Text & Interview: Alec Coiro
Photo: Yi Shi
The shared inspiration for Beliefs is not just ‘90s music, but a finely blended potion of ‘90s genres. The duet consists of Jesse Crowe and Josh Korody, who has also played with Nailbiter and Wish, among other bands. Crowe tells me that the initial connection between her and Korody was classically alternative, almost grungy ‘90s stuff like Jesus and Mary Chain; she then tweaks the formula with 90s-era electronica typified by Massive Attack, and for good measure, there’s a reference to ‘90s Haute television thrown in in the form of Twin Peaks.
The resulting potion is something altogether new and unique; although fans of the aforementioned won’t be let down in the least. Crowe tells us what makes the new album different from their previous release, Leaper, and it’s clear that they are really confidently into their own and solidifying as a duo. They also share the lowdown on which other Toronto bands you should be listening to (Holy Fuck sounds like a good band to start with).
Read on for the full scoop.
What is the Beliefs backstory? How did you come together as a group?
Beliefs formed through me meeting Josh at our former bassist’s birthday party. I was new to playing guitar and working with Patrick (McCormack) in another band at the time so I was hungry to play in more projects. Josh and I quickly connected over 90’s music like The Jesus and Mary Chain and Slowdive, it was pretty obvious we were going to start a band.
What did you try to change about your approach when you started working on your third record, “Habitat”?
Beliefs recorded Habitat in the complete opposite manner of the previous two records. When we were approaching writing again, we decided that because we both were working heavily on other projects, that we wanted to write and record everything as a two piece and try to create all of the sounds together in the studio. We really wanted to focus on what we connected on, rather than bringing in ideas and trying to marry them into our previous sound. Josh and I took turns writing, playing and recording every instrument together, aside from Josh creating a few electronic tracks at home (like Light the Fire and Comb) and me working on vocals by myself after the demos were loosely cut. The only outside musician we had joining us was Leon Taheny on drums for the final recordings on the record. It was really nice to also have Asher Murtagh engineering our demo recordings taking the pressure off Josh so he could just focus on playing, we ended up using about 50% of those original demos as the beds for the record. Secondly, we also had Julius Pederson assist on engineering for the actual recording days, again allowing myself and Josh to play and produce without working a computer. The biggest treat of all was being able to take the record to work with Graham Walsh on mixing and for some extra production help, as Josh usually is stuck with all of these jobs and never gets to separate from the sounds.
Your sound has gotten darker and more synth-inflected since you started out. What’s behind this shift?
Josh and I both had a lot of time between Leaper and Habitat, and in that time, Josh started working more on his project, Nailbiter. Nailbiter is an all modular and hardware techno project and when he started working on this side of things, it was pretty obvious that Beliefs were going to adopt some of those tones. For me, I wanted to integrate more influences like Massive Attack and Portishead in the mix. Bands and Projects that feature more electronic soundscapes and strong female vocals. We also adapted our live band to one have one guitar from three, so we wanted to create space with the electronic energy.
We...adapted our live band to one have one guitar from three, so we wanted to create space with the electronic energy.
Your video for “1994” is really atmospheric and cool in the classic Miles Davis sense of the word. Who produced it or did you do it yourself? And what was the inspiration? what references did you use for it?
1994 was the third video filmed by the wonderful and masterful Chris Mills. The aesthetic was drawn from a performance scene of Charlotte Rampling in The Night Porter and mixed with the uncomfortable styles of Twin Peaks.
Who are some of the other bands you play with in Toronto? Does the city influence you as artists?
Toronto is an incredible source for musical talent. From the darkness and strength of Vallens to the industrial beatings of Odonis Odonis. We have also played with so many amazing bands, Teen Anger, Greys, Mr. Joy, Deliluh, Frigs, HSY, The Seams, Holy Fuck, Fresh Snow. So many great projects it’s hard to think of everything, and so many I would name that we haven’t yet crossed paths with.