“I started getting UK adds on my Twitter; I feel like that means I’ve moved here, essentially.”
It’s a balmy evening in July and I’m sat outside in Salford’s Media City with Canada’s hottest export, Weaves. Our location, the mammoth site that looks slightly like a rejected set from Equilibrium, is home to the BBC and all sorts of big-wigs. As we sit down to interview, the band is transfixed watching Big Brother on a huge screen behind me, doing their best British accents and joking along with the subtitles onscreen. Hours earlier, the quartet from Toronto, Ontario were in session with Marc Riley for BBC Radio 6 Music in what must feel like an endless press-tour.
“It’s been kind of like a long, weird dream,” Says guitarist Morgan Waters, following vocalist Jasmyn Burke’s quip about her newly found Twitter fame in England. “…Long, weird British dream.”
“I’d say we’re really starting to get into it. It feels natural. We should, you know, probably move here.” Smiles drummer Spencer Cole. “The countryside is so beautiful, I mean, I love it here. Everyone here says – but you’re in the UK, I bet you’re excited to go back to Europe – but I love the UK.”
It feels like Weaves have practically set up shop in the UK, such is their presence on our fair shores these past few months. The next night they were up the road at The Castle Hotel, whilst a few weeks on from our interview, Weaves made a heart-racing afternoon appearance at Old Granada Studios for a special matinee in-studio session for Low Four. At the time of print, they’ve just added yet more UK dates, this time joining fellow countrymen Dilly Dally on the road in September.
Unsurprisingly, the hype surrounding Weaves has grown tremendously over the first half of the year. Their kooky, chaotic blend of pop pushing all the right buttons. They’ve even cornered the Airbnb market.
“We stayed in some pretty cool Airbnb’s, so we’ve been meeting some cool people.” Says Morgan.
“They all want good reviews though, that’s the thing.” Adds Jasmyn. “The older women on Airbnb are serious about their reviews. As soon as you leave, they’re like ‘And don’t forget, write me a good review’. They look you dead in the eyes.”
“It’s kind of nice when you’re touring. You do so much driving; It’s nice to have a fake home with a fake Mom for a day. Every single day.” Smiles Morgan.
Their appearance on Marc Riley this evening and future appearance for Low Four is becoming a common occurrence as their popularity gains and gains.
“It’s a treat to do these bigger things… I guess it’s different than a live show.” Ponders Morgan. “When it’s on the radio, it’s more focused and you don’t wanna screw it up. It’s kind of a rush to do these things and it’s really humbling when some of the other bands have come through. It’s a really cool experience”
“You get kind of nervous – like a different type of nervous energy.” Adds Jasmyn. “Sometimes on the road it can be sort-of redundant – you get to a venue, set up and you play. But when you get to do these little pockets of playing festivals or doing radio, you sort-of have new bursts of excitement about your own music.”
Their self-titled debut album has obviously had a helping hand in this too; its June release already causing a stir on the internet and amongst blogs and such. Purveyors of popular culture Pitchfork cooly called it “impressive”, whilst Consequence of Sound did one better with “…a remarkable feat of explosive chemistry.” If you’re looking for a press quote here, I’d easily put it down as a strong album of the year contender – It’s wonderful! But such a quote might go overlooked by the quartet – their strong work ethic and consistent touring has almost put the blinkers on, leaving them to avoid falling into the trap of believing the (blog)hype.
“You still have to work, you still have to earn over fans. Our work ethic hasn’t changed.” Confirms Jasmyn. “You’re still doing the daily grind, so it’s not like…I mean we don’t have internet half the time, so we don’t even know what people are writing.” She adds with a chuckle.
“It’s more important that we’re getting new people that come back to shows, even in our short time here in England. People that will come back – That’s worth more to us than the blogs and stuff.” Adds Morgan. “People coming – that’s like a real thing. People decide to spend their evening listening to us fucking around on our instruments.”
“We’ve had some people that have driven like two hours. We haven’t been around a long time. If you’ve never heard of us; to travel all that way is pretty cool.” Continues Jasmyn. “There’s a woman next week who, she’s turning 60, her daughter messaged us and asked… I guess her wish on her 60th birthday is to come and see us, which is crazy.”
“When you’re on the road, it feels like you’re away from it when it’s happening, almost. But then… I guess doing something like this, sitting here in front of the BBC and we just did that session, that keeps you in the right frame of mind, puts things in perspective.” Comments Spencer. “Oh – people are actually listening to something right now, even though I’m away from my life. It seems like you’re just miles away from regular life. Really, this is what keeps it from getting stale. We try and stay on top of everything… It’s hard though, for me at least, it doesn’t mean the same thing. Especially when the people that you know the most, that really respect your music or have the most feedback, you’re not near those people-“
“Your parents? Have they sent any reviews of the record?” Grins Morgan, turning to me. “His parents are really accomplished musicians.”
“My parents loved it. Totally.” Smiles Spencer.
Jasmyn’s mom on the other hand is “Super honest” and not a fan of the “Farting around at the end of songs” as Morgan explains. “She doesn’t like the ends of the songs”.
“Neither do I.” Counters Spencer as everyone laughs.
All this touring of course means hours upon hours on the road, with their mid-west America trips soundtracked by just a collection of CD’s, due to the absence of an aux input. Classics from Bjork, Queens of the Stone Age, PJ Harvey and Michael Jackson were half-inched from their own collections when they wanted to dip into a hit from yesteryear. In Europe however, Weaves are based more in the present. Spencer boasts that their set up for this journey is a lot more streamlined, with ipod’s half-inched from older brothers and ex-girlfriends. Amongst the Kanye’s and Hudson Mohawk’s, I was most surprised to hear Little Mix fighting for position in the Weaves van. The former X-Factor winners shared a stage with Weaves in Belgium, allowing the quartet to edge ever closer to teen-pop megastars. “We got some Little Mix fans who heard our soundcheck. They’re now fans of Weaves. We gave them t-shirts and were like – if you like this, maybe you’ll like this. And they do!” Grins Jasmyn.
“They were like the cool, alternative Little Mix fans in Belgium.” Adds Morgan. “We didn’t know Little Mix but now we know them – and Sean Paul. Anyone who collaborates with Sean Paul, you’ve gotta give ‘em respect. We’re waiting for our Sean Paul feature.”
Weaves, their self-titled debut album, comes two years on from the release of their initial EP (also self-titled). It was after that initial 6-track that the quartet got to work on their full-length, recorded in short bursts in the studio over a two year period.
“But you know, two years isn’t that long.” Says Jasmyn. “We were kind of touring and getting the band started. It shouldn’t be a rush on your first record, you know?”
Whilst the production process wasn’t particularly rushed, the songs themselves can come together pretty sharpish. ‘Two Oceans’, for example, pretty much worked itself out as an improvisation, with Jasmyn riffing over the top with whatever came into her head. Generally prone to writing on her tod, initial tracks are then “shipped over to the Weaves truck” for Morgan and “The Boys” to work on. “It starts out of her instinctive kind of recordings, where it’s not laboured over for too long.” Says Morgan. “It’s just quick, try to keep it moving that you don’t overthink it.”
In the space of a few months, Weaves have gone from tourists to damn-near proud Mancunians. September sees the wheels continue to roll as they head out on tour with Dilly Dally, returning to Manchester and throughout the UK and Europe. Playing shows over here hasn’t just done wonders for their collective Airbnb rating (although by the sounds of it, it definitely has), it’s also made an impression on their live performance and song-writing process, as Jasmyn concludes. “Being here and experiencing all these things and meeting all these people, that’s the exciting thing for writing because then you’re mind expands and every show you play with other people, you get inspired by. Hopefully it makes us better.”
As Big Brother finishes on the big screen behind me, the conversation descends into talk about butter and Spencer’s chest, Snapchat sponsorships and Jasmyn’s ruined nails. Confident that I’ll be running into them a handful of times over the coming months, I bid adieu to Weaves. “We’ll see how that nail pans out.” Smiles Morgan. “Maybe we can do a follow-up story”