Vancouver pop trio Hey Ocean! have 42,052 reasons to be happy.
The Canadian pop darlings recently wrapped up a Kickstarter campaign where they asked fans for $30,000 to fund an extensive international tour that would bring their bubbly live act to stages around the globe. They achieved their initial goal in just three weeks, eventually pulling in more than $42,000 from over 800 donors.
“It was pretty amazing to feel that kind of love from our fans, and so many of them international,” said the band’s guitarist and co-founding member, David Beckingham. “We definitely have amazing fans and it’s apparent we can still get help from them.”
That level of support should come as no surprise to anyone following the hardworking band over the last seven years, who managed to eke out a prominent place in the West Coast’s indie landscape with a thoroughly hands-on, DIY approach to their music. They released several records on their own label, Pop Machine, until last year when they signed with Universal, which is responsible for the domestic release of their third studio album, IS.
The three-piece band has managed to mature their sound for the album, released in May, which Beckingham called “maybe our clearest communication of a good, classic pop album.”
The move to a major label hasn’t been all smooth sailing, said Beckingham, who admitted there were “ups and downs” throughout the process.
“With a major, you need to be making a pretty large impact to get that radio push and that’s really what we were offered with Universal, and that hasn’t been something that’s been delivered yet. That’s been kind of frustrating,” he said. “It’s not crushed our spirits, but it has taken whatever hope we put in them away and sort of re-empowered us to keep working hard ourselves.”
The band’s work ethic was on full display during their current tour, which has seen them play to sold-out crowds across the country over the past nine weeks. Their Whistler show on Saturday (Nov. 17) at the GLC is the final date scheduled for this year before they head out on a U.S. tour with Los Angeles indie band, Family of the Year in January. The band is now working on securing more international tour dates thanks to the Kickstarter campaign.
With a recently inked U.K. distribution deal and one in the works for Australia through Canadian label and management company Nettwerk, Hey Ocean! is hoping to capitalize on their growing international fanbase, which admittedly draws from a rather surprising source: the viewers of the children’s animated series, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
Lead singer Ashleigh Ball, who has enjoyed an extensive voice acting career dating back to 2005, provides her soprano to two characters on the show; Rainbow Dash and Applejack.
The series, based on the popular children’s toys, has attracted an almost cult-like following from adult viewers — many of them male, affectionately called “bronies” — who have flocked to the show’s vibrant animation style and positive message, lending Hey Ocean! a whole new sector of fans it might not have enjoyed otherwise.
“We get a lot of people at our shows that are like ‘Came here for ponies, but love the music,’” laughed Beckingham. “There’s an idea that they’re such a big part of our fans, whereas at the shows they have such a small presence … Then online, you would think that we have no other fans but bronies. They’re so active online.”
While the 29-year-old admitted to not watching the show, he appreciates the continued support his band gets from its viewers, saying that he estimates around 30 per cent of the contributions for the band’s Kickstarter campaign came from My Little Pony fans.
An eager brony at a recent Halifax show not only insisted on covering the entire band’s bar tab, but also the opening act’s.
“(Bronies) kind of sheepishly walk up to us at shows, being like ‘Can you sign my CD and my T-shirt,”’ said Beckingham. “Then they pull out a pony figurine.”
Hey Ocean! play the GLC Saturday, with special guests The Belle Game.
Tickets are $15 and are available online at www.clubzone.com at the GLC, Billabong and Katmandu.