Five Questions With… Caveboy
The hotly-tipped Montreal alt-pop trio releases its debut full-length next week. Here they discuss its making, bonding with producer Derek Hoffman, artistic evolution, a go-getting manager, and a memorable near encounter with an avalanche.
By Jason Schneider
With a fresh yet nostalgic perspective on alternative pop, Montreal’s Caveboy root themselves in the timeless music of their parents’ generation and build to unforgettable chaos during their live performances.
The trio, comprised of Michelle Bensimon (lead vocals, guitar, synth), Isabelle Banos (bass, synths, backing vocals) and Lana Cooney (drums, percussion, backing vocals), will release its debut album, Night in the Park, Kiss in the Dark, on January 31, the end result of an intense two-year process working with producer Derek Hoffman (RALPH, Arkells) and distilling 40 songs down to the 10 ultimately chosen for the record.
These include the previously released singles Landslide, I Wonder, Hide Your Love, and Silk For Gold, which balance pure pop catchiness with a cool, synth-driven edge. Having already made their mark at major festivals including SXSW and Osheaga, to landing songs on the television shows Orange Is The New Black and Killjoys, Caveboy is poised for a major breakout in 2020.
The band is gearing up for their Montreal album release show on Feb. 8 at Centre Phi, and they will also be part of New York’s New Colossus Festival in March. Find out more at caveboymusic.com. We recently caught up with the trio, who chose to answer as a single voice.
What was the process like making Night in the Park, Kiss in the Dark, and what did you learn from it?
Jam sessions have always been a prime form of Caveboy creations. We locked ourselves up in our jam space, and then at a cottage, and tried to write an entire song per day from start to finish. We did this for two weeks and then continued writing and writing until we had about 30 songs all together from the last few years. We met Derek Hoffman for coffee in Toronto’s east end and instantly felt like we had found our fourth brain. Thinking it possibly too good to be true, we did a trial song with him and spent a few days in his studio recording Silk For Gold.
The magic and emotions we felt creating that song and hearing the way Derek was bringing it all to life was something we’ll never forget, and is the reason we continued on to do the whole record with him—it was so clear. Every song we did with him ended with that same magic to create the 10-song world that all made sense as one cohesive body of work. It felt really great to trust someone and give up some control during the process, and that was definitely a learning curve, although he made it easy. Letting go of what we “thought we should do” and focusing on making the record we wanted to make was a big part of the creation process and we’re so grateful that we leaned into that wholeheartedly.
What songs on the record are you most proud of and why?
All these songs mean so much to us, for many different reasons. To pick one, Guess I’ve Changed is a song we always knew we loved when we wrote it, and it instantly had a special feeling. We couldn’t quite nail how to make it sound right, and tried many different versions. One tired afternoon in the studio, we tried jamming out this new chord progression and something finally seemed right. Derek really helped shape this song in the studio, and then suddenly it became the most representational song of Caveboy and this record. It calls to a nostalgic time, a longing for the simplicity and youthfulness of summer days: The last night before the first day of school; the pink and orange sunset while your parents are calling you inside for dinner; the loneliness of the suburbs for a “different” kid. It really became the soul of Night in the Park, Kiss in the Dark and the album title even comes from the lyrics of this special song.
How would you describe your artistic evolution so far?
We’ve always been inspired by the music of our parents’ generation—the sounds of the ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and‘90s. We’ve played around for a long time trying to capture the essence of the past with the sounds of the present and future, and once we allowed ourselves not to think about it so much, it all just sort of happened. This debut album is the closest to the sound we’ve always strived for. It felt like we were testing the waters before, but now we’ve dived so deep into the vast waters of what’s possible for our sound. It’s really exciting. It also feels like our songwriting has become more honest and vulnerable, which might come with age and time, but also our willingness to connect with the listeners in a real way and for them to hear us on a deeper level. We’ve also just been dealing with more in our personal lives and have become less afraid to share that side of us.
What's been the biggest change in your life over the past year?
In all honesty, the biggest change over the last year was bringing on Beth [Cavanagh] as our manager. Beth has been with us since the beginning of Caveboy as our publicist, and when we were thinking about management in a new way she sort of just presented herself. Nothing ever felt clearer, or more right, and it’s been an incredible year thanks to her. We’re so excited for what the future has in store with her on board.
What's your best touring story?
After finishing our March 2018 cross-Canada tour in Vancouver we had to drive all the way back to Montreal. Within the first few hours of driving, we were forced to pull over for an avalanche warning and wait in an old avalanche museum for over three hours with on and off electricity. There wasn’t much to do other than watch an old avalanche documentary and hang out with the taxidermied animals, all while listening to nearby explosions forcing the avalanches to happen. We may have lost our minds momentarily but are very thankful for the safety precautions that were taken, and that made for a safe drive home and a long-lasting band memory.