Bonne Chère
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Bonne Chère

Virginia Beach, VA | Established. Jan 01, 2015

Virginia Beach, VA
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Pop Alternative


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



"Members of band Bonne Chère determined to hit all the right notes"


Bandmates pound Red Bull and take the stage.

The origins of the ritual are fuzzy, but it’s a must nonetheless. In fact, if there are extra cans for whatever reason, they’re distributed to family or friends and must be consumed before the performance starts.

“We even have to all open it the same time,” said lead singer and guitarist Cameron Smith, 18. “It’s very silly and ceremonial.”

But Bonne Chère doesn’t mess around when it comes to Red Bull. The same goes for music.

Although most of the band’s members are still in their teens, fans said the group’s indie-infused act is polished musically and theatrically.

“What sets them apart is that they’re a bunch of kids .... very driven about wanting to show their music,” said guitarist Raytheon Dunn of the band Dear Adamus.

He described Bonne Chère’s sound as having a “cool, eclectic art vibe” with a lot of heart.

The band formed a couple years ago but traces its genesis back to 2013 when Smith and drummer Connor Harrington were snowed-in together. They started jamming, liked the feel, and decided to put together a group with friends. Most were in band at Frank W. Cox High School in Virginia Beach.

They called themselves Latin For Beginners, a jam band, and made every mistake a new band can make, said Smith, who is headed to Virginia Commonwealth University. “We were beginners,” said Harrington, 19, who is also going to VCU.

They regrouped in late March under a new name and refocused on jazz and alternative rock. They put out a 9-song CD in June and with what friends describe as Smith’s flair for marketing, have been playing shows all summer.

“It’s very cool to finally do the things we saw other bands doing,” he said.

The group is headlining The NorVa on Aug. 12.

“What makes them stand out to me is how they have a distinct vision for the band and they make that known when performing,” Amira Taylor, local talent coordinator for the Norfolk venue, said in an email. “From their album (to) what they wear on stage (and) how they present their band to others (especially via social media) is all very cohesive.”

The inspiration for both of the band’s names came from the foreign languages members were studying at the time: Latin, then French. Bonne chère, as the group uses it, means good cheer, although there are other translations, Smith said. “It’s really the context you use the words in.”

If members hadn’t been taking a foreign language, who knows what they would have called the band. AP European History for Beginners doesn’t have the same ring to it.

“The name (Bonne Chère) ... it suits them, because Cameron is like your artsy European style dude,” said Adam Ward, a former Cox classmate and a photographer. “They’re such a happy fun-sounding band. This is just the beginning for them.”

Bonne Chère doesn’t have a set lineup, so shows can have six-to-eight performers or more. Ten to 12 people have filtered in and out in the past six months, but there’s always some kind of horn section to go with the more standard rock instrumentality.

The song-writing process is mostly up to Smith and Harrington, though they run ideas by the group with the idea of an artists’ collective. The bandmates can be brutally frank with each other, but at the end of the day, they said the honesty creates a better product. “If you pretend (a) problem isn’t there and don’t address it, it’ll eat at the band,” said Connor Hall, 19, who is going to Tidewater Community College.

The eventual product is something they don’t want to abandon, even though all but one bandmate will soon be at college. Hall said when everything’s clicking, there’s a feeling of euphoria. “I’m obsessed with it,” said Anton El Helou, 19, who plays bass trombone and is headed to TCC.

So are people in the local rock scene.

“They put on a show,” said Jason Schneider of Handsome Roads Booking. “They don’t just get up and play a set and leave.”

He listens to a lot of bands and many fail to leave an impression. That’s not the case with Bonne Chère, he said.

“Everything about them sticks out 100 percent and that’s why I’m such a big fan.”

-written by Teri Winslow - The Virginian Pilot

"Spotlight on Local Music: Bonne Chère"

We got to know the band a little bit better by chatting with their very own Cameron Smith. We think you’ll dig em.

AltDaily: Totally digging your sound! For everyone new to the band, tell us about your sonic journey. What teachers, influences, or situations led to what Bonne Chère sounds like today?

Cameron: Our inspiration is mostly derived from our interests in Jazz and probably being in high school playing in the band helped us understand how to use our horn players, possibly, and how to handle the size that our band has become. Also our past as friends and musicians trying out different groups locally, most of us being previous members of Latin for Beginners; Connor Hall, our bassist, being in several groups of various genres, including Just Standing and Badnik.

I myself am a huge fan of bands that have that raw sound. The Strokes, Tama Impala, The Walkmen, Washed Out. No loops, no fake stuff, all just raw talent and also having a communal feeling to your group, I love having guest players and being able to direct our music dependent on instrumentation rather than the other way around.

-“Love Me Now” makes me want to fall in love and then play this song while we ride bikes to a beautiful place to make out. What inspired this song?

“Love Me Now” is inspired by me just being in Love and just the idea of spontaneous love. It’s pleading the individual sung it to just love the deliverer for what he/she is and that love is irrational but so is everything else so it makes sense.

You got the feeling pretty much dead on.

-Who are you listening to locally these days? National acts?

Locally, we love Dear Adamus. Severin even drummed on our album. We’ve played a ton with Friends with Monsters and a lot of local pop-punk acts, and I am upset because the Norva show is scheduled on Jackmoves’ last show with their horns, who really got me into music in a rock band style in the first place. Nationally, The Strokes are my favorite group whatsoever, but the 1975 has surprised us a lot this year and inspired a lot of our media and how we produced our album.

-I very much appreciate your live videos shot in downtown Norfolk. Do you think the music you’re creating is different than it would be if you were creating it elsewhere? If so, how?

It is different definitely because we are a very adaptive band and we feel it is smart to work your audience appropriately and kind of jive with them. Our music is also very inspired by the people around us, like the local bands specifically who really help to drive what we do. I think it’s always supposed to work that way though.

-“Take it away, I don’t need to change.” What is this speaking to? Do you feel pressure to conform, as a person, and/or as a musician?

Kind of working off the last question, our need to conform, or mine, seemed much more prevalent before we established ourselves as Bonne Chère or myself as less caring what people think of me or what I do. We feel our doing this has made us much more confident and enjoyable; recording and live performances the same.

...continues - Alt Daily

"Bonne Chère: Virginia Beach's Rising Star"

The greatest thing a new band can do is to be multifaceted- to lay stake in an ever expanding media soundscape by creating an experience so saturated in seemingly opposing genres, that it begs for dissection. That’s what makes Bonne Chère so exciting. Bonne Chère, which comes from a loose translation of the French phrase meaning ‘Good Cheer’, is a jazzy rock band of indeterminable size out of Virginia Beach, Virginia. Their new-wave, ‘The 1975’-esque vibe blended with big band jazz style brass creates an act easily transposable to the top charts but that can still remain unique enough not to be another carbon-copy indie rock group.

The band got their start three months ago, after a quick name and slight personnel change from a previous band called Latin for Beginners. Despite the band’s infancy, Bonne Chère is rapidly climbing the ranks of the Virginia music scene. Recently, I caught up with them before their gig in Newport News as openers for Joywave.

Sat inside the local Taste Unlimited, an hour away from where they went to high school, the only signs of nervousness that could be felt in these eight boys were their legs shaking discordantly underneath the table. The band’s frontman, Cameron Smith, whose onstage persona is one of textbook indie rock charisma and charm is seated at the end of the table. He’s a couple minutes deep into explaining their band’s ritual of chugging cans of Red Bull before they go onstage.

“None of us particularly like it,” he says, “but every single time we don’t do it we go onstage and just suck.” The rest of the band agrees. Today of all days is not the time to risk superstition.

“It’s worse now though," Trumpet player and fan-favorite Sam Cosenza says, "because before it was only four people in the band. Now that it’s like eight it’s starting to become an expensive tradition.”

Down at the stage, with their equipment stacked on top of Joywave’s obviously more expensive set up, it is a physical representation of the beauty of independent music. It shows, however briefly, a “standing on the shoulders of giants” idea that is often lost in mainstream media; of success being a collaborative venture with more popular groups creating opportunities for smaller ones.

Cameron Smith is no stranger to the collaborative nature of music. Having been in multiple bands prior to this, he sees Bonne Chère as a more refined version of all of his previous projects.

“The difference really is just our focus and importance we give to the band. We want to just push forward as best we can, but still keep the same communal atmosphere the band attempts to create.”

You can see Bonne Chère perform August 5th when they headline at the NorVa, at any of their other performance dates listed at , or stream their music free from Spotify.

...written by Kaitlin Owens - Odyssey Online

""Norfolk Has A Weird Scene": A Step Inside The Local Rock Community"

Cities like Philadelphia, Nashville, Chicago, Seattle, and Los Angeles are known for their music scenes, and especially their rock scenes. “Norfolk has a weird scene,” said Cameron Smith of Bonne Chere. “It’s not necessarily a popular scene, but definitely not vacant,” he says.While it is small, Smith said it is very creative, with musicians who are deeply devoted to their music and driven to create and perform.

Bonne Chere is one of today’s more well-known Norfolk groups. Cameron Smith, singer and guitarist, originally started the group as Latin for Beginners.

Smith said he has always been surrounded by music. As a child, his parents played music from groups like The Clash, The Stranglers, The English Beat, The Strokes, Peter Bjorn and John and Elvis Presley.

Since his middle school years, Smith has been in many different groups. He had a rock band in middle school; in high school, he played in a ska band called The Historians. Eventually, he, and what was then Latin for Beginners, decided to take their music to another level. This led to the creation of what is now Bonne Chere.

On guitar, Smith looks up to musicians like Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, Sam Halliday of Two Door Cinema Club, and The Edge of U2. With Bonne Chere, Smith credits groups like The Police, The Cure, The 1975, and other bands that are known for using effects such as delay, chorus, and reverberation as his big influences.

Bonne Chere also features a horn section, always including a trombone and some type of saxophone, and usually a trumpet. Smith started playing music as a saxophone player, and looks up to players like John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, Joshua Redman, and James Carter, and will occasionally trade out his guitar for a saxophone on stage.

Smith says he’s always found music as a way of making sense of things.

“Music is my way of making sense of things,” he said. “I try to write songs about what is happening in my life and when I’m working on music with other people it helps me to understand them or at least my relationship to them.”

Bonne Chere’s local audience has grown substantially in the past year or so, and fans seem to be drawn to the jazzy, glam, pastel pink and white aesthetic.

Smith now attends Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, and is focusing on saxophone under the jazz department. Through this, he has met musicians who also share his passion, and have collaborated with Smith on musical projects, and sometimes have played in the horn section. Because of his time in Richmond, he also has been able to tap into the music scene there. - The Virginian Pilot

"Rapid Fire Reviews 6/16"

How about something a bit more upbeat? Bonne Chère utilize a plethora of instruments to produce quality chill vibes on Good Cheer. Like walking through the streets and hearing alley ways of breathtaking instruments, “Antisocial” is the perfect encapsulation of their feeling. It’s okay to just be at your thoughts with the music, even when the rest of your thoughts are trying to force you down. There are bands like this making music that breathe at your natural pace. Across this LP the band takes time to let the instruments have their moments and make their part. It’s like jam/swing/pop. It’s a clever use of making syncopated melodies hit home through corruptibly contagious compositions. The vocals provide a strength to the music. “Love Me Now” is the perfect showing of this, with the guitars bouncing with the drums, a thumping bass keeping everything in line while the vocals ride their own melody through and through. Good Cheer is an impressive feat of creating simple songs a variety of ways. Seriously, going from “I Don’t Want To Stay Here” into “Sympathy” is a fucking stellar transition.

...written by Sean Gonzalez - The Alternative

"Artist to Watch: Bonne Chére"

Richmond is known for many things: its art, its history, but especially, its music. The city has grown into a hub for emerging artists. VCU itself has no short history of musical alum, including (but not limited to) members of GWAR, Dave Matthews Band, Car Seat Headrest, and solo artist Iron & Wine. This week I got the chance to sit down with one of Richmond’s newest artists, Cameron Smith of the band Bonne Chére.

Cameron is a sophomore in the jazz studies program at VCU and is majoring in performing arts with a focus in saxophone. His deep passion for his band is clear when he speaks. Cameron formed Bonne Chére three years ago during his senior year at Cox High School in Virginia Beach. As a native of Virginia Beach, not only have I heard of Bonne Chére before, I’ve become a huge fan of their music. Cameron has been writing songs for the band since its inception, garnering his musical inspiration from both popular artists and family members. According to Cameron, his biggest musical influence has been The Strokes, something that is clear when listening to any Bonne Chére song; however, he was also recently inspired by artists such as Thundercat and Tyler the Creator. His favorite song that he’s written for the band is “Do you miss me?”, one of the band’s latest tracks about love and loss.

For our audience that isn’t fluent in French, “Bonne Chére” is a term that translates to “Good Cheer.” Cameron and the band’s drummer, Connor Harrington, decided on the band name after first seeing the phrase in a French class. Immediately, Cameron liked “what it meant, how it sounded, and even how it looked”, noting that “it reflects my band’s persona very well.” Bonne Chére is one of those bands that makes you feel cool just listening to it. The band itself a mash of musical styles- a little Mile High Club here, a dash of The Strokes there. It breaks the mold of any particular genre, blending many musical styles to create its own unique sound. Bonne Chére’s key component is its inclusion of brass instruments. The band utilizes instruments like trombones and saxophones in many of their songs, creating catchy riffs that are bound to get stuck in your head. Cameron credits his idea for a brass section to his earlier musical endeavors, citing his time as a saxophone player in a band called “The Historians."

Each Bonne Chére concert is an exceptional experience. Pastel lighting, balloons, and even beach rafts are common components of the band’s concerts. The band’s “glam-pop” aesthetic is something that Cameron has worked hard on; he aims to create “an experience instead of just a band people can come see” with each of his creative decisions. The band itself is unique as well. Bonne Chére doesn’t have a set group of core members; instead, Cameron describes it as more of a collective, with himself acting as a director of sorts. “The musicians are always changing and many return as subs or just to sit in. The only constant we have are the horn players,” Cameron told me. “Currently our band is completely comprised of VCU students, most in some way affiliated with the music program.” The band’s collective feel is represented in their music as well. They aren’t a tired group of band members playing the same rehearsed song over and over again. Instead, Bonne Chére’s alternating members seem to make their music come to life each time that they play.
Bonne Chére’s most recent EP, “So Strange”, came out earlier this year. In this album, the band seems to be making a transition from their earlier works, diversifying their sound and style. Currently, Cameron Smith has been playing for a variety of different groups in the Richmond area such as The Ledgesleepers and a new group formed around singer-songwriter Abby Huston, a VCUarts sculpture major. In the meantime, Bonne Chére has been working on new music with their producer, Billy Pavlone.

So, what’s next in the band’s future? The band seems to be seeking to expand their sound even further, seeking to include string instruments in their future work, and even potentially including Rap and R&B styles as well. “Definitely be on the lookout”, Cameron Smith said, with a hint of a smile. Until then, music-lovers that want to check out the band can listen to their most recent work on Spotify.

-written by Lindsay Cunningham - Le Monde

"In Photos: LAVA PRESENTS at Toast Norfolk. Bonne Chère, Minor Poet, Spooky Cool, & Arms Bizarre."

Bonne Chère rounded out the evening, effortlessly merging a top notch horn section with a singer/songwriter sensibility that serves them well. - The Antonym


Good Cheer (2016)

Antisocial Remix - Feeka (2016)

So Strange EP (2017)



Bonne Chère (french - translates to "Good Cheer") is a project described as the brain child of frontman Cameron Smith (19).

The bands most recent release So Strange produced by Billy Pavone (Refuge Recording - Asobi Seksu) and mastered by Joe Leporta (GRAMMY for Blackstar - David Bowie) featuring 3 singles, "Do You Miss Me?" recently being featured on spotify's fresh finds : six strings playlist, were written after the band relocated its base to Richmond, VA and pulled members from the VCU JAZZ program. This year, the band has participated in their biggest shows yet opening for Local Natives and Glass Animals and headlining their own shows at The National and The NorVa and Lava Festival alongside Suburban Living and Screaming Females.

Beginning in High School in Virginia Beach, formerly known as Latin For Beginners, were featured as a project in local storage units and small venues until the bands reinvention in the summer of 2016, changing their name, aesthetic, and adopting a new pseudo jazz-pop instrumentation and sound on their semi self titled, debut album Good Cheer recorded at Old Dominion University with the help of Alex Morton. After this release that summer, the band was featured at multiple events including headlining Blue Moon Fest, opening for Joywave, and having their first headline show at The NorVa.

Band Members