Behind Sapphire
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Behind Sapphire

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | SELF

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada | SELF
Band Pop New Age


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Brambles cooks up an excellent night of music"

Dean Morrison
News Reporter

Every seat was filled Thursday night as Behind Sapphire played their first show ever in Merritt.

The sound was great inside Brambles Bakery and the show attracted a diverse cross section of patrons who came out to see this young quartet play.

The mostly acoustic quartet served up an imaginative set that had the audience clamouring for more.

The band started their tour with a stop in Penticton on Wednesday, and was happy to experience a much more lively and appreciative audience here in Merritt.

“Tonight was in my top ten favourite shows ever and we have played about 50 so far,” said Matt Mazankowski, Behind Sapphire guitarist.

The band has recently added a new bass player and hopes to add a violinist, cellist, trumpet and cornet for future shows.

They are planning a cross-country tour starting in June, which will be the first time they have traveled across Canada.

“This is such an awesome venue and Bramble's have been so good and generous to us,” says Mazankowski.

“We will definitely come back and play in the summer.”

Behind Sapphire immediately won over the capacity crowd with a set that was heart-felt, upbeat, and timeless.

Lead singer Grant Cassell had an engaging stage presence as he employed a megaphone and played a child's xylophone, which at no time came across as gimmicky, but added an element of fun and passion to the performance.

“The sound was excellent tonight,” said Cassell.

“We are working on another album all ready which we can't wait to get into the studio to produce.”

The band conveyed a comfort with each other as they jumped between lilting melodies and raucous backbeats, always maintaining an element of originality that was refreshing.

At the end of the show, there was a steady lineup of appreciative audience members waiting to buy CDs, and get them autographed from the obliging band.

“Merritt has a lot of good music going on,” said Markus Guerr, who is visiting Merritt from Germany.
“These guys were really good.” - Merritt News

"CD of the week: Behind Sapphire"

Tom Harrison
The Province

CD of the week: Behind Sapphire

As well as an attractive package, this duo has made attractive pop. Sometimes cinematic in scope, Behind Sapphire employs instruments as diverse as trombone, ukulele, glockenspiel and vibraphone to create uniquely arranged '80s influenced post new wave songs. Bright not brooding. - The Province - Tom Harrison

"Tried & True"

Tried & True
By Xu Wang

Before indie folk made a huge splash in mainstream music with the immergence of bands like Fleet Foxes and Beirut, and before “experimental pop” was just another fancy hipster term synonymous with “music nobody really understands,” the guys from local band Behind Sapphire were already well on their way toward becoming an established sound within their own style of experimental folk pop. The genre might be a mouthful and even slightly pretentious sounding, but it is precisely because of this hard-to-pigeon-hole form of music writing that made Behind Sapphire so intriguing and special. Perhaps my take on whether or not Behind Sapphire is worth listening to could be slightly biased due to my previous friendship with one of the band members, but those who know them can testify that they are truly talented and their music needs no sycophantic promotion.

The core members of Behind Sapphire are two friends who made acquaintances in high school and quickly found a common language in music, Matt Mazakowski — currently an SFU student — and Grant Cassell. Despite living in the suburbs and far away from the epicentre of the “indie scene,” Behind Sapphire’s fast-growing recognition within their own community eventually captured the attention of many throughout Vancouver and other parts of Canada. However, finding a sound hasn’t always been easy when a band is first starting out. The duo initially experimented with just about every type of music under the sun. But as their repertoire expanded and style evolved, other talents joined the band and transformed it into an experimental collaborative project. But, working with so many different musicians hasn’t always been easy. Even though Mazakowki and Cassell have been playing music together since high school, coming up with a polished and finalized aesthetic for Behind Sapphire at one point seemed like an everlasting struggle.

“There was three of us — me, Grant, and our good friend Matt Tomkinson, and we would write music every day,” Mazakowski told The Peak. “We started off playing punk rock to Thrice to like some screamo music. We’d done the whole spectrum. Then we did a 180 to The Beatles, so then we started playing a Beatles-esque kind of music. And then Matt’s friend introduced us to Jason Mraz . . . His album Mr. A-Z is really diverse and unique. He had a whole bunch of different genres, so the way we wrote music changed quite a bit. Then we settled on something we [were] comfortable with and had fun writing.”

Having crossed so many hurdles in their musical journey and learned so much about who they are as artists, the boys of Behind Sapphire’s self-titled debut album is a true reflection of the band’s diverse musical musings, undeniable talent, and hard work. Chock full of folk instrumentations and soul-moving vocal melodies, the album is a painting of experiences, faith, and nature. It begins with a short but sweet introductory track called “The Call of the Wild” followed by “Waiting by Satellites” which immediately sets the album in full motion as soon as the vivacious guitar arrangements pick up the pace. The songs flow seamlessly into one another and as one fades out and another chimes in, I find it harder and harder to believe that the band ever struggled with finding an identity. Aside from the soft and steady progressions and laid-back yet invigorating musical aesthetics, the most defining element of their music is Grant’s singing: his vocal deliveries exist beyond the confinement of any instrument backdrop.

“Back in grade nine in English class, we were talking about the ‘black times’ and slavery,” Cassell said. “Our teacher showed us a song by Billie Holiday called ‘Strange Fruit’. The song blew me away, I sat in class and I was looking at everyone like, ‘Are you guys idiots!?’ I’ve never heard anything like [it] . . . I went home right away and wrote lyrics to our first song. Ever since then, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald are the two that I draw from all the time. For them, there was no structure, they can just sit there and scat and just have so much fun. So the [improvisation], for me, are my vocals. At every show, I don’t have a way I do the vocals. I try to do something different every single time.”

Like all artists who find creative strength in their inspirations, Behind Sapphire draws much of their musical essence from their beliefs. This may be surprising to some, but the three current members of the band are proud Mormons. Yet, despite, their devout faith, the songs inspired by their beliefs are never preachy or alienating. To them, music acts as a medium to share their lives with those who care to listen. The sentiments within their songs are open to interpretation, and they create new experiences every time with different people. When asked if they are ever concerned about their religious beliefs skewing people’s view of their music, they responded with confidence — as long as people are supportive of who they are and understand what’s important to them, they are not worried.

“Our beliefs are who we are; it’s what we represent when we come out and play our shows, and when we play our music,” drummer Steven Ward said. “It’s really expressive, but it’s important to us.”

As admirable as their unwavering morals and outspokenness of their beliefs, the band’s diligent effort in establishing themselves as a positive example for youths is also commendable. Behind Sapphires ensures that whenever they play shows, they are always at all-ages venues.

There is so much more to Behind Sapphire than just their loveable genuineness and heart-warming music. It is without a doubt that the band has what it takes to make the grade and truly make an impression within the Canadian music scene. They are a new generation of young artists who have a clear vision of who they are and what they want to do. And these days, that is one of the hardest things to achieve for any bands breaking into the scene. - The Peak - SFU Newspaper

"Behind Sapphire's sound is seriously easygoing"

Vancouver band Behind Sapphire's sound is seriously easy going

by John Tanner
May 15, 2010

Try not to think of "easygoing" in the context of meditation, but rather in the context of cruising at 90km/h on a scenic cross-country highway. Behind Sapphire's self-titled album is the perfect summer music. Current members Matthew Mazankowski, Grant Cassell, Steven Ward, and Dylan Murley produce fun, catchy and intelligent output. What else can you want from your music?

Proper strings supplied by Isidora Nojkovic and Miho Matsuo on tracks such as 'Know It Alls' and 'As For Us' allude to The Beatles' 'She's Leaving Home' and 'Eleanor Rigby' at times while maintaining their originality.

Both 'Waiting By The Satellites' (embedded at the top of this article) and 'Christmas Nigh' (is that Old English?) have videos available for viewing on YouTube. My favourite moments from the album include a theatre of the mind plunge into water accompanied by guitar, which surfaces into a choral-driven interlude in 'Yellow Chalk Fish', as well as Grant Cassell's powerful vocal climaxes in 'Somebody Come Save This Sunshine' and 'Growing Tales' (audio embedded at the bottom of this article).

Actually, the guitar and percussion throughout the entire album are noteworthy. Behind Sapphire's music is also great because it doesn't always follow the standard 4/4 time signature everyone is so used to hearing in pop music. The album makes great use of horns and group singing so that listening is an adventure. If you catch Behind Sapphire live, singer Grant Cassell incorporates props into his performance to create cool, organic voice effects. A toy megaphone and metal vase to expertly aim his voice into the mic without being overly loud or feeding back. The group consists of true entertainers.

Behind Sapphire's liner notes are a work of art. This is a subtle way of providing the fan with more value by purchasing the physical product. I have great respect for this band as they have a fresh sound which literally puts a smile on your face. Behind Sapphire is great for any occasion and will especially strike a chord with fans of Walt Disney, The Beatles, John Mayer, Sufjan Stevens, Patrick Watson, Andrew Bird or St.Vincent.

Visit their MySpace and follow them on Twitter.

Do your mood a favour and give these guys a good listen. See Behind Sapphire perform live with Jasper Sloan Yip May 28th at Heritage Hall. - The Vancouver Observer - John Tanner

"Behind Sapphire CD Review"

May 22nd, 2010
Behind Sapphire; Behind Sapphire (Independent)

Rating 4 out of 5

On their self-titled debut, Vancouver indie popsters Behind Sapphire conjure the breezy, feel-good vibes of every children's TV show you can possibly imagine. Recalling the lighter side of Belle and Sebastian, the album oozes with pop goodness, flowing with a disarming ease that will have you grinning from ear to ear. The trio's live framework may be acoustic folk-pop but, on record, Behind Sapphire is buoyed by an exuberant use of strings,

bells, horns, glockenspiel, nature sounds and candy-sweet vocal harmonies, giving the music a whole new precious-but-never-cloying aura. Though the band's sunny disposition could make for a pop album that's over-the-top sweet, Behind Sapphire provides nary a gag moment here.

If you were looking for a soundtrack to your summer, Behind Sapphire may have just made it.

Francois Marchand, Vancouver Sun - Vancouver Sun - Francois Marchand

"Sapphire's In The Rough"


Grant Cassell can’t help but sing as he prepares to sit down for an interview at his friend’s house in North Delta.

In a distinctive tenor voice, Cassell belts out part of a song the public may be able to hear early next year during its release on CD.

Cassell and Matthew Mazankowski, the other half of Behind Sapphire, are surrounded by a phalanx of instruments and amplifiers in the living and dining rooms as they describe their genre.

“We call it a mixture of folk, pop and jazz,” says Mazankowski.

“And new age folk,” adds Cassell. “Because old folk (has) really generic melodies.”

Indeed, the energetic music, when in full-band form in the studio, is accompanied by violin, piano, alto and tenor sax, flute and accordion – manned by guest experts on the respective instruments.

Nominally a duo composed of acoustic guitarist/vocalist Mazankowski and vocalist Cassell (he plays the trombone and has recently picked up the trumpet and glockenspiel), Behind Sapphire also includes regular musicians for live gigs.

The rest of the full band includes guitarist/pianist Joseph Ward, drummer Steve Ward, bassist Eamonn Singleton and Victoria Symphony Orchestra violinist Jeremy Ferland.

The band alternates between two-man and full-band live performances in their regular gig scene: Lugz Coffee Lounge on Vancouver’s Main Street, the Backstage Lounge on Granville Island and locally at the Firehall Centre for the Arts in North Delta.

Cassell and Mazankowski have come a long way since they were booted out by security a few years ago for busking at Metrotown mall.

The two met six years ago at Seaquam Secondary School and within a few years, they were practising singing, playing and songwriting together, and collaborating with a variety of local musicians.

In the home stretch putting together their first, self-titled CD, the pair practises about twice a week while juggling their post-secondary educations – Cassell is working on his Child Youth Worker diploma at Surrey College while Mazankowski is at SFU Surrey taking arts courses.

Since they started playing together about five years ago, Mazankowski’s guitar skills have “improved tenfold,” while the xylophone-like glockenspiel has become the “weapon of choice” for Cassell.

Mention the instrument and Cassell laughs.

“We just played on Streaming Café and they interviewed us for an online segment of their show. The girl went on and on about the glockenspiel. Twenty minutes about the glockenspiel.”

The two have a solid understanding of their style as they play three recorded studio tracks from the CD, which will be released around spring break, 2010.

“Every one of our songs was written on guitar,” explains Mazankowski. “All the orchestral parts... either I wrote them or (violinist) Jeremy (Ferland) wrote them. We just add layers and layers of whatever we feel like."

The two explain that their two-layer style – that is, duo-acoustic or full-band pop – allows them more flexibility when playing live shows.

“Basically, we can provide two different shows and that’s what we’re gonna try to do once our CD comes out – a bit of acoustic... warmth and (then) a bit of energy to the performance,” says Mazankowski. “We love the energy that comes from playing with a band.

“It’s unique that our songs can be portrayed in two different aspects.”

Behind Sapphire will play on Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Firehall Centre for the Arts, 11489 84 Ave. For more information, visit
- North Delta & Surrey's Leader Newspaper



So, not sure if you have heard of these guys… but you should most def take some time and give them a listen. I had the pleasure of attending highschool with one of the members of Behind Sapphire and I have watched them grow and transform over the last couple of years. If you dig happy, soothing music… this is the band for you.

Behind Sapphire is a two piece acoustic band based out of Vancouver B.C. Their live performance consists of singer Grant Cassell and guitarist Matthew Mazankowski with occasional violinist Jeremy Ferland. They have been playing together for five years and are in the midst of finishing up their first full length album with Producer/Engineer Tom Dobrzanski (Hey Ocean!, Said The Whale, Lotus Child, We Are The City). These young, heartfelt and entertaining boys have influences ranging from old Disney Soundtracks and composer Yann Tiersen to The Beatles and Ella Fitzgerald. The duo have a friendly, uniquely melodic sound that hits home. Singer Grant Cassell's velvety voice is full of character and poise with distant reminders of Jason Mraz and Louis Armstrong. Furthermore, Matthew Mazankowski and Jeremy Ferland create encompassing instrumentation and orchestration to support and brighten their defining sound. Genre-wise, Behind Sapphire provides a wide range of genres from melodic pop to crooning jazz. In December, the duo released their first EP entitled "Lest Ye Stay," featuring four originals and an a cappella cover of "The First Nowell." In the past few months Behind Sapphire have been busy, performing many shows in the Vancouver area, sharing about their gentle music and kind hearted spirits. Recently, the boys appeared in Vancouver's Forty-Four Magazine (, who quoted their sound as "magical." You can check them out on myspace ( or hit up their homepage (

Anyways, check them out – they will make your heart feel happy and you will catch yourself humming their tunes for the rest of the day (if not longer). - How I Killed The Scene Blog


Behind Sapphire S/T LP - March 2010 - iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp
Diamonds EP - December 2011 - Bandcamp

Radio Airplay on CBC Radio 1, 2, 3, 100.5 The Peak & Canadian College Radio Stations.

"Oh My, What A Fine Day" and "Growing Tales" TV placements on Degrassi: The Next Generation
"Oh My, What A Fine Day" Music Video on Much Music



Even the adventurous Behind Sapphire couldn't have imagined the things that would happen to them this year. The boys and girl spent the first three months of 2011, on the road, touring the vast Canadian continent in support of their self-titled debut album. Their music video for "Oh My, What a Fine Day," staring actress Jodelle Ferland, hit semi-viral status on YouTube. The song was featured in hit TV series Degrassi, and the video was eventually picked up by Much Music. In May, Behind Sapphire was selected as one of BC's Top 20 artists in the Peak Performance Project.

After taking two months off to write a new record, the boys of Behind Sapphire embarked on a Western Canadian summer tour sporting blonde/white hair and overalls. The boys, following the tour, met and sang for the infamous Ellen Degeneres, who really enjoyed their music and stated "They're fantastic. I like 'em." The year also marked the bands first international tour to China. One of the highlights of the month long tour was the bands last show where they showcased for 100 million viewers on national TV.

Fresh from a whirlwind of incredible events, Behind Sapphire is set to release the "Diamonds EP." The EP is a collection of songs inspired by love, marriage and family. "Diamonds" is a true reflection of the bands live show; it's full of spontaneity, bouncy rhythms and affectionate melodies. The "Diamonds EP" is a precursor to the bands sophomore record, which will be released in early 2012.