An Interview With LA Band BEGINNERS About Their Forthcoming EP Pleaser, Touring With Walk The Moon And More!
Beginners is an LA-based band. On September 16th, they will be releasing a new EP called “Pleaser” which is the follow-up to their acclaimed 2014 self-titled debut that garnered over 4 million Spotify streams, numerous TV syncs, and tour dates with Walk The Moon, Tove Lo, Wolf Alice and many others.
Pleaser is an ode to the thin line between love and hate featuring catchy indie-pop anthems with a rock ‘n roll vigor ranging from feel good to biting. Beginners, led by front-woman Samantha Barbera, deliver dark garage rock with a shimmery electronic pop veneer influenced by years of cutting their teeth in the LA punk scene. Their music and style rides a line between glossy and gritty, creating hooks that are at once magnetically catchy and unsettlingly honest.
Learn more about Beginners in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! How’s 2016 treating the band so far? How’s your summer been going? What were some of the highlights of 2015 for you all?
Thanks for having us! 2016 has largely been about prepping to release Pleaser, our upcoming record. We made a crazy video for our first single, “Gangsters or Lovers”, where I’m eating a popsicle with a man inside. It was nothing short of a miracle that we were able to pull off the special fx involved with the time and budget we had! Luckily we have some super talented friends who came in and helped make our vision come to life!
Can you talk about how Beginners was first formed? Why do you think you all work so well together? Where did you come up with your band name? What were some names that you were considering?
Beginners originally formed as a fun writing experiment between myself and Nick Ruth (writer/producer Jr Jr, Active Child, Elliphant, etc). We used to play in the indie electronic band, Malbec, together.
After a couple of years apart, Nick and I decided to try working together again. Within the first hour of writing together again, we knew we had tapped into something special. We were super excited to be collaborating again and in this different capacity and blazed through writing the first EP.
We struggled to find a name that felt right. We originally wanted to call it Virgin Killer, but eventually decided that wasn’t it. Ha. Then one night, while sitting in gridlock traffic on the 101, I had an epiphany with the name Beginners. Even though we had played music for years, this felt like the beginning of something important for us.
Around the time of the first record release I formed a full band to bring the songs to life live. And that’s been the band ever since!
Later this year, you will be releasing a new EP called “Pleaser.” What was the inspiration for these songs? How do you think you have grown as a band on this collection?
Half of these songs were fueled by a break up I was going through at the time. Cliché but true! The songs are me trying to sort through loving and hating someone so much simultaneously. And deciding which side of the fence to land on.
“What We Are” is about my childhood. When I was growing up my mom struggled financially and we were forced to live off of food stamps. Despite being poor in an otherwise wealthy town, she always instilled an impenetrable sense of confidence in me. I still have vivid memories of riding my second-hand bike around my neighborhood, wearing a giant gold chain from the 70s that I took from my mom’s jewelry box, feeling like I owned the streets.
“Making Love to the Dead” is about the soul-sucking nature of a music industry designed to churn out marketable hits. Authenticity isn’t always the most profitable and chasing success can make you resent your own art. Ian MacKaye summed it up well when he said, ‘I work so I don’t need to make rent through my songs. If you’re able to engage with music without needing it to provide for your welfare, then you’re not beholden to anyone.’
“Melting Into One” is about my teenage years and that feeling of getting high, falling in love and the endless feeling of possibility.
How do you go about putting a song together? Where does the inspiration come from?
I write songs differently every time but it usually begins with me being inspired by a guitar or keyboard part I’m playing or someone else is. From there I immediately start singing the first thing that comes to me. All in gibberish. Many times I record the whole song in gibberish first, including the harmonies! That way I’m able to really emote and sing melodies that reflect my emotions at the time. Usually the words sort of present themselves at that point, almost like an exorcism.
What’s it been like touring with Tove Lo, Walk The Moon and Wolf Alice? What do you think you’ve learned from the touring life?
It was incredible getting to play with all of these guys! Our tour with Walk The Moon was so inspiring. Those guys are so good at what they do, and they’re also just really great people and nice to be around. Which is kind of rare! They have the nicest fans in the world as well.
Who are some of your favorite artists? Who would you guys love to work with in the future?
We all come from a punk/hardcore background so a lot of our favorite artists are heavier like Fugazi, Metz, Black Flag etc. One artist I’d love to work with is Kanye West.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs? Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself and your music?
At the end of the day, I hope me pouring out my soul into these lyrics, helps other people heal and process the way it’s helped me. I’ve been lucky enough to meet fans who expressed that to me and it’s an incredible feeling and binds you to each other in a very unique and fulfilling way.