On the next installment of Artist to Watch, we have our next band from our digital album, Said the Whale. We found this gem via word of mouth, and let me tell you, we weren’t disappointed. This Vancouver-based band captures the best of west coast indie-pop. We caught up with keyboardist Jaycelyn Brown for a few questions.
I noticed Said the Whale was featured in a CBS documentary about breaking into America. Do you think that is truly important? How do you think it’s going?
Yah! We have been doing well in our home country of Canada, and it’s really awesome to have such great shows and amazing Canadian fans! But it’s very important to get your name out into the world, especially America. The US is so musically strong and for us to build up a fan base in the states would be very beneficial. We’ve only toured the western and northern states, as well as Texas for a festival called South by Southwest, so we still have quite a few states to play. The shows have been quite small, which is only natural, but everyone’s extremely friendly and receptive to our music. One can only hope that they tell their friends about us and the next time we roll into their city, we make a couple more fans.
How has Vancouver inspired you?
I’ve lived my entire 23 years in Vancouver, and it’s such a beautiful place to grow up. There’s so much to see in and around the city because of the location. Natural beauty is what usually inspires me, so being close to the mountains and ocean really helps. There are also tons of local Vancouver bands that we have become friends with who are musical geniuses and continually motivate us to write.
How do you hope to inspire your fans? What do you want fans to get out of your music, especially “Gentleman.”
Whenever I see shows, it makes me want to be on stage, even if I performed just the other night. It also makes me want to improve. Music is a crazy thing because you can express yourself to thousands of people at a time. I’ve had fans come up to me saying they used to play piano as a kid, put it aside for some reason, and because they saw me play they want to have another crack at it. That’s ridiculously exciting to me. So I hope I can inspire people to pick up an instrument, whether it’s for the first time or the hundredth time.
We try to write songs that our relatable and move the listener in some form. Some of our songs are upbeat and danceable, others more emotional. There’s quite a diversity to our music since we have two lead singers, Ben Worcester and Tyler Bancroft, who are the songwriters and each have their unique style. Our song “Gentleman” is a tricky one for me to answer a question about because it’s from the male perspective. Tyler (the writer of the song) describes it as “a little personal song about getting burned by a girl.” There are four guys in the band, and I can say that they’re all gentleman.
What would you be doing if you weren’t (or when you’re not) making music?
Before I joined the band I was studying sciences at the University of British Columbia. I was interested in going to veterinary school, but music has always been my passion. I’m thankful that I’m in the band and pursuing what I love because I now realize that being a veterinarian isn’t what I want to be. When I joined the band I didn’t have time for school, so sometime in the future I’d love to go back and possibly get a degree in teaching and teach music. I knew that school would always be there, but being asked to join a band that I loved was a one-time thing for me. When I’m not on tour or doing band things, I teach piano as well as take time to see friends and family. It’s rough being on the road for about seven or more months out of the year, so it’s great just to relax and spend time at home.
What’s it like being the only girl in the band (and how is touring)?
Being the only girl in a band is maybe the greatest thing. Some people would call me crazy, but I love being the only girl. You get a lot of attention. When you put two or more girls together for a month on the road, you’re bound to have drama. We hardly ever have any drama between band members, maybe a disagreement from time to time. I’ve grown up with an older brother and a lot of guy friends so I’m used to being with guys all the time. We also tour with tons of bands that are all guys, so sometimes I’m the only girl amongst 15 talented men, lucky me?
Any good touring stories?
Usually things that happen to us on tour turn into inside jokes or ones that we can’t quite publicize. But one that recently happened to us in March is quite appropriate. We were touring for the first time in the states and during our first week our trailer that we keep all of our instruments and luggage got broken into. We had played in Sacramento that night. It’s possible that they followed us to where we were staying and waited until we were asleep. Luckily they didn’t take everything, but we had over $8000 worth of gear stolen, including one of my keyboards, two coveted acoustic guitars, two glockenspiels (bell kits), cymbals, guitar pedals, and three suitcases (one of them being mine that had all of my favourite dresses, including one that I was to wear for the Juno Awards in Toronto a couple weeks later). It was an unfortunate event, but it created a lot of buzz, which also helps get our name out there and was included in our CBC documentary “Winning America.” We also ended up winning a Juno Award for Best New Band (I had to find a different dress to wear). That tour was bittersweet for sure.
Best show? Of course, that begs the question … any disaster shows?
Best show, oooh that’s a hard one. There isn’t one show that stands out for me. Most shows in Canada are wonderful. But there are so many factors to take into account: fans, sound, our performance (musically and visually), etc. I can name some cities that I love playing in: Vancouver (of course!), Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, and St John’s (because bands rarely tour that far east, and so their fans are eager and awesome). I guess I just have to wait to name American cities because there are still so many we have yet to play in. We have had some unfortunate things happen during shows, like bad sound on stage, but we don’t let that affect us. People are there to see us play, sometimes for the first time, so we try our best to put on a great show every time.
How does fashion inspire you?
Fashion can totally change how you carry yourself. I love being able to dress up for shows. It’s funny, I used to wear skinny jeans and a t-shirt for shows to fit in with the guys, but now I go for the dresses or skirts and rock them with sneakers. It’s fun to play up being the only girl, but comfort is always key! I usually see what the venue’s like and figure out what I want to wear. Sometimes I even try to remember what I wore the previous show in that city so that I don’t double up on outfits.
What else inspires you? Other artists?
I touched on this in a previous answer, but other artists are probably my biggest influence, especially Canadian musicians. I’m a huge fan of Metric, Tokyo Police Club, Dan Mangan, Hey Rosetta, Mother Mother, Aidan Knight, and so many more. I recommend you go out and buy their albums and/or see their shows!
Funny you should ask this. I just watched the most amazing independent film last night called “Incendies”, which is probably my new favourite. It’s an adaptation of a play about two twins who discover they have an unknown brother after opening their mother’s will. They embark on a journey to the Middle East to entangle their roots and find out what happened to their brother. I will say no more because I don’t want to give it away. It really captivated me like no movie has before.
What’s next for Said the Whale?
We are getting ready to tour the states again! It’s a one-month tour starting on the east coast, hitting cities all the way down to Miami, across to Austin, and then up the west coast. I’m really excited for this tour because I haven’t been to the east coast (and neither has the rest of the band), so it’s new territory for us. Tour dates can be found on our website: saidthewhale.com. As for albums, we have a 4-song EP called “New Brighton” which will be released November 8th, and a full length album (name not released yet) which will come out March 6th, 2012.
One last thing: Thank you LuLu*s for featuring us on your blog! And on behalf of Said the Whale, I hope that everyone enjoys our song “Gentleman!” Maybe see some of you on the road.
Want more? Don’t worry, anytime you order from us, you get access to our free digital download! For now, you can suffice with their Island Disappear EP below!