INTERVIEW: Bestfriend discuss influences, remote songwriting, and their new single 'Does It Matter?'
After their previous single 'Last Bus In The A.M.' landed on Spotify’s Fresh Finds playlist, received airplay on London’s Hoxton Radio, and was supported by the likes of Vents Magazine, The Hype Magazine, and A1234, the pressure was certainly on for rising duo Bestfriend about where to go next. Thankfully their new release 'Does It Matter?' is a warm and uplifting alt-pop gem that sees them deliver more of that fresh and exciting aesthetic they are quickly getting known for.
So with that new gem quickly racking up yet more support for the pair, we decided to sit them down to find out more about their latest offering, as well as what it is like to be part of a band that live on opposite sides of the country.
Hi guys, how are you today?
Stacy: Just took the queen of all naps and now I feel pretty groggy and don’t know what day it is.
Kaelan: Feeling better than that! One of those days when you just nail the coffee routine in the morning and I’ve been riding that high ever since. No complaints here.
For those that haven’t heard of you yet, how would you best describe your sound and who have been your biggest influences so far?
Stacy: What are genres these days, right? We’ve really appreciated the umbrella term “indie pop” lately, it’s a great easy answer to the genre or sound question. Obviously people like Justin Vernon, Annie Clark, and Jack Antonoff are just idols to us. The National is a group of people that just churns out beautiful work after beautiful work and I know we both turn to for clarity and inspiration on a weekly basis. We draw a lot of inspiration from artists our age as well doing this thing as well as anyone. Everything about anything Maggie Rogers or Troye Sivan do is magic. Lauv has really mastered the art of the pop chorus. Dizzy is a band from near where Kaelan lives that we just adore - beautiful, touching, confident-in-a-casual-way songwriting.
You have just released your new single ‘Does It Matter?. Can you tell us how that track came about?
Stacy: I started writing the song back in December thinking about some really vivid and intense world-ending kinda scenarios, and about my people and my relationships and all that. Who are the people you want to be with, and who would you want to take care of? What kind of things do you long for when you’re in these situations? I shot an acoustic of the chorus over to Kaelan who immediately heard more of an anthemic vibe in his head and boom, the rest just sort of cascaded from there.
And was there a particular style you were looking for when you wrote it?
Kaelan: I wouldn’t say there was a particular style but there were definitely some guidelines, more like putting up the bumpers at a bowling alley than a bullseye target. For us it’s mostly emotions and feelings providing guidelines rather than styles, not to sound too Woodstock 1969 on you. We tried to lean into this cautious, almost nihilistic optimism we were both feeling with this one. Something else I’ve been growing through as a producer is finding the happy medium between not enough / too much ear candy or complexity or whatever you want to call it, with added background noises and synths and stuff. That was a big focus on this track for me. I think a lot of us have a tendency to just add add add to a song, like... Bigger is better! Bigger is more interesting! Bigger means more opportunity to hide behind sounds! But so often that’s not the case at all, especially if you’re adding recklessly. All that garbage can really pull away from the main energy you’re trying to portray sometimes. There’s definitely some gold in leaning into and trusting the song you wrote to hold itself up. So yeah, production-wise, a lot of this song was just trying to find the right balance of it all - slipping some fun in there while also letting the song speak for itself.
You are also both living in vastly different parts of Canada. How do you write your songs together?
Stacy: It’s definitely a bit of a process. If it’s a song one of us wrote individually, we’ll send it to the other on Slack, then the other either says “hey I love this let’s do something with this”, or we shelf it for another time. Then usually Kaelan will flesh it out, give it some space while I work on new sections or lyrics or riffs or whatnot. Very much a puzzle-piece sort of approach, where the guidelines are based around a vibe we’re feeling and then we fit pieces together until we’re happy with the final product. I guess that’s not really how puzzles work, but you get the picture. We also do more collaborative live sessions though over Zoom or FaceTime if we both happen to be free and awake, time-zone differences-permitting.
Can we expect a new EP, or even an album from you in the near future?
Kaelan: We’re sitting on a bunch of music we really love right now for an EP. We’re trying to get creative about how we move forward with a bigger release, given the state of the world and travel and all of it right now. We really value the relationships we’re building with people and writers and listeners and want to make sure whatever the rollout plan, we get to be as involved with these people as possible.
The coronavirus outbreak has obviously affected everyone’s plans, but what have you got in store for the rest of the year?
Stacy: What we’ve always been doing!! Writing songs until we pass out!!!
And finally, what has been your fondest memory as artists working today?
Stacy: Kaelan accidentally playing soap cutting ASMR videos out loud while I was tracking vocals during one of our first in-person writing sessions together. We were both pretty nervous as this was our first time even really hanging out at all one-on-one and that broke the tension immediately.
Bestfriend's new single 'Does It Matter?' is available to stream and download now. Watch the new video for it below.