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Signed: Why Chicago's Beach Bunny Picked Mom + Pop

Beach Bunny
Brandon Hoeg

Beach Bunny

In high school, singer-songwriter Lili Trifilio performed covers of pop hits from Katy Perry to Adele in her talent show, tweaking the delivery to make them her own. In 2015, she started at Depaul University, where she studied journalism, but soon found herself more interested in pursuing music as a career. “When I started college, every other person I’d meet was either going to shows or played something,” Trifilio, 22, says. “Chicago definitely inspires that.”

That same year, she formed the indie-pop band Beach Bunny, saying her own name would be too hard to spell and therefore Google.She rounded out her band with two friends, Matt Henkels on guitar and Jon Alvarado on drums (Anthony Vaccaro recently joined as bassist), and was eager to start uploading her music to Spotify. She knew she needed a distribution service first, though, so started messaging bands asking what they used, eventually deciding on DistroKid. 

By March 2019, Beach Bunny hired managers in Chris Crowley and Mike Scrafford of Salty Artist Management, who soon started pitching the band to labels. Trifilio was hesitant, saying “I liked having control over the music, and I was scared that a label would mess that up.” But, she says that because their music was streaming well -- thanks in part to a TikTok video that used the title track to the band’s fourth EP, Prom Queen -- she felt she had leverage when it came to negotiating recording contracts. After meeting with Mom + Pop, one of three labels the act was considering, she says, “it intuitively felt right.” The New York indie signed the band in September.

"We had been fans since December 2018, when Suzanna Slavin, our director of A&R, took me to a show at Baby's All Right,” recalls Michael Goldstone, founder and owner of Mom + Pop, who stayed in touch with the band’s management since. "It got competitive very quickly with numerous majors and indies, however, we believe they valued us having been there from the onset -- and felt connected to our ethos and aesthetic. We deeply value DIY in any form."

Most recently, the band announced its debut full-length, Honeymoon, out Feb. 14. The album's lead single, the drum-thumping, explosive “Dream Boy,” arrived Oct. 31 along with a Summer crush-inspired video. “They write heartfelt songs — and some of the best we’ve ever heard," says Goldstone. 

Now, Trifilio is most looking forward to filming more music videos and designing merchandise with a bigger budget. “In the past it’s like, ‘How many colors can we use?’ or ‘Hoodies are too expensive,’” she says. “We have a lot more resources to be more creative, which is really exciting.”

A version of this article originally appeared in the Nov. 2 issue of Billboard.

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