By Ansharah Shakil, June 29 2023—
On June 23, Canadian indie rock band Mise En Scene released their new EP titled Reality Bites, an energetic record of dream pop with vintage grunge vibes. As a two piece, Mise En Scene is composed of lead vocalist and guitarist Stefanie Blondal-Johnson and drummer Jodi Dunlop, a pair of best friends from a small prairie town. The easy connection between Blondal-Johnson and Dunlop is infused into their undeniably catchy music.
In an interview with the Gauntlet, the band expressed their excitement for their upcoming EP — the EP’s title along with their single “Reality Bites” is partially inspired by the 1994 Winona Ryder movie.
“I remember watching the movie and thinking we need a more contemporary version of why reality bites,” Blondal-Johnson said, adding that the band has always been inspired by 90s grunge rock music and always nodded back to the 90s.
The band’s musical influences are varied, with rock and pop colliding in their recent songs. They named boygenius, Maggie Rogers and the Velvet Underground as some major musical heroes. Each member brings different influences to the table to help create a unique sound.
“For this record, every song is a little bit different and could be in a different genre, but what ties it all together is the way that Jodi and I approach song-writing, and the fact that it’s her and I on these songs,” Blondal-Johnson said. “That’s what makes it Mise En Scene and that’s what makes it our sound. Because we’re both so accepting of each other’s approach to a song, it allows us to have the sound that is uniquely us.”
Dunlop agreed, citing these multiple influences as the reason why the band’s music sounds the way it does. “I like to describe our music like a patchwork quilt,” she said. “Every piece is so different but it comes together and makes something beautiful.”
Engagement and entertainment is as essential to the band’s sound as their uniqueness is.
“The big thing with Stef’s lyrics is that it’s relatable,” Dunlop said. “She might write a song and the intent might not be what someone takes out of it, but I think in all music someone can relate to it and they can take something out of each song.”
Blondal-Johnson stressed the importance for her that the band’s music be relatable, but also open and inclusive.
“I think I’ve always kind of written in an inclusive way, where I’ll say the word you and me so that the listener can always put themselves in a song,” she said. “I don’t narrow it down to a gender, or a name usually, or a sexuality even, I just let it be open so people can put themselves in the song.”
Mise En Scene’s music is about how songs can be an escape, but how they can ground you, too. The emotional lessons in the lyrics of the latest singles are sure to strike a chord with listeners, but the sparkling beats and danceable rhythms will have listeners up on their feet. It’s pure enjoyment and freedom.
“A goal for us is to always remain authentic and genuine,” Blondal-Johnson said. “So when they listen to our music, we’re giving them something that we’ve experienced, that we feel, that hopefully doesn’t make them feel alone either. Because you know if I’m feeling it, and if they’re relating to it, that means that they’re not alone. We want people to feel like they’re not alone, and that they can also have fun and dance and sing along, and agree with some of the BS in life and we can have a laugh about it.”