“This Vancouver sextet exudes the confidence, musical chops and invention required to be taken seriously as rising stars of the “new” prog-rock scene… right in the tasty spot between bombast and brilliance…” -Stuart Derdeyn, The Vancouver Sun, on human/kind

University of British Columbia School of Music, Vancouver, January 2006. A renegade composition student and a raven-haired violinist sit across from each other in a lecture hall, glancing at each other occasionally and smiling.  Awe-struck by her talent, the composer writes furiously for the violinist, they rally their music school friends, and The Living is born. Their goal: to bridge the gap between Western art music and popular styles, mixing rock instrumentation with classical instruments.

Mike Bell

Lead Vocals, Guitar, & Keyboards

Elyse Jacobson

Violin, Backing Vocals

John Kastelic

Viola, Backing Vocals

Doug Gorkoff


David Spidel

Bass, Backing Vocals

Samuel Cartwright


Mike Bell and Elyse Jacobson have guided this project through several personnel changes on a journey full of twists and turns and timbral experiments. After releasing their critically-acclaimed Sin and Bedd Tracks EPs in 2007 and 2009, the pair packed up and moved to Berlin, Germany, re-forming the band with some of the city’s finest musicians. However, they eventually felt Vancouver calling them home, and decided to return.

Blending string trio (violin, viola, and cello) and rock trio (vocals/guitar/keys, bass, and drums) with powerhouse Vancouver musicians, The Living released their first full-length album, The Jungle is Dark but Full of Diamonds in 2012.  Each carefully-crafted song fuses classical chamber music sounds with genres such as rock, metal, funk, world music, and jazz, while remaining surprisingly catchy and accessible.

Performance highlights for The Living include opening for Bif Naked at the Rickshaw Theatre, and playing to a crowd of 3,000 at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, backed by the 40-person Plastic Acid Orchestra. In 2016 the group recorded their most recent album, human/kind at Armoury Studios in Vancouver, and released it in 2017 with the assistance of FACTOR.

In 2023, The Living received a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to reunite as the bigger, bolder, “The Living Orchestra”, featuring The Black Dog String Quartet, funk rock trio, and brass. They are currently working on their most epic album yet, “A Brief History From The Future”, with producer Garth Richardson (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against The Machine), scheduled for release in 2024.


“Imagine Muse without the bombastic histrionics … Think Mr Bungle with less off-the-wallery … Picture all of that crashing together with lashings of grinning energy and skillfully honed talent and you’ll be right in the middle of… [The Jungle Is Dark But Full Of Diamonds]…” -Steven Reid, Fireworks Magazine

“This is progressive rock – at least in the true, progressing forward, sense of the word. The music here is incredibly dynamic and it’s amazing how many changes they put into these tracks – and yet keep it cohesive. … [Bedd Tracks] is killer.” -Gary Hill, Music Street Journal