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The Beaches: Playing The Field

The indie pop power squad on breakups, cultural capital, and girl power.

by Sierra Riley

Photos by Meg Moon | Design by Erik Grice

Jordan Miller — “Slytherin house, loves CARS, also in The Beaches“, according to her Instagram bio — is on a date when I call her. It’s a blistering summer day in Toronto, and she joins me on video wearing a bikini top accessorized with a puka shell necklace, sunglasses, and a self-effacing sense of humour. She has a guy and a pool party waiting on her, but she assures me that we’ve got nothing but time.

As the lead singer of The Beaches, Miller is everything you might assume from the singles off of her band’s new album, Blame My Ex: down-to-earth, refreshingly honest, and effortlessly cool. If nothing else, our conversation confirmed my prior suspicions that Miller can hang. And right now, that’s exactly what she’s doing. “I’ve been going on a lot of dates lately,” the singer says. 

Recently, someone took her to a karaoke bar (go-to karaoke songs include anything by ABBA, or Mary J. Blige if she’s feeling braggadocious), but she spent last night with her pals at an outdoor screening of Amélie. Oh, and she just returned from a trip through Europe with her sister Kylie, who plays guitar in the band. These days, the siblings’ star power extends well beyond the Canadian border; when they went to get inked at a Croatian tattoo parlour — a Lightning McQueen reference for Jordan, naturally — the tattoo artist suggested that they get “Blame Brett” instead, a reference to the band’s intoxicating lead single.

Though they’ve accumulated several accolades over their decade-long career, the four members of The Beaches (Jordan, Kylie, Eliza Enman McDaniel and Leandra Earl) have reached new levels of success this past summer with the record, which went viral on TikTok and shortly after became their most-streamed song on Spotify (8.5 million hits and counting). Blame My Ex, the group’s first independent release since getting dropped by Island Records, is a surprising swell of pop that strays from their alt-rock repertoire.

“It was really fucking scary if I’m being candid. We didn’t just get dropped [by the label], we changed our managers, we got dropped by our US agents,” Miller reveals. These professional breakups were then compounded by some personal ones. “A lot of things changed for us, but we kind of took a moment to [consider], ‘Okay, what kind of music do we really want to put out?’” No longer tethered to a label’s vision, the four-piece was creatively liberated. They re-entered the studio with emotions running high and sights set even higher. Over the course of several collaborative sessions, the answer to Miller’s question presented itself. She had grown weary of writing music for a predominantly male demographic — “I wanted to write music for people like me,” she says.

“I wanted to write music for people like me.”

— Jordan Miller

Blame My Ex (out Sept. 15 via AWAL) is as much a “fuck you” to boyfriends past as it is a diaristic exploration of sensuality, independence and debauchery. Sonically, it’s fuzzy, electric and devastating; geographically, it’s Toronto; and at the beating heart of the album, it’s a love letter to young queer girls. Miller’s on a mission to support other women. “Girls really want to uplift each other in a way that I haven’t really seen before. It isn’t about putting on a costume or anything. We’re not doing it for clout. It’s genuine. It feels like we just want to see each other succeed.”

The singer’s conjecture is backed by financial data: girl power is stimulating the 2023 “sheconomy”, a phenomenon NPR has coined the “Barbie bump.” Not coincidentally, Miller observes that women hold more cultural capital than ever before. “The only cool rock music coming out right now is all being done by women: Maggie Rogers, Boygenius…”

This reflects a colossal shift for women in music. Back when Miller was gigging as a teen, security guards assumed she was a groupie. Today, she’s getting recognized by industry giants and Balkan strangers alike. “​​To start from [there] and come to a place in rock where women are just killing it has been so exciting.” At this point in the conversation, the singer is glowing, and not just from her late-July tan. Rather, she’s shimmering with optimism for the future. “We’re the tastemakers now for what’s cool.” 

This fall, The Beaches are drawing in diverse audiences to venues across North America — from Massey Hall in their hometown to NYC’s legendary Mercury Lounge — for the upcoming Blame My Ex Tour. Expect each show to feel like the album: a redemption arc, a rollercoaster. “I haven’t figured out exactly what we’re going to do with the costumes and stuff, but it’s gonna be a really fun time,” Miller assures me. There will be shredding, there will be high kicks, and yes, there will likely be some crying involved. These girls are cool, not heartless.

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