, Jo Ryder is the duo of Lauralee Sheehan and Owen Norquay, two unique artists with interdisciplinary minds: Sheehan is an award-winning entrepreneur working in digital media who used to front the Lovely Killbots; Norquay is a music producer and photographer who plays bass in the Mooks and Simple Sailor. Together, they toy with analog and digital tools to create a mesmerizing soundscape that reflects on the isolation of modern life in a super-connected world. Fans of Beach House, Purity Ring and 1970s film soundtracks will find plenty to love here.
“Fictional Dreamer” first took shape in 2021, after the passing of Sheehan’s uncle, who was a big influence on her musical career; his was only one of several funerals that season. The writing took a non-linear form: more of a journey than a traditional verse-chorus structure, anchored on arpeggiating synths, icy drum machines and reverb-drenched vocals.
The song was recorded at a now-defunct rehearsal space in Toronto that was home to dozens if not hundreds of acts; its loss to the city’s inflated real estate market only underscores the sense of melancholy and loss that haunts the song, a song that itself aims to conjure memories of a vibrant scene from 15 years ago.
“Fictional Dreamer” was produced and mixed by Evan Sutton, whose credits include Shawn Mendes, Imagine Dragons, Chromeo, Oneohtrix Point Never, Robert Glasper and more.