Toronto’s indie rock-pop trio, The Balconies blew Echo Park away at Culture Collide Festival. I got my chat on with band, siblings Jacquie (singer/guitarist) and Steve (bass) as well as, Liam (drummer) in the Taix parking lot to discuss their music, L.A. experience, and the finer things in life like beer and the best places to get it in Toronto.
How’s your Culture Collide experience been? Is it your first time in L.A.?
Jacquie: Yes, first time in California actually. This was a really special trip for us, making it to the West Coast side of the states. We’ve done the East Coast and that was fun but coming back to summer weather is always a treat. Culture Collide, Filter Magazine bringing us over here and treating us really well and everyone’s been so gracious and welcoming and pretty receptive to our music. So it’s really exciting, it’s great to be here. We love L.A. It’s awesome.
Have you had any memorable examples of ‘culture shock’ in L.A. or other cities that you’ve visited?
Liam: Not so much a shock, in terms of being negatively surprised but I remember when we were driving to Austin you know as soon as we got into Tennessee, just kind of the way people acted and spoke was like whoah, really? That’s really how they talk! That was kind of shocking, but in a really cool way. It made us feel like we were really far from home I guess when you hear people talking like that.
Jacquie: You’re so used to hearing it in the movies and whatnot and you’re so detached from it and then finally when you actually walk into that convenience store and they say “Y’all” for the first time, you’re like oh my god, that’s so cool.
What are some of your favorite bands that you saw at Culture Collide?
Jacquie: It’s pretty interesting, Huddle, they’re another Canadian band and we were like what? That’s pretty crazy that we’ve never crossed paths before. So it was kind of neat discovering another Canadian band but also…
Steve: American Royalty, they were really cool.
Jacquie: Yeah, they played right after us. And then Zola Jesus, I haven’t seen her yet but I was hoping to catch her. Huge fan.
Any notable differences between Canadian and U.S. audiences? Or do we all rock out the same, just with different beers in hand?
Liam: We drink Tiger a lot in Canada and that’s what we’re drinking here, it’s funny. I think a lot of the international beers you get in Canada and the states are pretty much the same.
Jacquie: There are a lot of great local breweries in Toronto. A company called Mill Street, it’s amazing and they have different kinds of beer…a tank house and a stock ale.
Steve: And our beer’s stronger, so that’s kind of a plus.
Jacquie: And there’s another really great brewery called Steam Whistle. So if you’re ever in Toronto!
Steve: There’s lots of really good ones. We could go on-and-on.
Jacquie: Yeah, we like beer. As far as crowds go, I mean, people here seem to dance a whole lot more. Crowds in Toronto, they internalize the music a lot more, and so they’re still appreciating it but they’re a little more analytical, and not to say that people here aren’t, but I feel like people move a lot more with their body, and they engage themselves more through dancing and that’s awesome but we appreciate both interactions. As long as you’re having a good time on the inside or the out, it’s all that matters.
What are some of your musical influences?
Steve: A big thing we like to mention, is that we love, love classy three-piece outfits like The Police, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, and more modern things like Green Day, Nirvana, etc. That kind of stuff is paramount for us but we like everything under the sun. We like new wave, 80s pop, we’re all over the place.
What bands are you listening to now?
Jacquie: Not really modern…I’ve been listening to a lot of Candi Staton, not sure if you know her, she was a Motown singer but she never exploded. For some reason she was an underground Motown singer and only now she’s starting to get the recognition.
Kind of like a Bettye LaVette situation.
Jacquie: Yeah. She was super influenced by like Bette Davis and her sound is really similar to that but her songs are a little more pop refined. She’s awesome. I’ve been listening to a lot of her. Not sure if you know Bahamas, that’s a Toronto artist that we really love
Steve: Michael Kiwanuka too. We’ve also been listening to a lot of Neil Young lately. Liam downloaded his entire discography recently.
What are some of your favorite Toronto venues and bands?
Jacquie: A favorite of ours is the Horseshoe, we’ve played there a lot. The staff there are amazing and it’s a really great bar to just go hang out in, even if you don’t wanna go see a show. There’s a front part where there’s a pool table and it’s really cool.
Steve: It’s called the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern and it’s legendary for a reason.
Jacquie: You ask anyone in Toronto, and they know where the Horseshoe is and what it’s all about. It’s a hotspot for sure.
What’s next on the musical horizon?
Jacquie: We’re focused on releasing that single that’s coming out soon and then we’re going to be finishing up a six-week tour across Canada, right after our visit here in L.A. We’re gonna be hitting the studio probably early December/January and gonna be releasing something really soon.
Interview: Emily Saex
Photography: Monique Hernandez