How New Friends Went From Four College Students To Rising Alt-Pop Band

From spontaneity comes a magical moment.

Prior to meeting in college, none of the members of New Friends knew each other. But they soon clicked and transformed themselves into a band ready to take on the world.

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Often, people like to say that everything you do in your life is pre-determined by fate and your actions are all part of destiny. While some might feel that the things you do are based on free will, behind the scenes, the invisible hand of fate is working its magic to push us towards where we are meant to be. For alt-pop band New Friends, you could say fate was pushing them to come together. Composed of members Cole Wilson (guitar), Stefan Boulineau (lead vocals), Conrad Galecki (bass, backing vocals, and drums), and Ayden Miller (keyboard), all four of them did not know each other prior to their college days. ”It was organic. It was spontaneous,” says Cole of their link up in college. But that didn’t stop them from coming together to build a band that almost didn’t happen.

WHEN THE STARS ALIGN

Even on paper, their backgrounds didn’t tell you that these people were meant to be in a band together. Cole wanted to be a computer programmer and played hockey as a kid. Stefan imagined himself as being a soccer player. Conrad was into sports, particularly rugby, but by his own admission, wasn’t the best at it. Ayden, meanwhile, had prior experiences being in bands in high school but they didn’t work out. But one thing they all had in common was a love for music. So, when their initial plans didn’t work out and they all met each other in the music program of their college in Canada, one thing led to another and New Friends was formed.

Soon, the band scored themselves a hit single with their debut Purple Candy in 2019, signed to management based in Los Angeles, won Canada’s largest music competition, It’s Your Shot, in December 2021, and are now set to drop their debut studio album, The Pilot, this February 18. It’s a compilation of all the songs they have dropped so far including a new track, a love song called Right Here. And the album drop also serves as a closer to their current era as they prepare to enter a new phase of their career. Ahead of The Pilot’s release, NYLON Manila spoke with the band as they talk about their friendship, music, and what their goals are for 2022.

How would you describe the first time you guys met each other?

STEFAN: We actually weren’t a band when we first came together. But the prof of that class was like, “You guys are so dumb if you’re not a band.” So, we were like, alright, okay.

Since you guys didn’t really know each other that well prior to forming as a band, how would you say your relationship has changed since?

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STEFAN: Our relationship between us, yeah, it definitely got way stronger. And especially throughout the pandemic, living together, it got way stronger. 

CONRAD: The main priority was, we want to keep this going. Clearly there’s something here let’s get to know each other a lot better because that’s the only way that this is going to get better. We want to make sure our music continuously gets better and so does our relationship. So, we just started becoming best friends really quickly. And now, we’re brothers.

How did you guys come up with your sound?

CONRAD: So, everyone came from such different backgrounds and that’s kind of the beauty behind the spontaneous come up. Stefan was listening to EDM music, but also listened to a lot of early 2000s like soft rock. Cole listened to a lot of John Mayer. Aiden was listening to a bunch of stuff like folk music. I was listening to a lot of like, heavy music, but also at the same time, rap and hip-hop. And that’s kind of the way the sound came about was we weren’t worried about making it sound like anything. We just wanted to make sure that there was a piece of everyone inside of the song somehow, some way. And little did we know that kind of created something that was a bit original.

Why did you guys decide to release Purple Candy as your first single to the public? How did you feel about the song’s success?

AYDEN: First of all, it was just the first song we made actually.

COLE: It was actually more of a school project and we handed it in, and our professor was like, “Yo, this is really good.”

AYDEN: And at the time, we were like, “Oh, we’re just gonna be like a production group. And maybe we’ll have like an alias and like, throw out the song.” But then [the professor] was like, “No, you guys should be band.” And then we kind of went from there. It was really special to see it connecting with everyone. And it gave us drive as musicians and writers to, you know, to continue trying to make an impact and send a message to our fans and hopefully, become some sort of soundtrack in their life.

What was the experience like winning It’s Your Shot?

AYDEN: It was super spontaneous. It was like, one of my professors sent me a link to the contest. And I didn’t really think anything of it. I was like, Oh, you can win money, like maybe we should do that. So we, yeah, we submitted a thing. And then one day, we got a call saying like, “Hey, you guys have won.” And that was like a really big breakthrough moment for us. Because, you know, like, we’ve been working so hard for the last two years. And to know that another company was interested in supporting what we work towards over that time.

How does it feel to be able to finally drop The Pilot, your first body of work?

CONRAD: It’s a great feeling. Because we’re so excited for all the things that we’ve done. And we’re very proud of them. And we can’t wait for everyone to finally have it all in one, one place to listen to everything that was kind of the accumulation of two, three years of four guys meeting in college, writing in a dorm room to go into a studio and getting management in Los Angeles. It’s this ever growing story that we’re just pumped to have.

AYDEN: And it wasn’t written, you know, as an album. It was just like us stumbling through our early 20s and writing songs, figuring stuff out, getting to know each other. And now it’s been three, almost three years, I think since we write Purple Candy. And here we are kind of at the end of this beginning of the journey. Yeah. So, the end of the beginning. Yeah, the end of the year.

When fans press play on the album, what do you hope they take away from it?

CONRAD: We believe that there’s a song in there for everyone, and every single song is about growing up, right. And it’s about all the things that every single person who you pass by the street probably went through at some point growing up, or it’s moving away from your hometown, falling in love for the first time. Or sometimes you just miss the person that you know you used to have in your life. And hopefully, once fans listen to it, they can at least, you know, remember any of those challenges that they had, and kind of see them in a new light, see them in a way of like, this was exciting. This challenge made me into the person I am, I’m excited to face more of them, because that’s kind of how the four of us treated our problems.

What are your goals for 2022?

CONRAD: Meet fans from other countries, like, you know, get to meet our new friends, no pun intended. Keep making the best music that we possibly can and make sure that we meet a lot of great people along the way.

AYDEN: We’re gonna have a lot of new music out this year, which is really exciting. Because we, for the last couple years, it’s been a bit of a slower process. But now even that this era is ending, we actually have a ton of new music that’s set to go like start the next era. So, it’s exciting for us that those are all going to come out, too.

For new and would-be fans, what top three songs of yours should they listen to?

STEFAN: This is the answer: once The Pilot comes out, just listen to it from top to bottom, and then they can pick.

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