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How The Beaches’ Kylie Miller Uses PRS Guitars to Bring Timeless Pop-Rock to the Forefront

Photo Credit: Meg Moon

When it comes to Canadian artists cranking out the kind of timeless pop-rock that would’ve landed on the radio any time in the last 50+ years, few do it better than the Beaches. With hooks and melodies for days alongside a modern, yet eternal, level of crunch and angst, the four women from Toronto have proven themselves to be an elite rock band for the ages.

And while every member of the Beaches carries their own weight, the guitar skills and tone of Kylie Miller have certainly shaped the sound of just about every song on their two full-length albums and handful of EPs.

After bursting onto the scene with 2017’s Juno Award-winning Late Show — particularly their hit single, “T-Shirt” — the Beaches dropped a whopping nine singles before following it up with their proper sophomore album, winning two more Juno awards (Group of the Year and Rock Album of the Year) for last year’s Blame My Ex. But during that stretch, the band also saw themselves grow and evolve from simple and catchy rock songs to a complex sound all their own.

SPIN spoke with the pop-rock guitarist about the band’s rise to fame, diversifying their sound and her favorite guitar brand.

SPIN: What has your relationship with PRS been like?

Kylie Miller: I was introduced to PRS through my agency in Canada when they were looking for some Canadian artists, and right off the bat, I was super excited to start working with them. I already knew how high-quality their guitars are, so we just hopped on a call and immediately hit it off. I think we started working together during COVID, and I’ve loved it ever since. They’re the best guitars to take on tour because they don’t go out of tune and they’re really sturdy and easy to travel with. It’s been super awesome having them be so supportive, because they also send the other guitarist in my band guitars as well. I play the PRS Fiore, while [Leandra Earl] plays the S2 Vela, and they complement each other perfectly. PRS guitars are so versatile that we both are able to pick a different sound and have our different personalities shine through our guitars. 

Photo Credit: Meg Moon

It feels like the new album, Blame My Ex, is a much bigger, bolder endeavor than your debut album. How do you feel the band has changed over the years from one to the other?

It’s been such an awesome ride. Late Show was obviously a really important debut for us, and we wanted to focus on something that felt like the music that we grew up listening to — so it was definitely more rooted in 1970s rock. But as we progressed as a band, we decided that we wanted to play around and do something that felt a little bit more hip and with the times. We also didn’t want to be really constricted in the rock genre, because we wanted to pull more from pop and indie stuff. Our goal for this album was to make the most accessible album that we could, and I think we achieved it based on the global recognition it’s gotten.

What made you want to explore other genres and subgenres after the first album?

It was really important for us because we didn’t want to get put into a box and be stuck in the rock world. Our goal was really to get our music heard by a younger fanbase, and they’ve been loving whatever this new sound is. I think one of the most interesting things we did was pull from new wave bands that were famous 40 years ago. Obviously, there’s a cyclical thing where those things come back into play, but we noticed that not a lot of artists were pulling from that — especially adding a lot of chorus, reverb and delay on their guitar tones. We wanted to play with that sonically, but still have the pop vocals.

How do you go about making sure all of the different sounds and genres fit together instead of feeling like a random mixtape from throughout the decades?

We just didn’t want to be pigeonholed in any way, and since this is the first independent release we’ve ever done, we definitely had more creative freedom to take chances. Because of that, we could have a ballad and then another song that has a lot of ‘80s pop influences. But by working with the same producers on everything, all of the songs still sound like they belong together — which is really important. When making an album, I think you need to have a smaller number of collaborators so that it doesn’t end up sounding like a mixtape even when we want to play with a bunch of different things.

Photo Credit: Meg Moon

Seeing as your sister, Jordan, is the Beaches’ lead singer and bassist, what’s it like being in a family band?

We’re luckily not like the Gallagher brothers or anything, and we haven’t overstepped any bounds with each other. We’re still best friends, and we’re almost always on the same page. All four of us have the same vision and the same goals for this band, so we really don’t tend to argue or stray whenever it comes to making decisions for what’s best for the band. We all have different things that we’re good at and that we’re really passionate about, and we all complement each other really well. But I also don’t know how to be in a band without my sister. When I started learning guitar, we literally took lessons together. It’s been a part of the process the entire time, and it’s a lot of fun. Sometimes there are fights, but it’s normally about really dumb things.

Are there any moments from the band’s rise over the years that stand out to you?

We just did Jimmy Kimmel Live! when we were in L.A., and that was a crazy experience for us. We grew up watching those shows, and I don’t know many other Canadian bands who get to be on U.S. late-night talk shows. It was a big dream come true for us. But honestly, everything that’s happened in the last year has just been an absolute whirlwind. Our tour sold out within the first week. Our Australia tour sold out in 48 hours, which is crazy, because that’s the other side of the world and we’ve never been there. Our new music is obviously connecting with so many people on a global scale, and it’s really mind-blowing to us. We’re so excited and so happy that people like the record and that they’re finally discovering us. We’ve been a band for 10 years now, so it’s crazy that it took this long to happen.

What sets PRS guitars apart from other brands for you?

The quality of them is just absolutely superior to some other guitars, and I’ve also noticed that they’re really good at being hands-on with the people they work with. They’re really helpful with everything, even just advising what kind of guitar to get. As I said earlier, they also never go out of tune, which is huge for me. I don’t know if most guitar players are like this, but I hate tuning in between songs so much — I get so stressed out about that. These guitars stay in tune remarkably well when we’re on tour, and I just love playing them. They’re also relatively light, which is also very important for me. I’m jumping around so much on stage and — being a woman playing guitar — having something really heavy is not super fun. My back would literally die if I played a Les Paul on stage. But they’re also truly the coolest guitars and I like that they make me feel like I stand out a little bit as a guitar player by playing them.