What can we say? Bobbypin will hit you with all the right sentimentalities while still affirming her self-worth and independence. To be honest, there's something about her voice on certain parts of her debut album that reminds me of Kate Bush's raw emotion ~ delicate yet so powerful. Her debut EP, sketches from a terrace, is full of promise and features some of the best songs I've heard this year. From dreamy to post-punk and back, here she is.
MP: How did you arrive at the name Bobbypin? Does the name work as a double entendre that’s gender neutral?
BP: Love that you noticed! Yes, I love how it brings an image of both boy and girl. I think quite a few people actually think of it more as a name, "Bobby" Pin before they actually realize the “hairpin” reference. It didn’t initially come that way, I was actually on Toronto island one summer after work and just saw a black bobby pin in the sand and thought it had such a simplistic beauty to it. The design is just so familiar, but if you look at it closely, it’s quite a cool shape, and the resilience of the design is iconic in it’s own way. Similar to the way in art and music, no matter how much people try to distance themselves from nostalgia, there are just so many classic themes, designs, and musical trends that continue to exist because of their strength and society’s comforting familiarity with it.
MP: Tell us about your musical background. How long have you been playing guitar and how did you end up with TOPS as their bassist for a brief period of time?
BP: I’ve been playing guitar since I was 12, mostly self taught, I joined my first band in high school after mouthing off on a music scene message board about how dudes wouldn’t allow girls to play with them and then a girl in a neighbouring city invited me to join her band. I wasn’t very good, but you’ve got to just jump in sometimes and make it up as you go. haha. Once I moved to the city for university I jammed with a few dudes here and there but it wasn’t until I met this cool artist, Alex Mackenzie when I was 21 and we put together a band called Machetes. It was a sort of Runaways meets Iggy Pop, meets Siouxsie Sioux type of thing. After that imploded in a beautiful disaster, I joined the band BB Guns shortly after. During the end of that project I was in Montreal doing some soul searching (per say) and happened to be with a friend who casually mentioned that TOPS were looking for a new bass player asap. I extended my stay, learned the tunes and a month or so later I was on my first tour with them. It was a great experience. During the constant touring I felt inspired to write my own material in the van during long drives, and the Bobbypin project was born. Every song on the EP was written in a different place during tours in North America and Europe.
MP: Can you give us any insight to how Canadian musicians are dominating right now? From Homeshake and Mac Demarco to Sean Nicholas Savage and more ~ is something about the culture responsible for all of this pure talent?
BP: There’s something to be said about the fight. If you live in a place that is already considered cool or “a musical epicentre” or whatever other journalistic newspeak… you may get complacent. You live in a place where you and the other musicians in the community have to work hard for any sort of recognition, you’re going to produce better work. It makes more sense to make something out of the community you grow in, rather to run off to disappear in a giant pool of other wishers. Plus with the smaller population, it’s easier to be motivated because there is more of a chance to make a splash, which pushes you through the ups and downs of the creative industry.
MP: I've read that you retreated to Berlin to record sketches from a terrace. What is it about Berlin that provided the environment you needed to achieve your artistic vision?
BP: Mostly to get away from Toronto! haha. There’s just so much going on and I can easily get caught up in it. Also, I wanted such a different feel to the record. I felt starting in a new city would give me inspiration from an alien place. I’ve been in mostly punk, garage rock and pop rock bands in the past, and I wanted Bobbypin to have a more beat based, electronic feel to it. Berlin is definitely the place to immerse into that vibe. Plus once again, complacency breeds boredom. I needed new inspiration.
MP: What do you feel is the most personal song on the EP and what does the EP represent?
BP: Hands down "Unlovable". When I first wrote it I couldn’t sing it without getting choked up. I’ve always felt and maybe have been made to feel that I wasn’t the kind of “girl” that some one would fall in love with or marry or “bring home to mom” or whatever bullshit gender norms were forced down my throat. I think that so many strong women feel this way and we just act like it doesn’t bother us or that we’re better than that. But it gets to you sometimes because we are so proud of who we are, and will never change for somebody else’s messed up idea of a "real" woman. I make sure to be neutral tho because men or non-binary individuals can relate as well. This is just my specific experience. The EP over all represents our insecurities in our place in our relationships…mostly romantic relationships, but could be friendships too. I call it the middle points. Not necessarily the falling in love parts or the breaking up parts, but the uncertain places in between.
MP: Aesthetically speaking, which song from the EP do you feel most closely embodies the direction you see your music going?
BP: DWS and Broken Lullaby. I’d love to explore more of the looped, dark drive of these songs. The power seems to have connected with people in more of a live setting, and I want Bobbypin to expand and grow in the live performance aspect. I’ve also always been a post-punk girl at heart, and they have that feel with out being derivative.
MP: What can you tell us about "DWS”?
BP: DWS or Death walk stares, which it was initially called, was the first song I wrote for Bobbypin, but it started out so different. I’m pretty sure I have 4 versions of this song. It started almost as a shoegaze, almost industrial song before I broke it down and gave it a dancier groove. I like doing that, it creates such an interesting feel to song writing. You write or demo the song in one genre and re-record in another. Part of the bliss and pros to doing all the recording and producing yourself. I wrote it initially because I had just moved to my own apartment by myself in a pretty rough part of the city and there were just a lot of dark characters on the streets at night, and it was a bit unsettling at times. But since then every time I sing it, it takes on a completely different meaning. I like that. I feel like the imagery could mean so many things to different people.
MP: Lastly, what's it like to be a female artist in 2016 and what advice do you have for other girls trying to make music and get their name out there?
BP: A bandmate of mine made such a good point recently in response to this question. It is 2016, and the fact that we still get asked this question sets us back again. I know it is meant in good will but when you come from a hugely female dominated music scene (Toronto), it sounds like a question from the 1950s- you’re reminding us that we’re different when we don’t feel that way. If you asked me this question 8 years ago when I was in Machetes (one of the few all girls bands at the time) I could go on about the bullshit we had to deal with. But now if someone treats you with disrespect because you are a “female musician” you’re just an idiot who doesn’t deserve the shit on my shoe. There’s no difference between men or women making music, and going back to my previous comment about complacency breeding a flat creative scene, it’s just that for so many years we have had to be 1000% better than most men in our field to get respect, and that fight has bred an exciting influx of female musicians and producers. But it’s getting to the point where that question should be exiled. To other girls trying to make music? Connect with other women in the scene trying to start out and help each other, jam with not only someone who is better than you, but weaker than you as well. Support other women out there. I can tell you first hand that a music scene with a strong representation of female musicians was built on that very idea. I’m so sick of women fighting and hating on each other because it’s seen as some twisted entertainment.