Canadian Musicians Get by with a Little Help from Their BFFs

Show & Tell

A look into off-stage friendships, featuring Georgia Harmer, Dizzy, Dorothea Paas and Gayance

Photo courtesy of the artists

BY Alex HudsonPublished Feb 9, 2023

The Canadian music community is a relatively small one — and in addition to collaborating professionally, many artists have developed close relationships away from the stage and studio.

Exclaim! reached out to some acts about their best friends in the industry. The definition of "best friend" is flexible here — but in all cases, these Canadian artists share a bond that goes way beyond the music.

Check out photos of these BFFs below, and check out past editions of Show & Tell.

Chrisy Hurn of Basement Revolver and Nabi Sue Bersche of Ellevator

Photo courtesy of the artists

Ontario bands Basement Revolver and Ellevator each make their own brands of dreamy indie rock, their vocalists describe themselves as "bosom buddies for life." They tell Exclaim!, "We met in the summer of 2012 and quickly took to each other. We soon moved into a house with a group of pals and made our friendship official. It's good to have role models and even better when your role models are your friends." Using one another as role models, they each released full-lengths in 2022: Embody in the case of Basement Revolver, and The Words You Spoke Still Move Me by Ellevator.

Doug Cousins of Bearings and Omar Khatib of BUD

Photo: Conor Gray

Doug Cousins and Omar Khatib met when their bands, Bearings and Gold Finch, played a garage show in Waterloo and, according to Khatib, "wreaked absolute havoc on the town. Sorry." Soon after, the bands toured together, and an experience crashing together in a small room Kingston "solidified that we were boys. Other things like our love for Oasis and the Canucks and Leafs not being great teams to follow really helps us bond as well." Since then, Bearings have continued honing their brand of pop-punk (releasing a deluxe edition of their album Hello, It's You in 2020), while Khatib has formed the power pop project BUD. He just shared the single "Marty" from the upcoming 23 EP, due out March 3.

Bestfriend's Stacy Kim and Kaelan Geoffrey

Photo: Gab Strum

When we conceived of a feature about best friends in the Canadian music industry, we instantly knew that we needed to include Bestfriend — a.k.a. Vancouver-based singer-guitarist Stacy Kim and Toronto-based synth player Kaelan Geoffrey. Due to the distance, their friendship was initially online-only, but after "proceeding to occasionally like each others' posts or tweets for a half decade," they began collaborating remotely. They "hit it off pretty quickly upon realizing we were quite similar people with similar tastes and dumb senses of humour," the pop duo tell Exclaim! Fans can hear the fruits of their friendship when their places i've left EP drops April 21.

Aviva Mongillo of CARYS and Lexie Jay of Featurette

Photo courtesy of the artists

En route to a songwriting camp in Spain, the singers behind CARYS and Featurette bonded during an epic-length layover. "Had it not been for a delayed flight, leaving us stranded in Newark for 24 hours, we may never have had the chance to discover our special bond," they tell Exclaim! "The stressful situation inspired a lot of deep talks about life, music, and our mutually strange psyches. Our differing strengths and perspectives led to us becoming fast friends and favoured writing partners on each of our respective projects. We can't wait to continue to explore life through each other's eyes in all the music we can write together." They've each kicked off 2023 with new singles: "Recovering People Pleaser" by CARYS and "Cocaine" by Featurette.

Brandon Williams of Chastity, Linnea Siggelkow of Ellis, and Katie Munshaw and Charlie Spencer of Dizzy

Photos: Charlie Spencer, Linnea Siggelkow

Last year, we wrote about the relationship between Brandon Williams of Chastity and Linnea Siggelkow of Ellis. In addition to being a couple, the musicians are good friends with fellow Durham Region residents Dizzy — specifically that band's Katie Munshaw and Charlie Spencer. "We grew up in similar worlds, and now we live in similar worlds on the internet, and with our music. There's just lots to talk about, fret and bond over," Williams tells Exclaim! One thing they can bond over is having recent releases: Chastity released Suffer Summer in 2022, while Ellis released "17" (with the Techno Hall of Fame), and Dizzy have been trickling out new singles (most recently "Birthmark").

Georgia Harmer and Bells Larsen

Photo: Steve Gerrard

Singer-songwriters Georgia Harmer and Bells Larsen have been friends since high school, and they've been closely aligned ever since, each releasing a folksy debut album in 2022 (Stay in Touch by the former, Good Grief by the latter). "In high school, we'd often spend our spare periods together (or skip class) to write and play music," Larsen remembers. "Georgia sang backing vocals on my record and I was very honoured to open for her for a few shows in December. Whatever I make next, I know she'll be a part of it in some way, shape or form." Harmer echoes these sentiments, adding, "They've been a massive support for my entire adult life and I plan on always being that person for them too!"

Gayance and Hua Li 化力

Photo: Tess Roby

Gayance (a.k.a. Aïsha Vertus) and Hua Li 化力 (a.k.a. Peggy Hogan) admired one another from afar in Montreal. Hua Li 化力 recalls, "At the time, she was working on a documentary on MTL's Piu Piu beat scene and I thought she was so cool." As for Gayance, she tells Exclaim! that Hua Li 化力 "had this iconic hair Mile-End cut back in the days." Hua Li 化力 is featured on Gayance's new single, "Clout Chaser's Anthem," but their friendship goes way beyond music: "All my Capricorn placements are Peggy's Sag placements and the opposite," Gayance reveals. "We were meant to be." 

Mark Grundy of Heaven for Real and Eliza Niemi

Photo: Alex Demelo

We're not totally sure why Mark Grundy and Eliza Niemi are dressed like The Matrix here, but it's sick as hell. Originally from Halifax, the pair met in 2014 while on tour in Vancouver. "Despite not really spending much time together after returning to the East Coast, we reconnected again once we'd both moved to Toronto," they tell Exclaim! These days, they're roommates, and each released an album in 2022: Energy Bar by Heaven for Real and Staying Mellow Blows by Niemi.

Carlyn Bezic of Jane Inc and Dorothea Paas

Photo: Colin Medley

Before becoming close friends, Carlyn Bezic and Dorothea Paas's reputations preceded them. "Before I had met Doro, I heard about her. She was this cool girl who a bunch of my friends from Kingston played in a band with, with a voice like Joni Mitchell and unique and emotional songs," Bezic tells Exclaim! Paas adds, "I remember the first time I saw Carlyn play guitar: it was at a comedy club in Kingston called Time to Laugh, and I was blown away by this mysterious, elegant shredder — who was she?" These days, they're frequent collaborators, as well as solo artists; Jane Inc released Faster Than I Can Take in 2022, while Pass's Anything Can't Happen happened in 2021.

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