With New EP, Bleachbear Grows From Seattle Roots

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COURTESY OF BLEACHBEAR

The Washington-based band, which includes two Fordham students, just released its second EP, "Deep Sea Baby."

By Paolo Estrella, Staff Writer

The band was described as “the musical equivalent of a blurry low-exposure Polaroid picture of one of the best nights of your life” by Northwest Music Scene (NMS). This is Bleachbear, who NMS has also praised as “what Seattle sounds like in just one band.” Composed of sisters Tigerlily Cooley, Gabelli School of Business at Lincoln Center (GSBLC) ’20; Bird Cooley; and their cousin Emiko Gantt, GSBLC ’22, Bleachbear is an indie girl group from Seattle, Washington. They are back with their new four-track EP, “Deep Sea Baby,” their latest release since their 2016 Western-inspired album, “Cowboy Movie Star.”

Bleachbear started when Tigerlily Cooley was 14 and Gantt was 12. At the time, Tigerlily Cooley was taking guitar lessons and preparing for a street fair show. To help overcome her stage fright, she rallied together Bird Cooley and Gantt to play drums and to dance, respectively. From that moment, Bleachbear was born. Gantt picked up the bass, and the trio started to play more and more shows together at various local shows and street fairs.

From those humble beginnings in Seattle to now, Bleachbear is more excited than ever to release new music. “Deep Sea Baby” was inspired by a paddleboarding experience Tigerlily Cooley had in Lake Samish in Washington. She says that almost every song is inspired by life in the Pacific Northwest. The EP deals with relationships where things may become toxic, but neither person wants to let go, pulling both deeper and deeper under the water.

Musically, the EP is inspired by artists such as Frank Ocean, Daniel Caesar, Lana Del Rey and BANKS. Since the conception of the group, the members have loved larger-than-life musicians such as Freddie Mercury, Kurt Cobain and Prince. The group says that the wide variety of artists that have inspired them is a testament to how much the group has evolved since it started seven years ago.

Tigerlily Cooley and Gantt’s favorite song on the EP is “Body Full of Sunflowers.” The song pulled inspiration from Marc Webb’s “500 Days of Summer,” a boy Tigerlily Cooley dated in high school and Bainbridge Island.

This island, accessible only by ferry, was a destination for Tigerlily Cooley while back home in Seattle. When she took this ferry, she found that the island was plentiful with sunflowers. Inspired by the trip and the high school boyfriend, “Body Full of Sunflowers” was written. Aesthetically, the band wanted the song to fit with “500 Days of Summer,” almost if the song could be played during the end credits of the movie.

I asked Tigerlily Cooley and Gantt the differences between the New York City music scene and Seattle, and they gave me stark comparisons. Firstly, Seattle has a more tight-knit music scene compared to New York. “Everyone is invested in each other and wants the other to succeed,” said Tigerlily Cooley.

Additionally, Tigerlily Cooley said that in Seattle, “Gigs and shows come to artists more organically, while in New York artists need more help because of all the gatekeepers. There is also a need for a booking agent, and then on top of all that you need to compete with the acts and touring bands.” 

When asked why the band is so special to them, Tigerlily Cooley and Gantt expressed how much they loved their process of making music, saying, “We love that Bleachbear will always be something we did ourselves. Everything was done so organically and we loved that process. Our coolest memories are opening for bands we idolized and saw as our mentors.” 

So what’s next for Bleachbear? Tigerlily Cooley is currently working on her own solo project, and she plans on going with a completely different style of music than Bleachbear, experimenting with pop and hip hop.

In relation to the band, she said, “Everything we’ve done comes back to Seattle. We’ll always go back to play shows and make music together, and definitely don’t plan on stopping.”