Interview – The Tourist Company

By: Remington Fioraso

The Tourist Company is a Vancouver-based progressive folk-rock band consisting of Taylor Swindells on vocals, guitar and trumpet, Jillian Levey on vocals, glockenspiel, keys, and percussion, Brenon Parry on drums and percussion, and Josué Quezada on vocals, bass, drums, and percussion.  Their debut album, “Brother, Wake Up” was released in 2013.  In 2014, they have been named as CBC Searchlight Regional Champion and included in the Peak Performance Project 2014 Top 12.  In addition, The Tourist Company released their new EP entitled “Space Race EP” on May 6, 2014 containing the lead single “Irrepressible Future.”

Who are your musical influences?

Too many to count! Our greatest influences lately have lots of Canadian flavour. Jordan Klassen, Patrick Watson, Royal Canoe, We Are The City and the Belle Game. We recently took part in a Beatles cover night at the Biltmore Cabaret in Vancouver, which was the catalyst to a renaissance of appreciation for their genius songwriting. Our drummer, Brenon Parry, grew up playing metal music so his influences differ a little from the rest of us, which is part what adds so much to our rhythmic diversity. Other bands that have influenced us sonically are Of Monsters and Men, Arcade Fire, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, The National, and Half Moon Run.

How did The Tourist Company form?

We’ve been friends since working together at a summer camp in 2010 (except for Josue who we met at the same camp last year), and casually played music together ever since. In January 2012 Taylor (who had been writing and creating in secret prior to that point) roped Brenon and Jill into recording some original material at Vertical Studios in Vancouver. While in the studio we decided that we should do something with the music we were recording and the band was born! Brenon set out to make an absurdly long list of name suggestion in the studio and we eventually reached a consensus on The Tourist Company due to our love for travelling and a general feeling of transience in the world we live in.

What has the reception been for “Space Race” so far?

Unexpectedly positive! We set out to create something a little outside of the ordinary, and whenever a band does that they risk alienating some of their existing followers, but our fans have been extremely gracious in getting behind our quirkiness with this project. Much of the album was created through experimentation and so far the general consensus is that the EP was a catchy experiment worth repeating. We’ve been blown away by the response so far, and it’s got us really excited about writing our next work. The support of our friends and fans is what keeps us going!

How was the recording experience for you?

This record was a delight to create from start to finish. Teaming up with the brilliant musical mind of Jordan Klassen was an honour, and working alongside his creativity really taught and inspired us in our own craft. His production style really complemented the music and he masterfully walked the balancing line of bringing his musical wisdom and aesthetic to the table while staying true to our sound and vision. Our project was the first full work recorded at The Space Studios in Vancouver, which afforded us the opportunity to work with Dan Klenner (who engineered the album). His knack for capturing the soul of an instrument made the tracking process stress-free and gave us a lot of confidence in what we were tracking. We had so much fun in the studio, and came out of the experience with new friends and a sound we were really happy with.

How did you get involved in the Peak Performance Project 2014?

The PEAK Performance Project has been on our radar ever since we started making music. Being from Vancouver we’ve followed the project for years, and thoroughly enjoyed the artists who’ve gone through it. Many of our influences are musicians who have participated in the program. At the beginning this year we began taking stock of our music and decided that we were in a stage of our career where we could really learn a lot from what the PEAK had to offer, and after some encouragement and advice from our friends in the industry we got our application together. There were so many quality acts from BC who applied and we had no idea what our chances of making the Top 12 were like, so we are thrilled and humbled to be included alongside the great bands of this years project.

What can fans expect during your summer tour?

Our summer tour will full of energy and dynamic! We have some new material that we’re really excited about, and we’re looking forward to playing in some wonderful cities. The arrangements will be rhythmically different and a little further towards the folk side of music than our normal set, as we will be touring without our close friend and drummer Brenon Parry but our core sound will be the same. Summer’s a great time to play music, and we can’t wait to get there!

Aside from playing, what are you looking forward to the most for the tour?

We love traveling so we are really excited about hitting the road and seeing the beauty this country has to offer! We’re especially excited about the prospect of surfing in Tofino while we’re in the neighbourhood. Touring is a fantastic opportunity to meet new people, try new things, and life on the road is a bonding experience that tends to create great stories and draw the band family closer together.

Who are your favourite Canadian artists?

So many of our favourite acts are Canadian! Besides the influences we listed above we love Hannah Georgas, Said the Whale, Dear Rouge, Paper Lions, Mike Edel, Hey Ocean, Born Ruffians, Aidan Knight, and so many more that we are probably forgetting. Canada has an incredible and ever growing community of musicians.

What was the last album you purchased?

St Vincent, St. Vincent

What is your favourite movie?

That Thing You Do

What would be your dream vacation destination?

Gold Coast, Australia

Is there anything else you would like to say to your fans?

Thanks so much for making this year happen, we wouldn’t be anywhere without you! We were so humbled by everyone’s support throughout the many rounds of voting for the CBC Searchlight competition. This year has been a whirlwind and we can’t wait to see what the future holds. Thanks for being part of the adventure!

Connect with The Tourist Company at:


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