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The Birthday Massacre Singer Fondly Recalls the MySpace Days

There were times when Sara Taylor felt like crying.

The lead singer of the Canadian dark wave band The Birthday Massacre was overwhelmed by the level of intimacy she experienced with the donors to the band's crowdfunding of its 2014 album, Superstition. Through Skype, Taylor (who is known as Chibi) was peering into their bedrooms, gazing at the posters that lined their walls, and seeing the artwork they had created.

"I find it so moving that people wanted to invite us in," Taylor says in an accent that is unmistakably Canadian. "People felt so close to us, without having even met us, and trusted us with sharing their own artwork and music. There's something very moving about that to me. I definitely got emotional at those times. A lot of our fans are beautiful, artistic, and sensitive people. It's so great to have the opportunity to interact with them."

Some came prepared with questions they had been waiting for years to ask the sextet, but Taylor had a Plan B in case things got quiet. "People can be awkward and shy, but we can be shy and awkward!" she says. "We just did our best and said, 'If things get quiet, I'll bring my dog in!'"

Other music groups can claim they have a loyal fan base, but The Birthday Massacre has built a devoted online community that the group had been connecting with before the days of MySpace.

"We've always been super-excited by the way our fans interact with each other," beams Taylor. "We've had people getting married from meeting through our band. It's always been inspiring to us."

Taylor recalls participating in the band's online message boards and having contests with fans in a time when social networking was just a gleam in Mark Zuckerberg's eye.

"It's not as interactive as before," Taylor says. "Now you just tweet things. There's an element to it that I really miss. It's almost impossible to develop personal relationships, as we were able to do in the earlier days. Sadly, you have to keep a distance, but I always monitor what's going on."

There have been times when the Internet can voice its dissent about how it feels about an album, but Taylor says fans have never been negative personally toward the group. In fact, the community continues to grow loyal to the cause. For example, Taylor recalls the band's hesitation to even consider crowdfunding Superstition for fear that listeners would turn on The Birthday Massacre because it asked for fans' money.

"A lot of bands are doing that nowadays, and it seems it's been in response to how the industry isn't making money anymore," she says. "We wanted to make it worthwhile. We put a lot of thought into what we offer people who wanted to contribute. It ended up going very well, but we were very apprehensive about it."

Her anxiety quickly dissipated. The band exceeded its goal less than 24 hours after it was announced. It validated how much the group's work meant to those who listened to it.

"It's nice that people care and have paid attention for this long," Taylor says. Yet the achievement she is most proud of isn't something she felt the need to push upon fans. Earlier this year, Taylor added the job title of "published author" to her résumé with Boring Girls, a psychological thriller that takes place in the heavy metal scene.

"Honestly, I couldn't ask for more than that book coming out," she says. "I worked so hard at that and I achieved it. I'm still riding high on that."

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Jason Keil was the Phoenix New Times culture editor from August 2019 to May 2020.
Contact: Jason Keil