Strange Breed: Queer, Alternative Rock from Vancouver, BC

Strange Breed is a 4 piece, all queer, all-female alternative garage-rock band based out of Vancouver, BC. Sounding reminiscent of every 90’s femme rock anthem (think Sleater-Kinney, Veruca Salt, Bikini Kill, Hole) while keeping a firm grip on the modern alternative-rock sound of today (Paramore, The Pretty Reckless, The Beaches, July Talk).

In a short 2.5 years, they have been invited to play large local venues such as Fortune Sound Club, The Rickshaw, Venue, Imperial, and were also finalists in MRG Concerts’ Elevate Music Project at the legendary Vogue Theatre. They recently released their debut album, “Permanence.”, which has sparked their quick success in their local scene and beyond. They have had their music played on popular community/campus radio stations across the country including CBC Music, CITR 101.9 FM & CJSW 90.9 FM; the track “Sharks” was selected as CJSF 90.1’s #1 (Vancouver Mixtape) Track of 2018. They were also Top 100 Finalists in CBC’s Searchlight 2019 Competition, listed as a producer’s pick.

Strange Breed released their debut studio album, “Permanence.” on September 13th, 2019, and shortly after embarked on a cross country tour spanning from Vancouver Island to Montreal, QC. Within the first 3 weeks, “Permanence.” cracked the Ear-Shot Campus Radio Top 50 Charts (Week of Oct 1 2019), as one of the only unsigned albums to do so, and has gotten public acknowledgment from music scene veterans such as Bif Naked & Said The Whale. “Permanence.” also made Beatroute’s “Top 10 Vancouver Releases of 2019” List, while the individual track “Witch Hunt” cracked CBC’s list of “Most Underrated Songs of 2019”.

Safe spaces, Representation, Good times and Great music are what these babes are all about.

Strange Breed released a music video for 25 .... Watch the video here....


https://youtu.be/GpE2VIh0DkQ



Strange Breed Interview for UnHinged Magazine.....


Interview:

What is your creative process like…

Nicolle: For me personally, it’s different almost every time! And it’s been a lengthy learning process. I’ve written songs for about 15 years, and it started from being able to effortlessly pull 2 or 3 finished songs out of my head in an afternoon as a teenager, to now, where I typically find myself agonizing over a lot of unnecessary details. I went to music school briefly when I was 17-18 (I’m a music school drop out!), and I found that during that period I became very self critical of the songs that I had written with ease in my younger teens. That mentality transitioned into my early 20’s, where I had a period of just always comparing myself to others and always writing what I felt others would want to hear. So stupid, but I don’t blame myself. Nowadays, I feel like I’ve found a happy medium. I never force myself to write anything, so sometimes weeks go by where nothing new is created. But I try my best to foster a “stream of consciousness” type behaviour when I do feel inspired, to kind of tap back into that younger version of myself where I never wrote or created with a filtered lens. It’s super helpful! Usually for me this takes place at the sink washing dishes, walking my dog, having a shower, driving somewhere. I just sing made up songs until something sticks!

As a band, typically I will bring either a full formed song or the bones of an idea into our jam space, and we just play around with it for a period of time until it sounds like something Strange Breed would play. Obviously lately, this method has changed thanks to COVID-19 and Social Distancing. Right now, If any ideas come up, I just do a quick little GarageBand demo of the song idea, and send it to everyone to work on separately! Depending on how life goes, this might be the way our next album gets written….. 

Megan: Taylor Gordon (aka the pocket queen) said “in order to respect the music you are adding to, you must learn to respect the space in between the sounds.” I truly try to emphasize the music in a way that adds to the sound instead of just trying to show off. But through that I try so many different things, and just stick with what feels best.

Musical intuition is super important!

Jess: As the newest member of the band, the creative/writing process is still fairly new to me.  I’ve only ever played music within the four walls of my house before Strange Breed, so any writing I had done before that was kept to myself or something I turned into warm ups while learning my instrument.  

With the band, along the lines of what Nicolle said, the couple songs I’ve been a part of writing so far have been like bones we’re trying to form into a skeleton.  It’s a fun process, and I’m constantly challenging myself to create fun bass lines.

Terra: I feel that my creative process can be done in multiple ways. Sometimes it's a lot of fun and inspiring to work with other people and listen to their input and be inspired by their riffs and lyrics, then expand off of what they brought to the table. Sometimes I'm inspired by other guitar players in a way you could say almost rip off other people, but I've heard that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, so there's that. Also sometimes it doesn't have to do with anything at all. Sometimes new ideas just come to you whether you're messing around on your guitar, just making up a tune in your head.

Who would you say influenced you the most in regards to music…

Nicolle: Always a hard question. A lot of my influences are very different from the music I actually make with Strange Breed. My favourite band of all time is Metric, and Emily Haines is pretty iconic to me. Not in a sense that I’ve ever wanted to “be her”, but she’s always fascinated me! Her look, her voice, her songwriting, her mind... to me, she’s the queen of Indie in Canada! It doesn’t get better than Metric to me. They are the only band where I think I know every lyric to every song, and where I’ve seen them live 10 times. “Love is a Place” was my first tattoo when I was 17. My favourite song is “Too Little, Too Late” off of Live It Out -  One of the most beautiful songs (and albums!), in my opinion. 

Additional influences and inspirations for me across a variety of genres include Sleater-Kinney, Paramore, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Janelle Monae, July Talk, Broken Social Scene, Stars, Feist, Courtney Barnett, Hole, Bikini Kill, Veruca Salt, St. Vincent, Torres, Sonic Youth, & Nirvana. 

Megan: In regards to drumming styles it’s hard to pinpoint. I think I look for the overall band sound, and how the drummer chooses to accent certain points. For example, Danny Carey of Tool, Arejay Hale of Halestorm, Aaron Solowoniuk of Billy Talent. I love their attack, and ability to slow things down, create some tension, and drive the chorus home! 

Jess: It’s so hard to narrow it down to one artist.  Honestly, I think the Misfits was the band that really drove me to pick up (and not give up) the first guitar my Dad bought for me as a teenager.  The first Misfits album I owned was American Psycho (thanks, Dad!), and I remember playing it over and over, and pretending to play my guitar along to it until I eventually learned to read tabs.  

My other personal influences include the Ramones, Danzig, Joan Jett, L7, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Tool, Motley Crüe, etc.  I grew up listening to a lot of classic rock.

Terra: It's hard to pinpoint what would be some of the biggest inspirations due to the fact that I'm inspired by so many different genres and people. I really believe that all forms of music and art have something to offer. Some of my personal biggest influences though when it comes to playing guitar I would say have been the White Stripes, The Distillers, Garbage, Hole, The Smashing Pumpkins, Veruca Salt...a lot of the 90s grunge sound I would say has inspired me the most when it comes to playing with Strange Breed.

What would you like your fans to know about you and your music….

Nicolle: Personally - I’d like them to know, it’s for everyone. We emphasize our queerness because yes, we do want to magnify queer visibilty in modern rock music and allow for queer folks (and youth, especially) to see themselves reflected when we take the stage instead of your run of the mill, macho-man-dude-rock band. But of course, we’re not out here only trying to promote our music to other queer folks! We feel that there is something in our music for everyone to relate to and enjoy, from all backgrounds and all ages. That’s been shown time and time again at our shows. As long as we’re all working together to create a safe space for everyone to have fun and rock out, that’s what matters most to us! 

Additionally, something really important to me to address is that all of our music comes from very real and personal experiences. We don’t take anything lightly when we put content out into the world. We understand that everyones’ experiences are different and valid, and we only come at each viewpoint based on our own lived experiences and those of the ones closest to us. I think it’s important to mention that. We get a lot of BS for just being ourselves and singing about what we know, and how we live - some people think we’re too feminist, too gay, too loud - or on the other end, not ENOUGH of those things. Some people think we’re inappropriate, or uninformed. But literally, we are writing about what we know and what we have experienced, and our feelings on those things. So how can that possibly be tailored to the expectations and preferences of everyone that listens to us? Answer: It can not. 

That’s what art has always meant to me, and that will never change! So thank you to all the folks who DO support us, and who enjoy our music and the things we have to say! :) 

Megan: We are truly just regular people talking about regular things. Being political doesn’t have to be negative, you can jam out to a rock song and sing about consent, or rape culture, and it doesn’t have to be a serious conversation. Let’s normalize political content together! 

We will support you no matter what!

Jess: Nicolle pretty much covered it! Our music is about our experiences, it’s not sugar coated.  We hope people walk away feeling empowered and inspired. Our shows are a place we make a safe space, and that’s extremely important to us.

Terra: The things I hope our fans can take away from our music are a sense of solidarity, inspiration, fun... all the things that I look forward to and I still look forward to when I see a band. I feel like seeing a live band or listening to an album I am really connected with has been the best form of spirituality I’ve ever felt, and I hope so we can share that kind of feeling was somebody out there.

What advice would you give to the LGBTQ community…….

Nicolle: You’re beautiful, and all of your feelings and all of your love is so valid. I think the advice I could give that’s most relevant to my experience, is it’s never too late. I didn’t really come out until I was about 21. At the time, I felt like that was so late - like I had missed some sort of window. But now I know that was only my own anxieties and insecurities at play, and that was just the right time for me. Whether you “come out” as a child, or when you’re 80 years old - it is valid, and you’re perfect! But don’t be afraid. We are all here waiting for you, and we’ve got you. 

Megan: We see you, we love you, we are here for you! Any one of us will always have two ears to listen to anyone going through a hard time. We love our queer community, and we are all so proud to be able to represent you through our music. It is a badge that we wear with honour!

Jess: Be yourself.  If you’re out and proud, amazing! If you’re more conservative about your identity, that’s awesome too! Don’t give into any societal pressures to be this way or be that way - life’s too short to try fit yourself into a box.

Terra: The advice I would like to give to the LGBT community is just to live your best life; try not to make other peoples’ social pressure, work pressure or anything outside of who you want to be affect you...even though I know I’ve personally noticed and agree that it does sometimes. Be who you are and do the best to be happy. There are people out there who always love and support you!

Talk about the social and political issues such as gender discrimination, mental illness, coming out/LGBTQ+ visibility and sexual assault that comes across in the album “Permanence”

Nicolle: I think I kind of covered my two cents on some of this in the “what would you like fans to know about you and your music” section, for the most part. Point being - we write what we know, what we have witnessed, what we have experienced and what we have felt. These songs are not only our stories, but the stories of many. And for those that don’t relate to exactly the way the stories go, at the very least my hope is that they hear them and take away an understanding of where we are coming from. I feel like a lot more popular artists are beginning to cover “controversial” topics like these, but there’s still such void that needs to be filled, specifically in the modern rock world, of women being at the forefront - and queer women, at that! So we have definitely had our share of knocks, condescension, being laughed at etc. on our journey through creating and releasing this album. We feel nothing but love and support moving into the next chapter, but we know that it will never truly be “easy” for us just because of who we are. But we are grateful to all of the folks who have taken time to listen, stream, share and sing along to our music and to publications like yours for helping to amplify our voices! 

Megan: We have all had someone question our abilities.  We have probably all questioned our own abilities. Permanence for me solidified our place in the music scene, as musicians and activists. It was the “ we are here to stay,” that we all needed, and it truly has helped the “scene” shift their view on us. Making music will always have a permanence in my life. 

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