Beekeeper seeks radio buzz

Abstract ideas, clever hooks, and puzzles all part of Vancouver trio’s formula

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      Luke Cyca, Brandi Sidoryk, and Devon Lougheed have got the whole rock-band thing figured out. They aren’t just pretty faces; they have brains that not only drive a sound that is upbeat, intense, and catchy, but have helped lever them to within striking distance of local fame. Listening to Beekeeper’s music is like listening to three overachieving nerds who’ve decided to be rock stars. Infectious licks, unpredictable changes performed with exacting precision that is still somehow fun—it’s obvious that only smart, creative people could be making these songs. And when you meet them, you realize that that’s exactly what they are.

      Singer and standup comedian Lougheed is writing his political-science dissertation on nothing other than math rock, art, and comedy. Cyca is a drumming whiz who is also a software engineer designing proteins for pharmaceutical companies. And Sidoryk? She’s a trained opera singer, a flight attendant, and the frontwoman of another band of local fame, Sidney York. She also plays French horn in the navy.

      Beekeeper is a band of contrasts. Logician Cyca is responsible for taking singer Lougheed’s abstract ideas and organizing them into complicated time and rhythm, which he devises on paper.

      “Devon likes to make puzzles and I like to solve puzzles—I think that’s why we work so well together,” Cyca says when the Straight catches up with Beekeeper outside Wicked Café on a rare sunny afternoon. “When Devon comes up with an idea for a song, it’s a puzzle, and I want nothing more than to figure it out and wrap my head around it.”

      The drummer isn’t just a human computer, though. “I think it takes a lot of creativity to take a complex thing and make it simple, or make it clear and render it accessible,” he says.

      “All three of us contribute creatively to this project in really wild and mutually supportive ways. There’s a lot of buttressing going on, in a fun way,” Lougheed adds. “It’s kind of how we can do quirky, weird, more experimental things with the music but have it not alienate everyone. I’m sure we alienate some people, but that’s kind of fun.…If it was just all solved puzzles, then we’d just be another artist in a sea of artists who offer solved puzzles.”

      The hard accuracy of Beekeeper’s approach could easily end up producing fist-pumping guy music, but it’s balanced by Sidoryk’s lush vocals. She is also the mover and shaker of the band, and with her experience in Sidney York under her belt, she has been instrumental in navigating the trio through the beginning stages of its career.

      “The DIY ethic is really strong with our projects. We try to get creative and make the most of our limited resources,” Cyca explains. “There’s a lot of norms in the indie-music industry, and we’re not afraid to figure out our own way of making things happen. We’ve had probably more success than we would have otherwise because we do things our own way.” Things like combining tours with Sidney York to save costs, and programming their own music-downloading system; these add up when tackling the monolithic and expensive task of getting a band off the ground.

      “We’re like Fugazi with MacBooks,” Lougheed wisecracks, referring to a band he admits is an almost inescapable influence for him. “That’s why I like playing with Luke and Brandi, because if it was my solo project or if I was playing with other people who had just the same influences as me, it would just sound like Fugazi, but with less reverb on the snare. The diverse influences pull us in various directions and pull it kind of away from being just a Dischord record. Although I think any fans of Dischord bands would like us.”

      Beekeeper’s influences are gritty and far from the mainstream, but the band has achieved a balance between that and a more accessible pop sound. Getting on commercial radio, however, has eluded them so far.

      “We’ve got some songs that we think—and many people think—are radio-friendly,” Lougheed says. “The trick is convincing music directors that they are, because I think that they’re close. They brush against the edges of being difficult to a more business-minded music director. But the hope is once they listen to them a few times they won’t be able to stop singing them. We’re trying to get at them through earworms.”

      Cyca, Sidoryk, and Lougheed have a good chance of doing so because their songs are unarguably addictive. The main criticism they’ve received about their newest EP, Shout at People, they say, is that it’s too short.

      So they’re planning to rectify that with two full-length albums in the works.

      “It’s wild. The poppy bits are even more sugary pop and the crazy bits are crazy, just wild and crazy,” Lougheed says. “Beekeeper gives adults permission to be kids for a little while. The best part of being kids.”