By: Natasha Tar, Peak Associate
The five-piece, all-student band the Escapes lent three of their members for an interview with The Peak this past week. As we settled into sofas and chairs, I realized it was good luck to even get the three of them. “I take 15 credits and I work 25 hours a week,” explained bassist and third-year SFU communications major Keely Rammage-Scott.
Perhaps this is familiar to many of us, but on top of that, of course, her and her bandmates must balance their music and songwriting. Lead singer Isobel Ralph, a third-year literature and religious studies student at UBC, summed it up for me: “The way that we all balance school and work and music is [we] just don’t sleep as much as [we’d] like.”
Self-described as “groovy jazz-pop,” the Escapes formed over three years ago by accident. Max Cunningham, lead guitarist, backing vocalist, and SFU business student, explained that he started out in a band with his brother Rhett (the Escapes’ drummer) and Jack Wells (their keyboardist). Their singer at the time couldn’t make it to an upcoming show, so Isobel stepped in, learned all the songs within a week, and went onstage.
“We played the show and it went really well,” Cunningham explained. “After a couple weeks, we started practicing together, and then Rammage-Scott got into the picture and from there it just went on.”
“We just write a lot,” Ralph laughed, trying to pick a favourite song from the many the band has created since their first, serendipitous show.
Unfortunately, after leaving high school, the Escapes have been somewhat split. Wells studies in Ontario, but the band explained they often make the effort to connect with him and keep him in the loop. The other members keep up through messaging and meetings, despite their different schedules, schools, and work loads. As Cunningham put it, “The Internet is a powerful thing.”
The Escapes recently landed themselves a demo deal with record label 604 Records, known for producing acts such as Marianas Trench and Carly Rae Jepsen. “We got to record three songs in the summer and try out everything, work with producers [ . . . ] It was honestly so fun,” Cunningham said. “We learned so much.”
“We’ve been very lucky and very blessed to have been given this amazing opportunity to work with people that get us and where we are as people [and] as students,” Ralph added. “We’re obviously all still growing as musicians and as people, but even within the past year I think we’ve made great strides with where we are.”
Because of their experience both inside and outside the recording studio, I asked the Escapes if they had any advice for aspiring bands and other musicians who are starting out.
“You hear the statement that ‘practice makes perfect,’ but that’s not something I personally believe in,” Rammage-Scott said. “I believe that practice makes you better.” She added that it’s important to stay focused on your goals and try not to compare yourself to others.
She continued, “It’s really more about focusing on working on who you are as a musician, rather than trying to compare yourself to someone else’s standards [ . . . ] If you keep practicing, you’re not necessarily gonna reach perfect because in a creative form, I don’t think there’s an absolute perfect. Creativity is creativity.”
Cunningham and Ralph agreed with her completely before heading into Forum Chambers for a cutthroat swivel-chair race.
Interested in how the Escapes got their name and who won the race? Check out the video interview at the-peak.ca.