Canadian indie-pop sensation Hey Ocean! is back from a several-year hiatus of solo albums to release a new album entitled “The Hurt of Happiness”. Parvati Magazine sat down with lead guitarist David Beckingham to discuss the album, the ocean, and the power of giving back to the community.
PMAG: What was the inspiration for Hey Ocean!’s name, and what is your take on the state of the oceans these days and the way humans are treating it?
DB: Hey Ocean! got its name on the beaches of Costa Rica when Ash [Ashleigh Ball, lead vocalist] and I were there with a couple of friends in the early 2000’s. We went for a surf trip and the rainy season came early. There were lots of storms and the sea was full of red tide (irritating algae bloom), so we weren’t able to surf. This was particularly frustrating for our friend Nick, who lost it one day and started yelling maniacally at the ocean, ”Hey ocean! Why are you so f***ing mighty?!” We laughed really hard that day.
I am under the impression that the oceans are in great danger, from plastic pollution to nuclear fallout from Fukushima. We’re making a mess of one of the most fascinating parts of the planet. My take is that until we move away from fossil fuels, stop catering to the economy and start focusing on a harmonious relationship with the planet, the environment will continue to suffer.
PMAG: Some of you have pursued individual projects in the several years’ hiatus since your last album, “IS”. What have you learned from those experiences and what made you feel that now was the time to come out with a new album?
DB: Yes, we’ve all put out a solo record in the time between “IS” and “The Hurt of Happiness”. I can speak for myself in terms of what I’ve learned. Seeing an album through by myself was one of the most challenging and rewarding things I’ve ever done. I was made aware of areas of weakness where during Hey Ocean! recording sessions Dave Vertesi or Ash would have brought more skill or finesse than me. I was also able to lean into my own strengths without being held back by criticism or the inevitable disagreements in taste or style that any collaboration has.
The new Hey Ocean! record was an experiment that didn’t have an outcome I was attached to. It was more of an exploration. We had had a good break from the old paradigm. We broke up and took a couple of years to do our own things—that was the healthiest thing for us at the time. Then one day we were ready to get together to work on some new stuff. It just kind of came together easily and voila. I think there is a lot of freedom in giving up on the idea that there is a right time to create.
PMAG: What do you love most about your new album?
DB: It feels honest and it sounds great (thanks to a great engineer and mixer combo).
PMAG: Your community activism has raised a lot of money in your home town of Vancouver, Canada. What is #SingItFwd and why is it close to your heart?
DB: Sing it Forward is an idea that our bassist David Vertesi had (and he and his wife Ambrosia brought to fruition) to run a huge benefit concert every year with local Vancouver and other Canadian bands. We’ve been the host band each of the six years we’ve been running it and all proceeds from tickets have gone to support the St. James Music Academy on the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver. It’s a school that is fully operated by donations, and focuses on teaching classical music to kids whose families couldn’t otherwise afford it. We believe that having an opportunity to learn music at a young age can make a huge difference in kids’ lives, and this school is proving that time and time again. It’s such a lovely place, and the kids are all so happy to be there.
PMAG: What do you do as a band to keep things fun and light?
DB: Oh, mostly speak in silly accents and voices and eat delicious food together. Pretty simple stuff. We don’t like to take much about what we’re doing too seriously anymore.
Hey Ocean! is a Juno Award nominated group, based in Vancouver BC, who write beautiful, harmonic and inspired indie-pop. They have toured internationally and released their new album “The Hurt Of Happiness” in April of 2018.
Image credit: Hamish Rhodes