Vancouver-based Rock/Synth Pop band, Hyaenas have unveiled their EP, Little Trophy, along with the stand-out single “Written in the Stars.”
Written through a queer feminist lens, Hyaenas explores a variety of socially relevant topics on Little Trophy, including the #MeToo and #TIMESUP movements, the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance), 20th-century coal miners, the fight/flight/freeze stress response, NXIVM (a cult profiled by the HBO docuseries “The Vow”), as well as astronomy and the whimsical, such as the beloved tales of the Pied Piper and Alice in Wonderland.
Speaking on the writing process, the band says,
“Writing for the EP really took shape during lockdown. Both Sophie (lead vocalist) and Jen (drummer) had a bunch of unfinished songs/ideas/embarrassing voice memos that we dug out of the archives then collaborated with each other to fill in the gaps (except lyrics – that’s always a sole Sophie responsibility) and take them to the next level, then brought them to the rest of the band to workshop and make them what they are are now and we’re so happy with the final result.
For Sophie, the pandemic brought on a sense of “if not now, when?” to really kick start her back into songwriting after taking a hiatus for a few years, and for Jen as a drummer who has been a little hesitant to show songwriting ideas to bands, it was so friggin fulfilling to have so much support from the band and to see a few of her little ol’ ideas that she was too insecure to show anyone else get such positive feedback and make them fully realized songs.”
The EP is also produced by coveted Vancouver producers Elisa Pangsaeng (Yukon Blonde, Said The Whale) and Jesse Gander (The Pack AD, White Lung).
“We were really excited to work with Elisa Pangsaeng for a few tunes as a few of us had worked with her previously in other studio sessions, and it was such a great experience, so it was a no-brainer. Her ability to achieve a certain emotion and pocket off the floor and into the final mix is so impressive. She can keep the raw-ness while still producing a pop song – and she can tune the shit the out of a snare drum!
And recording with Jesse Gander is an absolute dream. He’s quite the hero in the punk & metal scene (obviously, we are neither) and not just in Vancouver – globally! But he is also inherently such a big fan of pop so it was great for him to tap into another genre of music that is a bit of a departure from his day-to-day, and we think it just showcases his incredible skill & versatility as a producer, engineer and mixer. He gave our songs such a great shimmer and really allowed us to capture a hint of those post-punk “The Cure”-esque tones and also really made things punch. Plus he’s such an all-around lovely & friendly human and Rain City is such a beautiful studio – it was sad to pack up our stuff (and our dog) when we were done!”
Our band is made up of four best friends, three seasoned musicians, two couples, and one actor. CBC called us “Lesbian ABBA.” We humbly accepted the comparison and would be super excited at achieving even 10% of their amazingly successful career… without the divorces at the end.
Our music lives in the Indie Rock/Synth Pop world, while our lyrics explore themes from acceptance to vigilance and celebrate a love of nature, self-worth, and social justice. We draw inspiration from 80’s icons The Go-Go’s (and The Golden Girls), alongside The Beaches and Metric.
We also draw inspiration from our animal namesake – the Hyaena. They’re a matriarchal society ruled by an alpha female, and unlike most mammals, hyaena cubs emerge with eyes open, muscles coordinated, and teeth already pierced through their gums and eager to bite. They are natural-born warriors who take no shit. WE LOVE THEM!
(and our favourite fact: Female hyaenas have a “pseudo-penis” which allows them to dictate the who, where, and when of copulation!)
We played our debut show in December of 2021 in Vancouver (where we’re from), and since then, we’ve played some super rad shows, including festivals like Squamish Constellation Festival, Coldsnap Festival, Khatsahlano Street Party and Pride Festivals in Vancouver, Fernie, and Salmon Arm. Plus, we had the privilege of sharing bills with a bunch of artists we totally admire, like Lauren Ruth Ward, The Pack AD, Kimmortal, Fake Shark, and Miesha & the Spanks.
Our debut EP is called Little Trophy, and we seriously had the best time making it. We got to work with two fantastic Producers: Elisa Pangsaeng (Said the Whale, Yukon Blonde) at Monarch Studios and Jesse Gander (The Pack AD, White Lung) of Rain City Recorders – both in Vancouver.
We were really excited to work with Elisa, who has this uncanny ability to nurture the emotionality of a song while capturing the live-off-the-floor feel. She produced our songs “Written in the Stars” and “Little Trophy,” which both carry a raw quality while exemplifying everything great about a pop song. Fun fact, Elisa also had a last-minute inspiration to create a bonus intro track for Little Trophy, so… Sophie grabbed her Gibson and went back into the studio to record the track. We honestly couldn’t imagine the EP without it. Elisa can also tune the shit out of a snare drum and is just all-around impressive.
We went to Jesse Gander at Rain City Recorders for our other four tracks – “For the Birds,” “It’s Not Up to Me,” “Another Level,” and “White Rabbit.” Recording with Jesse was an absolute dream! He’s quite the hero in the punk & metal scene (obviously, we are neither) and not just in Vancouver – globally! But he is also inherently such a big fan of pop so it was great for him to tap into another genre of music that is a bit of a departure from his day-to-day, and it really showcases his incredible skill & versatility as a producer, engineer, and mixer. We experimented with his vast collection of analog pedals and synths – that’s when Luvia fell in love with his matriarch moog, which now lives on her Christmas list (anyone selling one?)
Jesse gave our songs a great shimmer and nurtured us toward capturing a hint of those post-punk-esque shimmery tones. Plus, he’s such an all-around friendly human, and Rain City is such a beautiful studio – we were honestly sad to pack up our stuff (and our dog) when we were done!
We also have two remixes dropping shortly after the EP release – an acoustic version of “It’s Not Up to Me,” produced by Catherine Hiltz (Tegan & Sara, Rae Spoon, Matthew V), followed by a dance remix of “Another Level” produced by Mary Ancheta (Ashleigh Ball, Kimmortal, iskwē).
And an official video for “Another Level” directed by our own Luvia Petersen will be released in March!
All of us have been permanent members of other original bands previously but didn’t have any primary projects on the go when the pandemic hit. Sophie (our lead singer and guitarist) had been taking a bit of a hiatus from songwriting, but in March 2020, when we were all hit with the sharp reality of “anything can happen,” she was filled with a surge of inspiration and thoughts of “if not now, when?” This kickstarted her and Jen (who as a drummer had previously always felt a bit too apprehensive to show her song ideas to anyone other than her dogs) to get some demos together to show to Jessie to put her spin on them, then Luvia joined the fold shortly after.
Lyrically, the EP was inspired by the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance), the #MeToo and #TIMESUP movements, 20th-century coal miners, the fight/flight/freeze stress response, NXIVM (a cult profiled by the HBO docuseries “The Vow”), as well as astronomy and the beloved tales of the Pied Piper and Alice in Wonderland.
We are also always fans first. We LOVE going to see live bands, and that keeps us constantly inspired to grow as songwriters, musicians, and performers. In the last year, we got to see so many musical heroes perform live – The Beaches, Garbage, Deep Sea Diver, Joseph, Alanis Morisette, Wet Leg, July Talk, Dear Rouge, Mother Mother – and also some INCREDIBLE local shows with Old Soul Rebel, Little Destroyer, Skye Wallace, Goodnight Sunrise and and and…!
We have our EP Release Party on Saturday, March 25th, at The Fox Cabaret in Vancouver. We are incredibly excited to be sharing the night with Kimmortal (Vancouver) and Cardiograms (Calgary). Couldn’t have dreamed up a better bill.
We have a very exciting summer festival confirmed that we’re not quiiiiiite allowed to officially announce yet – but we can’t wait to tell you about it! We’ll also be back in Calgary and Edmonton in July and some other stops throughout BC in the summer as well. (Also, tentative plans for Toronto in June – so stay tuned!)
We also get to play for a Vancouver Warriors game at Rogers Arena in February!
We hope that people like our record!! We’re really proud of it and put a lot of love, care, hard work, and countless hours into every component from beginning to end; from the writing process to the recording/production process, to the album art and design, to the supporting videos and other visual content and and and…! We’d love to hear our songs on the radio (so our mothers can call us up and say, “omg, I heard you on the radio!”), see them added to cool playlists, get a sync placement in a movie or tv show, and maaaaaybe even get nominated for a WCMA.
We’re excited to tour a few new places we haven’t been to before and meet more amazing music lovers and musicians.
We’re also back in the studio in May, working on our follow-up LP, so we can’t wait to continue to write music and create art alongside the people (and dogs) that we love!
Connect with Hyaenas:
I’m Jenna, the founder and editor of Canadian Beats. I have had a strong love for Canadian music, which started many years ago. I have a passion for promoting these talented Canadian bands and artists, and that’s how Canadian Beats came to be.
Canadian Beats has grown to become more than media, and what a journey it’s been.
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