Capturing our attention with one of our favorite records of the year so far, is Bravestation; a tribal-pop band that harkens back to acts like the talking heads and peter gabriel. Their sound, however hard to pinpoint, has definitely had an impact. They've accomplished a lot in the past year and we caught up with guitar player Derek Wilson to ask him about the Canadian music scene, touring, and what's next for the band.
The Peel: For those who don't know, you're a Canadian band based in Toronto. I didn't grow up too much farther away, being from Buffalo, NY. I feel like the music landscape for us was similar, I found myself often trying to pick up 102.1 The Edge on my car stereo to find something half-way decent to listen to, though you probably had a trove of local bands to check out.
How has the scene in Toronto shaped the way the band sounds?
Moving here definitely exposed us to a diverse and vibrant music scene that we’ve been able to experience first hand. That includes bands we’ve seen live, people we’ve met and the fervor in the online music community that surrounds us. It’s certainly influenced our eclectic taste.
How has being in Toronto, rather than a smaller city, benefited the band?
It’s been crucial for us in having access to all aspects of the music industry. We’ve recorded albums at local studios, hooked-up with our live sound engineer, attracted attention from local music publications and landed a booking agent. Toronto is a touring destination for almost every band in the world, so having the opportunity to play in good sounding venues in front of large music-centric audiences with bands like Tanlines, Yacht, Imagine Dragons, Young Empires, Nightbox, 2:54 etc. has really helped to keep us excited about making music. There are very few cities in Canada where you can do all of the above.
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You cite The Talking Heads, Paul Simon, and Yeasayer as some of your influences. You can definitely pick out pieces of all of them in your music. It's a very interesting Tribal/Topical sound that you cultivate. Is this music only a result of playing off of bands that you enjoyed listening to?
I think we’re inspired by an array of bands and genres. You’re always trying to convey a certain emotional vibe when you’re song-writing and those sub-conscious influences are bound to seep in. That said, we’ve never learned any songs or covered any of those aforementioned artists, so it’s impossible for us to really emulate their sound without knowing the keys, time signatures or chord progressions that characterize their style. We always make a concerted effort to create a sound that is unique and our own.
Did you find that your surroundings have influenced you at all?
We’re originally from a small city in the 1000 Islands so maybe it’s that combination of our rural past and metropolitan present that’s influenced us to want to sound simultaneously earnest/tribal and grandiose.
Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, and Neil Young, are only a few of the great artists from Canada who made a lasting impression on the American music scene. American pop music is now used to hearing about Canadian bands like Nickelback, Sum41, and Our Lady Peace. What do you think the state of Canadian music is today as it is reflected in the US. Do you think this dip in quality is a problem with the Canadian music scene, the American music scene, or just popular music in general?
What about Drake!? 40, T-Minus and Boi-1Da are all world renowned producers now because of his success, worldwide. I see what you are saying though in referring to popular rock music that’s characterized by its formulaic radio-friendly song structures and major label marketing. However, I think just underneath the surface of mainstream music and Top 40 radio, indie music (for lack of a better term) is alive and well. People are pushing the boundaries in every genre – it’s getting to the point now where I’m wondering if it hasn’t all been done, better.
Who are some newer Canadian acts that you are listening to, that you are excited about?
What are some of your favorite spots in Toronto to check out a show?
The Drake, The Phoenix, Horseshoe Tavern. I’ve heard really good things about Massey Hall and Danforth Music Hall, I’m looking forward to seeing a show at one of those venues eventually.
You took some time out in the Spring of 2011 to go on a tour of the UK, do you notice a difference between audiences here in North America versus a British audience?
Not really. Playing the style of music that we do doesn’t really evoke people to dance or get crazy during our sets haha, so the crowds are usually pretty relaxed. Evolution Festival in New Castle was an exception though, kids were moshing and circle pitting and throwing shoes on stage for our set. There’s always a ton of energy playing in front of our hometown supporters in Canada, too.
Hoprefully we can get a taste of one of those live shows here in the states, but for now, you'll have to travel North of the border in order to see Bravestation play. Their next show will be at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, ON on October 22. We highly recommend you check out their album Giants and Dreamers. Their album is streaming on their bandcamp page and if you like it, you can buy it for the price of a beer in the city.