How Jordan Miller, the lead singer of The Beaches, spends a day off in Toronto
Including band practice, two rounds of Jamaican patties and late-night karaoke
2022 was a tough year for The Beaches. The all-female four-piece rock band, named after the Toronto east-end neighbourhood, was dropped by their label and their American agents and eventually dumped their management. “It was a scary time,” says Jordan Miller, the 27-year-old lead singer and bass player. Their Canadian agent—and only remaining ally—told them that their next album would be, in terms of their careers, a matter of life or death. But then came one final breakup—between Miller and her boyfriend, Brett Emmons of The Glorious Sons. A juggernaut was born out of the heartbreak: “Blame Brett,” which was released as a single in May and instantly went viral on TikTok.
By the time the full independently produced album, Blame My Ex, debuted in September, the band’s monthly number of Spotify listeners had exploded from the thousands to the millions. Now, they’re set to play at the Junos in March, and they just embarked on the European leg of their international tour. “It’s been magical,” says Miller of touring, “but we do all get a little homesick for Toronto when we’re on the road.” When Miller manages to sneak back for a breather, here’s how she spends her days off in the city.
Let’s say I haven’t been partying the night before. I’ll sleep in a bit, usually until 10 a.m. Musicians have a different internal clock than most people. You’re used to performing and getting all this adrenalin surging at night. It’s very hard to calm down after that, so you get used to going to bed later and waking up later. I also live in the basement of my parents’ house in the Beaches when I’m in Toronto, and there’s not much natural light, which helps.
As soon as I’m awake, I’ll go upstairs and make some coffee. My mom and dad love whole milk in their coffee, but I tend to opt for 2 per cent, just a splash. I usually have breakfast with my parents, who are both working from home these days. I don’t have much of an appetite in the morning, but I’ve been trying to have some yogurt because I buy into the idea that gut health reinforces your immune system. I get sick a lot, but I do feel like it’s been helping.
I’ll also play with my dogs a bit. My ex and I had a border collie, but I lost him in the breakup. So it’s nice to spend some time with my parents’ dogs, two goldendoodle siblings named Max and Lola. They can misbehave at times—Lola is always trying to steal our butter off the counter—but they’re super affectionate. They’re massive, but they act like lapdogs, always trying to lie on top of me.
Then I’ll go for a really long walk along the beach, usually from Woodbine to Fallingbrook. I start at the west end, which is near my parents’ house, and go all the way to the edge of Scarborough before turning around. I don’t listen to a lot of music, which is pretty common for musicians. So much of my work life is practising, writing and performing music. Instead, I listen to podcasts while I walk. My current favourite is called You’re Dead to Me. I’m a big history nerd, and it’s basically a historian explaining their area of expertise to the host and a guest comedian. It’s super approachable, but you also learn a lot.
Sometimes, on my way back home, I’ll stop for a second coffee on Queen East—usually Bud’s Coffee for a latte or Remarkable Bean for a drip coffee—and maybe pop into a bookstore. My current go-to is Book City, which has a Queen Street East location. I’m embarrassed to admit that I just finished the latest Hunger Games book, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. I wanted to see how they turned President Snow, who everyone hates, into the protagonist. Killers of the Flower Moon and The Song of Achilles are next on the docket.
After that, I’ll probably go to band practice. Even on a day off, the band’s pretty good about trying to rehearse or even just film some stuff for social media. Either way, I’ll head to our studio in Riverside. Sometimes I’ll bring a lunch with me. If my sister and bandmate Kylie is in town, she’ll often make me a salad or a quinoa bowl with some sort of protein. I don’t like the taste of fruit, so I try to eat extra vegetables. Or I’ll grab Jamaican patties for everyone—they’re the band’s go-to snack. I usually get the spicy beef ones at The Caribbean DutchPot on Broadview.
We don’t always get much work done during our day-off rehearsals. We tend to do a lot of gossiping during that time. There are also a lot of smoke breaks—Eliza smokes weed, and I smoke cigarettes. But we’ll probably play through our set once or twice, and if we’re learning a new song, we’ll play it through at least 10 times. All told, we’re there for around three hours.
For dinner, one of my favourite spots is Banjara on Bloor West. Even though my family is in the east end, we’ll do the full hour-long drive just to eat there. Or we’ll do Chinese food. My family has this tradition where we get Chinese before my sister and I leave for tour, which happens a lot these days. We like Garden Gate Restaurant on Queen East.
If we opt for Chinese, we’ll probably catch a movie at the Fox Theatre first, which is right across the street. It’s been around since the 1930s—my grandparents used to go there—and they have an excellent selection of indie classics, new blockbusters and campy older movies. After the movie, I’ll get a cold chicken sandwich with a cold lime drink at Garden Gate and then a scoop from Ed’s Ice Cream if I’m feeling extra snacky.
Then I’ll prioritize seeing my friends. It’s important to me to carve out lots of time to see them when I’m in Toronto since I’m out of town so much. A lot of my buds live in the west end, so I’ll head over that way. If we’re staying in, we’ll go to Peppers Food & Drink in the Junction and grab some natural wine, maybe some Filipino food or a second round of Jamaican patties, and go over to someone’s house.
For a night out, we tend to stay away from King Street or even Ossington—those areas are a bit too chic for me. I’m more into dive bars. Some places that are in heavy rotation are Swan Dive and Mama’s Liquor Lounge on Dundas West and Ted’s Collision on College. If we end up back in the east end, we’ll play pool at The Duke on Queen East, which is a super-gnarly dive bar.
After that, we might go see some live music. I always love seeing shows at the Horseshoe Tavern. The bouncers there are really nice, and they like our band, so sometimes they let us in for free. Or we’ll go dancing. I’m a bit of a rave girl, and I’ve been really vibing at Standard Time on Geary Avenue. They bring in great DJs from America and Europe, and they have Ace Hill vodka sodas, which are my favourite. It does feel like a rave because there are smoke machines and flashing lights, but it’s also got nice bathrooms and cool architecture. You can go dance, but there are also seating areas for little breaks, and no one there is too pretentious.
Now I could head to bed after that, but if I’m really having a night, we’ll go do karaoke. The Bathurst Local has a great karaoke set up, but if it’s late—and it usually is by this point—we’ll hit any of the private karaoke rooms around Christie Pits, since they tend to be open the longest. My go-to song is a little embarrassing: “Picture” by Cheryl Crow and Kid Rock. I also like to do the chorus of “Shallow” from the recent A Star Is Born, and I do a mean version of “One” by U2 and Mary J. Blige. I know all of Mary J. Blige’s runs.
After that, I’ll crawl into an Uber and head home. I’ll wash my face, brush my teeth and take one of these little hangover-cure pills I’ve been using. They’re by the brand Ritual, and they’re called HyaCera—they’re for daily skin hydration, but I’ve just noticed that if I take them after a night of drinking, I feel better in the morning. They have a lot of electrolytes.
I might watch some YouTube videos in bed. I really like Puppet History, which is a channel where this little blue puppet will teach you about historical events or figures. I also love watching Alison Roman cook or just have strong opinions about the most random things, or a little bit of John Oliver. After all that, I’ll probably fall asleep by 3 or 4 a.m.—and then sleep in a little extra the next day.