Said the Whale Want to "Show Kids That You Can Be an Artist"
The band's "mature" new album 'Dandelion' is the inaugural LP on band member Tyler Bancroft's new label, Everything Forever
Published Oct 20, 2021"When I'm writing lyrics alone in my bedroom, I'm actively trying to impress Ben. If Ben wasn't in the band, maybe my lyrics wouldn't be as good," says Said the Whale's Tyler Bancroft. He and bandmate Ben Worcester are sitting across from me at a small brewery in Vancouver where we chat over a few pints of beers.
"I think this is a style of collaboration that only exists after a band has been together long enough that they can intuitively know what's going to impress their bandmates," says Bancroft.
Like most musicians during the pandemic, Said the Whale faced delays in recording new music. During the 18 months leading up to the release of their latest album, the band were mostly writing from home, interacting with fans online through virtual performances on Patreon and social media, and waiting it out until the band could meet in person for studio sessions. This allowed the band and their producer, Steve Bays (formerly of Hot Hot Heat), to have more time for reflection on each song, knowing that when they finally recorded it, that it would be the best version possible. The result, Dandelion, will be released on Friday, October 22, via Bancroft's own label, Everything Forever.
"The album is mature, as much as we have matured," says Worcester. "It's the most deep and lush and full album we've ever made."
Though there are recurring lyrical themes such as nature and love and family that Said the Whale often write about, Dandelion is their best of the best. The influence of all their past albums, from 2008's Howe Sounds/Taking Abalonia to 2019's Cascadia, can certainly be heard on the new songs.
"I can hear joy, despair and thoughtfulness on the album. We've had albums that focused on each of those emotions, but this one feels like it runs the gamut, emotionally," says Bancroft. "I love listening to it — which is not always the case with our records. Sometimes I get really sick of listening to our records well before our release date, but with this one, I haven't. I always find something I like to listen to on this record."
A welcome surprise on the tracklist is the sweeping, piano-led instrumental "February 15," the first Said the Whale song written primarily by keyboardist Jaycelyn Brown. She originally wrote it as a present for her husband's birthday, but after showing it to the rest of the band, it grew into a full composition with string accompaniment played by members of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, who went on to contribute arrangements to three other songs on Dandelion.
Another way that Dandelion signifies change in Said the Whale is that it's the first album to be released on Everything Forever, a milestone in Bancroft's new role as the head of a label.
"I try my best to discover new music as actively as possible, and I always want to know who's the coolest young artist and who's writing the best songs," says Bancroft. "For me, the label is an extension of my passion for trying to help young, developing artists. Having Dandelion be the first full-length release on the label is an honour, and a great test."
Worcester adds, "I just hope it's really successful so the label can help more artists. If our album has success, it'll make it easier for Tyler to have a business helping other people."
"It's true! Buying this record will support other artists," Bancroft says with a laugh. Including Said the Whale, Everything Forever has six artists currently signed to their label, including BIG KILL — the new project from members of recently disbanded Vancouver pop group We Are the City — and Toronto art-pop trio shy kids.
Said the Whale's efforts to support upcoming musicians extend even further, as they provide a biannual grant for Canadian musicians under 21 that can be used to fund their creative process. Over the years, Said the Whale have been asked to participate in several different charity initiatives. Supporting charities and being able to encourage new artists has been part of their goal, but working with others meant that they didn't always get to oversee the process as much as they liked. The band decided to create their own grant to ensure that the money would directly fund young musicians.
"In a city that is so plagued with 'real estate this' and 'cost of living that,' and 'you've gotta be a doctor or real estate agent or whatever it is to survive,' we wanted to show kids that you can be an artist," says Bancroft. "It's a viable career and a way of life that can be achieved in a city that is overpriced."
Worcester chimes in, "We're paying it forward, and maybe those people are going to pay it forward and it'll go around."