The internet really can do incredible things, including bringing people who might never have met in any way otherwise together. Just ask Stacy Kim and Kaelan Geoffrey – AKA Bestfriend – who came together partly through a mutual friend and partly through Instagram DMs in 2018.
Their current EP, Places I've Lived, has been championed by the likes of Earmilk, quickly racking up an impressive 1.5M streams just four months after it was released. The pair will drop a sister EP later this year, and they unveiled the first single to be lifted from the collection, "Someplace Else", at the end of last month. XS Noize caught up with the duo to find out more about their latest release, their tour plans and how they feel about the impact and importance of social media.
Just give us a little bit of background about Bestfriend - how did the two of you first come together, and what made you realize that you'd make an ideal musical partnership?
Stacy: A healthy mix of Instagram DMs and mutual friends! We both worked together on a cover for fun to start with and realized that about 99% of the sound decisions we were making individually were the exact same, which we both were aware is very rare to come by. We also basically are the same person in two different bodies sometimes.
Kaelan: Yeah! Except less weird sounding than that.
What would you say makes Bestfriend stand out from their many artistic counterparts around the world and throughout history?
K: Oh man, that's a big question. Everyone has their own little thing, right? I like to think our speciality is in the stories we tell, so maybe there's something there. We're big nostalgia junkies and can never resist a good beat.
Your current and debut EP,' Places I've Lived' was released towards the end of the last year and quickly racked up an impressive number of streams within a few months. Which song on the collection might you say you're most proud of and why?
S: We have a song called "Does It Matter?" that was the first song we'd written together where we had that moment of, like: 'Oh, this is it. This is what Bestfriend sounds like.'
K: We got a bunch of friends to contribute to the final song on the EP, "Good To See You", with gang vocals and screams and really whatever they wanted for a big chant-y outro. I think about it literally all the time.
How did creating and recording the collection remotely - Stacy on the west coast, Kaelan on the east - impact or influence the collection in terms of artistic and lyrical content etc.? Would you have preferred to be in a studio together, or do you think the distance between you while making the EP ultimately made it better?
S: I think, in the beginning, it was a lot of fun and really felt exciting and different. I definitely do think we miss out on lots, though.
K: Putting this one together was definitely way different than anything else I worked on growing up. You miss out on the little magic moments that pop up in real-time jams, but the tradeoff is you have all the space in the world to really carve out something you love without pressure, like, the end of a day or getting on each other's nerves due to proximity, etc. Which isn't to say we don't get on each other's nerves because we absolutely do. It's just in a way that feels like there's more space for patience with.
What's the story behind your new single "Someplace Else", if indeed there is one? Where'd the inspiration or idea for it come from?
K: Daydreaming, so much daydreaming. It's a song about daydreaming that we also tried to make feel like daydreaming. It's about loving a beautiful girl in the summertime. We've all been there.
The new single is taken from your sister EP 'Places I've Left', which you'll release in the summer. What made you think "Someplace Else" was the right choice as the lead single, and what can you tell me about the EP without giving too much away?
K: We wanted to start with a positive foot forward. This second instalment of our "places" series is more about feeling lost in where we want to go from here, as opposed to the pure exploration of nostalgia we entertained on EP1, so there's a fair bit of uncertainty. "Someplace Else" seemed like the natural first choice, especially feeling so heavily of summer. Always nice to sneak in a summer song at the winter/spring border; a little reminder there's something to look forward to.
What was the creative and recording process like for this collection? Did you actually get to meet up and work together, or was much of it still made remotely due to restrictions etc.?
S: We did a lot more of this one in person! We tried to be really smart about it by knocking out all the vocals together in the same studio we rented for a week in Toronto last year.
K: Yeah, restrictions have come and gone a fair bit here, so we had a couple of nice chances to collaborate in person between waves. It's so, so much more fun.
With the new EP coming, does that mean there are plans for an album in the works too?
K: Oh, you can definitely bet that's classified. Big secret, we can't tell ya. We haven't even told ourselves yet, so…
Any tour or performance plans you can tease?
K: You betcha! Not with any real detail, though. We have some nice roots in New York and LA and our hometowns. It bodes well for a little major city-run if you feel me. Planning a tour for two people who have almost never played live.
You've received many glowing reviews from critics and media outlets and been featured on numerous playlists, but do you care much about what reviewers etc. think or are you more concerned with the thoughts of your fans; the ones who it could be said have the more genuine connection to you and your music?
S: I really do try to make a concerted effort not to read reviews. I read an interview a while ago - of someone whose name is escaping me right now - where they were saying they get their friends and family to read them and highlight all the nice things. Maybe I will do that. I'm a bit of a baby. I absolutely love hearing back from fans of our music, though, especially friends who have been there since day 1. They've got the entire picture and the full context, which feels really special to me.
K: I like hearing nice things about us from anywhere.
Of all the compliments and comments you've received, which would you say is the best or the nicest, and why did/does it mean so much to you?
S: I feel like I need to compile a little scrapbook of nice things people have said about us, seriously. I can't pinpoint a specific one right now, but anytime someone reaches out completely out of the blue to let us know that one of our songs helped them get through a tough time or that they related to certain aspects of certain songs, that's it for me. I think it's really easy to feel lonely in your experiences, but there's something very comforting about having people almost grab you by the shoulders and saying YOUR EXPERIENCES ARE NOT UNIQUE and that you're not some uniquely sad person.
Social media is all but a vital tool for bands and artists today. How would you say it has helped you reach an audience in terms of your career? Do you think the industry maybe has too much reliance on the likes of Twitter and Facebook, or is that just part and parcel of the world we live in now?
K: I'm so interested in all this stuff, really. I don't think there's a correct answer. Bands are pretty quick to bemoan the existence of social media today, but if you look at pretty much any era in music, there was always some modern contributor to the process people were mad about. As frustrating it is to feel like it's part of the job, and it absolutely is both frustrating, AND part of the job, railing against it will never not feel like the "old man yells at cloud" meme from The Simpsons.
For me being a musician in 2022 is about staying true to who you are and what you want to make while using social media is to find the people who you will really connect with on something, as opposed to purely trend-following. Trend-following can be great, obviously, but it's also really just an algorithmic dartboard, right?
As a band formed over the internet and living so far apart from each other, socials have been crucial for building our little community of people we know all care about the same thing. We've really intentionally tried to drive community-building because that's what it is all about! That's what a band can usually accomplish with a live show or tour, a non-option for us to this point. We truly feel like we couldn't have been met with more kindness and care by the people we have met so far. It's really just all about how you spin it and what sort of attitude you take into it.
Lastly, with a fairly busy year ahead given the new EP release, are there any other projects or ideas you're working on? What's Bestfriend's goal for this year?
K: I did a little production work for an artist called Ohlaur, who just released her debut single, "Romanticize", which I would definitely recommend checking out.
S: As for Bestfriend, we're determined to see faces in venues this year. Just holding on for the wild ride until we get there.
Listen to 'Someplace Else' - BELOW: