Bernice: The WL Interview

Purveyor of: Delicate experimental R&B sunlight filtering through the living room curtains in the afternoon. 
File next to: Frankie Cosmos, Angel Olsen, Japanese Breakfast 
Playing: Wavelength Monthly: Tess Roby w/ Bernice and Dorothea Paas, Saturday April 21st at 918 Bathurst. Get your tickets here
Toronto’s Bernice are an experimental indie R&B group composed of vocalist/songwriter Robin Dann, Thom Gill, Colin Fisher, Daniel Fortin, Philippe Melanson, and Felicity Williams. Carefully blending soothing vocals with textured rhythms and melodies, Bernice creates a unique listening atmosphere full of dreamy energy. They’re performing as part of Tess Roby’s album release festivities April 21 at 918 Bathurst, and we asked the three artists on the bill (also including Dorothea Paas) to interview each other for the Wavelog! Tess Roby had the chance to catch up with Bernice to talk about the songwriting process and to reminisce on the magic of childhood cottage trips. 
Tell me about a place you have a special connection to, and why?
I first read that as “spiritual” connection – I’m going to go with that. ๐Ÿ™‚ My family cottage, which belongs to my grandmother and her six kids, one of whom is my stepmother, is probably the place I have one of the strongest physical connections to. The lake is maybe my top place on earth. Inside is the lamp where I learned to braid on the bits of wool that hang off it, and outside is the big branch where the swing used to be, where I’d swing and think about stuff. Basically it’s so steeped in life that when I go there I can just live in the feeling of knowing who I am and in the comfort of loving all of the wonderful people in my family.

Can you explain how a Bernice song begins and evolves throughout the songwriting and recording process?

Normally I write alone but last Christmas we wrote a song together, in the van, driving from Montreal to Moncton! We wrote the lyrics together, each writing a line at a time, and then put it into Google Translate – into a bunch of languages, then back to English, and then when we got to Moncton, Thom and I sat down and started playing with melody and harmony, and it became “who has seen my wreath.” That was probably the quickest journey from composition to recording โ€” I think it was all done and up on our Bandcamp in two days. 

Has growing up in Toronto informed your music? If so, how?

Yes! If I knew that I’d tell ya. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But I’m sure it has. I love Toronto! There’s something about the subway, and about the lake, and the long street grids… 

What is your favourite song at the moment?

Outstanding by the Gap Band. (it is so good)
Whatโ€™s next for Bernice? 

We’re putting out a new album, Puff: In the air without a shape, on May 25th! Weeeeeeee.