The Beaches (aka Canada’s favourite rock band) take on Europe following the release of their acclaimed album Blame My Ex.
If you’re a band from Canada, it’s very easy to be labelled a “Canadian band.” This means you typically do not leave our beloved Great White North, you travel up and down the country playing gigs, but don’t always get to experience the same global excitement that other Canadian acts like Drake and Tate McRae have been able to see. Finally, after working tirelessly for well over a decade, The Beaches aren’t just getting their well-deserved flowers — they are playing shows across the globe and are garnering a feverish fanbase. All it took was being dropped from their label, a break-up album and some viral TikToks to get them there.
The band, which consists of Jordan Miller on lead vocals and bass, Kylie Miller on guitar, Leandra Earl on keyboards, guitar, and backing vocals, and Eliza Enman-McDaniel on drums, stand as a testament to the boundless creativity that thrives when, above all else, you care solely about the music you make. Their story — of being let go from their deal with a major label and not exactly supported by their team around them — truly is one of resilience. Their new album Blame My Ex is equal parts cathartic and all-consuming, charting the up-and-down emotional journey of lead singer Miller’s breakup. There’s a reason why the lead single “Blame Brett” eventually went viral on TikTok: it’s something every person can relate to.
In their conversation with 1883 Magazine, Leandra Earl from The Beaches chats about their new album, the emotional rollercoaster of playing personal songs live, and more.
It’s been six years since you released your debut album, how would you describe the way you’ve grown and developed as artists between then and now?
I’m almost 30 now! [Laughs] I think from the last one Late Show, that was like six years ago. We did that with our friends in [the band] Metric, Emily and Jimmy. It’s very rock-influenced. When we started the band, that was our influence on what we were doing. Now our music tastes have changed — we listen to a lot of indie pop so we wanted our music to reflect that because we’re just not listening to classic rock anymore. So, how do we reinvent ourselves and keep this fun for us? When we toured with The Aces who are more indie pop, seeing their fanbase was great. There were younger people, a lot more girls, and lots of queer people. We knew that was what we wanted.
Going to a serious rock concert vs. an indie pop concert, like MUNA, feels like a very different crowd. There’s much more of a collective community at those shows.
It is more of a community! I came out in COVID and that tour was one of the ones post-COVID. It opened my eyes to what our shows could be and who could come, with more inclusion and representation and community. I love our fans and they’re great, but there are a few older rock fans that just are not accepting. I got a message that said your album is a ‘mushy, soft-core lesbian album.’
But then they complain if you stay doing the same thing and don’t grow your sound enough.
Exactly. It’s scary because you might lose fans, but then you might gain ones along the way.
I know you spent ten years on a major label, were dropped during COVID, and independently released “Blame My Ex.” It does seem like more and more artists are feeling confident to not be tied to a label and rely on themselves instead. How has this experience been for you guys?
I think it was obviously scary at first to be dropped in COVID. We all a moment where we asked if we wanted to keep doing it. We’ve been doing this for so long and now we’re being told we don’t stream enough or we don’t do well on TikTok… But we still sell tickets. We parted ways with some people and we got a new team who were excited to move forward. That’s when we made the shift to indie pop because it was like starting over. I used to have to run the TikTok we made by other people and now we’re free to do what we want. You don’t need a label to promote you. You don’t need something to help you with money and funding. The Canadian government is great for that, there are a lot of grants for artists. We’re being distributed by AWAL and they believe in us.
And how have you been feeling after seeing the reaction to the new album?
I was anxious leading up to the release because of how well “Blame Brett” had done. I felt this pressure thinking that the rest of the album might not do as well. Not everything can go viral! But it has exceeded my expectations. The greatest part of it has been seeing people’s reactions to it and their favourite songs. “Edge of the Earth” has been one that comes up all the time and that song means so much to me. I think it’s always a dream to reach people in other countries. We love Canada but Canadian artists want to make it outside of Canada, too. It’s really cool to have a number-one song in Belgium and hear people saying they are coming to see us in Berlin. I feel like this new music has taken us places we’ve always wanted to go.
I know you guys have been involved in music since you were young. When you think back to your childhood, is there a story that really stands out that resonated with you whether it’s in a song, a movie, or a book, that encouraged you to become storyteller?
Jordan is mostly the storyteller but for me, I’ve always been so obsessed with playing music. I had a piano at my grandparent’s house growing up so when I was a little kid, I’d always bug my mom for piano lessons. I got very annoyed with classical music and wanted to quit every single day but, thankfully, my mom kind of kept me she kind of used reverse psychology and said, “Okay, just quit.” [Laughs] I became obsessed with Avril Lavigne when I was around seven or eight. I was obsessed. I didn’t even go to sleep at night, I’d listen to the album on my Discman. My mom took me to her show as my first concert ever. I can remember being there and watching the piano and guitars and drums and singing. I thought, “I want to do that. I want to be on stage one day.” I had everything Avril related. Now that I’m queer, I think about why I was jealous when she had boyfriends! [Laughs]
I want to talk about your song with Beachweather. I listened to Nick Santino’s first band back in the day so it’s really cool to see you guys work together. How did “My Body feat Your Lips” come about?
I just had seen them on Twitter I think because our friends Valley played a show with them and The Maine in New York. I saw photos of them in their really cool suits so I just started tweeting them and said I love their suit. Of course, I didn’t get a response [Laughs] They followed us back and said they were listening to our music and that they love it. We just became friends and I started texting Nick and we offered them the tour. I thought it would be a good idea to have a feature on the album just to spice things up a little and it made sense on the spicy song. We thought Nick’s voice is so sexy and so perfect so we reached out to him and he loved it and sent a recording within like a couple of days.
I found some of the pushback online really interesting, like people saying you guys going viral was some kind of insidious thing but they couldn’t define it as an ‘industry plant’ when you aren’t exactly signed by a label. How has it been to see your own profile grow?
it’s been nice to have help from our friend Meg who is our photographer. I’ve done all the social media things for 10 years so I get to read the good comments and the hate and then sit with that. The other girls don’t see it so it doesn’t affect them. I try to not let it affect me but it’s hard and now that we’ve gone viral you get more hate with more love. Facebook is where that last comment I mentioned came from, I asked my mom if she saw we released more dates and she said “I saw on Facebook, there were a lot of good comments but there was one nasty one,” and I just had to go look.
The comment section on Facebook is where good souls go to die.
Yeah, I just had to get rid of messaging because the messages are just so awful and gross. I would always, always, always clap back with something amazing and then Laurie [manager] said I had to stop because we were starting to see the danger in that.
I was so happy to see that feature because I’ve been listening to Nick for ages!
It’s funny to actually hear that stuff because Kylie was fangirling when we first started talking to him, and I was like, I have no clue what you’re talking about.
The song “Edge of the Earth” is one that I gravitated towards immediately. What was the process of writing and recording that track?
Jordan, Karah [from the band Valley] and our friend Sam all wrote that. We went into the studio and Karah had the drum beat ready to go, we leaned into the Tears For Fears vibe. I was arguing with my girlfriend at the time and we went into the session thinking that I wanted to write a queer song. Jordan was exploring her sexuality, I came out during the pandemic, so I want to have that representation on the album. Then they were my therapist for the day. I was saying that my girlfriend and I were fighting but, at the end of the day, we love each other so much. Even when things get so fiery, we still do anything for each other. Then I got dumped in June before the album came out so it has a different meaning. At first, I couldn’t listen to it all because we were not in a good place and now we’ve kind of come back to each other and we’re good friends again, although it’s complicated because we love each other. I don’t know what the future holds but I do know that I’d do anything for her and she would do anything for me. I hope to always have her in my life.
You brought up writing sessions and you kind of feel like it’s a therapy session. I’ve always compared songwriting to therapy because it seems like therapy. Do you ever find those sessions really vulnerable or daunting?
Yeah, that was the only song from my perspective and the rest was kind of about Jordan’s breakup as it was happening. It’s been really hard for her. She was saying the other day that she didn’t know it was going to be so hard to perform the songs all the time. It’s like opening up the wounds every time because it’s still fresh for her even though it’s been over a year. When we started writing the album, she was still in her relationship so the songs were really fun, like “Shower Beer” came from that. Then immediately after that was “If A Tree Falls” which was a really hard session. She came in and Karah asked what we wanted to write about and Jordan just started crying. We dove into that. I actually was listening to the first demo yesterday and it’s very honest and too detailed so I’m glad we changed it. I don’t know that she could have sung it every night. It really was moving through the ebbs and flows of a breakup. “Blame Brett” isn’t even directed towards him, it’s about her trying to see other people and not being able to fully commit to them because she was still in this breakup. I didn’t know how it felt until I had to play “Edge of the Earth.” I’m like, “Oh, sorry Jordan for forcing you to use your emotional trauma to sing our songs.”
I was lurking around Reddit and I found a comment that read “This album makes me feel so seen and heard as a bi woman. I have felt so lonely and not queer enough at times, but this collection of songs speaks to me. Thank you to the band, absolute icons and fierce allies” What do comments like that mean to you?
So sweet, that makes me feel so great and it erases the mean comment I read yesterday. That’s just so amazing because it’s very surreal for me. It just makes me think of myself growing up and what I would say to the artists that I love and it still doesn’t click that we are that for somebody. It makes me want to cry thinking that we’re some form of support to somebody who’s going through a hard time, especially with their queerness. I went through and had still been going through it and I’ve only been out for like three or four years. It’s a journey, it’s really hard. Anytime you can find an album to get you through it in the privacy of your own mind is very therapeutic. It really means so much to us.
The Beaches play at HERE on November 23rd. Buy tickets now.
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