Hey Ocean: Overnight indie-pop sensation

Samantha Garvey, Roving Editor Ω

Hey Ocean performs on Tuesday, Sept. 18 at the Blue Grotto in Kamloops. – Photo courtesy of Nettwerk Music Group

Vancouver band Hey Ocean may just well be on its way to taking over Canada’s indie-pop scene. Fans of the group will have the chance to catch the energetic trio at the Blue Grotto on Tuesday, Sept. 18, as the group sets out on a Canada-wide tour lasting until November.

One listen through “Big Blue Wave” proves why it is difficult not to instantly fall in love with the light-hearted sounds of Ashleigh Ball’s vocals. “Sing until you have no voice,” she croons in the joyful chorus.

She is also known for working as a voice actress in shows like My Little Pony and Johnny Test, but vocals is not her only talent as she is responsible for the flute in Hey Ocean’s songs.
She and guitarist David Beckingham met in grade six. Beckingham is impressive in their latest music video “Islands,” when he takes on lead vocals and another side of the band’s genres, resulting in beautiful but despair-ridden melody.

It was in 2005 when Ball and Beckingham met up with David Vertesi to form the group. Vertesi is responsible for the bass vibes in the comfort zone of Hey Ocean, but he is equally proficient on guitar and vocals, which is evident not only from the track “Forgive and Give” but also when he performs on his own, under his own name.

The sound is starkly different from the pop band’s signature. Soul, force and risk characterize the songs that come under the David Vertesi name.

“My own music is much more personal,” he said. He comes from a musical family and started at a young age in piano lessons and musical theatre.

“Music itself never really got a hold of me until I was about 12.” He picked up guitar after he became jealous of his brother. “And I think I really wanted to impress girls. So I started playing guitar and what better way?

“As soon as I started playing guitar, I almost immediately started writing my own songs.”

And the passion for his craft has never faltered.

“I love making music. I love writing. I love performing. I love producing. This is why I do this because it’s what I love,” he said.

He added that although he likes being the boss when playing on his own, he thinks Hey Ocean is enjoyed by so many because it is a collaborative effort.

“Learning to compromise, that’s actually an incredible strength,” he said. “That’s a muscle that gets flexed in Hey Ocean a lot. Hey Ocean is not about the music that I want to make, or the music that Ash (Ball) wants to make, or the music that David Beckingham wants to make. It’s about the music we make together.”

In both his own sounds and his group’s tracks, the B.C. surroundings have been a huge influence.

“We all share some similar human situations that you’re singing about, and it’s always framed by where you’re from and B.C. is no exception,” he said. “It’s hard to not somehow sing about the forests and the oceans and the mountains. It’s so hard to live in Vancouver and have that not creep into almost every song you’re writing.”

It may appear to audiences that the success of Hey Ocean has been inevitable: an overnight sensation.

“It feels like we’re doing something right,” Vertesi said. But at the same time, “it feels like a slow climb, a slow, slow climb.

“Everywhere from Victoria to Halifax we’re having great, great shows. The music seems to attract really great people.”