To really appreciate how special The Beaches are, you have to hear them before seeing them. They play with bravado, precision and wit. They sound nothing like the vast majority of their peers. They remind you of when rock bands strived to be clever, not just cool. They’re a blend of first- and second-wave glam, both T-Rex and The Strokes. So it can come as a surprise that they’re four young women from Toronto, none of them older than 23.
At this young age, the Toronto quartet have already toured the U.K., performed at the Osheaga and Wayhome festivals, and were personally selected by Death From Above to open their 27-date North American tour in the Fall of 2017. After two self-released EPs, The Beaches unveiled their debut album Late Show in October of 2017. It was produced by Jimmy Shaw and Emily Haines – who shouted out the band in a Globe and Mail interview – of five-time JUNOI Award-winners Metric. They’re currently nominated for a 2018 Breakthrough Group of the Year JUNO Award, and are
JORDAN MILLER’S TIPS FOR SONGWRITERS
- “Don’t be discouraged when you get stuck. Don’t force yourself to make an idea work. If you have a good idea for a chorus, or for a verse, but for some reason you’re not able to finish it, you can always just keep it in your back pocket and use it later. The same goes with all the songs that you write. I have 50, 60 songs that I’ve written over the past couple of years, and many of them are either too poppy, or too sad, or too happy to go on a finished record, but you should never abandon an idea altogether. If you get stuck one day, you can go back and listen, and maybe there’ll be pieces in a certain song that you really like.”
- “Be open to collaborate. I have a problem finishing things, so it’s really great to have a band. When I get lazy, and I want to give up on an idea, they’re always there to offer me help. Then someone might have an idea that will inspire you, and you can figure it out together. And I know it’s sometimes difficult to work with other people. The thought of sharing your experiences, especially if you’re a person who writes about things that happen to you, it can be difficult to share those intimate details of your life with other people. But I think some of the best songs I’ve ever written [came from] working and having conversations with someone, sharing a story with them, and using their insights to create something together.”
- “Always change the way you look at writing a song. For seven years, I would never write about my own personal experiences. I would just write from stories I came up with in my head. When I changed the way I approached songwriting, and started adding my own personal experiences as the basis for my songs, my writing really matured. I would encourage people to challenge themselves.”
making waves with a just-released cover of the huge Loverboy hit “Turn Me Loose.”
The decade that most of The Beaches have spent playing together is plainly evident in the confidence of their performances. “You hear all the time that as a genre rock ‘n’ roll is kinda dead,” says bassist Jordan Miller, “but we’re shocked by that. We grew up with a bunch of young people that loved classic rock, and loved hearing real instruments on records, and going to see crazy rock shows.”
Of the genre and the bands cited above, Jordan says, “We really wanted to make sure this album sounded that way, ‘cause those are all of the bands and artists who inspired us as musicians and songwriters to do what we do. We wanted to make sure that our album had a clear, consistent sound that references those bands and periods.”
Sisters Jordan (bass/vocals) and Kylie Miller (guitar) and Eliza Enman-McDaniel (drums), along with Megan Fitchett, (guitar) were once in a much poppier, young-teen group, signed to Disney in 2010, called Done with Dolls. In 2014 Fitchett left and Leandra Earl (keyboards/guitar) came aboard, along with a name change.
Jordan credits the experiences learned from a developmental deal they had with Universal Music for her growth as a songwriter. “We were sent to Los Angeles for a couple of writing trips and we wrote upwards of 60 songs with a bunch of different writers,” she says. “Some of the songs on the album that feature other writers, like [producer] Jackknife Lee and [songwriter] Nicole Morier, are songs we wrote there and brought back to Toronto.” But most of the tracks on Late Show were written solely by the band.
It was when they saw the documentary Amy, about the tragic life of the genius singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, that songwriting really changed for Jordan, who’s become The Beaches’ principal lyricist.
“That was a difficult process for me to go through, to make that change,” she says. “For me it was always easier to just start from my imagination, and create songs without involving my personal experiences. Then I saw that documentary and I realized how rock ‘n’ roll her lyrics are, and how me and my mother and my sister could all relate to her experience and music, despite not going through nearly anything that she went through. There was something in her story that we could all feel. That changed the way I wanted to write songs, because I want to make music that’s accessible and will connect to people.”