It was the perfect evening for a yacht cruise.
On September 5, Air Miles Stage Pass contest winners—and the members of local indie-rock band Said the Whale—boarded Yoho Cruises' yacht Carousel II for a quick trip from Granville Island, around Stanley Park, into Vancouver Harbour, and back again. Against a spectacular West Coast sunset, Camilo the Magician (yes, the very same one mentioned in Said the Whale's song of the same name) amazed the assembled with sleight of hand. Then Said the Whale played a short but energetic four-song acoustic set, which included favourites such as "False Creek Change" and "I Love You".
Before the yacht set off, the Georgia Straight sat down with Said the Whale's Tyler Bancroft and Ben Worcester, who were keen to reveal the next phase in their ongoing campaign to foster musical creativity among the young people of their beloved city. The band spent part of this past spring performing at assemblies around the Lower Mainland, raising money for the host schools’ music programs. It also held a contest to find an opening act for its September 6 concert at Stanley Park's Malkin Bowl. Now it's time for the next stage.
"We are launching our own music grant for artists under the age of 18," Bancroft said. "It's phase three of our initiative. Phase one was the school tour, which was to raise money for the school music programs. Second was the opening-band contest, which Jaden Bricker won. We haven't announced the details yet, but we've announced that we're doing a $2,500 bi-annual grant that is just for artists under 18—high-school bands or musicians or whatever. All somebody needs to do is submit their music, tell us what they want to do with the money, and we will adjudicate it at our discretion. And if you don't get it one term you can get it the next term."
Bancroft said the program, to which the band has committed itself for five years, is slated to start in mid-October.
"I think it's amazing," Worcester added. "I didn't know I was going to be a musician until after high school. I loved playing music, but I didn't know that that would be a career path. But I watched Tyler and his band all through high school—Tyler was the business leader and the band leader, and he did everything right and put himself there. And I know that if someone had reached out and offered to do this, from some level higher up, it would have meant the world. I think it's so important, especially when you go to these schools and you ask, 'Who here is in a band? Who here plays music?' and no one puts up their hand except for the one kid in the back."
Worcester noted that, with so much focus—especially in Vancouver—on the ever-rising cost of living, a career in the arts just doesn't seem like a viable option to many young people. "Tyler had a good point," he said. "We don't want kids to think they have to be doctors or real-estate agents or earn a million dollars to have a life. You can be in a band, you can follow your passions and do your things, and I think that's important."
For a more in-depth interview with Said the Whale, click here. And for a taste of what a few lucky fans experienced on September 5, see the photos below: