Interview by Cassandra Popescu
From playing small, sweaty venues in Toronto to securing stadium shows and an opening slot for The Rolling Stones, The Beaches have risen to incredible success in the past few years. Behind their huge career milestones, killer style, and edgy rock hits is a group of four best friends with a hard work ethic and undeniable talent. We sat down in Toronto to chat with Jordan Miller (bass guitar and vocals), Kylie Miller (guitar), Eliza Enman-McDaniel (drums), and Leandra Earl (keys) about their latest EP The Professional, uplifting other women, and what Toronto spots make them feel like home.
ADDICTED: I remember the first time I saw you all play was at the Bovine Sex Club in Toronto in 2016. Now you’ve gone on to play stadiums and even open for the Rolling Stones. Did you ever think that your musical journey would start to lead you on this path?
Kylie: I mean honestly, I don’t think any of us could have imagined opening for the Stones, that’s such a crazy dream come true. But as we have played, we did bar shows pretty much every week at the beginning of high school and because we worked so hard we did kind of see the success we wanted to. But this is a really big career milestone for us and we’re a little bit shocked.
Eliza: I remember the Bovine show, and I remember that was the first show we ever sold out as a headlining band. We were so excited, we were so nervous. And then the next year, the Horseshoe Tavern sold out. Same nervousness and excitement. And every year we reach a new milestone, it’s just the same amount of excitement. Like I would say I’m as excited to open for the Stones as getting our first headlining show.
Do you ever find that you experience stage fright before a big show like that?
Leandra: It’s easier if you keep in the same routine for every show, so I do the same thing for the show that I would do for any other small show or festival. Just to get into that headspace.
Jordan: Yeah, I think it’s important to have a routine for every single show you do. Or try to make sure that every show you are always consistently good whether you’re performing to 30 people or 3000 –– that you’re still giving the right amount of energy and attitude –– and just giving it your all. We just have to do what we normally do and be ourselves.
What is that specific routine for each of you?
Jordan: I like to put my face on. I have a theatre background, so I like to make sure my eyebrows and cheeks are contoured properly. When you’re singing you have a microphone covering your face all the time, and it’s really important that you’re able to exaggerate the features that are present to the audience so that they can see what you’re emoting. I think that also helps you get into this persona or character, which gives you more bravery and courage when you go on stage.
Kylie: One of the things I do, is that I always try to warm up my hands before. And I run through the stuff that I messed up the night before, normally there’s a lot of it, and then make sure that my fingers are just feeling good and the guitar feels alright.
Jordan: We also don’t drink before we go on stage, because we feel like the added adrenaline that you get from just being naturally nervous, we kind of need it to push us and to give us a bit more life as we’re going on stage. So we don’t wanna drink and dull the nerves.
Was music very encouraged when you were growing up in all of your households?
Eliza: Absolutely. My dad has been a musician my whole life, so he was always gigging and playing guitar when we were hanging out at home. And there was always great music playing in my house so for me, it’s always been part of my life. It felt normal to be in a gross venue, it felt nostalgic.
Leandra: For me, no one else is musical in my family so it was just me listening to the radio, and we had a piano in our house. I started piano lessons and my mom was my number one supporter because I definitely wanted to quit many times, but she made me stick it out. And now I’m doing what I love. I love you, mom!
Jordan: When Kylie and I first expressed our interest in music, they were excited because they thought it would help us with our math skills. And then I think they got encouraged because they saw it was just a really proactive and healthy way to express ourselves.
You released your latest EP The Professional and it stays true to this guitar rock vibe that you’ve established for yourselves. When you were starting out, was it hard to keep that authenticity and choose that sound over something more commercial?
Kylie: We went through a period with our first label where we were in a developmental deal and they sent us to California to work with a bunch of different pop writers. It was a great experience, but through that, we felt like they were trying to push us in a direction that we weren’t really wanting to follow. But because we tried and sensed that wasn’t what we wanted, we were able to stick to our guns and hone in on the sound that we wanted to have. We’re kind of thankful for that experience in the long run because we did write some really great pop songs. We took that pop sensibility and applied it to the kind of music that we listen to. Our songs are pop songs, we just present them in a rock way.
Eliza: I think it’s easy, especially being women in this industry, to be swayed by a bunch of dudes at the label who wanna tell you what to be doing. But we’re lucky because we have four of us, not just one. Four young strong women who know what they want, and so we’re lucky in that aspect, that we kind of keep each other in check.
The EP also deals with material that elevates other women. Who are some women that you find influential?
Eliza: Our moms, our aunts, our families, our sisters.
Kylie: Leah Fay from July Talk! She’s an amazing musician, but aside from that, all the work she does politically and for charities is so exceptional. She’s one of the nicest, most down to earth, genuine people and she’s a woman that supports other women.
Jordan: She supports everyone though! She’s truly the definition of an intersectional feminist. And a champion of all human beings. I would also add Chloë Sevigny, Toni Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Frida Kahlo.
Leandra: I would add Chrissie Hynde from the Pretenders, she’s super badass.
Everyone: Yeah, throw Rihanna in there!
Kylie: She’s a businesswoman.
Leandra: Miley Cyrus, Jamie Lee Curtis, and I’d like to add Zendaya to the list as well.
Eliza: Honestly, I wanna say I love Cardi B, she is killing it.
Kylie: But also, Diane Keaton, and Michelle Obama.
Jordan: I think that’s what our song Desdemona is about. It’s not necessarily a girl crush but it’s about those women who inspire you and lift you up, and you wanna be them.
Your song Snake Tongue deals with street harassment, and any woman can relate to that. What was the inspiration behind this song? Was there a specific moment where something happened and you felt the need to write about it or was it more of a collective frustration about the situation?
Jordan: Well it’s sort of a bit of both actually. The melody and the music for Snake Tongue has existed for, like, 5 years. But the original lyrics were actually kind of misogynistic and sexist. It was one of the first songs I ever wrote in California, and I just couldn’t release the song in its iteration at the time.
Leandra: The lyrics were co-written with guys and whatever. And we thought, “oh fine it’s a little risqué,” but they weren’t really our views.
Jordan: Anyway, 5 years later, after we sort of figured out who we were and had grown up, it really wasn’t appropriate to use those lyrics. The day I was supposed to write the new lyrics, I went for a walk and some creepy guy just made an inappropriate gesture to me and was harassing me a bit. And I was like, “fuck, this is annoying, I hate this” and then just after that moment I thought, “maybe this is something we could write about.”
We’ve been dealing with a lot of unwanted, and unsolicited male attention online. Obviously, we get a lot of shit cause we’re in the spotlight, but this is something that a lot of women go through, too. And we thought maybe we can write an anthem that discusses the subject in a serious way but also uses a tone that helps empower women and unite us.
What is the weirdest thing a stranger has said on the street or online?
Leandra: This guy posting on our Facebook wall all the time was like, “please post videos of you breathing after your set, who breathes the most, who is the most rapid breather, who pants the most, and what is your shoe size?”
Kylie: So we had this idea, he said in one of his posts that we should check out a series of breathing technique videos and we had decided to film a video where Leandra was teaching Jordan how to breathe properly.
Leandra: We were just trolling him, it was the funniest thing we’ve ever done. But I learned my lesson not to feed into somebody who is really bugging you on Facebook. Because then he went and called us the most disgusting names anyone would say and it got really scary…A great video if you wanna check it out, but, that was the craziest thing.
Just to throw it back to Toronto, when you come back from being on a string of shows, what’s your favourite spot you go to make you feel like you’re back at home?
Eliza: Harry’s Charbroiled.
Leandra: My friend Nicki’s house, every day, the first day I’m back from any tour I go straight down the street and we have drinks and talk about all the tour gossip – it makes me feel good like I’m at home!
Jordan: Ted’s Collision.
Kylie: I normally go for ramen. Like that’s my favourite thing to get, either Ramen Isshin, or we go to Tondou or Ryu’s. It’s like a coming home meal.