• Neelu Mohaghegh

New Friends on Their New Single “Ivory Tower”, and the Strength & Creativity of their Dream-Pop Band

Updated: Jul 12, 2021


A couple months ago, I got to chat with a new band that came across my radar, and I am so excited to share them with you. Charismatic, charming, and exciting, New Friends is exactly the band I needed this year and will most definitely be needing every year after. They have a fresh sound that’s reminiscent of COIN, Glass Animals, Coldplay, and Nightly—the dreamy-pop mood that picks us up but also has us subconsciously slipping away into the thoughts and imaginations in the corners of our minds. Undoubtedly, New Friends stands out on their own. The group consists of Stefan Boulineau, Ayden Miller, Cole Wilson, and Conrad Galecki, a core quartet of good friends, that were once new friends that then formed this amazing project.


When I first listened to their music, I couldn’t help but smile, yet I couldn’t quite peg the exact emotion I was feeling. After thinking about where I had felt this intuitive response before (and many loops of their catalog later) it finally came to me. Remember those days as you walked around your high school and you would suddenly cross paths with your crush and just at that moment little butterflies filled your stomach, thoughts of hyperbolized “what ifs” and reels of countless scenarios filtered through your mind, and you finally, in a panic, looked up to take a glance and caught from the corner of your eye he or she looking at you too? And if you were lucky they’d smile back? That’s the exact feeling I get every time I listen to each of New Friends’ songs. It is pure, crisp nostalgia designed with a full dose of intention, and a flare of tormenting desire. They are a band that I easily fan-girl for because they just have that kind of magnetic persona about them and their music--it’s this fitting essence of youth in flux that I think many listeners would find attractive and relatable. Also, not to mention their music, though founded upon melancholy topics, always manages to get you in the mood to dance or move and sing along.


Today, they release their newest single “Ivory Tower”, which is a different pace of sound in comparison to their previous releases. Slowed down and balladic, the new single is an anthemic lullaby that’s powerful yet sweet. It’s a song that I could see easily performed live amongst a crowd of people clapping along to the beat and singing in harmony when the layered vocals kick in. The song is hypnotic and comforting, airy and angelic. Through this song alone the band is able to bring fears, anxieties, and relatable experiences to light. They force us to confront our own irrational thought and realize how they are not so daunting in the first place.

“IF THE BRUISES AND THE SCRAPES ARE THE ART OF OUR MISTAKES THEN WHY ARE YOU AFRAID OF FALLING DOWN?”

“Ivory Tower” is about personal growth and self-actualization; it’s the race to find your higher purpose and the realization of the heartbreaks, hardships, and rose-colored glasses that leave you injured and scarred along the way—lessons learned and remembered. Their other tracks including “Purple Candy” (which has reached almost 2 million streams), “The Way”, and “Little Fires”, are well-constructed, energetic episodes of narratives that feel all too familiar. It is amazing to see and hear the control and magic that these guys can harness through just 3-4 minute tracks. With intricate lyrics intertwined with vivid instrumentation and vibrant production, the songs come to life. Give a listen to the new song above! The best way I can summarize my impression of the guys entirely is just through these glimpses of words: Romantics, pragmatics, dreamers, chasers, believers, doers, jokers, and friends. As you can certainly tell, I became an instant fan, and I honestly can not wait to follow their journey as they continue to grow and share their music with the world. I am also very glad that I get to share with you a glimpse into the kind, energetic, and driven band I got to meet on this call. So with that all being said…

Here is our interview:

[NM]: Why don’t you guys start with just sharing how you all met, how you guys got started in music, and how New Friends was created? Ayden Miller [AM]: “So, we were all studying at Vanshaw College in London, [Ontario, Canada] in this music industry arts program, so we were all kind of coming in at different times. Like I was 21, Cole was 23, Stefan was 24, and then Conrad was a year younger than me, but when we came in, I guess we were well like 18 and 19. There was a performance class that we were taking, and I knew that I was really kind of getting into songwriting and wanted to start a new band, because you know, my high school bands have folded, and it was time to do something maybe more serious with people who really wanted to do this. The professor would just put us in random groups, and we had to perform in front of the class. Cole and Stefan were in the same group, and I heard the Stefan sing and I heard Cole play guitar, and I was like, “holy shit.” I had ‘Purple Candy’ already written. We just hadn't really started on it, Cole and I were kind of playing around with something in the studio, but as soon as I heard the Stefan sing I said let's get to the studio and just try to work on this. So, that was the first thing we ever worked on, was “Purple Candy”, and then the band just kind of took off from there. I don’t really know how we came up with New Friends, we kind of just we're all new friends, so we called it that.”



“It had been a year, and me and Conrad were starting to get close towards the end of second year, and I asked him why don't you try producing some of our next stuff, we've only got three songs, we need to start working on some new stuff. And he was all for it. He had his solo stuff going on, and eventually we're like, dude, just join the band, we're gonna be such a better band if you’re in this. Me and him are really into the songwriting. So, it was really cool to work together and realize that we could be a stronger band with the four of us. So, here we are now.”

[NM]: I love that. And I think that's such a wholesome journey to bring it to where you are now. So, “Purple Candy” has almost two million streams now; how did the song come about? What was the inspiration behind that, as you mentioned songwriting is your thing? [AM]: “Yeah, that was just, you know, you leave your hometown. There's a heartbreak involved and some feelings. I guess it was a weird time in my life, because I was going away to school for the first time. “Purple Candy” just happened to come out at me, I guess. Then once we all started working on it it kind of became like a little obsession—we worked on the song I think for eight months. I remember someone in the program coming up to Cole and I was like, ‘if you guys don't put this out, you're just gonna be irrelevant’, and we hadn't even put out any songs, and we were like ‘bro, we'll take our time’. You know? Eventually, we thought it was ready, and the head of our program, who is actually a Grammy nominated engineer, he offered to mix the song and yeah, it was really cool. So, it ended up sounding good enough that we wanted to put it up.”

[NM]: That's so awesome! Well, I’m a big fan of the music, and really excited about this new song! Tell me more about “Ivory Tower”! What’s it about?

[AM]: “Ivory Tower marks the beginning of a new era for New Friends. Climbing the ladder of social hierarchy's to achieve a sense of higher purpose is something most of us have seen or experienced. It’s likely effected our relationships with others too. In this coming of age story, Ivory Tower takes you on an emotional rollercoaster ride that we all can connect to and interpret differently.”


[NM]: Another question I have is, as a band, obviously, there’s more fun to be had and there's a lot more creative energy than going as a solo artist. Each of you can answer this about each other, but what is about one another that helps your creative process?

Stefan Boulineau [SB]: “I think we all bring our own special thing to the table. Me, personally, I'm still kind of learning how to write better. Ayden is a better writer than me, and so is Conrad, but I feel like I personally, come up with good melodies, and when we put that stuff together, then we come out with some cool stuff. Cole is also really good at guitar and so is Conrad. What do you guys think?”

[AM]: “I think our personalities fit well together, sometimes there's gonna be fights because you're a band. So we feel like we're brothers now. So there's some, there's some days we aren't necessarily all stoked to be around each other. But I think it's been going really well, and because of all of us having different personalities and different talents, that's what contributes to the band success the most.”

Conrad Galecki [CG]: “Yeah, the nice thing with the way that we've been different in the sense of like, how we are as people, is that there's not one consistent stream that we're looking for to find creativity, because everyone is so different on how they come up with things and how they start their own processes, that if any of us at any point have nothing going on, and we're like, we can't figure anything out, someone already has a creative muse going, you know? There's already already something coming out from every single person. So, it's great, because then we're not stuck. If we're all using the same way of creating things, and if we’d have a drought, we’re stuck and we have nothing coming out, but this way, everyone’s different, everyone has their own thing, and a song could start with a guitar part or it could start with a voice memo of a really weird sound. It's never consistently like, ‘well, then Ayden sits down on piano and he writes…’, you know, it's always changing, which is great, because the songs don't feel like they're repeating themselves, right?”

Cole Wilson [CW]: “I think the best thing between us it that we call a different musical background. We all just, I don't know how to explain it other than that, but we all did different things coming up before we even met each other.”

[AM]: “Yeah, and I said how we met each other at such a kind of random time in our lives. You guys were a bit older than me. Conrad's even younger than me. The fact that we just sort of landed in London somehow at the same time, and ended up in that program with different influences, different talents and different personalities, it was really random, but you know, really awesome, too.”


[NM]: Yeah, that is really awesome. Like you guys said, each of you have a something to uniquely offer, something else to bring to the table, and that’s differentiate’s the sound when it comes all together, which is super cool. So this question’s kind of more of a fun one, what’s your detour? What’s something each of you do outside of music that’s still a big part of you or something only the band would know?

[AM]: “Ok, well, Cole lives off McDonald's. Haha.”

[SB]: “Ayden is on a McDonald’s hiatus right now.”

[AM]: “We eat a lot of fast food.”

[CW]: “Honestly, the best thing for me to say to this question would be my dad was a carpenter and built things his whole life. So, I kind of just took up the trade and build a lot.”

[AM]: “I’m really passionate about sports. I mean, that's just something I'm kind of a diehard for, like a hockey and baseball fan.”

[Cg]: “I don't know if I have one, I pretty much spend most of my days, like I have like my own studio, and I have a bunch of artists that I work with. So, I think I always just get a joy out of working with other people as well. You know, always just meeting new people because you learn so much about yourself working with other people, right? So, I guess I'd say the psychology aspect of being a producer/artist. I love that, I just love learning about people and seeing how people are and then learning a lot about who you are based off of that. I don't know, I find that I'm a social butterfly when it comes to that stuff. I just love experimenting with different sounds, different people. That's my grounding.”


[NM]: Totally, being in quarantine, too, since we're all forced to not be able to talk to one another, it's great that through producing, you can actually still continue to do that by talking with other artists.

[AM]: “These guys also play an absurd amount of Warzone [Call of Duty].”

[SB]: “I was going to say, I don't want to sound boring, but I don't really do anything other than make music and play video games.”

[CW]: “We’re also actually the fastest delivers”

[SB]: “On this side of southwestern Ontario. We work for FedEx, so it’s funding the band.”



[NM]: Honestly, besides funding, that's a great way to market the band, just drop off something while you're there and give us a listen please! Haha.

[CG]: “Yeah, leave them a Spotify code.”

[AM]: “Put stickers on the packages.”

[NM]: Leave a QR code to your music!

[AM]: “That's actually not a bad idea!”

[SB]: “But they’re usually older people. Haha”

[NM]: Those are all really fun answers to your detours. So, what upcoming projects do you guys have, that you're allowed to tell me obviously?

[SB]: “Oh, we should head up the management and record labels. Haha. Just kidding, but as of now, we think we’re going to be releasing one or two songs. We’re not 100% yet, but we're gonna kind of keep the rest of our stuff for the summer.”

[CG]: “It's tough right now, because we have a standard that we want to meet for quality wise. And especially with this pandemic, and everything, we all as a band, one, respect those who are high risk, outside of like us making sure that we're safe. It gets tough, because you know, we don't want to put anyone in danger or anything by making a call just for us to push something out fast enough. So, we're kind of just at the point where we have the songs, they're good to go, we just want to make sure that they're at their best. And in that process, we're maintaining a safe environment, and that no one’s getting in trouble, and that everything is perfect.”

[AM]: “I don't think there’s any rush really. But there's two kinds of different themes. Like we have a couple, I guess, darker, melancholy songs that we wanted to get out during the winter, just because they don't hit the same when the warmer weather comes around. You know what I mean? So, I think these two songs that we have kind of fit nicely together, but they just wouldn't really work later on with the new stuff that we're working on. Those ones are kind of more fun and upbeat, which we're really excited about too.”

[SB]: “I don't know about you guys. I mean, I know, these guys are also very eager to get music out. So, we are working as much as possible to get some music out as soon as we can, in the most efficient way, and the best way possible.”

“ESPECIALLY AS WRITERS, YOU KNOW, IT'S HARD TO WRITE ABOUT A LIFE WITHOUT LIVING A LIFE, YOU KNOW? YOU GOTTA LIVE YOUR LIFE TO GET MATERIAL TO WRITE ABOUT.”

[NM]: That definitely makes sense. I feel like we're all kind of in the same boat. All the artists I've talked to so far have all said the same thing. They're kind of realizing there's no rush at this moment. Everything before this past year was about getting things out on a hard deadline, but now people come first. So it's kind of a matter of just letting everything work out, and actually give the time needed to let things come together and be well-constructed.

[CG]: “Yeah, 100%.”


[NM]: Are there any plans to collaborate with other artists down the road or at the moment is the goal to stick to the band and build that out?

[SB]: “I think down the road, it'd be cool to do some collaborations. Right now, we're making all our music with just us. So we're gonna kind of stick to that for a little bit, and then maybe if we start to get some momentum, then work with some bigger artists or even smaller artists that we really like.”

[CG]: “We're kind of at the point now, where the four of us have a lot of potential still yet to come, and we really want to make sure that we are as fully polished as just the four of us as possible before we start inviting any other people in, because you know, I strongly feel that when you collaborate with someone, you should always give your best work forward. Right? Because out of respect you want them to give their best work forward too, and it becomes incredible. So, as a band, we're kind of just at the point where we just want to like really refine what we can do as the four of us. Then once we feel confident about that, we have some good work to put forward, invite other people to come into that. But right now, it's just kind of like honing in and making sure that we're really well polished the four of us.”

[AM]: “And getting our name out there. Because it's not as though everyone has heard of new friends yet or even heard the songs, which is pretty exciting, too, because there's a whole world of opportunity, still waiting to be kind of tapped into.”

[SB]: “Will!”

[AM]: “Yeah, haha! We're still continuing to push the first three songs even, and it's crazy to us, seeing the numbers go up every day. It's like, ‘Damn, we put that out so long ago’, and it’s still going on.”

“IT'S A BIT SCARY SOMETIMES, BUT IF YOU'RE PASSIONATE ABOUT SOMETHING, THAT'S ALL THAT REALLY MATTERS.”

[NM]: For sure. Well, you guys can count on me to spread the word about you guys—I’m definitely a big fan! Already been raving about you guys. Okay, so if there's anything that you guys are looking forward to post all of this chaos, once things are opened up, what is the thing that you're most looking forward to?

[SB]: “Music wise, I would love to start playing live and touring. We did like one with our school, but it wasn't really a live show.”

[AM]: “We're very new to the live game, which kind of sucks because we were just about to get into that before the pandemic, and then it is what it is. I think for me, it's just being able to go out and socialize, do normal people things, go out to a bar on a Friday night, and not think about music every single second of my day, because that sometimes, I find, takes away from me being super passionate about something. If it's really the only thing I can look forward to. Just going out with the guys—we used to go out all the time and just have fun. Then the next day get together and be like ‘Oh, yeah, we have a band to work on today. That's pretty exciting.’”

[CG]: “Especially as writers, you know, it's hard to write about a life without living a life, you know? You gotta live your life to get material to write about. And that's not even just songwriting. That's just, you know, if you're like writing online, just blogs and posts and stuff like that, even then you need to live a life. It's real difficult to find that inspiration when you're in the same routine, no social interactions, and it gets really like you know, loopy. So, definitely living somewhat of a social life would be great. And I guess the other thing also is just eating at a restaurant. I can't wait for that. I just love eating at restaurants and it kind of sucks that we can't.”


[NM]: Absolutely, that's also a really great point about the whole “there's no outlet, there's no inspiration” without being able to socialize or just live life daily as we used to. Especially in the music world, because you love it so much, you can do it day-in and day-out, but it's very easy to get burnt out by it if it is every hour of your day. So, you need that outlet where it's like, I'm just gonna go to the beach today, and I'm not gonna think about it, or I'm gonna go out with my friends tonight and not think about it. It's important to have at least an hour of your day not being forced.

[AM]: “Thank God that we're doing something that we love, you know? Like you said, you changed your career path and went in the music direction instead of doing something that your parents wanted you to do. I think all of us are in the same boat. We can relate to that as taking the risk of diving into music careers early. It's a bit scary sometimes, but if you're passionate about something, that's all that really matters.”


[NM]: So, just to wrap it all up, if you guys had to give yourselves like one word to describe each of you, what would that one word be?

***pause***

[CG]: “Who’s going first?!”

[NM]: Cole, do you want to start?

[CW]: “Oh, damn. Ok.”

[NM]: Haha, sorry for putting you on the spot, cold calling.

[CW]: “I’d say, honestly, I’d describe Stefan as happy. The guy is just always smiling.”

[NM]: That’s a good thing!

[AM]: “Until he’s not!”

[CG]: “HAHA, until he’s not!”

[SB]: “Then I’m upset. Sometimes, I get really angry.”

[NM]: It’s always the ones you least expect—the one’s who are the happiest are also the ones with the most rage.

[SB]: “Because it builds up inside for so long, and then I get one opportunity to let it out, and I just let it out. Haha!”

[AM]: “I would say that Cole is kind of snarky, because he's funny, but then it's also kind of like he's roasting you.”

[CG]: “He’s a ball of attitude! This guy. He's witty, just real quick with it. Haha!”

[NM]: There's always one person in the band who is.

[CW]: “I gotta put my foot down, you know, come on.”

[SB]: “I got one for Ayden. Intelligent and grumpy.

[AM]: “There it is, I like that.”

[SB]: “Intelli-grump.”

[CG]: “Ayden's very intelligent and grumpy, but also it makes up for when, you know, when he's excited. That's one of the greatest things that you can get from someone—when he’s excited, he is full force, he will give you exactly what, you know, it's great.”

[AM]: “Sometimes, I'll just sit there with a straight face, and then once Stefan, Cole, or Conrad—usually it's the Stefan and Conrad—are really in on an idea together, they give me the eyes, like ‘did he like it?’ and then if I kind of reacted, then they’re like ‘Yeah! F*ck yeah!’ haha. So yeah, I've noticed it. I guess I'm a bit grumpy sometimes… haha.”

[CG]: “Aren’t we all? Haha.”

[SB]: “Conrad's just a little mastermind. That's what we describe Conrad as. The mastermind. The wizard”

[CG]: It’s the hat, haha!

[NM]: The Wizard of Oz. Haha. Okay, so if you guys could either collab or tour with an artist who would the dream artist be?

[SB]: “Coldplay!!”

[CG]: “Ohhhh boy, yes.”

[CW]: “Yeah!”

[AM]: “Coldplay would be so sick.”

[SB]: “I got it right away.”

[CG]: “Just a day with Chris Martin.”

[AM]: “We can maybe plug a few smaller artists that are bigger than us, but still like small. I think we all like this band from Toronto called Valley. I think Dayglow would be really cool too.”

[SB]: “Coin is pretty big, but would be great too.”

[CG]: “Coin would be great.”

[AM]: “Literally, Coin is my favorite band.”

[CG]: “Coin is definitely one of our favorites.”


[NM]: Definitely, Coin is amazing. Those are pretty much all my questions, but I'm really, really happy that I got to talk to you guys and feature you here. I love the dynamic you guys have and I can tell what a great band you guys are in terms of your creativity and the growth you guys are going to have. You just have so much energy with each other, and that makes me really excited for you guys.

[AM]: “You're getting us on a good day here. Haha.”


[NM]: You mean I’m missing grumpy Ayden and angry Stefan here? Haha.

[CG]: “Yes! We’ll wait an hour maybe… haha!”

————————————————————————————

Thank you, again, you guys for chatting with me. I can’t wait for what’s in store for you guys, and I certainly can’t wait to catch you guys in a live show one day!


--------------------

BE SURE TO FOLLOW NEW FRIENDS ON INSTAGRAM, TWITTER, AND SPOTIFY

2 views0 comments