TROPICAL POPSTERS MAKE THE BEST OUT OF TODAY
When members of the East Vancouver band BESTiE sit down with BeatRoute at a coffee shop on what should be a beautiful April afternoon it’s freezing cold and absolutely pissing rain outside. The weather on this particular day symbolizes everything that BESTiE is not. The fun and exceptionally friendly quartet are all about sweet beach breezes, ice cream sundaes at the park, summer heartbreak, fizzy drinks, confetti, pretty girls and absolutely zero rainy days.
“We’re the kind of band that invites people up onstage to dance with us at our shows,” says bassist Rob Cameron. “The stage becomes like a party with a bunch of other people, and it’s always nice experience to have the people that are watching you standing less than a foot from you and dancing.”
The band – which consists of Cameron, vocalist Tristan Orchard, drummer Daniel Ruiz, and guitarist Andrew Janczewski – rose out from the ashes of Goody, a small Vancouver rehearsal space previously run by Orchard. Long ago, Goody served as the old stomping grounds for artists like Diamond Rings, Grimes and Austra before the city shut the underground venue operation down. Ever since, it’s been their main goal to get people up and dancing to their music.
“Our time at Goody was both a very wild and intense time, and beautifully artistic. The venue definitely took on a life of its own through the people that came there and used the space,” explains a jittery Orchard, espresso shot in hand.
“I actually remember our bassist Rob playing in a band called The Stolen Bicycle Gang before BESTiE,” he continues, “and I was really impressed with their music because they had zero per cent musical ability and 100 per cent musical enthusiasm. Our band now is almost formed from the fun music that they made, which is just amazing.”
Since forming two years ago, the sunny quartet boasts an impressive list of successes: they’ve won $50,000 as runner-ups in last year’s Peak Performance Project, travelled to Texas to play a showcase at SXSW, played a slew of Canadian festivals – including Rifflandia, Khatsahlano, Sled Island, and more to come this summer – and organized #Safefest, an all-ages music festival celebrating local talent. Most recently, the band travelled to Colombia to shoot a music video encapsulating their adventures abroad.
“Organizing the shoot for our song ‘Sriracha’ was stressful at first because we were telling all of these people that we were going to do a music video in Colombia based on a very loose concept. I thought we were going to look like idiots doing this. We may still look like idiots actually, but who cares,” says Orchard.
With Ruiz’s family hailing from Colombia, there was no better place for the band to visit than Cartagena, one of the oldest cities in South America and the pinnacle of cultural Spanish and African music. The blending of these sounds, as Orchard and Cameron explain, stand as a strong influence in the band’s beachy sound and posi-vibes.
“There was one night when I got to sing with a cultural band,” recalls Orchard.
“Our whole band was drinking Colombia booze and we went up to them and said, ‘Hey! We’re here to shoot a music video, and we want to shoot you.’ They heard our song and really liked it. Afterwards, they asked us to come and sing with them. It was awesome.”
Just weeks after their return trip to Vancouver, the band’s first LP No Bad Days was released, complete with a dog wearing rainbow shades, a hat, and eating off an ice cream cone on the album cover. The release itself is a saturated blend of Afro-surf rock, summery post-wave, and tropical emoji-inspired pop fit for lazy mornings on a Hawaiian beach and sipping piña coladas at a pool barbecue. No Bad Days – which Orchard describes as “jingly-jangly” – features the band’s well-known tropical ode “Pineapple” which opens with birds twittering and showcases the band’s charmingly goofy lyrics: “Her hair it smells like oranges/she makes me feel warm/if I was a honey bee/how I would swarm”).
Older songs like the T-Pain inspired “Fell In Love With a Stripper” and the spacey, tinkling “Asleep On The Bus” compliment the band’s newer recordings, made possible by their Peak Performance Project winnings. “Kelly Kapowski” – named after the Saved By The Bell character who is an attractive, desired and athletic cheerleader – features Orchard’s striking Sting-like vocals and infectious whistling.
“I really liked this girl,” says Orchard as he explains the song’s inspiration, “and you want what you can’t have. She was going away a month after we met, so ‘Pineapple’ is about meeting her, ‘Kelly Kapowski’ is about longing for her and ‘Foolish Hearts’ is about heartbreak. Together, they form a trilogy.”
A pause later, Orchard adds: “Shout out, girl. I see you, you little heartbreaker.”
For the upcoming summer months, BESTiE has a large itinerary. Besides appearances at several summer festivals like the Tall Tree Festival, they are embarking on a Canadian tour that will take them across the country. Their tour will end with a release show in Vancouver that promises dancers (“Because dancing is rad!” Orchard notes), mermaids selling tacos, LPs for sale for the first time in the band’s history, furry doggies snuck into the venue, and a donkey as a tribute to their Colombia trip.
“You should all come to our show,” Orchard laughs, “and find out if we’re the band that makes a hundred promises and, um – maybe delivers one of them.”
Both Orchard and Cameron also note that the band is as excited as ever to bust out some new tunes and work on a second album.
“I’m ready for album number two. Our whole recording process for No Bad Days and The Peak Performance Project were great experiences for us, but they weren’t focused on new songs. We very much just went over what work we already had,” says Orchard. “I would love to see our sound evolve and grow. We might see some electronics happening.”
“We’ve started incorporating some pats into the songs we’re working on right now,” Cameron notes. “It’ll be nice to have some time to get back to writing new songs and playing around with new ideas. I can’t wait to start making new songs.”
BESTiE celebrate the release of No Bad Days on Friday May 30 at Fortune Sound Club with friends Sunshine, NEEDS and Derrival.
By Kristina Charnia
BC, British Columbia