Introducing Interview: Bestfriend

Following last year’s debut EP, places i’ve lived, LGBTQ Vancouver/Toronto based bedroom-pop duo Bestfriend have now announced the release of their upcoming new EP, due out in the summer. Ahead of the EP, they have now shared an utterly dreamy new offering. Reflecting on the optimistic feelings of a new crush, ‘Someplace Else’ oozes a lush, ethereal soundscape as sugar-sweet harmonies flow with a shimmering, uplifting energy.

We caught up with Stacy and Kaelan to find out more…

Hi Bestfriend! Welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourselves?
Stacy: A tough one right off the bat! I should format this one like a tinder bio. Stacy, 6’11 (if that matters). 
Kaelan: Kaelan, I have no bio but my anthem is set as a song from the ’90s so you know I’m really cool.

Are you able to tell us a bit about how you initially started creating music together?
S: Instagram DMs. I love the internet.
K: One of those “I follow you because I’m good friends with your good friend but we’ve never met” kind of situations for like five years before that. Funny.

I love your dreamy electro-pop sounds, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
S: Thank you! I have a lot of songwriting influences and a lot of production influences, which I suppose is actually the point of this question you’ve asked here- lots of songwriters I love are generally really quiet, sad, indie singer-songwriters: Julia Jacklin, Big Thief, The National, to name a few. Production-wise, Kaelan and I have the exact same inspo artists, so I’ll let him take that one. 
K: We both listened to a whole lot of absolutely anything Justin Vernon did growing up. Quite the fella. 

You’ve just released your new single ‘Someplace Else’, taken from your upcoming EP, places i’ve left, which is set for release in the summer. Are you able to tell us a bit about the EP? Are there any particular themes running throughout it?
S: Yes! I’m so excited! places i’ve left is the sister EP for places i’ve lived, which we considered to be, like, a series of love letters to our past lives – college life, relationships, friendships, all of the places we used to live, et cetera. places i’ve left is going to close this era out for us, and is really going to be a series of songs that are forward-looking: What are we doing now? What are we dealing with now, good or bad? What are we, as people, but also as Bestfriend, going to do from here?

How have you found recording and promoting an EP during these strange times?
S: Love this question, because the answer is that it really hasn’t changed for us at all! We’ve been making music remotely since 2018, figuring out promotion and releases remotely. 

How do you feel the industry is for new artists at the moment? And do you feel much has changed over the last few years in its treatment of female and LGBTQ+ artists?
S: Oof, I definitely have a lot of feelings about this. New artists in general I think are turning what I think is one of the weirdest corners to have come around in a long time in the industry. We now have this chance for literally everyone and anyone to put their music out there and be heard. The only music I listened to in high school was music I learned about through word of mouth, one-off random shows I’d go to, the radio… Now, it’s just a matter of, like, going to Spotify/Apple Music/whatever DSP and literally typing in “new music”. So, on one hand – awesome, getting your music heard is less of a problem, but on the other, you’re really hard-pressed to find a way to stand out in a super saturated digital world of networking, business, “working the industry”, all that. And I think, personally speaking, it’s become a small percentage less about just the music, and a lot more about the Music Business. As for the treatment of female/LGBTQ+ artists, lots of feelings on this as well. It’s amazing that we’re now at a point where LGBTQ+ folks are openly singing about their experiences without the veiled pronouns layered within metaphors. It’s really freeing. It feels amazing. But I think it’d be remiss to not say that there’s still a long way to go. I’m finding that intersectionality in LGBTQ+ music is still insanely difficult to come by, and LGBTQ+ artists are still sort of being tokenized as LGBTQ+ artists, and not just… Musicians. Not to sound like a pessimist! Silver linings everywhere. Just lots of work to be done still.

You’re based in Vancouver and Toronto, how is the music scene there? Do you feel that the live music community there has recovered since the pandemic?
S: Vancouver, not really yet. Though I’ve definitely been seeing more and more shows happening, so I’m really excited for it to come back.
K: I could write essays about the Toronto indie rock scene of the late ’00s & early ’10s. Definitely don’t think the city has found its groove again post-pandemic but we’ll get there. Seasons for everything.

 As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists or bands you’re loving right now that you’d recommend we check out?
S: Hoodie Browns & The Neighbourhood Strangers – insanely cool group who have been playing lots of local shows here and I think have been working on some releases. Keep an eye out for them. I cannot stress enough how cool they are. 
K: I’ll actually just take the opportunity to hop on the back of what Stacy said and shout out a truly great live show I cannot wait to see again. Busty and the Bass – they’re a group of like 8-10 dudes that met while at school for music and just said “hey, let’s write the coolest like, electro soul adjacent music ever and put on shows with all the coolest instruments (which we of course all mastered at music school) and make everyone dance all night.”

In addition to the EP release, what does the rest of the year have in store for Bestfriend?
S: Live shows! Writing! A lot of fun stuff!

Massive thanks to Stacy and Kaelan for answering our questions!

places i’ve left, the upcoming new EP from Bestfriend, is set for release this summer.

EP: Softcult – ‘Year Of The Snake’

Like the serpent that it’s named after, Year Of The Snake, the second EP from Canadian duo Softcult is a determined effort to shed the skin of past trauma, reject toxic behaviours and make space for healing.

Informed by their experiences of sexism and objectification as young women in the music industry, twin siblings Phoenix and Mercedes Arn Horn’s debut offering Year Of The Rat (2021) was a collection of bittersweet, grunge-infused sounds that soothed the sting of a painful past. On their follow up record Year Of The Snake, Softcult continue to dissect these difficult memories, but with a renewed focus on how they can use them as the foundations for true self autonomy.

A seething take down of the all-too-familiar excuse “Boys will be boys,” opener ‘BWBB’ sends a direct message to enablers of toxic “bro-code”. Heavily distorted riffs and crashing percussion drive home the message “Boys will be boys / but these boys are men / and these girls didn’t ask / to be touched by them.” It sits in powerful contrast to closing track ‘Uzumaki’, a heavy lament about the “vicious cycle” of PTSD caused by the behaviours the pair attack in ‘BWBB’.

Softcult’s hard earned emotional resilience shines through on ‘Spit It Out’ and ‘Gaslight’. The first is a brooding extrapolation on rejecting unconscious bias, whilst the second is an urgent, shadowy exploration of that “sinking feeling” of self doubt in an unbalanced relationship. On the more introspective ‘House Of Mirrors’, the pair channel their fears of falling short through swirling riffs and soft dual vocals, whilst ‘Perfect Blue’ is a melodic reflection on compromising your identity to please others.

Antagonistic and tender in equal measure, Softcult’s Year Of The Rat is a melodic reckoning, urging listeners to peel away the remnants of self-doubt, trust their instincts and to allow themselves the time and space to heal.

Listen to Sofcult’s new EP Year Of The Rat here

Follow Softcult on bandcamp, SpotifyInstagramFacebook & Twitter for more updates

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: Softcult – ‘Gaslight’

An urgent, shadowy guitar tune exploring the “sinking feeling” of self doubt in an unbalanced relationship, Canadian duo Softcult have shared their latest single ‘Gaslight’. Taken from their forthcoming EP Year of the Snake, which is set for release on 4th February via Easy Life Records, the track is a melodic caution to listeners, gently encouraging them to recognise the unacceptable patterns of behaviour described as “gaslighting.”

Formed of Ontario-based twins Phoenix and Mercedes Arn Horn, Softcult cut their teeth playing live shows in their local town of Kitchener, before moving on to bigger audiences on the North American tour circuit. Their experiences of playing and working within a male-dominated industry formed the foundation for their current sound, which is born from the desire to reject toxic standards of femininity, challenge misogynistic behaviour and embrace a more equal world. Latest single ‘Gaslight’ continues this narrative, with its poignant lyrics, yearning dual vocals and swirling guitar riffs.

“We wrote this song about gaslighting and how it really messes with your head and your perception of reality,” guitarist & vocalist Mercedes explains. “Being in a relationship that constantly makes you question your decisions and actions, your feelings and emotions, even your soundness of mind. It’s a tactic that many abusers and groomers will use to tear down your defences and make you easier to manipulate. We wanted to raise awareness of this manipulation technique, so that whoever hears the song will be able to recognize those red flags if they encounter that kind of behaviour.”

Watch the video for ‘Gaslight’ below.

Follow Softcult on SpotifyInstagramFacebook & Twitter

Softcult UK Tour Dates 2022
Thursday, February 17th – Crofters – Bristol
Friday, February 18th – The Victoria – Birmingham
Saturday, February 19th – Heartbreakers – Southampton
Sunday, February 20th – The Key Club – Leeds
Tuesday, February 22nd – The Garage (Attic Bar) – Glasgow
Wednesday, February 23rd – The Deaf Institute – Manchester
Thursday, February 24th – Camden Assembly – London

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

Track Of The Day: Softcult – ‘Perfect Blue’

A swirling, emotive reflection on a time laced with frustration, Canadian duo Softcult have shared their latest single ‘Perfect Blue’. Taken from their forthcoming EP Year of the Snake, which is set for release on 4th February, the track is an introspective take on how compromising your creativity to please others can lead to emotional burnout.

Formed of Ontario-based twins Phoenix and Mercedes Arn Horn, Softcult cut their teeth playing live shows in their local town of Kitchener, before moving on to bigger audiences on the North American tour circuit. Their experiences of playing and working within a male-dominated industry formed the foundation for their current sound, which is born from the desire to reject toxic standards of femininity and embrace a more equal world. Latest single ‘Perfect Blue’ reaffirms this narrative, lulling listeners with its soft dual vocals and intoxicating shoegaze-y riffs.

“We wrote ‘Perfect Blue’ about a time in our lives when we felt like nothing was in our control,” explains Mercedes. “In our previous project, we were signed to a label that butted heads with us creatively and wasn’t allowing us to express ourselves authentically. They weren’t interested in the music we were creating at the time, so we became unhealthily obsessed with trying to please them to release anything at all.”

“It felt as though we were putting on an act to survive,” Phoenix adds. “We didn’t feel like our art was representing us. There was a lot we wanted to say, but it was being stifled. We felt like we’d lost our integrity. The song is a reminder to empower yourself by standing up for what you believe in, or risk losing yourself altogether.”

The track is accompanied by a captivating video, produced and directed by Mercedes. “I wanted the viewer to feel like they are entering the mind of someone who is watching themselves transform, powerless to stop their metamorphosis,” she explains about the visuals. “I clearly remember times in my life when I felt pressure to become a version of myself that others wanted me to be, but that version wasn’t authentic to who I was. I felt like I was losing my integrity and my sense of self. I’d look at myself in the mirror and be disgusted at what I saw, unattached to who I had become. There’s a vibe of health anxiety, dysphoria, dissociation, a little horror element in there that I wanted to capture with the visuals. The skin peeling scenes are meant to elicit those feelings, like a snake shedding its skin.”

Watch the video for ‘Perfect Blue’ below.

Follow Softcult on Spotify, Instagram, Facebook & Twitter

Softcult UK Tour Dates 2022
Thursday, February 17th – Crofters – Bristol
Friday, February 18th – The Victoria – Birmingham
Saturday, February 19th – Heartbreakers – Southampton
Sunday, February 20th – The Key Club – Leeds
Tuesday, February 22nd – The Garage (Attic Bar) – Glasgow
Wednesday, February 23rd – The Deaf Institute – Manchester
Thursday, February 24th – Camden Assembly – London

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut