Nov 29/2016 WORDS by Erin Lowers
PHOTOGRAPHY by Brendan Meadows
STYLED by Leila Bani
ASSISTANTS: Whitney Lykins and Kristin Morawski
MAKEUP by Jon Hennessey
HAIR by Tania Becker
SET CREATION by Danny Vermette
ASSISTANTS: Sean Best & Maria Turner.
When Leon Bridges debuted Coming Home in 2015, his classic, soulful sound drew comparisons to some of the greatest black musicians of bygone eras, like Marvin Gaye and Same Cooke. The album also earned him a Grammy nomination – an experience that shocked a then 26-year-old Bridges, whose musical career spanned no more than a couple of years at the time of being nominated.
“It was kind of like one of those out-of-body things. I didn’t even believe it was happening,” he says. “Just to be a fan of music and R&B since I was a kid, and to see the reality that I was in that same line of my favorites… being at the Grammys, being nominated for the album – it’s crazy,” he continues. “My guitar player/producer [and I] went, and we left super inspired.”
The Grammy nod led Bridges on a worldwide tour and quickly propelled him to unprecedented levels of stardom. Eventually, he found himself at the White House. Bridges’ meeting with America’s “Royal Family” was a moment that cemented his career choices. “Man, I was able to meet the President, I was able to sing in front of the President, I was able to represent my name. I made my family super proud; I made my city super proud. It was an incredible experience”, he excitedly recounts.
Bridges’ short conversation with President Obama is one he’ll remember with fondness for the rest of his life. “It was super brief, but I told him that I loved him,” he laughs. “I didn’t know what to say! But he said, ‘I see you! An upcoming soul Texas star,’ or something like that, and it’s all I needed to hear.”
Like many Americans already mourning a future without the Obama administration, Bridges can’t help but speculate what a change in leadership will mean for artists of colour. “You look at, like, the honouring of Ray Charles and before that, they did a vintage soul thing… it’s not gonna be the same thing, you know?”
While Canada’s neighbours are facing some of their darkest days in recent history with regards to police brutality, socio-economic divides and racism, these burdens have not fallen on deaf ears. Black artists have unleashed an outpouring of support for victims of police brutality and other heinous crimes, and for Bridges, that fight is one he’s ready for as well. “A lot of people point at me to carry the responsibility because of the music that I make, like, ‘Oh, Sam Cooke did this, Marvin Gaye did this,’ so you should do it, too. That’s definitely the wrong motive. If you feel [strongly] about a certain thing, and want to say something about it, then you should,” he states firmly. “With that platform, we [artists] should use it to speak truth… I feel that I have a responsibility to myself to speak the truth, and that’s definitely what I’ve been thinking about as far as songwriting. I’m no politician and not a man of many words, but I can put my thoughts into a song.”
With 2016 quickly coming to a close, Bridges says he has three goals (some more tongue-in-cheek than others): read more, find himself a supermodel girlfriend, and perhaps most importantly: “Hopefully finish my record, or at least finish writing all the material.” While details of Bridges’ upcoming album are still largely under wraps, he does reveal that it takes a “different direction” than Coming Home. “It won’t sound so much like a period album,” he explains, adding that it is more of a cross-genre project.
Leon Bridges expects to release his forthcoming album in 2017.
Named for the Toronto area they grew up in, The Beaches are a far cry from a placid day on the lake. Led by singer/bassist Jordan Miller—with her sister and guitarist Kylie Miller, guitarist/keyboardist Leandra Earl and drummer Eliza Enman-McDaniel—the Canadian four-piece burst out of Toronto with their 2018 debut, Late Show, and have since built up an aura of dissident swagger. Taking home this year’s Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year, the all-fem rock quartet is bringing grunge, gloss, and 70s glamour to a predominantly male genre. Georgie caught up with Leandra to talk about the band’s latest music video, taking charge of their music, and three simple ways to keep women in the industry. G—Did you grow up together in Toronto? LE—Yeah, I met the girls in high school. Jordan and Kylie are sisters, so they’ve known each other a bit longer, but they grew up with Eliza in Toronto’s Beaches area. G—What kind of music were you listening to at that time? LE—We grew up listening to all of the music our parents listened to. That definitely influenced us while writing our debut album since we drew from a lot of the 70’s music that our
Tyler Shaw is going through a renaissance. After exploding onto the scene and the charts in 2012 with his hit single “Kiss Goodnight” and a wildly successful debut album that followed, it’s hard to imagine what the Canadian pop singer could possibly need to reinvent. But after two years of writing and exploring, Shaw has taken the reigns on developing a new album and a new sound that’s better in tune with his growth as an artist. Just before the release of his new single “With You”, Georgie caught up with Shaw over the phone to talk about his upcoming album, mental health, and the feelings he’s harnessed into a musical renewal. G— What were some of the biggest differences for you between making the upcoming album and making Yesterday? TS—Yesterday was more so “I’m a new artist, I don’t really know what I want to do. This sounds cool on my voice, so does this.” With this album on the other hand, I know what I want. I know what melodies I want to go to and what I want to talk about. [Yesterday] came out in 2015, and ever since then, I mean, you go through life experiences
A few years ago, Danielle McTaggart was ready to throw in the towel on her music career. Now she and her husband, Drew, make up the powerhouse duo known as Dear Rouge and have two full-length albums and a Juno to their name. Known for their hook-driven tracks—and being “the nicest couple in Canadian music”—Dear Rouge just dropped their sophomore LP, Phases. The record recounts a season of emotional extremes for the couple, including winning the 2016 Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year, and losing a loved one. We caught up with Danielle over the phone to talk about finding joy in music again, and the personal and public significance of Phases. G—On your website, you describe your style as “sinewy, hook-driven indie rock”. Where did that particular style evolve from? DM—I was always very into hook-y music with beautiful melodies. I grew up listening to The Carpenters and they have beautiful melodic parts, but I also always loved harder music and really rock-driven music. Bands like Metric or Yeah Yeah Yeahs or St. Vincent were hugely motivating for me, and I loved that these frontwomen were powerhouses. They’re very confident and trying to push the boundaries while