For British electro-popster Ben Esser, nascent stardom -- releasing one of the year's most exciting debuts, packing 8,000 people into his recent Glastonbury gig -- is a mere stepping stone. "The only reason I got into music is to become a model -- and then an actor," he deadpans over lobster salad and a bottle of Malbec at a Mexican restaurant in Manhattan. "My true passion is daytime soaps. Say your lines, finish by five, go to the pub." He's kidding. Probably. But with his babyface gangster good looks, his skyscraper coif, and his soft, deep register, he could easily play the misunderstood outcast. Zoolander dreams aren't a stretch either -- muse-hunting fashion designer Hedi Slimane recently photographed the 24-year-old singer, whose style is inspired by the Mods. "They were working class," he says reverently.
Andrew Vanwyngarden and Ben Goldwasser are talking in hushed, hurried tones to a stuffed border collie. Crouching low, noses to snout, they take turns mumbling into a BlackBerry and then holding it up to the puppy's left ear. Their furrowed brows and tender pats suggest concern. The puppy's state of mind, however, is inscrutable -- sunglasses conceal his eyes, and his furry tongue dangles jauntily. A leafy sprig hangs from the scarf tied around his noggin. Perhaps he be tripping. Ten yards away, barricaded in front of Toronto's tony department store Holt Renfrew for the Toronto International Film Festival kickoff bash, paparazzi and camera crews grow visibly anxious. They've been told that MGMT, the party's main attraction (and stars of sponsor Converse's new ad campaign), are on their way. "There they are!" yells a woman, pointing her microphone.