City Sounds: The Tourist Company (Part One)
In this month’s, City Sounds, we spoke with The Tourist Company. In Part One we connected with Jillian Levey (vocals/glockenspiel/keys) and Brenon Parry (drums/percussion) by phone.
We discussed everything from the creation of the band to their experience with The Peak Performance Project and their Music for Meals campaign.
LMPR: You’re all from very different places. What brought you together and how did The Tourist Company come to be?
Jillian: We met while working at a summer camp on the island called Keats Camps. We met there in the summer of 2010. That was just Brenon, Taylor and myself – we didn’t meet Josué until the summer of 2013. Brenon, Taylor and, I had been playing music together for a few years, but nothing specifically for The Tourist Company. That only came to be when Taylor had enough money to go into the studio and record some stuff he had been writing, and he asked Brenon and I to come with him. We joined him in the studio and we thought we were helping him record a solo project, but half way through the recording he asked us what we should call the band. Then Brenon, being the creative genius, wrote down a list of probably one hundred names. We just talked through them to see what we liked, and then chose The Tourist Company.
LMPR: The concept of your album, Space Race, is pretty unique. Can you tell us more about how the idea formed and why?
Brenon: He’s a huge book worm and really likes to write in concepts. He will get on a certain idea or time period and just write some songs about that. Our first album was written around a World War II love story, and then he kind of jumped on to the 50’s and the Space Race. He sits at the library and goes through tons of books and he researches things from different peoples perspectives. It’s a really fascinating concept and I give him an A for effort, because it’s awesome.
LMPR: What made you decide to enter The Peak Performance Project? How have you grown from the project thus far?
Jillian: We’ve known about the project for quite a few years and respect it a lot. There are an incredible amount of amazing bands that have come through that we listen to and respect. We were considering entering the year before this, but we were so fresh and brand new, that we just would not have stood up to the competition. So we gave it a year and now we’re just crossing our fingers.
The Peak Performance Project is just a really amazing opportunity to meet other people in the Vancouver music scene, to learn from others and to stretch our boundaries as musicians. We really enjoyed the bootcamp which was in the summer at Rockridge Canyon Resort. We spent a week with the 23 other bands, between the BC and Alberta Peak Performance Project. It was an intensive week of learning, recording, collaborating, having fun and, getting to know all these people. There are some incredible people and we’ve made some really good friends.
Brenon: Regardless of whether or not we win prize money out of this, I think the Performance Project, The Peak and, Music BC have done a really good job with training artists and teaching them how to make it in the this industry as independent musicians. They teach you how to do it yourself and how to be successful, whether or not you win prize money.
LMPR: What can we expect next from The Tourist Company?
Jillian: A few things that are under the radar. We did just finish recording a music video for our single Irrepressible Future, so we’ll be putting that out pretty soon.
Brenon: Yea, a few things flying under the radar – but we are still stoked on our Music for Meals campaign. We recorded a three track EP for Union Gospel Mission. Helping to raise money for their holiday campaign to help them pay for holiday meals.
LMPR: Can you tell us more about your Music for Meals campaign?
Brenon: As part of The Peak Performance Project we have to do something for a charity. The camp we used to work for is really involved with the Union Gospel Mission. The UGM also supports kids that normally wouldn’t be able to attend camp, they support about 300-400 kids a year. We really believe in what they do so Taylor and our manager Alex approached them about doing some music for them and raising money and they came up wit the idea of basing an EP and pricing it at one of the costs of their holiday meals. So if you buy the EP, you are essentially buying someone a meal. All of the money we make from this EP will go directly toward feeding people that don’t have anything to eat.
Check back for Part Two of our interview with The Tourist Company. We spoke with Jillian and Brenon, as well as Taylor Swindells (vocals/guitar) and Josué Quezada (bass).