An Interview With The Folk Duo, BEAT ROOT REVIVAL on their Newest Album, Biggest Inspirations and More!
Posted On 23 Jun 2016
Ben Jones and Andrea Magee, the folk duo known as Beat Root Revival released their self-titled album this May through New Orleans based label Toulouse Records (distributed by Sony/RED). They are the label’s first signing and the album, which was recorded at Mesa Recording Studios in Austin, TX and produced by Jones (except “Fire” which was co-produced by Magee), will be its debut release.
Both multi-instrumentalists, Jones, who is from England, plays almost all of the instruments on the album including guitar, bass, piano, drums, bass harmonica, melodica, Hammond organ, ukulele, banjo and mandolin while Magee, who’s style is deeply rooted in her Irish heritage, plays guitar, bodhran, Irish whistles and flute.
Magee’s exposure to music came at an early age. “When I was ten, I started playing the flute, and began playing in bars in Ireland with my sister and my dad. A lot of my early years in music were in either classical or traditional Irish music.” She studied and received an honors degree in music, then became a music teacher in charge of the music department in a high school. For Jones, “I got started being interested in music relatively late,” he says. “I was about twelve.” His father was a guiding influence playing him music from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Neil Young. By his teenage years, he was able to put all of those influences together and start his own band.
Magee’s fate changed in 2013 when she wowed Sharon Osborne, Nicole Scherzinger and the other judges on X Factor UK with her original song, “Any Minute Now” during her audition making it through to the next round. After her experience with X Factor and all of the attention she garnered from it, Magee moved to Kent, England where she began teaching again while moonlighting on the local music scene. After opening up for Jones’ band, they found their chemistry undeniable. “We wound up sharing each other’s’ songs, and we were both fascinated by the fact that we were both pushing our own material. And we used this to drive each other forward,” says Magee.
After word of mouth spread about their live performances the duo decided to take a chance and see what musical adventures they could find in America. In 2014, they traveled to Austin, TX to their first SXSW where they experienced massive culture shock. “We were just a little bit shell-shocked when we walked up and down Sixth Street,” says Magee. “We were so much in awe, and thought it was incredible. We were trying to get gigs, and we thought it was going to be impossible.”
But thanks to the hospitality of a local taxi driver who was willing to show them some of the musical hotspots, they made some valuable connections, one of which led to a big performance. “We ended up talking to the owner of one of the clubs who asked us if we would be interested in opening for Dale Watson,” says Magee. “So, that was our introduction to Austin. He and his band were so taken with our sound that they asked us to come to the Continental to open for him – on our very first trip!”
The duo decided to stay in Austin where they continue to play in and around the local music scene. They’ve played at at such notable venues as the historic Ryman Auditorium, The Bluebird Café, The Continental Club and The Basement in addition to making frequent trips to Nashville and other cities. With each show they play, their fan base continues to grow charming audiences their impassioned concerts.
Learn more about Beat Root Revival in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! How’s 2016 treating you so far?
Andrea- It’s been great, a real adventure. We are so excited to get our album out and to see what happens!
How’s your summer been going?
Andrea- All good, being from the UK and Ireland it usually feels like summer all round for us with USA weather so we are happy to share in the sunshine!
What were some of the highlights of 2015 for you and your music?
Andrea- Creating and completing our album at Mesa Recording Studios in Austin and meeting more wonderful people!
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
Andrea – I always wanted to be a performer. I started by playing/learning the classical flute in primary school and playing Bodhran and singing in my family folk band. My earliest musical memory is probably going crazy learning scales on my flute for an exam! (Laughter)
Ben – Yes. I always wanted to be a musician. My earliest musical memory (I think I was 4) was seeing Jackie Wilson performing “Reet Petite.”
How was Beat Boot Revival first formed?
Andrea- We went on the road 2 years ago to create opportunities for our music in the USA as two separate acts and it very quickly grew together. We then started playing together on each other’s shows and on each other’s songs and realized how much we enjoying singing together. And it all moved forward from there.
How did you first come up with the name?
Andrea – Beat Root revival was born in Roswell, NM…. We had been playing together and everyone kept asking what we where called. So we played around with a few ideas and really wanted something that sounded like our sound. We like to explain it like this – ‘We have got the BEAT and are ROOTed in old music, and the Revival is our journey.’
Why do you think that you work so well together?
Andrea – We both share a passion for creating music. Our focus and vision is the same. Our backgrounds may differ, Ben is more rock and roll/blues and I am a bit more folky but we both love what each other brings to the sound, so it fits.
What was it like being the first band to sign with the New Orleans-based label, Toulouse Records?
Andrea – Exciting! Being a first at anything is always a little scary and exciting. We love New Orleans and the rich heritage and music that lives there.
Why do you think they are right for your music right now?
Ben – They believe in us!
Andrea, can you talk about your experience on X-Factor UK? What was it like performing “Any Minute Now” on it? If given the chance, would you do it all over again?
Andrea – The X Factor was a great learning experience for me. It was a rollercoaster ride that I am glad I took but would not get on again. I got invited into the show and I saw it as an opportunity to get some exposure for my music. I didn’t expect to get as far along in the show as I did because I knew my focus was always on writing my own music.
Your SXSW experience in 2014 sounds like it might have been the catalyst to a big part of your music career. Can you elaborate on that particular trip?
Andrea- We are so grateful at the reception and kindness Austin, Texas gave us in our first visit. Yes, it was during SXSW (not intentional) but we got so lucky that we got to get a feel for the real Austin not just the SXSW part. It all came from a local taxi driver picking us up off 6th street and showing us the real gems of Austin. Our first stop being Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon and this lead to us connecting with our now USA family and some of our greatest friends. And that has been invaluable to our journey so far!
How’s your current tour been going with Enation?
Andrea- Being on the road with Enation has been Incredible! Not only are they greatly talented but they are amazing guys too! We are so grateful for the chance to share in their audience and fan base.
Any favorite venues or crowds yet?
Andrea- To be honest they have all been so warm and given us a great reception. I think to date Indianapolis has been the rowdiest 🙂 which always helps raise our energy too!
Where do you get the inspiration for your music?
Andrea – Mostly life and all my experiences so far. I love the sound of real instruments and driving rhythms so as long as we stay true to that I am happy!
Ben – The world around me
How do you go about writing a song together from beginning to end?
Andrea – we tend to write separately, Every song is different. Some come quickly and can be finished in about 30mins from picking up the guitar. Others take a bit for time and thought. I come up with a lot of initial ideas on planes and then develop them from there (using voice memo in my phone).
Ben – I feel inspired, I pick up the guitar and if it feels good it writes itself.
Who are some of your favorite artists?
Andrea – Van Morrison, Paul Brady, Bill Withers, Tina Turner, Mary Black, Ray Lamontagne, Chris Stapleton, Vince Gill
Ben – The Beatles, The Beach boys, Bob Dylan, Neil Young , The Who, Tom Waits
Who would you love to work with one day?
Andrea – Any of above
Ben – I would like to work with Tom Waits.
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message for your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
Andrea – Honesty and truth. If any of our songs connect to a listener on an emotional level I feel the song has served its purpose.
Ben- I just hope they like it.