Tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Hi! We’re the Beelays and we’re a soulful, six-piece, female-fronted funk-rock fusion band.
Emily Kemp (vocals)
Jocelyn Russell (vocals/keys)
Tom Altobelli (bass)
Scott McIntosh (guitar)
Jordan Snider (drums)
Chris Bruder (keys)
How did you all get together to form The Beelays?
We all met in 2008 at Mohawk College as music students. Over the years we’ve experimented with a few different vocalists and found our perfect fit with Emily and Jocelyn in March 2018 when they joined the band as our frontwomen. We’re lucky because the Beelays is so much more than a working band. We’re a family and we hope that our connection and love for each other shines through in our performances.
How would you describe your musical style?
We have an amalgamation of many different styles that have created (and is still working to create) the original sound of The Beelays. We use the frontwomen’s vocal harmonies as an instrument which is becoming part of our signature sound. Most of our members are trained in jazz, which can be heard in our chordal and rhythmic choices in many of our tunes. We stick to funk/rock with elements of pop.
How have you evolved as a band since you first got together?
The band has been through some changes with vocalists over the years but the 4 piece rhythm section has remained the same since 2009. Recently we have released an EP, recorded a single at Grant Avenue Studios, released a music video, booked an Ontario to Montreal tour for this coming October and, most importantly, have been writing like crazy! Our songwriting has definitely evolved and grown which is reflected in our more meaningful and uplifting lyrics, vocal harmonies and in how our music is now more accessible for a broader audience.
What can you tell us about your new single, “Get To Me” and the video behind it?
The song has a soulful funk vibe with elements of rock and pop. It’s about being with someone you shouldn’t be with and how you let them “get to you.” It’s about the struggle of realizing that you allowed someone into your life and that they did more damage than good.
We recorded it at the historic Grant Avenue Studies in Hamilton with the very talented Amy King. We decided to pay tribute to our Hamilton roots by shooting the video at the old CH building (previously knows as the Lyric Theatre). We also asked our amazingly talented friend, Pamela Gardner, to add some artistic flair with silk dancing. We felt that the industrial run-down vibe of the location, mixed with the beauty of the silk art represents Hamilton and our song perfectly. Paul Maxwell brought this idea to life by capturing the essence of the “beautiful mess” of love that we can all find ourselves in.
Might there be a new album or EP on the horizon?
Yes, there is! We have a ton of new tunes that are ready for the studio.
Do you have any live shows coming up? What’s the audience experience like at one of those shows?
Yeah! We have some really great ones:
Saturday, August 17th – Dundas Cactus Festival 2-3:30 p.m.
Friday, August 30th – Come Together Music Festival
Saturday, September 21st – Niagara Grape & Wine 3:30 – 5:30 p.m.
We’ve received a lot of great feedback from fans, but we particularly love this one:
“I can’t remover the last time I watched something so genuinely sensational. The Beelays are a force of nature, an unstoppable power that has to be seen to be believed.” – Cameron Tyson, The Brock Press March 2019
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
Make sure your pursuit of being a musician is 100% genuine, any other reason is fraught with danger. Find yourself a group of like-minded people who you share similar goals and aspirations. To quote an old African proverb: “If you want to go somewhere fast, go along. If you want to go somewhere far, go as a pack.”
There will always be someone better than you so make sure you’re playing for you and for the music. Connection is more important than the music.
What are your lives like outside of music?
Outside of our music, there is… more music. When we’re not playing with the Beelays, we’re all music teachers and musicians for hire. We all play with lots of other projects. From wedding bands to bar bands to jazz bands and more, music is in our DNA! When we aren’t together working on the Beelays, we’re usually together relaxing. We’re all pretty good cooks and dedicated pet parents.
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