By: Lucy Sky –
H aving begun playing together in their pre-teens, Toronto-based indie rock band The Beaches’ music has grown with them since their 2014 EP, Heights, and their 2013 self-titled, and Raine Maida-produced debut EP.
In a recent interview, we spoke to Jordan Miller (bass guitar and vocals), and Eliza Enman-McDaniel (drums) about their forthcoming new music, the importance of food banks during the holiday season, the Toronto music scene, and more!
You’re set to release some new music this coming spring. What has the demo process been like and how would you compare it to your last EP, Heights?
Jordan: It’s been very different than Heights. The first EP that we did we were in a production deal with Raine Maida from Our Lady Peace and as we were only 13 and 14, we were really young and let him take the lead. With our second EP Heights, we basically did everything ourselves. We wrote everything ourselves, produced everything, edited our songs, we even found an artist for the artwork of our EP and filmed our own music video on our iPhones.
For our newest material, we’ve been working with other writers and because we’re working with a label this time, we’re able to work with a bunch of different people that we wouldn’t have the opportunity to work with. People from different spectrums and genres for songwriting. So it’s been cool figuring out what our sound is going to be and now that we’ve figured that out, it’s just finding writers to cater to that genre to work with. It’s a bit more difficult than we would’ve thought, but it’s more rewarding and it’s been pretty cool. It mixes the best of both worlds with the two EP’s we’ve done.
From where you are now with your new music, would you compare the sound that you’ve been working on now compares at all to previous releases? How?
Eliza: We’re going for more of a vintage sound than the last two things that we did. We still have the synth and keys element, but we like to compare it to Iggy Pop, David Bowie. It’s very different [and] a lot more evolved than the last one I think.
Jordan: I’d say just to be very specific, it’s kind of a mix between garage rock and glam rock.
Is there any word on whether the next release is looking like an EP or an album? Can you share anything that may give fans an idea of what to expect from it either way?
Eliza: I think we’re reaching for an album, that’s the ultimate goal, because we already have EP’s out. The goal is to get a full length album out, because I would like to say that we have enough material if we were to possibly re-release some songs that are already out that we think would do really well. Even an EP would be great too, we’re just writing as much as possible right now and we’re going to see where that takes us.
The show at Lee’s Palace tonight (Dec. 10th) and $1 from each ticket goes to The Daily Bread Food Bank. With the holidays coming up, do you think that this will be of significant benefit to the food bank and do you think events like this are important to those in need?
Jordan: Absolutely. I think it’s really important. With all the commercial success that Canadians and Americans bring in over the holiday season I think it’s important to give back to the communities we live in, because that’s what Christmas is supposed to be about. It’s not supposed to be about buying presents for everyone, it’s about helping others and I think it’s really amazing that we’re participating in a show that gets that and celebrating charitable giving and the holiday season. It’s super cool of the promoters to do that.
Eliza: It’s a giving time for everybody, we encourage people at the shows to bring non-perishable food and other sources of food that can be given to them. Obviously the money is donated, but this is another, more direct way to help people.
You haven’t played a show since October 29th in Waterloo, can fans expect any album teases at the show, new songs, or anything of the sort?
Jordan: There’s a couple new songs that we’ve been working on live. Well there’s one new song. When we were touring with KID, we played two of our new songs live, but we have a third one that we’re introducing for this show.
Do you plan on following up the next album with another tour? You only left Canada twice on the 2015 tour, do you see yourselves trying to branch out of Canada at all like you have in previous years?
Eliza: That would be great, we’d love to tour again. Hopefully a headlining tour finally, that would be fun. We have this theory that we’ve discovered – if you get big in Canada, it’s hard to get out of Canada past that point, so we tried to reach out to other countries. We love Canada and we love playing here all the time, but reaching out to other countries when it comes to touring could be more beneficial to us. Once you make it big in the UK or something, it’s easier to make it to other countries. That’s why we did do a tour over there a while ago with Brody Dalle and we toured with her for two weeks and did our own thing. We love playing in other countries and hopefully once the album is out, that would follow.
You’ve drawn comparisons to bands like The Strokes, The White Stripes and The Runaways. Were any of these bands influences on you? What are some of your other major musical influences?
Jordan: We can definitely compare ourselves to those bands, garage rock bands. The White Stripes were definitely influences. They’re also heavily influenced by classic rock and roll riffs and we bare some similarities there as well, with our admiration for classical riffs. I think Leeandra was definitely also focuses a lot on classic guitar riffs but also incorporates and utilizes the synth to convey it.
Eliza: I think we all have our individual influences, but we sort of feed off of each other and share influences as well. I grew up listening to a lot of classic rock and that does influence the way I play, but Leeandra writes in a similar style as what St.Vincent plays, so we all have different influences and they all come together when we write.
Jordan: I’ve recently been listening to The Strokes and The White Stripes. David Bowie is super theatrical and I really appreciate how he can embody a character in his pieces. I think I did that for Heights. Amy Winehouse has really influenced my writing style. I just watched her documentary and the craziest thing for me to see was how she wrote and how brilliant of a writer she was. How she wrote these extremely personal songs that people could really get into and for a long time, I thought that writing about different people and characters was the way to be more accessible. After watching the documentary, I realized that writing more personal experiences and more real adventures is a great way to also find an audience and speak to people. You’d think that writing something very general would be the best way to include people, but I think it’s writing about personal specific things that really get peoples’ attention.
It’s said that the name The Beaches was an ‘accidental’ pun to where you ladies live. Is it true that it was unintentional and what made you decide on the name in the end?
Eliza: I think the pun was in the back of everyone’s mind to be honest, it wasn’t necessarily an accident, we realized it, but it’s where we’re from. Leeandra actually joined the band after we started it and she’s from the west end, so it’s Beaches plus Ossington.
The Toronto music scene is forever growing, how do you think it has evolved over the years that you’ve been involved in it and how do you see your place in it as of now?
Jordan: I think Toronto is evolving. It’s becoming a more prominent, recognizable city in the world so we’re getting a bit more worldwide attention. I think with that you have a bunch of young people that work in restaurants and need to go out on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and there are tons of bars that are open those nights and need local bands to fill those spots. There are so many opportunities for bands to play live in this city, so that’s how the music scene here just keeps growing and evolving.
Canadian musicians are putting their feet in american markets. Drake is enormous, just dominating the scene and he’s from Toronto, represents Toronto and loves Toronto. People here really respond to that love and want to also do what he does. There are dozens of Toronto artists making it, like July Talk, The Weeknd, Alvvays – they’re not from Toronto but they say that they’re based in Toronto. So the more people that get famous, the more artists here are like hey, maybe I could do that too.
Working with Raine Maida from Our Lady Peace on your self-titled EP in 2013 must have been pretty exciting. What do you think you took from that experience and what are your favourite Our Lady Peace albums/songs?
Jordan: I really like “Clumsy”, or “4AM”. I like “Somewhere Out There” because he mentions a girl with purple hair and I had a crush on him when I was a little kid and had purple hair, so I was like oh my god he’s talking about me. Even though the song was written the year I was born (laughing). Raine was the person that introduced us to songwriting and he got us into the music industry and developed our writing abilities, I can’t really say one specific thing that he helped us do. He really encouraged us to get out of the Disney scene and pursue our own musical venture. Something that we were really passionate and happy with. He’s a very good mentor.
The Beaches play Lee’s Palace tonight (Dec. 10th) with K.I.D. as part of 102.1 The Edge’s Jingle Bell Concert Series. Buy tickets here.