Behind Sapphire, oh what a fine band

Genre-blending newcomers play the Study February 8th

Jayal Chung

Last summer, my friends and I were at Boulevard Lake, where we unexpectedly met two charming, hard-working, talented musicians from an unsigned band. We were treated to music by Matthew Mazankowski and Grant Cassell. They had been playing all around the city that day, parking their van and starting impromptu performances to get the word out about their show that evening.

Certainly, my friends and I were new listeners who were open to their unique sound. It’s not everyday that this sort of thing happens. While Grant sang and stomped his yellow rain-boots, Matthew melded together soft chords on his acoustic guitar and sang too.

Their sense of improvisation and openness to engaging with new people is very endearing. They didn’t only share their music with us – they told us stories about Vancouver, touring, their artwork in their first self-titled album, orchestrating romantic gestures, Craigslist, and thrift shopping.

Behind Sapphire is made up of Mazankowski (Guitar, Vocals), Cassell (Vocals, Glockenspiel), Steven Ward (Drums, Vocals), Jeremy Ferland (Violin, Vocals), and Isidora Nojkovic (cello). It’s challenging to describe their “sound,” but the band’s own biography says their self-titled debut album “is carried by rollicking backbeats, sweeping orchestration and outsized arrangements.” Really, it’s more fun to watch and listen and experience their songs than to try to categorize them.

Matthew and Grant are from Vancouver and have been friends since high school. To give an idea of their ever-evolving style: “We started off playing punk rock, to Thrice, to some screamo music,” they told the Peak (Simon Fraser’s student paper).

“We’d done the whole spectrum. Then we did a 180 to The Beatles. And then Matt’s friend introduced us to Jason Mraz… His album Mr. A-Z is really diverse and unique. He had a whole bunch of different genres, so the way we wrote music changed quite a bit. Then we settled on something we [were] comfortable with and had fun writing.”

It’s looking to be an exciting and busy year for Behind Sapphire. They’re gaining a lot of attention, especially with their new music video for the song Oh My, What A Fine Day, starring Nanaimo actress Jodelle Ferland, who has appeared in the movies Twilight: Eclipse and Silent Hill.

So if you’ve heard of Library Voices, Sigur Ros, We Are the City, St. Vincent – or if you like The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Patrick Watson, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Andrew Bird, or Sufjan Stevens – then you will probably like Behind Sapphire.

Come check out these great musicians at The Study on Feb 8th, at 8pm, $10! With openers Pictures of Tomorrow. For more information and to listen to their music, visit