Hailing from one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Vancouver’s Hey Ocean! brings the world a sound as diverse as the metropolis they call home. The trio consisting of Ashleigh Ball, David Beckingham, and Dave Vertesi exemplify the word band like no other. All taking turns at the mic, they play their respective instruments.
I caught up with vocalist/guitarist, David Beckingham recently, to get the scoop on one of Canada’s most successful indie bands.
David Beckingham: It was good. We just did a run down the west coast to California and back and it was great. We did a two-week run and it was sort of our first time back in the states, for a significant amount of dates, in actually kind of a few years, so we’ve been excited to start working down there again. We just released our album down there.
DB: We’re quite happy with it.
BE: Give us a little background on you guys. I now you guys are based in Vancouver. How did you guys get together? How did you become Hey Ocean!?
DB: The background is Ashleigh Ball and I were friends back in grade six. We kind of knew each other. Our sisters tried to set us up, that whole kind of thing. And I should say sixth grade, actually since this is an American magazine.
BE: It’s okay! I’m part Canadian so I got it.
D: Oh yeah, right. So we sort of remained friends throughout high school and then on and off and we were actually both living in Victoria which is another city in British Colombia. We started playing music together and doing some open mics and stuff. Then we got a couple acoustic gigs, just the two of us and me playing acoustic guitar and stuff.
We were doing that and Dave Vertesi ended up being at one of the shows and was like, “Do you need a guitar player?” We were like, “No.” And he’s like, “Do you want a bass player?” and we were like, “Sure.” So he picked up a bass and learned how to play it and that was it. We started writing songs together and that was like seven or maybe close to eight years ago now which is crazy.
B: That is, that’s insane. It’s great that you guys have stuck together. Now there is a lot of reference to the ocean and the sea on your latest album Is. Personally for me, I connect with that because I grew up here. How much of that is influenced by where you live?
D: I mean, honestly, it is about where we live. It is a totally natural thing that we write about – our surroundings. I mentioned Victoria earlier; Ashleigh and I used to live there and that’s where we used to play, when we first started playing gigs. Victoria is on Vancouver Island and we used to take a ferry to go to that city. That was our secondary place to go and play, and we would play on Vancouver Island – smaller towns too.
It’s just sort of a part of our lives. It just kind of effects us in a way and there’s so much analogy and we really don’t actually try to do that. Ashleigh and I, we really love the ocean a lot. Dave, on the other hand, gets bored with the analogy. He’s not so big on swimming in the ocean. He’s actually just not that comfortable with it. You’re right though. It’s throughout a lot of the songs, but it’s not really intentional. We definitely don’t purposefully try and make a quota on each record for oceanic references. It just really happens naturally.
B: Well, I think that’s cool and that’s kind of what I gathered from it. I guess that’s what I was trying to say is that it seems like it’s genuinely a part of who you are. It’s not just a put on, you know what I mean?
B: The album has a very diverse sound to it. You even reference country hit, “Jolene”. Where does that come from?
D: I think we’re influenced by a lot of different music and we try not write the same song twice, you know, and hopefully we haven’t done that. It’s always a different perspective when you’re actually in the band, but yeah, we’re influenced by all kinds of music old and new. We like everything, but mostly classic pop stuff is what we kind of derived from for our band, especially with this last album.
We were looking at bands like Fleetwood Mac and Paul Simon who made pop music, but it wasn’t necessarily what pop music has become today. It’s sort of a classic pop thing where there’s good, fun, catchy songs, like something you’d want to sing along to. But it’s got artistic integrity to it as well. We wanted to write poetic songs and work on the lyrics and make music close to what the people we aspire to be like The Beatles and even Michael Jackson’s stuff. Just good songs are what we really were trying to do. And not being afraid of any genre or exploring sounds as long as it makes us feel good. It’s a fun project that way because we don’t limit ourselves. We try to do whatever it is we feel inspired by at the time.
B: I know you said you just came back from the touring the west coast. What do you guys have in store for fans here coming up soon?
D: We’ve got a month of shows coming up in the States starting in Salt Lake City on the 10th of March and we’re going to tour right through to the 10th of April. That’s through South By Southwest (SXSW), so mostly sort of east coast and through some of the middle of the States, so that’s happening and all our dates should be online.
Then we’re coming back to Canada! We actually got nominated for a Juno Award, which is really validating and amazing for us. The Junos are like the Canadian Grammys, so we’re coming back for that in mid-April. We plan to be down in the States a lot this coming year, as much as we can.
B: Well, congratulations on the Juno! That’s huge. Good job there.
D: Thanks a lot, yeah. We felt really great. We’ve been working hard in this country for seven years, so we felt like it was a really nice pat on the back.
You can pick up Is by Hey Ocean! on iTunes now! Also check out their video for “Islands” below off of Is, which is now available in the USA.
Editor in Chief of Lemonade Magazine
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