Meet Max and Stella.
Max is a waffles guy. Come Saturday morning, he’s dreaming of waffles piled high with whipped cream, strawberries and maple syrup. And Stella? Overnight oats are his breakfast of choice. Add the milk the night before, top it with some protein powder the morning of and he’s got a breakfast that will fuel him for the day.
Max (left) and Stella (right) Leo
WE LOVE THEM
The energy they bring to Backbeat is awesome.
Meet the Leo brothers. Max is 8 years-old and held the unofficial title of being the youngest bass player at Backbeat when he first started taking lessons just under a year ago. Stella is a 12 year-old Backbeat veteran who has been playing guitar with us for over a year and half and also has a lot of fond memories from his weeks of Summer Rock Camp.
WHERE BEST FRIENDS ARE MADE
“I met my best friend at Rock Camp” shares Stella. He still also jams with some of the friends he’s made during Rock Camp. Last summer, Stella and his songwriting group at camp wrote an original song called “Nostalgia.” It was about wishing they were younger. Specifically, that they were five years old again. When we asked Stella why his band wanted to return to their five year-old selves, he was quikc to reply "Because the world’s pretty simple when you’re five."
Of course, Rock Camp isn’t always sunshine and roses. When you’re learning and growing that’s never how the story goes. “I get really nervous the night before the [Summer Rock Camp] show.” Sometimes Stella feels like he’s going to puke before going on stage. We know the feeling. We’ve been there. But the beauty of this is what comes next. When, despite his nerves, Stella steps on stage anyways. And then he’s in the moment. Performing with his band. This is when things shift and transform into one of Stella’s favourite feelings in the world. “You feel connected to your guitar, to your friends and to the crowd.” shares Stella, “It’s an amazing feeling unlike anything else.”
PUTTING IN THE WORK
Having a performance experience like this doesn’t come without putting the work in beforehand. Max often starts his day practicing - yup, he squeezes it in before school - and then he also jams with Stella most days after school. It’s not always easy motivating himself to practice, but this is where having a brother who’s also a musician is pretty awesome. “Stella sometimes introduces me to a new song or I try to play a song I really like when I don’t feel like practicing.” says Max. “Fell In Love With A Girl” by The White Stripes is a favourite for him. Max also finds that where he practices matters. His favourite place to practice? Stella’s room.
Stella often plays guitar for more than an hour a day. He loves making music with his brother, but sometimes it’s about more than making music. Guitar has become an outlet for Stella when he’s having a rough day: “After playing guitar for an hour, I feel alot better.” It’s either guitar or basketball for Stella. He too admits that he doesn’t always feel like practicing, but this is where he becomes pretty matter-of-fact. Stella says it’s like exercise. When he doesn’t feel like practicing, he tells himself “This will make me better. I’ve got to do it now.” That’s a great mantra to start off a new year if you ask us. We’re writing this one down.
"This will make me better. I've got to do it now."
THE INFAMOUS ORANGE-FLOWERED COUCH
Whenever we’re wrapping up an interview with a student, we like to do a round of rapid fire questions where we say a word and then the student has to respond with the first word that comes to mind. One of the words we said to Stella was “Backbeat.” His response? “Comfy Couch.” According to Stella, we have one of the comfiest couches in the world. We don’t disagree. Most of you know the one. It’s the orange-flowered beauty that’s seated in the middle of the student lounge. But for us, we have a different reason for loving this couch. We love it because amazing humans like Max and Stella are seated on it. Max and Stella, it goes without saying, you both rock. In every way.