The Best 6 in the 6ix: Teenage Green Bean

“Hey, Evan just called weed 'Teenage Green Bean.' Isn’t that a great name for a band?” This was the text Sydney Brasil received from lead guitarist Kieran after their bassist Evan was reeling off hilarious terms for weed.

Several gigs and a new single later, Teenage Green Bean have become a small but significant, jangle pop band circulating in the GTA.

(All photos by Joel Presant @presantj)

After Kieran and Evan’s first band broke up, they founded Teenage Green Bean (TGB). Last New Year’s, a Toronto-based promoter, Lou Cole, asked the band to play on a compilation album of D.I.Y bands in the city, which you can listen to here.

Needing a fourth member for the follow-up gig, Brasil stepped in as a one off to do lead vocals and rhythm guitar for the group and has been doing so ever since.

“After a few drinks, I was like, ‘Hey, if you want rhythm guitar for one show, I can do that for you,” she says. “And then I don’t know how it happened but we started playing together and it just got implied I was in the band. It was a gradual thing.”

“They didn’t really play shows or do anything serious until I joined.”Growing up downtown in Little Portugal, Brasil was always musical. She recalls entering school talent shows, learning the guitar at 12 and starting to get serious about music in her teens.

While Brasil’s stepmom was part of a band, her father helped her load gear after gigs, which is why it’s no surprise that she has a strong support network at home that lets TGB crash on the sofa after late night shows.

“My dad always really appreciated music but never played an instrument,” says Brasil. “He really encouraged me to do music.”

Alongside vocals and rhythm guitar, Brasil writes original music with her bandmates.

“It all comes together naturally. It’ll start with one person and we’ll go from there. Everybody has a little bit of something that they contribute to the songs,” she says.

With an Arcade Fire vibe about them, the group spend silly sessions covering the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and working on original tracks. They’re just a group of pals in Toronto making music. This is how every great rock band started out, right?

Women in Music Canada conducted a survey in 2014 showing that 48 per cent of the music companies surveyed held no women in their executive tiers, and among the hundreds of women polled, only 10 per cent held executive positions.

Even at 20 and as the only female member of Teenage Green Bean, Brasil has experienced first-hand what it’s like to be a young woman in the music scene. Whether it be promoters not taking her seriously or sound guys acting like she doesn’t know as much, Brasil admits that she has struggled several times already in her short music career.

“It’s all small little microaggressions,” she says. “It would be ignorant of people to not realize this. People, especially men in the scene, have this internalized misogyny and they really need to unlearn that. I’ve had people on the scene who have changed and apologized to me for not respecting me.”

While the other members of the band live in Hamilton, Brasil was born and raised in Toronto. Despite still playing gigs in Hamilton, it isn’t quite the same as the “big city.”

“They used to have a thriving scene a couple years ago but now they’re closing a lot of local venues and D.I.Y spaces,” says Brasil. “So, it’s not as thriving as Toronto.”

The perk of living in the smaller cities in the GTA is that the rent is low. However, for many of these young artists the draw of the big city is too strong.

“If you’re going to make it anywhere in Canada, it’s got to be Toronto,” she says.

You can listen to Pop Psychology by Teenage Green Bean here.