The musical meet-cute: 15 adorable stories of bandmates falling for each other
Pop culture tells us that a meet-cute is the story of when two soon-to-be soulmates meet for the first time, but what about all the other loves of your life?
Taking a page out of The Holiday — where Kate Winslet's character, Iris, learns what a meet-cute is when she meets her new nonagenarian filmmaker friend Arthur (Eli Wallach) — we wanted to add to the heart-eyed love stories surrounding Valentine's Day by focusing that energy on another Very Important Person: a bandmate.
From Sharon Hampson and the late Lois Lilienstein (Sharon, Lois & Bram) to Snotty Nose Rez Kids to Safia Nolin and her guitarist, Joseph Marchand, we asked musicians for the details behind their meet-cutes — platonic or romantic. And while plenty of stories were love at first sight, it seems more possible that if you don't notice or like a person at first, you just might end up loving them.
Editor's note: interviews have been edited for length and clarity.
Sharon Hampson (of Sharon, Lois & Bram)
Before they met:
"Before Lois and I ever met, long before her son, David, and my daughter, Randy, were in the same nursery school — we did not know each other, we had never heard of each other, and the children didn't know each other ... and many years later, Lois told me a story and the story was that her son was in [that] nursery school and she suggested to the woman running the program at holiday time, Christmas time, that she could come in and do a little musical interlude with the children for the holiday, a little sing-along holiday event. And the woman running the program said, 'Oh, thank you very much, that's a lovely offer, however we're going to have Little Miss Snowbell from Christmas Fairyland who has already offered to come in and do the music program.'
"Many years later, Lois told me that story because she learned that Little Miss Snowbell was me! So she got rejected because I had already made the offer. So we spent years laughing about that. We didn't know each other, we'd never met. We'd never heard of each other and I bumped her inadvertently."
How they met:
"I have a friend who knew her and knew me and [the friend] knew we were both doing music for children and she invited us both for lunch, she thought we should know each other. And that's how we met. And I drew [Lois] into the Mariposa in the Schools program and she drew me into her library program and that's how we became colleagues — so not singing together, but working in the same kinds of programs."
Safia Nolin and Joseph Marchand (guitarist)
"We met through Philippe Brault, who produced my first album. I knew who [Joseph] was because I was friends with his ex-wife. They had a band together called Forêt, and at that time they were together and I was hanging out with her and kind of met Joseph from afar.
"When Philippe was like, 'We need a guitar player for your album, and I said, 'OK,' and he said, 'Joseph' and I said, 'No.' I was like, 'I don't want to work with him' 'cause what I had in mind — I had met him several times and he forgot my name and he was like, 'Hi my name is Joseph, nice to meet you.' And I was like, 'We already met like three times.' So I was kind of annoyed by him [laughs]. So I was like, 'No, I don't wanna work with him.' But we had no time to find another person [laughs] so Joseph was the one.
"And from day one, for me — I don't know for him — we bonded super hard. We were in the studio for 10 days in the woods, we were hanging out and making music, and when the album was done [2015's Limoilou], I started having bad panic attacks and, I don't know why, [but] I called him. And he was like, 'I know those are panic attacks, I will come to your house and we can talk about it.' He came to my house gave me a book, he was there for me. I don't know why I had that feeling to call him, but we're really similar on that, like anxiety and panic attack things.
"So we kind of slowly started working every single show [together]. The more we're together, the more the friendship grew. And now he's like my best friend and we're really, really close. And he helped me go through some bad stuff. And I learned a lot from him. And he's always there for me.
"But we almost never met [laughs].
"I just feel like Joseph and I, I don't know. Like the musical part of it is super intense, where I feel like I'm — you know when you're in love, and you find the person? I feel like Joseph is my musical person."
Fortunate Ones (Andrew James O'Brien, Catherine Allan)
As told by O'Brien:
"We grew up on opposite sides of the island of Newfoundland — Mount Pearl and Corner Brook. It was in St. John's when we began to sing together. One night in 2010, I heard Catherine sing harmony with her brother at a private gathering in downtown St John's. I had to sing with her. The next day I got up the nerve, left her a note, she acquiesced, and within 48 hours we were singing together onstage. While it was a road from that evening to the formation of Fortunate Ones in 2013, our beginnings are in keeping with one of the core messages we carry: that sometimes the most important decision you can make is to just say yes."
Dilly Dally's Katie Monks and her white Flying V guitar
"Well I sort of was first attracted to my beautiful Flying V because I knew it would piss off all my friends [laughs]. I wanted to change the way my peers thought about gear and its references. Just because I'm playing a Flying V guitar doesn't mean I have to make '80s hair metal. It's 2018 and it's time to reinvent rock culture into something less constricting.
"I thought they (my guitar love interest is gender neutral, by the way) were sooo gorgeous. And reminded me of a beautiful white bird flying through some heavenly clouds. When I put it through my pedal board and f--ked up the sounds more, it was like a fallen angel. I was instantly in love and ready to make our album, Heaven, from scratch."
Bonjay (Alanna Stuart, Ian Swain)
Stuart: Our meet-cute was partly a result of serendipity and partly a result of inspiring environment. A friend had invited me to a new party in Ottawa and I wasn't gonna go because it's Ottawa and it's my hometown so I can say that it's not that exciting [laughs]. But this was supposed to be the hit new party so I just took a chance and went, and I can see the scene in my head: I remember walking up a narrow, darkened, orange staircase and at the top of the staircase it led to an attic of an Italian restaurant in Ottawa's Chinatown. And it was hot and sweaty and in this tiny little booth, it almost looked like a coat-check booth with a small cut-out window in the wall, with a DJ playing this music that I'd never heard of before, and I was hungry for new music. And I ran up to them and not knowing whether they produced or what, I just said, 'I'm an R&B singer, I don't just want to do R&B I want to do weird shit, do you wanna make some music?' and they were like, 'Uuuuh here's my card.' [Laughs] And so I didn't know if I had made the best impression but that person was Ian. Ian, what was your impression of this person that came up to you?
Swain: I spent your entire story trying to think of a good analogy for what happens when you're mixing between two records and someone comes up and tries to talk to you and they totally interrupt you. I'm trying to come up with some widely understandable analogy. Perhaps … if you were on deadline to post something with like 45 seconds to go and you need to be completely in the zone and someone comes up and wants to talk to you urgently. [Stuart laughs in the backround] So that is what I remember. So I was very happy to have some of my 100 cards that I got from Staples for $5 or whatever it was.
Stuart: It had an outline drawing of somebody shooting a basketball and I was so confused, like is he a DJ/professional baller? [Swain laughs in the background] I had no idea what was going on with this person.
Swain: You never told me that, but in order to get the deal, you had to choose from one of like 30 options and I think maybe the only music-related one was a treble clef or something like that. And so I don't know why, I mean, I love basketball, but I chose a basketball player on it.
But [it's] also proof that inauspicious beginnings can lead to beautiful things. Because of course, we ended up talking later that night and we ended up connecting and making music together and it was a wonderful thing. The power of that song, it's awesome. Think about the way that simply someone playing a song can make you so intrigued by them that you wanna make music with them kind of sight unseen.
Stuart: It's like in a romantic movie. When you're not looking for love, that's when it shows itself. I knew that I was hungry for a musical partner, and I just had the feeling but I didn't know where to look for it. But I just embraced the opportunity to possibly find it … and 10 years later we're still benefitting from our symbiosis and the serendipity of that moment.
Swain: It also goes to show you that having discount business cards in your back pocket with totally unrelated sports imagery on them always works.
Tomato Tomato (John and Lisa McLaggan)
As told by Lisa:
"We met in the fall of 2000 — I had been working as a waitress at the Bennigan's restaurant in Boston's theatre district and John had just moved from the Maritimes and had never lived in a large city. We met at an orientation party for new graduate students at New England Conservatory. I approached John at the party and, being the nervous talker that I am, exclaimed, 'We're gonna be grad buddies!' To which he (being a nervous introvert) politely said nothing. There were about 50 people there, staff and students, bowls of punch and chips. There was a jam session for new students afterwards and we ended up playing on the same song. That was the first time we played music together. We decided in those Boston days to never stop hanging out together, and never stop playing music together. So far, so good."
Snotty Nose Rez Kids (Darren 'Young D' Metz, Quinton 'Young Trybez' Nyce)
As told to Tom Power on q:
Young D: I've known him since I was —
Young Trybez: A snotty nose rez kid [both laugh].
Young D: Him and my older brother are really close friends. They couldn't be separated, and I was just the little brother that tagged along and that was how the whole relationship started.
Young Trybez: Well, like he said, I was really good friends with his older brother, he's only a couple years older than him, but Darren was just like the quiet guy that tagged along. Like, [we] are going to the field to play soccer; Darren, go tag along with your brother [laughs]. You know? We're gonna go swimming at the point; Darren, go with your brother. So Darren was really quiet growing up, and he just tagged along and was super down with anything that we did. He was just down.
Young D: You know, we also grew up playing on the same basketball team, too, so that plays a role with us. Building that relationship and everything, right? And yeah man, we started playing ball when we were young, and as quiet as I was, I was able to express myself on the basketball court. And that's when we became really close because we would travel together, we would eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. You know, I've always looked up to him as a big brother; we're cousins but, he's my brother. Yeah first impression, he kind of schooled me into everything.
Partner (Josée Caron, Lucy Niles)
Caron: I like to think of it as we met at meal hall [at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick].
Niles: So there wasn't many lesbians at all. Pretty much just us, so we kind of were aware of that I guess [laughs].
Caron: I think there was some sort of sixth sense drawing us together.
Niles: So one day we were at the lunch table and all of our friends went to class or something and it was just the two of us. And it was like, OK, so, are you gay? And after that we were pretty much BFFs.
Niles: Josée wore a fake leather jacket, that was pretty cool. Everybody thought that she was from Montreal because she looked cool; but she was really from P.E.I.
Quantum Tangle (Greyson Gritt, Tiffany Ayalik, Kayley Inuksuk Mackay)
As told by Greyson Gritt:
"As part of Canada Scene 2014 in Ottawa, I first saw Tiffany act in Tales of the Wildcat at the Museum of Civilization and was so impressed. I thought, 'This person is so cool! I want to be their best friend!' Then, as part of Canada Scene, I performed a solo music set at the Rainbow Bistro in the Market and Tiffany came to see my show and thought, 'This person is so cool! I want to be their best friend!'
"Fast-forward to a few months later, Tiffany needed to film an audition with someone who could read the script back in French and she knew I am francophone. Tiffany asked me to help and our first interaction was me pretending to be this racist character and saying horribly offensive French phrases to Tiffany. A little bit awkward.
"But our friendship continued when, a few months later, Leela Gilday asked Tiffany to be a part of the International Circumpolar Women's Gathering and Tiffany wanted to do something using her other talents beyond acting. When Tiffany found out I was a part of it, she asked if I would like to collaborate. And Quantum Tangle was born through the fusing of our mediums: Tiffany with her dancing and theatrical talents and me bringing the blues and looping elements.
"Quantum Tangle has continued to evolve with the addition of Tiffany's sister, Inuksuk Mackay, on percussion and vocals. The sisters have been throat-singing together since they were little and Inuksuk and I crushed on each other for years over social media. With the Quantum Tangle trio, it's a triangle of love."
Rosie & the Riveters
"Rosie & the Riveters have a real love story for the ages: we met online! Farideh Olsen was lamenting how there were so many guys getting together to jam over beer and not many women were invited, if at all. So, putting her business sense to good use, she sent a call out online asking women who were serious about careers in music if they were interested in getting together to work out ideas.
"In 2011, the idea stuck, and the band was born. After a few years (and a couple iterations), the band consisted of Farideh Olsen and Alexis Normand, and we were looking for another member.
"We knew Allyson Reigh was a Saskatoon musician who had recently moved back from Montreal, so in 2013 we stalked her Facebook profile and Instagram account — that's what you do before you meet a blind date, don't deny it — and we knew she'd be the perfect fit.
"We sent her an email and invited her to audition for the band, it was absolute love at first sight. The band has been going strong since 2013!"
"My first ever bandmate was my drummer, Stephen Staroste. We met in Grade 2 when I noticed him on picture day. I was dressed in my usual mod/cool flower shirt, velvet bell bottoms and neckerchief. Being the overly fashion-conscious kid I was then, I was immediately drawn to his full Bavarian drag of 'head-to-toe' lederhosen. His mom had dressed him that day in the most amazing leather overall shorts, with a little alps scene carved out of horn on the bib. With his blond shag and green eyes he was the coolest kid in the whole form (and well before Jim Morrison). We hit it off and became inseparable friends due to our love of the swinging '60s, Chuck Berry, the Stones and especially Little Richard.
"Eventually we formed a duo as we figured that would be a great way to attract girls; Steve banging out time on whatever was available and me playing the less-than B3 Lowry home organ in his parents' front room. We played in bands all through childhood and carrying on well into our late teens. Going through many different members, playing high schools and non-licensed venues. A highlight was recording a song together in a makeshift studio at the CNE Music Building at 15. The song was 'Blinded by my own Mascara' (on Ranger, 2018). And actually the basis for the drum part on 'Four Bells,' also found on Ranger, is underlaid with his original drum track from 1975. His playing lives on."
Flora Cash (Shpresa Lleshaj, Cole Randall)
Randall: We met on the music-sharing website SoundCloud! Each of us was posting our own music there. Shpresa stumbled upon my music and connected with it. She left a few comments on some tracks, I noticed her and then listened to what she was doing. I absolutely loved it. We both found something special in what the other was doing, so we connected over Facebook and eventually started making plans to collaborate. It wasn't long before our conversations got more personal and what started as plans to collaborate musically eventually turned into something romantic. Long messages eventually turned into a phone call, which turned into five long months of Skyping every single day, for hours at a time. We finally got to meet when Shpresa came to visit me in Minneapolis. We spent two months there in a cabin by a lake before I flew back to Stockholm with Shpresa. We've been together since.
Lleshaj: I'll never forget that first time we met in person. Cole picked me up at the airport in Minneapolis and when he got out of the Jeep and walked over and hugged me, neither of us could let go for like, 10 minutes. We waited so long to be together and that was the moment it finally happened. The weird thing was that even though I was obviously super nervous to finally meet Cole in person, we had been Skyping so much that after the first half-hour of meeting each other in person, once the craziness of the fact that we were finally together wore off, it just felt natural and right; we already knew each other so well!
Harrow Fair (Miranda Mulholland, Andrew Penner)
As told by Miranda Mulholland:
"We met one afternoon many years ago in the basement of the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, where Andrew was shoe-shining while writing songs for his next album. I brought in a pair of cowboy boots that were all banged up from a tour I'd just finished — I asked if he could make the boots shine again; he did. A few years later, we met up again and started writing. At the end of a three-day writing session, we had half an album written and a summer of festivals booked. We've been running together ever since."
Goodbye Honolulu (Max Bornstein, Jacob Switzer, Fox Martindale, Emmett S Webb)
As told by Max Bornstein:
"In 2002, I was in second grade. I had developed a pretty big obsession with James Bond, especially Pierce Brosnan. When Halloween rolled around, the costume choice was clear. I had an uncle who worked at a custom tuxedo and suit shop. He very graciously let me come in for a fitting, and whipped up this little tuxedo for me. It was super sharp and very Bond-esque.
"When I came into class on Halloween, decked out in my new tux, I saw this other kid wearing one as well. His wasn't tailor-made or as sleek as mine, but he had the gadgets to go along with the ensemble. I talked to him, and we started having a friendly competition over who made the better Bond. His name was Emmett Webb. 'Well I've got the gun, the watch, and the laser pointer!' 'Oh yeah?! Well I've got a tuxedo from a real tailor!' We became best friends fast.
"Flash-forward three years, and we both pick up instruments around the same time. Emmett on guitar, and me on drums. We both love Green Day's American Idiot, and we start to jam and write songs together. Flash-forward another 14 years to today, and we still play in a band together, Goodbye Honolulu, now with Jacob Switzer and Fox Martindale, our friends from high school … Emmett and I have been through so many incredible adventures together, and there are so many more to come. Who would have thought it all would have started with arguing over who made the best secret agent?"
Madison Violet (Brenley MacEachern, Lisa MacIsaac)
As told by Brenley MacEachern:
"In August of 1999, I was in the passenger's side of my cousin's car driving through my father's hometown on Cape Breton Island, when my cousin nonchalantly pointed out Ashley MacIsaac's childhood house. She said that his sister, Lisa, had just moved to Toronto and that I would probably run into her. I didn't think much of it, I mean, how likely would I come across her in a city of three million people, before the days of Facebook and Instagram?
"Lo and behold, two months later while waiting to pay for my omelet at the Greenroom on Bloor Street, I heard this East Coast accent in front of me, telling the waitress she'd just moved here from Cape Breton. I interjected and asked her what part of Cape Breton was she from? Cut to 15 minutes later, still talking, we figure out that she grew up with all my cousins, went to bingo with my grandma and that our fathers sat beside each other in school. The familiarity was instant and we spent the next 10 years practically joined at the hip. We fell in love and started a band. Now here we are, 19 years later, everything has shifted, no longer romantically involved but still making music together and about to release our ninth album."