Bayview’s break­out band

Ac­tor and mu­si­cian Stephen Joffe on his steady rise to fame

Bayview Post - - Life - by Ju­lia Mas­troianni

For Stephen Joffe, lead singer of Cana­dian band Birds of Bell­woods and ac­tor in up­com­ing minis­eries

Alias Grace, per­for­mance has al­ways been some­thing he couldn’t back away from.

“It just feels good, to put it in the sim­plest way. It’s just so much fun. It’s the best feel­ing in the world,” Joffe says. Ever since he au­di­tioned for his first movie at age five, Joffe has been con­stantly per­form­ing. He did mostly film un­til high school at Earl Haig Sec­ondary School, where he got the chance to do a Cana­dian Stage play.

“That’s where it started.… It stopped be­ing magic for me and started be­ing a sci­en­tific for­mula. I was able to quan­tify what made a good per­for­mance.”

From there, Joffe made the de­ci­sion to go to Na­tional The­atre School in Mon­treal and never looked back.

Af­ter a work­shop with Ju­dith Thomp­son, Joffe was brought in to au­di­tion for her play The

Crack­walker. The play ad­dressed heavy is­sues like ad­dic­tion and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, and Joffe de­scribes the play as “nec­es­sary.”

“I think that’s the re­spon­si­bil­ity of art, and it’s what I try to do with all my work — make those dark parts of our­selves and of hu­man­ity not so scary and some­thing that we can talk about and wit­ness,” he says.

Joffe says the play led him to his role in Alias Grace — writer and pro­ducer Sarah Pol­ley watched him on­stage and de­cided to bring him in to play Jamie Walsh.

Joffe says he was in­tim­i­dated at first on the set be­cause he was sur­rounded by so many ac­tors he had grown up re­spect­ing.

“But as soon as I got to know them, I re­al­ized we’re all just peo­ple, and we’re all try­ing to do the same thing. We’re all just try­ing to fig­ure out how to make a piece with mean­ing,” he says

Joffe has now turned his at­ten­tion to his band, and its roots go all the way back to his time in high school, where he be­came friends with two of his band­mates, Adrian Morn­ingstar and Kin­taro Akiyama. He says it was only when his friend con­vinced him to sing on­stage at a bar, while at the­atre school, that he re­al­ized per­form­ing mu­sic was some­thing he loved.

“Be­ing in that mo­ment, it’s a chem­i­cal thing. You have an au­di­ence full of peo­ple beam­ing that en­ergy to­ward you, say­ing, make this spe­cial. And you get to be the con­duit of that.”

Joffe isn’t ig­no­rant to the de­mands of the job, but he says he’s com­mit­ted to it now.

“The in­se­cu­rity, the in­con­sis­tency, the ca­reer built from the opin­ions of oth­ers … that’s the worst part.”

But he also ac­knowl­edges the im­por­tance of his job, say­ing, “One of the coolest things that we can do is present per­spec­tives to peo­ple that do not fit into their lives but present it in a way that cre­ates em­pa­thy.”

Birds of Bell­woods is go­ing on a three-week October tour across the East Coast and On­tario.

“The ca­reer built from the opin­ions of oth­ers … that’s the worst part.”

Joffe met two of his band­mates in high school

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