INTERVIEW: The Beaches

One of the brightest lights coming out of Toronto these days undeniably shines on The Beaches. The four-piece, made up of Jordan Miller (lead vocals/bass), Kylie Miller (guitar/backing vocals), Eliza Enman-McDaniel (drums) and Leandra Earl (keys/guitar/backing vocals), has just released their highly-anticipated debut full-length record, Late Show, on October 13 via Universal Music Canada. Unsurprisingly, given the success of their two previous EPs, the record is already generating some heavy buzz.

Right as the band kicked off their tour supporting Death from Above, Kylie Miller spent some time with us talking about songwriting, her favourite song on Late Show and working with Metric’s Emily Haines and James Shaw.

Into the Airwaves: Congratulations on the release of the album! How has the reception been so far?

Kylie: It’s been honestly so great. I’m so thrilled with the reception we’ve been getting, and we could not be happier.

Into the Airwaves: So now that it’s out into the world, what song are you most proud of and why?

Kylie: I’m proud of all the songs on the record but the song that we worked on the longest would be “Late Show”, and I’m so happy that it’s is the title track and that it finally made its way out into the universe. We’ve had that song for like 7 years now, and we could never get it right for some reason. Our producers, Emily (Haines) and Jimmy (Shaw) really helped get what we wanted out of that song, and I love the recording so much.

Into the Airwaves: So you guys have independently released two EPs so far in your career,  and Late Show is your debut full-length. So, you guys have been around as a band for a fairly long time. What has the process of getting to that full-length been like?

Kylie: We’ve been around in this current formation for five years. Eliza, our drummer, and Jordan, our singer/guitarist who is also my sister – we’ve been playing music together since we were 10 or 11 years old. We’ve known each other for a really long time. We met Leandra in high school and that’s when we formed The Beaches. We were just kind of recording on our own and doing our own demos. We actually did our first EP with Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace and then our second one was completely independent. We kind of went a little more experimental, more synth rock with that one and then after that, we wrote our record for three years. So, it’s been a long time coming but a really fun process altogether.

Into the Airwaves: What was the most challenging moment, in the writing or recording process? Is there anything that stands out to you as something you overcame?

Kylie: You know, we’ve been waiting for a long time to release this record, and in a way, that was challenging. We had a lot of these songs for a really long time but we didn’t release them and we were really anxious to release them. But there were so many things that had to come into place, on a personal level and also as writers, as a band, that had to come together before we could release it. We had to become a lot stronger as people in order to stay strong on certain matters that were really important to us. Because of that, we ended up creating a record that’s super important to us and that we’re all really happy with. We didn’t take any shortcuts so it took a little longer, which was frustrating. Waiting was frustrating because waiting sucks – but we’re really happy with the finished project.

Into the Airwaves: Is there a song on that record that encapsulates the band’s sound the most, and which one?

Kylie: I think I would say there’s three: “Sweet Life”, “Late Show” and “Gold,” for me. They all kind of showcase an element of the band, and what we wanted the record to sound like. “Gold” is that straight 70s swagger, kind of glam vibe we were going for. “Sweet Life” is just my favourite song on the record – the song is about not letting anyone get in your way, and just striving to work hard and be in a band, and have fun with your friends, and not let anyone take that experience away from you. And “Late Show” is just a badass guitar rock song – super simple, super fun, and just what we wanted the record to sound like.

Into the Airwaves: What type of music were you guys listening to while working on these songs? I did pick up on the glam rock vibes, and maybe a little of St. Vincent in there.

Kylie: Totally, yeah. We love St. Vincent. We were listening to a lot of 70s stuff, Bowie, The Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop and also The Strokes, which you can hear on a couple of tracks, we were definitely inspired by them. The Pretenders were a big influence in terms of vocals. And yeah, St. Vincent for a lot of the guitar parts. Also, Eliza is really into hip hop, so everybody kind of pulls together from things that they’re interested in and it comes together in a really nice cohesive way.

Into the Airwaves: That’s interesting, and brings me to my next question.  You started this band when you were in high school, and so I was thinking about how that would impact the growth in your sound. If I think back to myself at that age, you know, maybe I like some of those same things now, but I definitely grew out of some things I was listening to at the time. How does that work when you’ve been in a band for five years? Has there been a lot of growth or change as the band gets older?

Kylie: Totally – I mean like our last EP was pretty much a synth-rock EP. We were listening to a lot of Tame Impala and inspired by a lot of 80s kind of songs, versus on this one, it’s way more 70s guitar rock. I think that as you grow as a person, the music that you like and that you want to release is going to change, but ultimately, the spirit and the attitude of our band hasn’t changed all that much.

Into the Airwaves: Can you speak to the personal growth in the way that you approach songwriting?

Kylie: We went through a period where we signed a developmental deal with Island Records so that meant that we were in Los Angeles for a couple of months at a time working with songwriters, rotating every 3 days or so. That was a crazy experience because we were doing it at such a young age. We became a lot more confident as songwriters, and we also learned a lot of different ways and songwriting techniques. Before, we would go into our studio and we would just jam out an idea and Jordan would sing a vocal over top of it and that’s how we would write a song.

But after going to California and learning how other people work and taking tips and techniques from them, we would sometimes start with a lyrical idea and find music that would fit that mood. So in a way we were able, through that growth period, to become better at adapting to new writing situations. We just really became much stronger songwriters, and we ended up coming back to Toronto after that period, and after learning and experiencing all those different things and learning from the best basically, we were able to write and do the record on our own. So it was a really, really cool experience. And a couple of those songs that we did in LA – we did a couple of co-writes – they actually made it on the record. So, it was a cool experience.

Into the Airwaves: So, you touched on this a bit earlier but the record was produced by Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw from Metric. What did they bring to the table on the project, and how important is having a good producer, or the ‘right’ producer?

Kylie: It’s everything, it’s so important. They were really awesome because they were the first people we really worked with who strictly wanted to be our producers. We had worked on these songs at our studio, and they just wanted to come in and help fix things. They just wanted to come in strictly as a producing team. That was super awesome – they really believed in what we were doing and what we were trying to say with the record. I think it just helped things fit together nicely, and they helped to make sure all the songs were cohesive, and that the album had a cohesive sound. It’s really important to click and mesh well with people that you’re working with. Also, they’re some of the nicest and most talented people out there, so we were really lucky to be able to work with them on our first record.





Lisa Fiorilli

Lisa is a culture professional who has many strong opinions about music, which she also likes to share on Twitter (@LisaFiorilli) and on Ride The Tempo. Besides an undying love of CanCon, she also has a soft spot for sad guitar music and a good pop hook.

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