Recently I sat down to chat with one of the coolest and most talented musicians around, Aimee Bessada. Toronto-based Bessada is the force behind the solo project A Dream, A Coast. After being discovered by legendary musician and producer Linda Perry, Bessada was quickly signed to her Custard Records label and has recently released her first eponymous EP. Aimee also happens to be a close friend.
In light of all those fascinating details I figured I’d regale our readership with a candid conversation she and I had on her music, muses, and life.
AF: So Aimee remember when we used to live together in like 2013?
Aimee: When we were on, umm, Willoughby? Yeah.
AF: Yeah. So just to start us out from then until now, you know “What’s happening?”
Aimee: I really think it’s very nice of you to phrase it like we were living together, because I feel like was just sort of sleeping on sheets that were maybe or maybe not washed before, and I did that for like, I don’t even know how long.
AF: I would say if I had to guess it was approximately four months.
Aimee: Oh my God.
AF: But also it was during the time you were filming Make or Break.
Aimee: That’s right, so well that’s actually very helpful to anchor my brain in the timeline that you just brought up. So yeah I met up with Linda Perry through that show Make or Break. And then over the course of like a year living in New York I wrote a bunch of songs for an EP, recorded them, my visa ran out so I moved home, thinking that someone would stop me from leaving New York. Nobody did.
AF: Mhmm mhmm.
Aimee: And since January of 2015 I’ve thought that every two months that like within those two months I would be back in the States. And it is now October.
AF: So you’re right on track is what you’re saying?
Aimee: Oh yes. I can’t see my life further than three months ahead. So I just assume that in three months I’ll be where I want to be, and then if I’m not it’s just like, ok.
AF: And then there’s just the next three months right?
Aimee: Yeah. For the most part though that hasn’t been the worst. It always allows me to be ready to leave wherever I am, to get up and go, or whatever I want. So in that sense it works, but in the other sense of like having backup plans for the future, it doesn’t work.
Aimee: precious giggling
AF: Around then you began A Dream, A Coast. I remember sitting down with you and writing out lists of names, one of them was Ames I think. Remember this? We were just coming up with all sorts of bullshit and like you were texting them to Linda’s people and stuff. How’d you pick this name?
Aimee: Oh yes! That went on for months. So first of all I will say that biggest heartache with coming up with a name is if you’re not using your own name or you bought a domain in like high school, because you always knew you wanted it – it’s really hard to find. There’s inevitably some band in Sweden or Norway that’s already got it and has 4,000 followers so you can’t do it. Eventually we settled on Deer Sounds, and that was from Linda. And I liked it. I didn’t think it had a super lot to do with me and my project, but it was cool and no one had it. And as we were sort of working towards putting the EP together I had one of the songs that I wrote for it called “A Dream, A Coast” and I always liked the name of the song. I thought I identified more with that and that song than anything else I’d come across on the pages of text messages. So I told them you know what, I don’t really connect with Deer Sounds, I want to be A Dream, A Coast. And they were like it’s too long, it doesn’t make sense, why is there a comma, and whatever. But I think that once they saw the album artwork that I got a friend to do and they started saying aloud more often it was like oh, ok. It just is what it is, which is really all that ends up happening with a name.
AF: I think that one of the only things in the entire world where you can call it whatever the fuck you want, and it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day all that matters is whether or not the music is good and then people will be interested in it. But it matters for you that you believe in it.
Aimee: Exactly, and you know the thing is the cool and the name is cool because it’s what you use to refer to it. I mean I imagine if the name Aerosmith didn’t already exist and I want to my friends today and I was like, and I don’t think Aerosmith is the coolest name ever, well it kind of is, and I was like I wanna call myself Aerosmith, people would be like what are you talking about that sound medieval.
AF: Right – it’s up to you to make it cool. Well if it matters the name does evoke what it seems like you’re going for. Kind of these California nights, not to quote Best Coast, but that vibe and I think even Best Coast isn’t a bad comparison. Totally different. But not unrelated.
Aimee: Yeah Best Coast is one of the bands that I always look to. But to sound like them would be to rip them off. They’ve really captured that sound, but I really respect them.
AF: I guess I’m saying that you’re also capturing a similar motif or vibe, but it doesn’t sound like you’re Best Coast derivative, but it does sound like you’re in a similar world. So that’s cool.
Aimee: Yeah thanks Anne.
AF: How’d you produce this EP. Did you do it all yourself? Or how’d that work with your relationship with Linda?
Aimee: I think this is one of the most interesting things about the EP, because I was living with you and I also spent like a month in like different friends’ apartments who weren’t occupying them for one reason or another. I physically think of which place I was in when each song was written. And a lot of them were done on GarageBand, because that’s all I had. I got pretty efficient at editing drum patterns and putting down bass. Then at the end of the day when I sent all of those songs into Linda and the people at Custard I was sending them full songs in that there was drums, bass, maybe a synth, my vocals as well as all the guitar parts. So when I went into her studio I wasn’t sure what we were gonna do. I guess I thought we were gonna re-record everything. And we did do drums, because the GarageBand drums never survived mixing and mastering and moving into iTunes – not in the way I was doing it anyways. So we went into the studio and we had a drummer come in and trace over the existing drum parts where possible, because sometimes I wrote drum parts where he would have had to have like five hands. So a little unrealistic. But we kept everything pretty much other than that. We do redo some bass lines also. “Tell A Lie” and “Culebra” were pretty much all entirely in Linda’s studio. “Empty Beaches” is all original guitar and original vocals, which is the most funny thing to me, because I recorded the vocals on my Apple iPhone headphones.
Aimee: Yeah, sort of weird and the fact that it’s half GarageBand half multi-million dollar studio I never would have had access to otherwise, that’s not to say anything against Linda’s studio. It’s incredible. But yeah you just do it with GarageBand.
AF: It just goes to show that the quality of the work itself, not necessarily the tools you use to create it.
Aimee: I think it works as well with the songs. Something just worked.
AF: Well now that the EP is out what’s next for you?
Aimee: Tour. Hopefully by 2016.
AF: Ok last thing. Since we’re friends, what’s one thing that you know that I don’t know about you?
Aimee: I don’t know if we’ve ever talked about how much fan fiction I use to read as a child. I don’t know.
AF: What do you mean by fan fiction though? Are you talking about creepy like two female characters from a CW show that have a tryst? Is that what you mean?
Aimee: I’m talking about specifically X-men. In fact exclusively X-men.
AF: Ok then.