January 15, 2018
Jack Etchegary

Dormitories is a band on the come up in St. John’s and was voted runner-up for Best New Band of 2017 by readers of The Overcast. They’ve been playing extensively in venues throughout the city since May of 2017.

The band’s lineup consists of vocalist/guitarist Nick Bendzsa, keyboardist Emily Finch, drummer Liam Robbins and bassist Patrick Stokes. I met up with Nick Bendza to talk about the band’s sound and what’s next.

Dormitories’ sound could fall under generalized genres such as dream pop, disco synth pop, or even bedroom pop, but Bendzsa describes their music as “sweet pop,” a term of his own invention. “Sweet pop” could also describe the pop stylings of bands such as Jaunt and Loveland, groups which Bendzsa says influenced his songwriting.

“Mac DeMarco and Metronomy were my two original influences, I guess, but definitely Jaunt… and Yellow Days. Men I Trust is really a big one for me.” Although he draws influence from several artists, Bendzsa also said that listening to too much music of a singular artist can make songwriting feel disingenuous. “I’ll write a song that sounds nothing like one of the Men I Trust songs, but then I’ll think that it just feels fake because I had the sound of Men I Trust in my mind.”

Even with these influences, Bendzsa songwriting is marked by his unique voice and he takes his time experimenting and embellishing ideas. “About three years ago I bought a loop pedal… I didn’t have any plans for anything, but I just started making loops and stuff.” About a year and a half ago, he began to write full songs over these loops.

“I met up with Jacob Cherwick and started recording a couple of them… I’d arrange chorus and bridge sections, and I started learning how to use Logic and started doing that by myself.” Cherwick currently plays with The Kubasonics and is the former drummer of Dormitories.

Since the band’s first official show in May of 2017, they’ve had a collection of notable performances. Their second show was an opening slot at The Ship as part St. John’s independent music festival Lawnya Vawnya, which showcased groups like Wolf Parade, Dilly Dally, and Hooded Fang. Other shows that have been standouts for Bendzsa include a performance at The Rock House with Soap Opera and Property this past November, and most recently a sold-out show at The Black Sheep with Renders and Ribbon Tied on January 6.

Regarding the band’s future plans, we won’t see much of Dormitories until the summer of 2018, as Nick is doing some travelling through Europe. However, he has plans to try to play some shows with a new lineup during his travels and has a couple of things in the works for when he returns to St. John’s. Listeners can expect new material and festival appearances this summer.

Dormitories released their first single “Play Doh” on January 5, which they recorded with the help of Jake Nicoll. “Play Doh” is available on Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play and other major streaming services, and can also be found on their bandcamp page.