These Canadian Musicians Created a Summer Dance Song About Consent

“We wanted to see if we could write a song about two empowered humans meeting in a club that wasn’t predatory on either side.”

The first rule in the guide to allyship: listen. And so, when Toronto duo The Darcy’s were looking to better address social issues as male songwriters, they did what all good allies should: they called up a female friend, July Talk’s Leah Fay. After a few cancelled coffee dates, Fay visited the two-piece band — made up of Jason Couse and Wes Marskell — in their studio to casually discuss dismantling the “boys club” and challenging the patriarchy.

“We started talking about the responsibility that comes with making art in 2018,” Fay tells me over bites of avocado toast. (Couse and Marskell are sitting with us too, each with their respective café snacks.) “And we kind of just ended up chatting about it for hours and hours.” After a long conversation about inclusivity, equality and damaging themes of pop music — and just 25 minutes of actual song writing — the trio had finished their first collaboration, an upbeat dance track titled “Just Here With My Friends.”

At first listen, “Just Here With My Friends” sounds like any catchy, pop-synth contender for the song of summer. There’s a masculine voice, a feminine voice, a playful back-and-forth, whispers in an ear and a night out dancing. Sounds awful familiar, right? A closer read of the lyrics reveals that this narrative has a different ending.

Can’t we talk in the morning?
Tonight feels like we’re forcing
Like we’re forcing
Call me up in the daylight
Can we see if it feels right?

Translation: I’m going to hangout with my friends, but let’s swap numbers and link up when we’re sober. Not exactly what you expect from a club-set dance song, is it? (Translation: it’s not the toxic “guy chasing girl” trope we’ve come to expect from music culture.) “When everyone’s listening to something, people become desensitized. It’s voiced differently from genre to genre, but there’s still this chase mentality that you hear so much of in music. Especially in pop songs, “ says Couse.

When I ask the trio which problematic song lyrics first pop into their mind, I was expecting them to reference Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” or Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean.” Instead, they look further into the cannon of pop anthems. “If you go back as far as the early Beatles: ‘She was just 17, you know what I mean.’ That is so inherently problematic. And it’s just the opening line.”

“Mindless pop songwriting often perpetuates a multitude of boring and damaging
gender norms that have nothing to do with real life,” she adds, “We wanted to see if we could write a song about two empowered humans meeting in a club that wasn’t predatory on either side.”

It was important, though, that this message of respect and gender equality wasn’t being shoved through listeners’ ears. “If the song was about how bad all these other songs are,” says Couse, “that would be one thing. But it’s not: we just chose not to play into that. But if you subtly infuse a different mentality, hopefully that can permeate and connect with people.”

The result: a song that encourages dancing all night and human decency in equal
measure.