Caveboy enjoy doing most things together. This interview, for example, is something the eclectic Montreal pop band asks to do together. With no one mouthpiece for the group, Caveboy prefers to give space equally, for everyone to tell their story. We call Isabelle Banos, she asks us to hold, and a couple of minutes later we’re joined by Michelle Bensimon and Lana Cooney. They’re timid at first, of course, because interviews are exhausting and daunting. But they soon warm up, and energetically bounce comments off of each other. It’s as close as one can get to being a fly on the wall observing their friendship, one that’s woven so tightly with their creative and business partnership.
Caveboy wasn’t originally Caveboy. The group began back in 2015 as Diamond Bones. The name quickly seemed like it didn’t, or couldn’t, stick all that well. “It was a time of transition, and we really honed in on our sound, and felt really solid on who we are,” says Bensimon. “We always think about things that connect the three of us – things that are authentic and unique to us. When we came up with Caveboy, it was just like an ‘aha’ moment.”
Since then, Caveboy have been able to propel themselves forward, based on their electrifying live shows, along with a self-released debut EP in 2015. They won the Allan Slaight JUNO Master Class in 2017. Then there’s their string of well-crafted pop singles, which did very well in 2019: “Landslide” and “I Wonder” were heavily playlisted on stearming platforms; “Silk for Gold” premiered exclusively on Billboard; and ”Hide Your Love” reached No. 1 on the CBC Music Top 20 chart.The band’s been working to figure out who and what they want to be, and how to channel that into the music. This month, they’ve been readying the release of their first full-length, self-released debut album.
Out Jan. 31, 2020, Night in the Park, Kiss in the Dark is an effervescent synth-pop album. It sounds big, likely due to the added honourary member, producer Derek Hoffman – who’s worked on records by The Arkells, The Trews, and Ralph, all of whom have bombastic and anthemic sonic tendencies. Hoffman added what the group says was the magic they needed.
“Having this kind of sisterhood bond that we have has been so important.” – Isabelle Banos of Caveboy
“Up until this record, we basically did everything on our own,” says Cooney. “Most of what we did was self-produced, or at least 90 percent. When we were starting to write songs for this record we knew that it was going to be time to bring in another person.” With more than 30 songs written for the album, Hoffman, over a period of six months in the studio, was able to help whittle them down to the ones on the LP. He’d intuitively hear which songs connected where, the band says, and shape some of the three- to four-year-old material.
Night in the Park, Kiss in the Dark is one of those pop albums that feels eternally youthful. The band chalks it up to their own personal nostalgia for the way things were, or could have been – tracing the contours of new love, lost love, frivolous antics. Still, the album is consistently vibrant in the present moment. The synth-based parts of these pop songs are bubbly, and bring to my mind the vision of a nighttime when everything feels possible and endless. That’s true even amid songs that are also anguished (“Guess I’ve Changed”), lustful (“Obsession), and pensive (“Up in Flames”).
Caveboy tell us that they’ve really grown up together with this project, even while watching their contemporaries fade out and away from the tough business of music-making. Working on, and at the end of the day, holding a physical representation of their work was always the goal of a full-length LP, despite what others in the industry advised Caveboy to do.
“Everyone told us not to make an album, not to make a record, just because the trend these days is singles,” says Cooney, acknowledging Caveboy’s successful run of songs released in 2019. “I’m personally really happy about it [making an album], because I think it’s one of those things that’s a rite of passage as a musician. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Banos, tenderly, doesn’t take for granted the experience of being able to grow up with Bensimon and Cooney, in the band. “I think each of us is super-lucky to have the others to be able to be artistically vulnerable with, which is a really scary thing,” she says. “Like writing songs, making weird sounds together, and, you know, making mistakes, and looking like a fool.”
She continues, “Having this kind of sisterhood bond that we have has been so important throughout the years: To be able to experience learning moments in a really safe, fun, and motivating space – in a productive space.”