Photographer Kitra Cahana
September 10, 2011

Mike Silver used to constantly hunch over a computer in his parent’s house in Montreal, making music and brushing off his dad’s worries that too much time in front of the screen would melt his brains. He listened to DJ Shadow’s psychedelic sample collages a lot and toiled on a futile quest to create his own perfect beat. It’s not exactly the most auspicious beginning, but “it was okay considering I was 14,” says Silver, who now records as CFCF.

Eight years later, Silver’s electronic pipe dreams manifested in a remix of Cassie and Lil Wayne’s ice-cold synthpop gem “Official Girl.” If the original’s beatbox whispers and heartless submarine pings are a perfect summation of R&B in 2008, then Silver’s remix is its uneasy future, blending warm ripples of bass with Cassie’s apprehensive voice so that she cuts through the black space of the track like distant lightning. On Silver’s version, Cassie sounds lost and confused, as tired and resigned as her lyrics. The unsanctioned remix seemed so much truer than the original it suddenly didn’t feel right that it wasn’t CFCF’s version charting on 106 & Park.

But of course, it wasn’t. Silver is a young Canadian largely divorced from the music industry, who spends his days working retail because it frees him up to be with his girlfriend and write music. His output thus far ranges from the late night neon convertible sleaze of “Call Girl,” to the overwhelmingly exuberant “The Explorers,” a song that ends with spacious guitar licks that sound so much like the first day of summer you feel like shoving a fistful of grass in your mouth.

Like many people his age, Silver is obsessed with childhood culture. But rather than sate his yearnings with late night eBay binges on Ghostbusters memorabilia, he resurrects ’80s keys and synths, modifying them into a hybrid of sturdy structure mixed with vintage minor chord melody. “There’s definitely a feeling I try to capture,” he says. “This feeling of the last day of school, or it could be a decade I didn’t even live in. It doesn’t have to be specific to me.” At only 21, Silver still has enough of that childlike self-assurance to not care whether something sounds corny, as long as it feels right. When he’s older and longing for the days he’s living now, that instinct might come less easily. Then again, he might not want it to. Holed up in his own place, still hunched over his laptop, Silver could abandon the wistful haze that blankets his songs, trading it for the glee of a purer pop. Maybe then he’ll decide the future is more fun.

Stream: CFCF, Panesian Nights