Song You Need: Bernice search for serenity on “No Effort to Exist”
The second single from the Toronto band’s upcoming album Cruisin’, out April 28.
The FADER’s “Songs You Need” are the tracks we can’t stop playing. Check back every day for new music and follow along on our Spotify playlist.
At their best, Bernice songs have the spark of an inside joke you can't remember the origins of, and a deep tissue massage between the folds of your brain. Led by Robin Dann, the Toronto-based group exist at the intersection of new age, R&B, and pop, creating music that feels like it's been waiting for you. Cruisin', the band's fourth album, is out on April 28 via Telephone Explosion, and today Bernice shares the project's second single "No Effort to Exist."
Opening with Beverley Glenn Copeland-style synths and the chiming of a bell that would signal the beginning of a meditation, "No Effort to Exist" has both the title and the rejuvenating qualities of a Baba Ram Dass lecture. Throughout the song, Dann repeats the title with the urgency of a mantra that's gotten away from her a little bit; the percussion, ranging from sparse and pitch-stretched to driving pop, has the texture of a noisy mind shifting from one thought to the next. But the pursuit of peace is an active one: Dann's rich, silken vocals don't float serenely over the top so much as dive repeatedly into the depths, her presence suggestive of deep and unyielding observation.
Below, read a statement from Robin Dann about how the song began as a relaxation aid for her dog and grew into a much larger statement.
Although I initially wrote this song in an attempt to manifest an easier future for my new and anxious rescue dog, Sammi, I think we landed on something more broad: we're all just doing our best. No assumptions can be made about someone's lived experience. The chorus is a wish, a prayer, an incantation: "No effort to exist, like a bird in the grey sky in the mist, the bird in the evening just exists". Just sticking around for more life is enough. The vocals pass in and out of autotune, as if speaking from a future world where we're all just birds flying, wings open, held by the wind.