The Beaches are young, hungry, and restless.
Finding themselves, two sisters and two friends that met at Toronto’s Rosedale Heights School of the Arts, destroying various gigs that they would otherwise unqualify for the admittance age requirement and receiving early production support from Raine Maida Our Lady Peace has only been within a timespan of four semesters. In that short time, Kylie Miller (guitar), Jordan Miller (bass guitar and vocals), Eliza Enman-McDaniel (drums), and Leandra Earl (keys) have carved their own branded sound of danceable angst.
With their self-produced sophomore album cementing their position in the Canadian conversation and a recently wrapped UK tour opening for Brody Dalle (of The Distillers) behind them, they took a moment to pick the grass and swat the flies beside the parkette that borders downtown St. Catherines.
AMBY: High school graduates! How does it feel?
KYLIE: It actually doesn’t feel that different, it’s summer. It’ll probably kick in this September when I don’t go back to school. But it feels good right now! I’m excited.
JORDAN: Yeah, all of our friends were crying but I just didn’t. I don’t know why.
KYLIE: Because you don’t have feelings. [LAUGHS]
JORDAN: I was waiting for it to hit me and I feel like it’ll hit me when I have nothing to do in the summer.
LEANDRA: No, it’ll never hit you. I feel good all the time. You start to hate people, then you just live in your house and just become a loner. You really enjoy it. It’s great. [LAUGHS]
AMBY: Well, maybe a big part of those tears is that they don’t know what the fuck they’re doing next and you just got off the road with Brody Dalle.
JORDAN: That is true. That is true.
ELIZA: We have a plan!
JORDAN: We do have a plan, which not a lot of my friends have.
AMBY: How far along is the plan?
ELIZA: Basically our plan is to just go full tilt music, yeah. Put off school for a bit and see what happens. Just go, go with the flow.
KYLIE: I have a year left, so it’ll be interesting to try and balance this full tilt music thing with grade twelve.
AMBY: Is there a specific way to get into Rosedale Heights, an audition or something?
JORDAN: You have to write a letter. You have to get some letters of recommendation.
LEANDRA: It’s not hard anymore.
ELIZA: It’s not hard. You can submit art, you can submit poems, songs or anything really that has to do with art.
AMBY: Did you all go into the school with the idea of music in mind?
KYLIE: I go for music, primarily. Leandra went for music.
ELIZA: For a little bit, I did the music program. But I found it a little hard to learn in that program, so I switched to photography.
AMBY: Leandra, didn’t you go through a major Jonas Brothers phase at Heights?
LEANDRA: Are we allowed to talk about that? [LAUGHS] I was actually listening to the Jonas Brothers on the way up to here on my walkman.
AMBY: Does it keep you balanced?
LEANDRA: Yeah, it does. I feel grounded and I feel like I am a Jonas sister. [LAUGHS]
AMBY: What do you take from the Jo Bros that adds to your own?
LEANDRA: They’re just friendly people living their famous lives and I just want to be that, right? [LAUGHS] They’re attractive too, I guess. I just love them. Sorry. You can picture them, beside you.
AMBY: Do you all think visually when writing? Coming from a photography standpoint?
JORDAN: Absolutely. When I write a song, there’s usually a guitar or a piano riff that happens first and then I sort of visualize what that looks like or what the music video looks like. Then I’d take the imagery from what I see and put it into lyrics. It’s usually that way, I never come up with words first. I sort of get the mood of the song then develop words to match the mood.
AMBY: Does the same go for the titles of the records, like HEIGHTS EP that I’m assuming is a high school reference?
JORDAN: Yeah! Good one. Yeah, it was sort of – there was a lot of debate of what the EP was going to be called. I really wanted it to be called Parkdale Machete Gang.
KYLIE: But we’re not from Parkdale, so it’s kind of weird.
LEANDRA: And we’re not a machete gang, so. Three of us maybe. [LAUGHS]
JORDAN: It was going to be about hot girls who walked around Parkdale with machetes.
AMBY: So somewhat expanding on the story of the Alexisonfire self-titled cover.
JORDAN: [LAUGHS] Absolutely.
KYLIE: But we kind of decided to go the alternate route and name it after our high school.
LEANDRA: Where we all met and became friends and you guys became sisters there, right?
KYLIE: We became sisters there.
JORDAN: We weren’t related before we went to high school, at all.
AMBY: Just brought together through the power of music! Beyond that, you had Raine Maida on the first record, that UK tour with Brody Dalle – does that bring an added load of pressure or a reassurance that this is something good to hold onto?
KYLIE: Obviously it adds pressure, but it is good pressure. It pushes us to do more things and work harder and try to see where this thing goes.
ELIZA: I think especially with touring with people like Brody, you kind of are exposed to how you should be on tour and how you should live and treat yourself. It’s good It’s a positive experience, it does add pressure, but it is always a positive experience learning from other people.
AMBY: Was there something that she told you specifically in the time you spent together that stands out, was Brody much of an advice giver?
JORDAN: We mostly hung out and she was really, really into Rob Ford. So we talked about that forever.
AMBY: What kind of conversations around Ford Nation did you have with her?
JORDAN: Well, she didn’t know exactly what he did. She just sort of knew him as this goofy, fat guy that everybody was making fun of and that he was drunk a lot. So we sort of explained what he did and she was like: “Oh wow. Nobody should be making fun of him. He’s actually terrible.”
AMBY: What are your thoughts on him, coming back from rehab and now back in office?
[GROANS & LAUGHS]
ELIZA: Leandra is going to vote for him I think. [LAUGHS]
JORDAN: Eliza, did you have time to vote?
ELIZA: I didn’t have time to vote! [GROANS] No, no. I thought it was at the school that is Really close to my house, but they moved it further away. I just didn’t plan my day. I just didn’t vote.
AMBY: Do you feel like music and politics should be completely separated or that in that position, you have that power to influence?
JORDAN: I don’t think that they should be separated. I think that if you have an opinion, you should express it. And if music is your way of expressing yourself, especially if there is. I don’t think I would write a song about Rob Ford because it would be a really dumb song. When people are writing songs about the Bush administration like ‘Dear Mr. President’ and didn’t the Dixie Chicks write one song too?
LEANDRA: We love the Dixie Chicks.
JORDAN: I think those are really powerful songs and I think that people really connected to them. But their message was important, it wasn’t like: “Oh. I hate my Mayor because he smokes crack.”
AMBY: What defines the line between a dumb song and a smart song then?
JORDAN: That’s true. Cause there are some dumb songs that are good and they’re fun.
KYLIE: Some songs are just dumb! Like that ‘Bubblegum Bum’ song. That’s just dumb!
LEANDRA: Flo Rida!
KYLIE: It’s an artistic piece of a –
ELIZA: Yes, I agree with you there. But I think that it can also be how you interpret the music, if one person heard it and thought it was dumb and maybe to somebody else, it is a work of genius. Maybe someone is inspired by bubblegum bums, I don’t know!
LEANDRA: Imagine if someone did a critical analysis of bubblegum bum.
AMBY: There probably has been, there are PhD’s for everything these days. Floridology! Have you ever thought about collaborating to cross genres with hip-hop?
KYLIE: Like Pharell would be sweet.
JORDAN: That one song with Ed Sheeran. What he did with Pharell was great. It kind of sounds like an early Justin Timberlake track.
KYLIE: Something off of Justified or something like that.
AMBY: You had talked before about wanting to collaborate with other Toronto-area bands like Metric or The Darcys, right?
ELIZA: Yeah, actually The Darcys performed at our school!
AMBY: Actually, I have a question here from Jason of The Darcys – he wanted to ask something for you all.
ELIZA: Wait! Jason from The Darcys just asked us that?! Can you play that again?
LEANDRA: I like this question. I’m sorry. I’m going to take this question. I think there are obviously pros and cons to being an all female act. But it is how you take it, I guess. We had a bad experience at this bar that we played at in Toronto. I’m not going to name it, but we were in the back setting up and just getting ready to do our soundcheck when the security guard yells back: “No fans back here! Bands only!” It was like, just because we were girls that we couldn’t be a band. Stuff like that, you kind of have to take it with a grain of salt. But at the same time, we have the element of surprise with people. Like people would look at us and assume that we are not going to be any sort of good band, but then they hear us play and not to sound like an ass but –
AMBY: – But you’re pretty fucking good!
ELIZA: Yeah. [LAUGHS]
LEANDRA: Well, remember that guy at SXSW who was like: “Oh, wasn’t expecting from you guys, but that was actually good!”
AMBY: Is that a compliment?
JORDAN: It’s not really a compliment, but it is something that a lot of girl artists have to deal with. I don’t want to generalize this for everything, but with the indie music scene or the rock music scene – when girls go on stage, people don’t really like the full girl music band thing. They have a negative association with it. But it is sort of something that we have grown with and we deal with when we go on now and we’re used to it and it’s nice to change people’s minds about it.
AMBY: Do you have conversations with your mothers or someone like Brody about it?
ELIZA: Yeah, I’d have that conversation with my mom a lot. I’d tell her about the sort of stuff that is going on. I do remember talking to Brody about that type of thing and she’s the perfect girl to talk to about it because she’s so, sorry, nobody fucks with her. It’s great talking to her about that kind of stuff. She’s really empowering and really inspiring.
JORDAN: What was really great about the Brody shows is that there were just as many guys as there were girls at those shows and I think that is something that we would one day like to achieve.
KYLIE: And everyone was supportive of her and nobody was trying to tear her down in anyway.
AMBY: As tiring as the conversation might get around being defined as a female band, it is inevitably a great influence for younger girls. It’s a fine line between talking about it too much.
LEANDRA: If our whole goal in this situation is to eliminate the role between two genders, I think that talking about it just brings that barrier back. I think that people should say, instead of us being great for a girl band that we’re just great for being a great band. I think that talking about it all the time just reinforces that there is this separation, I think that people make it. It’s a real thing and that’s sad, I hate that.
AMBY: With the music that you’ve made on the new record, do you feel that you could bury it away for nobody to hear it and still be satisfied with what you’d done?
KYLIE: We wanted to share it with people because we’re really proud of it and we self-produced it too, so we really had full control over this whole EP. It was an completely different experience than the last one, that we wrote with Raine. So we did want everyone to hear it to see how we had evolved in the past year, especially with Leandra joining the band. It really changed the dynamic of the band and we’re a lot closer now.
AMBY: How does the approach go for a show like tonight, being more of a headliner position versus an opener like you had in the UK?
JORDAN: Being the UK, there’s a different headspace.
ELIZA: I think with the Brody tour, we got some special treatment because she’s a big act, right? And she’s playing nice venues. We always love playing any show, not that one is worse than another. I think that you have to have a consistent mentality going into shows. You can’t go into one thinking that there is not going to be a lot of people there and you’re not going to try. You can’t do that. You’ve got to have the same mentality the whole time.
KYLIE: You never know who is going to be in the audience.
ELIZA: My dad has been there, he’s been playing for forty years. He told me that one time he played at a bar with his band and there were like two people in the audience, a couple and they loved him. They actually got them an annual gig after that. Really you could be playing for literally anybody and you never know.
AMBY: Were you ever on the road with him, when you were younger?
ELIZA: No, no.
KYLIE: Yeah, you did. You went to Newfoundland.
ELIZA: Yeah, I did. I didn’t play with him. He plays more of folk music. Not my kind of thing.
AMBY: What was his reaction when you showed him what you’re playing?
ELIZA: He was actually so into it. He thought it was so cool and the fact that we write all of our own music, he loves that. He doesn’t know theory, he learns covers and he’s an amazing musician regardless. He thinks that it’s really cool how original everything is.
AMBY: How about the rest, any parental figures that were supportive?
KYLIE: Kirby! Kirby’s great!
ELIZA: Kirby’s their dad!
JORDAN: He’s our everyday manager here in Canada, too.
AMBY: Was that a role that you thrusted upon him or did he just want to keep a watchful eye on you on the road?
KYLIE: He just loves coming with us.
JORDAN: It’s not his career. I think it’s his secret love, his secret career. He loves coming along with us.
KYLIE: He was involved in the media world.
JORDAN: Advertising, business.
KYLIE: And he’s learned so much about the music industry and he’s gone out to learn it.
AMBY: Where’s the conversations as father and daughters divide from manager and talent?
JORDAN: Oh, sometimes you just have to be like ‘Hey. We’ve got to stop talking about band now. We have two other family members that don’t give a shit.”
KYLIE: When we go on vacation, we agree not to talk about it. It’s too much sometimes. That line kind of disappears.
Thank you The Beaches, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Colton Eddy |