Dress Black is a melodic, dance-driven, indie rock band based out of Toronto, ON. Made up of guitarist/vocalists Stephane Monten and Brendan Johnson, bassist Colin Mercer, and drummer Justin Ross, the band established themselves on the Toronto music scene during the Summer of 2015. Dress Black creates upbeat dance-pop reminiscent of Prince, Phoenix, and The Strokes, mixed with falsetto melody lines that draw comparison to Foster the People and The Beach Boys.
Raised on opposite sides of the globe, Auckland-born Monten and Vancouver-born Johnson connected in Toronto over a shared passion for music and songwriting. They began collaborating without a specific genre or style in mind; the only stipulation was to create a fresh, original sound that listeners could dance to. They found themselves drawing on 60’s surf rock and Motown to write their first song, “Money”, in the spring of 2014. Feeling like they had struck a chord creatively, Monten & Johnson were excited by the possibilities of further collaboration. They swiftly followed up “Money” with “Black Dress” and “When You Gonna Love Me”, and teamed up with Mercer and Ross to create a performance-ready live act. As the line-up solidified, the group released their self-produced EP Black Dress (creating arguably one of the most confusing debut EP releases for a new band called Dress Black). The August 2014 release featured the three initial songwriting ventures of Monten & Johnson.
The band spent the winter of 2015 writing and creating an energetic live show before touring the Toronto club circuit in the summer of that year. They promoted their debut EP and built a fan base by playing such notable venues as The Gladstone Hotel, Rivoli, Sneaky Dee’s, and Supermarket.
In early 2016, Dress Black released their single “So Lovely” to wide praise. Upon hearing the track, Nicholas Posthumus of Current Sessions Productions contacted Monten & Mercer about directing a music video for the song. The band happily agreed to finance the video after hearing Posthumus’ concept. Around the same time, independent pop singer Alexz Johnson heard the unreleased recording of the band’s single “Weekend” and approached them about directing a new music video for this track. Investing heavily in their online video content, the band financed this project in addition to “So Lovely”. (The SXSW music video competition panel is currently reviewing both videos for inclusion in the 2017 festival. They can be viewed on YouTube). Using the momentum of the videos, the band decided to re-release their initial three recordings alongside the singles “So Lovely” and “Weekend”. Printing CD’s and rebranding the release as the Dress Black EP, the band organized a sold out show at the Cameron House in Toronto.
Following their first sold out, headlining concert, Dress Black has since played to a packed house at their 2016 Canadian Music Week showcase as well as hosting an official video release party for “Weekend” at the Drake Underground that May. The band just finished an Ontario/Quebec tour with shows played in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie. The band is currently working on a full length release scheduled for summer of 2017.
The Strokes, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Prince, Daft Punk, Foster The People
Guitar/Vocals - Brendan James Johnson
Guitar/Vocals - Stephane Garneau-Monten
Bass/Vocals - Colin Mercer
Drums/Vocals - Justin Ross