This year, Bestival Toronto saw a vast assortment in its musical talent – from the return of Jamie XX and Shaun Frank, to new faces on stage, such as Toronto resident, Elliott Vincent Jones. Elliott kicked off the main stage performances on Day 1 at this year’s edition of Bestival, and alongside his guitarist and drummer, gave a show that had the crowd dancing in the heat of the high afternoon sun.
I had the pleasure to sit atop a hill with Elliott after his act, and discuss his Bestival experiences (old and new), as well as his connection with music.
How did you get started on your journey as a musician?
EVJ: I started at an early age, being raised into a musical family. Like, my dad played guitar. I was told to learn traditional music, and I just kinda took a different approach and banged on instruments until they sounded how I wanted them to sound; [it was] a way more DIY approach to everything. I’m still pretty young – I’m only 26 – but I’ve been working with music for well over a decade… yeah. So just years of just doing what you wanna do.
And what is it about music that calls itself out to you?
I mean, it was pretty clear at a young age, that it’s what I was best at doing. *laughs* From there on, it was like a strong thing for me. You know, there’s not many things in the world that could put me in a certain mood like a certain record could. So it’s like, music is… music’s music. You know what it is.
It just gets to you best.
Yeah. That’s all I’m going to be doing, I think, for the rest of my life.
In terms of your song Acapulco, how did that come to be?
That was actually one of the first songs I wrote, as a solo artist. And I wrote that track when I was in the UK, about 2 years ago. I’ve travelled to a lot of places around the world, and for some reason, I’ve never been to Mexico. I was reading an article about how Acapulco is one of the most dangerous cities in the world, and it led me to making a track, to bring about a lighter side of that city. I mean, the song’s not about anything too specific, but it’s a special one to me cuz it’s the first one I ever wrote, with this new direction that I’ve been going in.
Is this your first or second Bestival that you’ve attended?
I went last year, specifically to see this guy, Omar Suleyman, and I actually ended up only seeing one song of his, cuz it was a nightmare trying to get on the island with tens of thousands of other people. It was a little bit of a mess.
From what you’ve experienced, which would you say is better, in comparison?
I think last year it was too big, like everything was really spread out. I like how contained everything is this year. It seems smaller, but also bigger, at the same time. It’s WAY more convenient getting out here, and I find the island to be stressful to get on. It’s cool that it’s in the East end of Toronto – I mean, Queen street’s literally right behind me – so, yeah. I think it’s significantly better than last year.
When you were performing, did you necessarily have a problem with the bass coming from The Big Top stage?
I couldn’t hear anything. It was pretty loud on stage. I can see how that’s gonna be a problem throughout the day though, with other acts – but I couldn’t really tell. It sounds like it’s like a dubstep tent, or something, the kids are having fun in there. I’m not gonna be the old man, and be like “turn down the bass, I’m trying to perform!”
Who are you most excited to see this weekend?
I don’t know that many acts, to be honest, so I’m excited to just find stuff I’ve never heard of before. But Tame Impala’s record’s really cool. It doesn’t sound like other stuff I’ve heard last year, so I’m excited to see Tame Impala. The Cure. Jamie XX is actually really cool too.
In your act, I got a slight hint of ‘The Cure’ from when you were playing – would you say that they’re an inspiration to you in any sort of way?
Yeah! A lot of bands you grew up on are just re-hashed later in your life, especially when you’re making music. Robert Smith’s voice has always been a big influence on me – that deeper, romantic kind of draw. The Cure’s always been a big influence.
The fact that you’re wearing a long sleeve, and it’s 29°C – how are you handling that?
I’m actually pretty fine. I was explaining this to someone too, that I have a weird thing where I’m always kind of uncomfortably cold. I’m not freezing or anything right now – I just need something past my elbows on my skin, if that makes sense.
So it’s almost like it’s an “embedded style” for you.
Yeeeeeah, kind of, but I also just don’t get too overheated, and – I don’t know what it is – maybe I don’t get out much, and I’m just always at home workin’ on music. And I got that weird ‘pale studio tan’ or something and I’m just like, “I’m so cold-blooded!”
…Nah, I dunno. It’s a look that I keep.
Check out Elliott’s latest music video below, and stay tuned for the full Bestival 2016 recap!
~Elliott Vincent Jones~