Beaches blast back after label says “buh bye”
BREAKUPS ARE HARD — but it’s easier to cope when you’re going through it with your friends. The members of Toronto pop/rock band The Beaches went through a tumultuous time in their personal and professional lives in recent years, but they got through it together. Almost everyone in the group broke up with their partners, and an even bigger breakup loomed overhead: the band got dropped from their major label. Has Mercury been in retrograde for too long? Or do we have Venus to blame this time? Either way, instead of speculating on star sign incompatibility or other astrological events, The Beaches came to a conclusion: Blame My Ex, the album.
Amidst the chaos of their scheduled content-filming day, the four bandmates are multitasking by entertaining members of the press while pulling outfit options for photoshoots or touching up their makeup. Sisters Jordan and Kylie Miller and their best friends Leandra Earl and Eliza Enman-McDaniel pull up cushions to have a casual chat with me about music, their astrological big threes and the cons of being even a little bit famous (having a profile on wikiFeet). The conversation is paused momentarily by a male photographer on assignment who asks the girls to pose for a photo: “Smile more! Get in close, like you actually like each other!”
When we resume the interview, Eliza and the band look to me and confirm, “You saw that happen, right? He wouldn’t have said that if we were an all-male band.” It’s microaggressions from older men like these that make The Beaches feel like getting dropped from their label maybe wasn’t such a bad thing.
It’s the first time that the band have written candidly about their career relationships, which, Jordan explains, they’ve been meaning to do for a while. On Everything Is Boring, she sings, “I just zoned out / I was thinking about girls / supporting other girls / then I woke up in a meeting / with a bunch of random dudes / telling me what I should do.”
Though it seemed scary to be on their own, the band also cherished the freedom of having full creative control as independent artists. They took a step back to re-evaluate what kind of music they wanted to write, worked their way through their imposter syndrome and successfully capitalized on their relationship woes by releasing their biggest streaming single to date, the viral TikTok sensation, Blame Brett.
It’s easy to make it seem like it’s all fun and games because the girls don’t take themselves too seriously on songs like Blame Brett and Kismet, but they do break new ground in their artistry by being more honest with themselves on more low-key tracks on the album, such as If a Tree Falls.
“I never really write from an earnest place,” says Jordan. “I’ve written about sad and painful experiences before, but they’re usually dripping in irony and jokes. This is the first time I’ve ever stood still and said, ‘I’m so desperately sad and I don’t know how I’m going to get out of this.’”
She’s also made a push to elevate her vocal performance, which feels distinctive on songs like Me & Me and What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Paranoid. She credits this shift to doing her homework by listening to contemporary female artists like girl in red and Angel Olsen to home in on what she could do to improve her own vocal style.
My Body ft Your Lips is the horniest track on the record, which features guest vocals from Nick Santino of Beach Weather, with whom they’ll be touring in the fall for a headlining beach-powered super tour — and it’s already sold out.
“I heard them on the radio last year with Sex, Drugs, Etc., and we fell in love with them, so we reached out for the tour,” explains Leandra. “Then we thought it would be perfect to sing a song together on that tour, so we sent them the whole album to listen to. Nick has such a sexy voice, so we thought, ‘Let’s give him the sexiest song on our album.’”
Though the album has a pretty prominent breakup theme, the band didn’t intend to make a breakup album.
“We wanted a lot of people to be able to connect with the album no matter their age or where they come from,” says Kylie. “I don’t know what the hell is happening — Mercury has just been in retrograde it seems — but everyone is breaking up, so this is the album to fuel that; RIP Joe and Sophie!”
Maybe it’s just a drop in the bucket, but The Beaches want to do what they can to make the music industry a better place for women by writing music that’s supportive of sisterhood. In the 10 years they’ve been releasing music, they’ve come a long way from showing up to the gig and being mistaken by security as fans trying to sneak in backstage — though that’s more of a reflection of the male-dominated industry than a comment on their ability as musicians.
As for their current dating lives, The Beaches are all in a better place than they were when making the album. The band joke about Eliza and her boyfriend basically being a married couple at this point; Kylie announces her very new long-distance boyfriend; Leandra still meets up with her ex but is in what she describes as “full rat-girl mode,” which means she’s enjoying kissing whoever she wants and exploring polyamorous relationships; and Jordan has learned that she is a relationship anarchist and is in a non-hierarchical polyamorous relationship.
Relationship gossip aside, Blame My Ex is The Beaches at their most confident, authentic selves. The rest of us with dating issues can only hope of moving on from toxic relationships by making beautiful art with our best friends.