The Beaches Lost Touch with Their Own Music — but Now They're Storming Back
The Toronto band on repping their hometown, making space for women in rock music, and writing their own response to "drivers license"
Published Jun 14, 2021Right about now, the Beaches would normally be celebrating the release of their new EP, Future Lovers, with a show or maybe even a tour. But with pandemic lockdowns still in effect, they're currently up to something very different, to say the least.
"Just because I have it right here, let me show you my Nick Jonas coaster!" Guitarist and keyboardist Leandra Earl excitedly holds up a drink coaster to the webcam to show me the DIY crafts she's been working on recently. She's wearing her signature cowboy hat and chatting with Exclaim! from her room in Toronto. She then shows everyone another drink coaster, this one depicting a two-headed Kevin Jonas. The noise of construction, or perhaps it's a vacuum, occasionally interrupts her while she's on the Zoom call.
The rest of the band have also been working on their own hobbies as well: drummer Eliza Enman-McDaniel has been doing yoga and meditation, guitarist Kylie Miller has been practicing her cocktail-making skills, and bassist and lead vocalist Jordan Miller has been taking the time to draw more.
"I think that starting new hobbies during this pandemic has really helped with my mental health," says Earl. "In the beginning, it was hard to play music or even listen to music because I felt so sad about the world and kept thinking, 'When are we gonna get to play again?' I started skateboarding, drawing, making coasters — just anything that wasn't music. I eventually went back to it, and I feel like I'm in a better place with my relationship with music now."
The band have had the five songs from Future Lovers in their pocket for a while. They originally planned to release them as part of a full-length album, but decided to prioritize getting new music out there quickly instead of trying to wait out the pandemic.
"We felt like it was kind of inappropriate to be releasing songs about partying in downtown Toronto when everybody was being encouraged to stay at home," says Jordan. She's joining in on the call in the passenger seat of a truck with her dog, Shambles, in the backseat. "Now things are a little different 'cause places are starting to open up again and everybody's feeling anxious to reengage with their animalistic side." Toronto locations are often mentioned in the Beaches' song lyrics, hidden like Easter eggs within the EP; the Bovine Sex Club, King West and Summerville Pool are just a few of the places that get a shoutout.
"Toronto is a big part about who we are as a band," Jordan says. After all, the band is named after the east end neighbourhood where the members grew up. "Our first shows were all played in downtown Toronto venues. 'Let's Go' is more of an autobiographical song, so that's why it made sense for us to represent a lot of Toronto places."
The Beaches frequently get personal with their lyrics — and this often means writing about their femininity in songs like "Slow Mo" and "You Don't Owe Me Anything." In the competitive, male-dominated world of rock music, groups with women tend to get dismissed as "girl bands." This narrow label can be frustrating for the Beaches — yet there's also a part of them that wants to lean into it.
"What we try to do is write very honestly about our own experiences as young women," says Jordan.
"We're seeing it happen more in the rock world, where women are being more commonly represented, and that's super important," adds Enman-McDaniel. "As much as we are a female rock band — and we do embrace that side of our femininity and use it to our advantage — we do also hope that one day it just won't be a thing that people talk about."
Off-stage, there are more ways that women should be represented in the music industry. Kylie points out that women are just as capable as men to work as engineers and sound technicians, but it's much harder for them to break into the field. For their recent material, the Beaches have made it a point to hire more women.
"At our last photoshoot, everyone on set was a woman," says Kylie. "And at our video shoot for 'Snake Tongue,' everyone on set was a woman. That's just one thing we can do to share the diversity a little bit more."
The band's focus on diversity is particularly important during Pride Month, and they are considering doing a virtual event if lockdown restrictions allows for it. They have been aiming to play a show at a Pride event in years prior, but were always touring and away at festivals every June.
"I have come out during the last year, so it feels like this Pride will be important to me," Earl says. "We did a Zoom hang with some fans recently, and it's the first time I've heard from young girls that I've had an impact on them coming out. I can't even put into words how that made me feel."
The Beaches look forward to seeing these fans face-to-face soon enough. But until then, they bandmates will keep on occupying their downtime with crafting, cooking new recipes and writing music. Jordan and Kylie are even working on getting their driver's licenses.
Earl jokes, "Maybe we can write the 'drivers license' sequel, but it will be the in-your-mid-20s version."