- Tue, 2011-03-15 11:26
Debut signings to Moshi Moshi imprint Tender Age, Seattle based duo Beat Connection release their debut mini-album Surf Noir on April 11th 2011. I Like Music caught up with the duo comprised of Reed and Jordan to chat about their influences, steering away from samples and why if you see them live, you should invite them out for a drink...
ILM: What can we expect from Surf Noir? How would you describe its sound and vibe?
Reed: Perception is like 90% of reality, but expect party jamz. We were trying to create a kind of Air France/Tough Alliance/Daft Punk fusion, not to say we weren't trying to be original, but we listen to a lot of different music and we tried to synthesize our favorite parts into something new. It's definitely got a late night sophisticated beach party vibe. We both started out as dj's so the way the tracks flow was pretty important to us. I guess its like a sci-fi beach rave balearic disco dj set.
Jordan: I'd probably say more laid back night beach party than real jamz. Something that you'd listen to while dressed in lobster-printed bermuda shorts while shyly eyeing a hot lady who is drinking a martini and giving you a stare. Jumping in a pool on the top of skyscraper in Lisbon and resurfacing to find that girl handing you a towel. Alcohol is involved, but not the main component, just an additive that elevates your senses.
ILM: Can you talk us through who is who in Beat Connection and how you came to be?
Reed: Beat Connection is Jordan and Reed, with a revolving cast of collaborators. For instance Surf Noir really couldn't have happened without help from our friend Tom Eddy who sings on In The Water and Silver Screen. Gotta give credit where credit is due, he is an amazing performer. But yeah for the most part Beat Connection is just Jordan and Reed. We started messing around making music and djing in summer of 2008 after both of us had done our time in shitty high school punk/classic rock bands (totally necessary step) and listening to equally bad electronic music (also necessary). It just kind of happened naturally I guess.
Jordan: We were in a completely nerdy digital art class where we had to code frequencies to make the weirdest sounds. We connected on our appreciation of 4/4 pop music and decided to try to nerd-ify pop music. We would just bounce ideas back and forth until a song was done. These days Jordan comes up with some fire and Reed helps him with arranging and lyrics, and when Reed has a track Jordan helps him finish it up, we listen to pretty similar music and keep things pretty democratic.
ILM: How are you feeling about becoming the debut signing to Tender Age? How have you found working with them so far?
Reed: I'm stoked, Moshi Moshi is an amazing label, and Tender Age is kind of like a new chapter in an already best-seller book. I feel super honored, and everyone at the label has been incredibly helpful, they never try and control anything, but they are still totally interested in making sure everything is the best it can be. It's great working with them BC <3 TA.
Jordan: Being on a label was pretty strange at first. I'm pretty used to just like writing a song, showing Reed and then decided whether or not to put it on the internet. Now we have to keep everything under wraps and have some pressures, which is kind of awesome also. Feels more important. Pretty stoked to be TA first release though, so excited to have a record label behind us for this release, we originally thought we were going to have to bug our parents/friends to invest in an album release ha! Also, couldn't really ask for better people to work with.
ILM: What's the music scene and culture like in Seatlle?
Reed: I like to think its pretty similar to anywhere else. There are little niches and scenes, the Northwest has an excellent music lineage, though there aren't that many bands like us, so that's exciting. With that in mind however, all of the different musical genres are pretty down for cross polination. We played a show with a folk band and a hip hop group, and the crowd loved it, people dig music out here. We also have this amazing radio station called KEXP that supports tons of emerging Northwest artists and indie musicians, they helped us out a ton when we were starting out, and its great to have that kind of established support out here.
Jordan: To be honest, it's kind of stagnating right now. Seattle has had some really awesome indie pop and indie rock bands of recent, but we haven't had a single since Sir Mix-A-Lot's I like Big Butts. Underground hip-hop is also pretty strong here, acts like Macklemoore and Sol are keeping it alive. Hopefully the electronic dance scene will keep growing, I've been noticing a huge jump in Dubstep, House, etc DJs coming through the area and everyone going wild. We also have Sasquatch Music Festival three hours away and that always has rad acts.
ILM: What music have you been listening to recently?
Reed: I have been listening to a lot of diverse music these days, one that I keep going back to, and which I just kind of discovered is Metro Area's 2001 self titled record, I'm pretty sure its their only full length, and it rocks, a lot of the new disco house stuff was pretty much prophesized on that album. It's got amazing production and is super funky. I've also been digging on Cut Copy's new album, and going back through LCD Soundsystem, since they will be calling it quits soon. Gotta give props to James Blake and Body language as well, totally different styles, but both excellent.
Jordan: I'm pretty ADD when it comes to bands. I really love finding new music but I also love finding albums from 4-10 years ago that I never gave a chance. The past week I've pretty much exclusively been listening to The Knife and Hot Chip which I've realized are strangely similar. Also, Painted Palms [who we're playing with in May (stoked)], Purity Ring and Korallreven have been my new shit. Oh also, Theophilus London, thanks iTunes shuffle.
ILM: Who are some of your biggest influences?
Reed: Well I love music. It's corny, and true. Some of my biggest influences as to the sound of the music that Beat Connection makes are: Cut Copy, Delorean, The Avalanches, The Tough Alliance, Daft Punk, Air France, Holy Ghost!, The Juan Maclean, LCD and Talking Heads.
Jordan: Bill Nye the Science Guy. No but, did you know he's from here? Also do you know who he is, don't know if that ever made it over to Europe. Really though, I have influences for different things. For production I look at MGMT, Mike Snow, Hot Chip and for song layout and composition I look at Arcade Fire, Yeasayer, Animal Collective and for overall qualities I look at Daft Punk, Cut Copy, LCD.
ILM: What's been your most recent musical discovery?
Reed: As I mentioned earlier the band Metro Area is doing it for me right now. I'm also pretty stoked on this lathe cutting process for making floppy records, hoping to pull something like that out of the bag soon. I think however the thing blowing my mind right now is Wave Tune, its a super effective and intuitive auto tuner that can be used to make vocals absolutely crazy, excited to work more with it.
Jordan: Trying to sing, ha! I feel like I'm a pretty poor singer and so I've been trying to practice and sing over our songs. It's very frustrating, honestly. I don't get mad very easily but it's like I honestly cannot reach notes I want to and get pissed off.
ILM: How would you describe the Beat Connection process of making music?
Jordan: It requires a lot of listening haha, we constantly bring up other songs as examples when we are tweaking things. Basically one of us gets a song anywhere from 10% - 90% done and then we work on things together to get it to a finished product. For us lyrics almost always come last, but an idea or a mood usually comes first. The thing that really makes the track, not necessarily the hook, but some element that makes the songs really come together, is usually something that crops up when we are working together.
ILM: Samples and sound recordings feature in your music. What do you like about those musical elements? How do you work with them?
Both: We are trying to move away from that a bit, just cause licensing and copyright issues have been a major headache for us. What I like about samples is the ability to allude to/refrence something else, to give the listener a little puzzle or cue to go out and search for something else. I feel like all art is in communication with other art, so sampling is a pretty direct way to get something across. There is also the pure aesthetic quality of certain recorded mediums, sampling from public domain videos gives us an opportunity to flip the meaning and context of a sample, which is just fun to do, and there is usually a certain sound that they have. Same with sampling from bad quality mp3's (which we are definitely moving away from haha) they have that hyper compressed characteristic which is nice to juxtapose with more clean sounding recordings.
ILM: What can we expect if we come to a Beat Connection show?
Reed: Party, but not rage! We had a bit of a hard time working out our live show in the beginning, but I think we have got it in a good spot now. We have 8 minute dance versions of Silver Screen and In The Water. Just trying to make it more dance-y, bring the good vibes, you know, help people make new friends, dance with them. If everyone at our shows ends up with someone else they did or did not know before the show, I would be extremely proud. We are working on bringing in a little DIY light show for the tour. It's gonna be awesome.
ILM: Out of all your experiences as Beat Connection so far, which have been some of the most memorable?
Reed: Our first show really stands out. We played at this place called The Ballard Mine, all of our friends came out to see us and it was a ton of fun, very calculated but care free. The venue let us practice in there the night before the show, they just kind of left us in there alone over night, and that was when we got the offer from Tender Age. So that was a whirlwind of fun during the beautiful part of summer. Probz one of my favorite memories ever.
Jordan: Definitely what Reed said about the night we practiced before our show and got the email from Toby about wanting to sign us. I couldn't stop smiling and saying 'Fuck Yeah!' Also, I remember sitting up in our really really overly-warm attic in the summer doing 10 hour days to get our album done by the deadline we set for ourselves. Every time I go up there I just feel kind of sweaty, I think it's kind of PTSD, but whatever.
ILM: What are your plans for 2011?
Reed: Keep it hood! We have some dates set up in the UK, and a few festivals lined up in the states, we are hoping to do a tour of the west coast or something. The EP is getting re-released in April and I am really excited for that. We would like to release a single late in the summer if everything is going as planned. And we are starting a record label to release our stuff on vinyl for our fellow nerds, so hopefully that goes well.
Jordan: Stop going to school (at least take a break) and do our shit. I'm so excited to just focus on things I want to: Beat Connection, fledgling record label, potentially another entrepreneurial venture and just maxing with our friends. Also the sun, that is my plan for 2011. That and I would like to end the year acting and looking more like Rick Ross, the boss. Respect.
ILM: Anything else we should know?
Reed: I just want to thank everyone for listening to our music and supporting us, as a music fan, it means a lot to me. Thanks.
Jordan: Yeah, that! Also, we really like people. If you're ever at one of our concerts, come up and talk to us and invite us to go to a bar afterwards or something. We're always looking to get into interesting situations with new people.