Weaves's distinct brand of wonky, guitar-driven pop is one of 2016's most unpredictable sounds, but the Toronto band have a very clear vision for the future. And it involves canoes.
“We keep saying we need to update Vitamin C’s graduation song,” says bassist Zach Bines. As singer Jasmyn Burke explains, all you need is one timeless coming-of-age hit, and “you’re retired by the water, canoeing every day.”
MTV News joined three of Weaves's four members — Burke, Bines, and guitarist Morgan Waters (sans drummer Spencer Cole) — to talk about how they became one of the year's most buzzed-about rising acts. “I started playing guitar when I was 15, but I didn’t tell my parents,” Burke says. A few years later, after forming the band Hot Monogamy, she found her voice as a front woman. “No one else in the band wanted to sing, so I was like, sure, I’ll try it.”
Whatever it is that makes Weaves tick, it’s obviously fueled by unique perspectives. Prior to the band, Bines played music on cruise ships, and Waters, an actor and comedian, starred in sketch shows (his current project is the series The Amazing Gayl Pile). Whatever it is, it’s working. Weaves’s self-titled debut LP, out June 17, is a seamless blend of sharp hooks, intricate rhythms, and seductive self-awareness.
Weaves is impossible to typecast, but that’s all part of the plan. In fact, it’s the only plan.
Your album doesn’t sound like anything else I’m listening to right now. What is influencing you at the moment, musically or aesthetically?
Bines: The influence question, for us, is hard to answer, because we all come from different backgrounds.
Waters: There are certain things we try to avoid, though. We’re trying to achieve some sort of clarity; you can really hear Jasmyn’s voice, the shifts in the instruments.
Burke: I’ve always really loved emotional singers and performers: Patti Smith, Björk, Karen O. They weren’t trying to emulate other people. That’s something we’re trying to achieve.
Everything from the cover art to the sound fits together as a full artistic package. It feels like there’s a clear vision to your approach — not necessarily a static vision, but an intention.
Burke: Aesthetically, our press shots have always shown us covered up, hidden in tissues or plants. It’s interesting to not have a preconceived notion of who we are before you listen to the music.
Waters: We’re not photographed in our “punk” looks, or our “slacker” outfits.
Burke: It leaves the idea open of what this music can be. It allows more people to listen to it. We’re not portraying a certain style.
Bines: And individually, we can all be different things. Everybody’s so multifaceted, and if that shines through in the music, that’s awesome.
Waters: We try not to think too much. The record is the sound of controlling people trying not to control things, enjoying the return that comes back when you let go and trust each other.
There are a lot of loud, noisy bands from Toronto right now, but you guys are doing something a bit different. Do you feel inspired by that scene?
Burke: I don’t think we’re influenced by the bands around us, but being around bands that aspire to do things outside the city is exciting.
Waters: [Toronto bands] are performative, they get the crowd hyped up, and we want to do that too, but we also want to push forward. We’re not trying to pay homage to past eras of guitar music. We want to do something new.
There’s something very in-your-face about a lot of current Toronto bands.
Waters: Maybe we’re fighting against our Canadian politeness. Like, let’s not be polite anymore, let’s be brash and bold and not afraid to be bombastic. But we also try to be catchy and draw people in. We don’t want to make music for just one scene. It’s for everyone.
Your cover of One Direction’s “Drag Me Down" is so cool. How much are you influenced by pop music? Do you think there’s more space to be weird in pop right now?
Bines: Yes, totally. I can name so much more pop that I like than modern rock. I like a couple of those Bieber songs a lot. I like Katy Perry. The Carly Rae Jepsen record is insane. When we’re in the van, we’re listening to pop music.
Burke: The way people listen to music right now is not genre-specific. People go in and out of songs when they stream music, so why not go through different types of sounds? I think that’s exciting. Pop music and hip-hop have pushed forward. If it’s been happening for 30 years, why not try and change it? Rock might be a little bit behind, but hopefully we can help push things forward.
Well, we’ve covered weird pop, Justin Bieber, and canoeing. Anything else you need to get off your chest before the record comes out?
Waters: Back to the graduation song! I wrote the grad song at my high school. I will say the lyrics are fairly cheesy. So I know how to give those “first day of the rest of your life” messages.
Bines: Maybe you should end the article with a poll on which song from the record should be the new graduation song.
Waters: Probably "Shithole."
Burke: “Shithole” is what happens after you graduate, to be honest. The reality is that life ain’t great.
Bines: Do you think a graduation song needs anger?
Burke: It should be reflective, so maybe “Stress” is more the graduation song.
Morgan: “Two Oceans” is the graduation night.
Bines: Or prom night.
Maybe a more realistic graduation song is what we need. Something that encourages kids to find their own thing, but doesn't just tell them the world is their oyster.
Burke: “I Don’t Wanna Be Your Oyster” could be the title of the song.
What’s the opposite of an oyster?
Bines: A slug? Something without a shell, for sure.
Burke: A worm, because life is slow.
Waters: Sea cucumber.
Burke: We need something more straightforward than that, because I would have to Google that.
Waters: You’re right, we need to be more straightforward about this graduation song about an ocean creature.
Weaves is out June 17 via Buzz Records and Kanine Records.