By Laura Eley
Hot off the heels of a recording stint in the grassy knolls of Ireland, Montreal’s Caveboy made a recent stop in Toronto to play at NxNE’s Port Lands. Veterans of some of Toronto’s largest music festivals, including Canadian Music Week, the three-piece band, comprised of Michelle Bensimon, Lana Cooney, and Isabelle Banos, have been making dreamy synth-pop tunes for years, including through their earlier incarnation as Diamond Bones. Releasing their first EP in 2015, Caveboy continue to explore their own musical boundaries and hope to release brand new self-produced music this fall.
Quip had an opportunity to catch-up with the band prior to their afternoon set and discuss everything from festivals, to being proud female role models, and their upcoming plans.
Laura Eley: You guys have played a ton of festivals. Is there one that sticks out as a favourite?
Michelle Bensimon: Hillside was so great. Everyone there just wants to have a good time, even volunteers and people who weren’t being paid for their time.
Lana Cooney: Also, people were just putting in such an effort to make the festival hurt the planet as little as possible, and were so passionate about it. Everyone there is just so down for art, all day, every day, they just wanted to soak it in.
Isabelle Banos: You hear stories of families that come every year. Hillside is what they do every summer.
MB: People there are discovering new music constantly. [The crowd] is willing to spend money on art and supporting bands. It was pretty surreal to walk around and see lots of people wearing your [band’s] t-shirts, tank-tops, and hats. So strange.
LE: Why do you think Montreal’s such a special city to be part of in terms of its musical scene?
LC: From a logistical point of view, it’s really cheap to live in Montreal. It’s cheap to have a rehearsal space, and it’s cheap to get around. I feel like it’s a breeding ground for creative things because anyone can just find a space anywhere and create a band. Culturally, it’s a huge melting pot and there are a ton of different influences and backgrounds, as well. It’s easy to find someone who, musically speaking, plays an interesting instrument you maybe haven’t come across before.
LE: Do you feel like there’s a lack of pretension in Montreal?
LC: I think there are pretentious people everywhere.
MB: I think pretension comes from people being afraid to show their love for something, it’s almost like it’s become not cool to care. And we don’t fall in the category because we can’t hide the fact that we really care, and I don’t think we want to because we love it. Why hide the fact that we love this so much? Like, in any pretentious city, you find the people who are willing to get vulnerable with you and go there at shows, and every city we’ve been in has those people in the audience. That’s what makes it the most special. We just want people to feel something for 30 minutes and let go of those walls, we try to provide a space where it’s comfortable for people to do that.
LE: You’ve been at this for a long time — what motivates you to keep creating music?
LC: For me, it’s even meeting one fan afterwards who’s had such a great time watching us. If I helped someone have a great day, even just momentarily, that means the world to me. It’s super motivating.
LE: Do you find that festivals really promote that experience for you?
MB: Festivals are interesting because there’s this huge gap between you and the audience. A festival show and a show at The Silver Dollar Room, for example – really it’s like night and day. And they both have their pros and cons, but at festivals it’s just like everyone has paid a decent amount of money to come so they’re willing to enjoy it as much as possible, which is always really nice.
LE: Do you think it’s important for governments to invest in artists and musicians, like it does here in Canada?
MB: Music is therapeutic. We’re all firm believers that art and the way it affects people, and the way that music has touched our lives and kept us going and motivated, is such a positive thing. For the most part, it’s about people shedding their skins and really giving it. I think it’s so important for governments to support that; it should be part of curriculums and socializing. You learn about being part of a community, it only brings positivity.
LC: And if you get a chance to go outside of Canada and travel, you have the opportunity to bring that love back to Canada.
LE: What’s coming-up next for Caveboy?
MB: Well, we just got back from [recording in] Ireland. When we release our new music, we want it to be right and be really proud of it – we’re working the tracks right now. Definitely, by the fall or maybe earlier we’ll have a new single.
LE: Will it be self-produced?
MB: This time around, we’ve decided to produce it ourselves, which has been an interesting journey.
LC: With some interesting co-production situations with a few really talented people we were able to share some input with. But, the majority is self-produced. We’re so excited for people to hear it.
MB: It’s a little scarier to self-produce, because you have your name on it, and if people are like “I don’t like the arrangement” – it’s our fault. I think we’re just really proud to be three women who are able to self-produce and that’s kind of powerful.
LE: Do you feel responsibility as women to be role models for girls?
MB: Totally. That pressure is never going to not be there.
LC: We’re really proud to have the opportunity to potentially be role models for anyone – whether it’s girls or boys. We don’t take that responsibility lightly.
MB: We don’t take it lightly, but we also don’t play that card too much. On one hand, people will say, “you have to play-up the fact that you’re women” and “women power”. Of course I believe in women power, but I also believe it shouldn’t matter what your gender is, if people like your music. We just want people to like the music first – as three girls, when people see us online, they might think we’re a ‘70s rock band or a chick band, and we’re just making the kind of music we grew-up on and that we love.