By Tiffany Lam
BESTiE started in Spring 2012 in East Vancouver when friends Andrew Janczewski, Tristan Orchard, Daniel Ruiz and Rob Cameron started jamming with the goal of making a fun accessible pop band. Soon after discovering their array of world and pop music influences, they started crafting their unique sound.
Amidst a cross-Canada and US spring tour, this quartet gave Toronto an amicable visit on May 9th & 10th for Canadian Music Week. On what couldn’t have been a more perfect sunny Saturday, we sat down with the band and sought find out all about BESTiE and their recent album No Bad Days.
So just to start off, in five words or one word each, can you guys describe BESTiE?
In your eyes, what do you think makes No Bad Days unique?
Daniel: There’s many things. One thing I would say is the cover of it, it is quite unique.
Tristan: The collection of influences that are at play in the music; there’s everything from African music to reggae to Johnny Marr to post-punk… soukous music, champeda, Colombian music, pop, and even R&B maybe.
How long did it take to record and create this album?
Andrew: It was a long process. Two of the songs – Pineapple and Asleep on the bus – we recorded first with Digory Smallz and that was a pretty quick process. We started those on Boxing Day of 2012, we recorded the bass lines right before Rob had to take a flight the next morning, and then we were done in about two weeks. Then we waited and recorded the other six songs with Howard Redekopp in Vancouver in blocks of 3 songs each. Then we both got busy so we did some live off-the-floor sessions, overdubbing, mixing… it was a very long run out process with going away and playing shows [too]. Took way too long, but we finished in February/March. It was over a year from start to finish, but broken up with time in between.
Did you find your expectations vastly changed from going in to coming out with the end product?
Rob: In terms of the timeline I’d say yes; we had initially anticipated to have it done fairly quick, but it was kind of nice to have that time between – maybe not that much time, but it did give us a lot of opportunities to sit on the recordings and re-evaluate them. We basically went over every song with a fine toothed comb to make sure we were happy with every part of it. I think the end result benefited from us being able to do that.
Tristan: Personally, I hate when things take too long. I’m just gonna say that.
Which song was the hardest most work/ most difficult to finish?
Tristan: Afraid of the Dark. Sometimes you just start with the bare bones and then you take a listen, ‘does it need anything else?’, and then maybe you’ll add the other things or subtract just to get the right amount. Sometimes when you record it, it translates a bit different and editing it down for flow and timing makes a huge difference.
Which was the easiest and most natural to create?
Rob: It’s interesting how it changes as you’re going through the process. When we did the bed tracks, which was all live off the floor – Andrew will attest to this – the song Kelly Kapowski… We did it last and by the end of the session which went pretty late, I think we all left thinking that it sucked.
Andrew: I thought we’d have to redo that session. I thought it was the worst.
Rob: Yeah I was on the fence about whether we’d even be able to use it, and we ended up using the live off the floor recording without any editing, so in the end that ended up being the easiest song.
Andrew: Yeah, it was the most natural. Basically, what you hear is what we played in the room.
Well I’m glad you kept it that way, it’s a great song! A big fear or struggle faced as a band so far? And how did you guys overcome it?
Tristan: We got our first bad review about a week ago. I was waiting for that, but it’s done now and life goes on. Opinions are like buttholes; everyone has one. So now we’re through that hurdle and what doesn’t kill you just makes you stronger. Maybe it made us bond more as a band because it’s like, “nahh, that’s not right” and we’re just going to keep doing our thing and play even better.
What are your thoughts on collaborating and who would you like to collaborate with?
Tristan: I think collaboration is great, music itself is collaboration. If you look at Kanye West, who brings in so many collaborators to his album and makes such an amazing album; I love collaborating and the more absurd the collaboration, the better. Mike Will, the producer for Miley Cyrus and Juicy J… I think he’s the best producer out there right now for that sort of music. I would love to hear what something would turn out with him. There’s Chin Injeti also from Vancouver who’s won a few Grammy Awards; we’ve both expressed interest to work together. I don’t know, I’d love to collaborate with everyone!
What is something on BESTIE’s bucket list that you guys hope to scratch off soon?
Andrew: Touring South America.
Tristan: We were just in Colombia shooting a music video for our song Sirracha. Daniel’s from Colombia and I just feel there’s a certain response that we’ve been getting from people in South America. I guess our music is sort of influenced by there, and to have it reflected to us and then come back there is a very interesting thing. I think that would be an amazing bucket list thing to do. Tour Europe as well.
Rob: I’ve been crossing stuff off my bucket list recently. We were in the middle of our first Canadian tour and it’s always been a personal dream to drive across the country so, this month is just one big check mark for me. I’m excited to have some vinyl too, hopefully. I love records.
Did you guys learn anything in general or about yourselves while making the new album?
Rob: I think our roles in the band, personality wise, were maybe a bit more solidified. There’s more caution in certain parts of our band and then more ‘let’s just go do it’ – [making the album] allowed us to find a happy medium in between those two things.
Daniel: Working hard is very important. We kind of knew that, but it was kind of like a reinforcement.
Rob: We learned that we can do what we set out to do if we put in that hard work.
Tristan: I think you always kind of reinforce that you should go with your gut and listen to yourself a lot. Everyone’s going to say all sorts of things and you have to just do what you think is best.
And last question, what are your biggest music guilty pleasures?
Tristan: I love Justin Bieber. I played the new album in the car twice; everyone hates Bieber, and they don’t even listen to what I’m saying because he’s just a 20-year-old kid going around and acting like a jack***, which I personally also probably did. His album Journals is amazing. I also work as a DJ and I played it out at places like the Commodore in Vancouver, and I’ve had grown men come up to me and ask like, “What is this? Omg, what is this??”, and I’m like, “It’s Justin Bieber!”. So, listen to an artist’s music and don’t write them off just because their personality, because artists are supposed to be weird and have huge personalities that get under your skin. Listen to their music.
Daniel: Well, when I was a teenager, I used to love Blink 182. And I still like Blink 182 for some reason, and sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t share that with many people, but I love Travis Barker’s drumming. He’s amazing and he influenced me a lot when I started playing drums, so that’s a guilty pleasure.
Andrew: There’s this Sting song called Desert Rose. I haven’t listened to it in years but when it came out. I thought it was great. It’s kind of a dance song with an Arabic influence. I think it’s probably a really bad song but I remember really liking it at the time and having my girlfriend making fun of me for it. I’ll have to dig it up and listen to it again.
Rob: I’m going to stay away from music, but I recently fell into The Real World on MTV. I don’t really have good things to say about it, but it shames me to say I watched the entire season. It’s the lowest form of entertainment but it’s enjoyable and made me feel better about myself.
Tristan: Noo, MTV is the best. We just had a song licensed to a MTV’s show called Awkward. Speaking of bucket lists, getting our music on MTV and being associated with MTV greatness… yeaah.