Jasmyn Burke is the lead singer of Weaves, a Canadian indie prog-pop band that blew up almost as soon as they formed about two years ago. After their first, self-titled EP launched in April of 2014, Rolling Stone called the a Band to Watch. Since then they've opened for Marilyn Manson and landed gigs at international festivals like Glastonbury, Wayhome and Iceland Airwaves. Burke is based in Toronto and won't tell me her age, because she doesn't believe in it—"life's a process." When I ask her about her most complimented possession or feature she says we should "talk back packs," so we do.
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BROADLY: So, backpacks. you said you have a "serious addiction." How many do you have?
Jasmyn Burke: Honestly, it's becoming a problem. I recently moved and I had to have two backpacks hold various other backpacks which were holding smaller backpacks. One of which reads "Princess" in cursive. I sort of laughed aloud when trying to pack the packs. I would say I have maybe 15 to 20 of them.
How did this all begin?
I think the first one to really instigate my love for zany bags would have been the monkey backpack. It is furry and has an endearing face. It really took me to another level. I have a Red Teletubby that's useless but funny because it sort of hugs my back. I have a really nice one from Italy that is a map of the world—that one gets a lot of compliments. I also own a classic denim backpack for practical reasons. Yesterday I almost bought this crazy backpack that was the head of a white tiger, but it was $120! No one will buy it so I'm just waiting for a sale. I also have my eye on this backpack that has the print of a giant hamburger on it at a kids store.
What do you like about your backpacks?
I think it's such a fun way to spruce up a wardrobe. They can be practical or completely impractical. I'll wear my mesh one to Festivals so security can quickly check my bag without really opening it, but then I have a Pickachu backpack that really serves no purpose because it has a tiny little opening that only fits my change purse. Then there's the monkey backpack that is honestly sooo hot in the Summer, just makes me all sweaty. But I love them all. I would say the cat backpack is probably number one though.
I wear backpacks like I wear my moods, you know? If I'm feeling a bit wacky or I'm going to write music I'll wear my cat or monkey bag because they set a tone internally. Or if I have a job that entails being a bit more polished I have a nice red one that's very fresh. Makes me feel classy. And to be honest I started getting shoulder pains wearing a purse and they just no longer fit my vibe, so I opted for the backpack. They make me happy and they make other people happy.
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What would you say your vibe is now?
Stylistically my vibe is always kinda been hobo chic with a touch of grandma. I am a bit of a sassy grandma and I guess I'm okay with that.
So where are these compliments coming from? What are people saying about the 'packs?
Oh man the cat backpack gets so many compliments. Mainly by strangers walking behind me. I got it at a Value Village for maybe $2.99 and I get asked about it all the time. In general I think finding one-of-a-kind bags is something really special. It's like finding those shoes or those glasses, or that haircut that just really suits your personality. I think people like them because they suit me and are perhaps so zany that one would not think someone over the age of 11 could pull off some of the bags I own, but I say go with it!
Do you think the fact that people respond to them so well fuels your addiction?
I mean, I have never really been one to care about what people think of my style. I am going to wear what I wear regardless of how people might respond. I fuel my own addictions. Loner for life.
What makes a good compliment, to you?
I think that what I enjoy most about the bags is that it also involves some self-confidence while wearing them. When people are attracted to others or one individual because of the self-confidence it might have taken them to wear that bag or make that piece of art. It can be very infectious and gratifying. Everyone should push each other to have a little fun and take risks. When someone I respect or think is an overall good person says they enjoy something about my music or my backpacks, I take it as the ultimate good compliment because we're feeding off of each other's positive energies and desire to be creative, evoking some kind of cyclical giant compliment regarding difference and empathy.
What is the best compliment one of your backpacks has ever received?
Hmm, let me think. One of my backpacks was "photographed" at a festival without my knowledge of it being taken. But I mean the best compliment would be if someone stole one. Not that I at all condone stealing! Or if one were in a museum one day. Or on display at a fucking Hard Rock Cafe, right beside Elton's platform shoes.