Posted On 14 Dec 2018
Get to know the multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter/producer Beard Bates! On November 9th, this established musician and abstract artist released his new album “The World Is Blown.”
Beard Bates is a wearer of many hats. Throughout his illustrious career he has had the title of singer, songwriter, producer, abstract painter, designer and much more. Musically, he leaves no genre untouched with elements of rock, roots, EDM, pop and experimental in his catalog. Born in Virginia, now residing in LA, Beard Bates begin writing songs around age nine when he learned basic guitar chords on a tiny guitar his grandfather, a consummate craftsman, made for him. Since high school he has played with various bands (JilFlirter, The Virginia City Revival), released dozens of albums and made a name for himself as a producer – in addition to studying literature, writing novels and training to be an art curator at The London Consortium. Over the past few years, Beard has not been playing or putting out much “popular” music, mainly because he has been focusing on ambient recordings, nature field recording, and creating much abstract art.
Connect With Beard Bates Here:
Learn more about Beard Bates in the following All Access interview:
1.) Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you now? Is there music playing in the background?
Sure, thanks for the opportunity! This interview finds me starring at a computer; I’m editing a record of white noise with forest sounds. So that’s what is playing in the background.
2.) Now that 2018 is wrapping up, how do you think 2018 has treated you and your career? What has been one goal that you have had this year and how close are you to reaching it? Or did you already reach it?
2018 has been a good year. I released lots of singles and videos from my recent album that came out earlier in November, and the response has been really great….I’m thrilled, and I’ve had fun along the way. One goal I’ve had for this particular record was to land Spotify-branded Indie playlist spots.This hasn’t happened yet, but that’s what the future is for I reckon.
3.) Growing up, how important was music to you? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be a musician? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?
I was always surrounded by music. My dad forever had music playing, whether in the house, car, or on the boomboxes he always had around. I remember early on–like pre-kindergarten–I momentarily thought it was a stupid idea to be a rockstar or musician, despite that I had earlier asked my grandad to build me a guitar when I was about 4. But then things changed; a friend of my dad’s was a guitarist, and I was mesmerized by his electric guitars. I told my parents I wanted to play and they bought me a really cheap junior acoustic and then I began lessons when I was in second grade. When I was in about 8th grade I essentially saw the light and realized I’d be doing this for a long time–there was no way for me not to follow the music/art. My guitar teacher taught out of the office area of a small recording studio, and one day he was running late and I snuck into the empty recording studio. There as I looked around the control room I got the strangest and most powerful deja vu / haunting feeling I’ve probably ever had–it was as if I had suddenly come face to face with my fate. So no, it was not a difficult decision to make. I just continued on.
4.) What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
Well the biggest surprise I guess has been the supernatural component that surrounds the creation and performance of music. This may sound strange, but when I would write songs late at night at my parent’s house in Virginia, it was common that all of the sudden I had to stop playing because I’d realize there was something in the room, that I had essentially called something to me, as if my act of creating was a beakon or lighthouse for the unseen. This supernatural component has manifested itself in many other ways, like out of body travel etc…but I won’t go into that. Music is magic, or at least it can be, and you have to be cognisant of that power.
5.) How do you think you and your music have been influenced by your hometown and where you live today?
My hometown of Williamsburg, Virginia really had no music scene and few places to play; it affected my music mostly insofar as it forced my brother Carter and myself to really just trust our instincts and create what came to us naturally as kids. So I guess it helped us be unique. Living in Los Angeles has affected my music as well; yet I will say since my form of songwriting is mostly a stream of consciousness poetic-type of writing, I think I’d write the same no matter the locale. Though, then again, you cannot help but be affected by your surroundings. Hmm…it looks like I need to investigate this more:).
6.) Generally how do you go about writing all your music? Do you follow the same process for all of your songs?
As I mentioned above: my form of songwriting is really a stream of consciousness / psuedo-channelling endeavor. I sit down and start playing and singing without thinking about much. If everything is working then a song or two will pop out. I’m a real “one-take” kind of guy. I believe that the spontaneous moments of creation hold the most power, and anytime I have to work on anything too long I never end up liking it. I like to keep things raw and a bit rough around the edges, like life. Even when I’m producing intricate electronic music, I prefer the lyrics and vocals to be spontaneous and unrehearsed.
7.) What did it feel like recently putting out your newest album, “The World Is Blown”? How did you celebrate the release? How would you describe the approach the process you took to make this album? How was it different then the making of your previous ones?
It was great releasing “The World is Blown.” This record is a collection of various tracks from a large span of years. These were all tracks I liked but had never released: some of the songs are from collaborations I did with different bands/acts, and genre-wise the record is very divergent, as I move in and out of being interested and experimenting with styles. I really trust the creative process and whatever comes out, no matter the genre. I celebrated this release by staying in bed–honestly, I don’t like putting out records that much…and releasing this one hit me like I was giving birth, and frankly I also don’t like attention all that much. I like creating and I cannot help but create, but I loathe self-promoting and also the idea of selling myself as an artist has always been a semi-cheesy one. However, all this moping aside, I will be “celebrating” the record when we begin playing / touring to support it in 2019.
8.) While it’s difficult, can you pick out a few of your faves on this album? How did they come to be on this collection? What was the inspiration for them?
I guess if I had to choose my favorite track would be “Lions, Sheep, Birds,” as it is a song I recorded last year after almost falling off of a cliff…the song also deals with the death of my mother and so it’s close to my heart. I move through phases where I like different tracks, but at the moment I’m liking “Weasel Sleeping,” which was recorded with The Real Spooky Wilson and is a song that uses lots of old western slang to tell a western fable of sorts. “The World is Blown” is a favorite: it was a collaboration with artist Jonny Polonsky and it ruminates on 1.) the difficulties of being in a world that will not live up to the expectations of one’s dreams, yet 2.) the reality that the world is meant to be blown like a flute…i.e. in order to get music out of it life needs to be played. “Rodeo Man” is another favorite at the moment; it’s sort of a glitch reggae track that tells the story of a prophet who was hanged and burned but wouldn’t die, and in that moment of realization the ravenous crowd all psychically disintegrates and reality is recomposed for the better…it’s really a song about good winning over, and that in the End you can’t win via evil means.
9.) I’d love to know more about learning to be an art curator at the London Consortium. How would you say that this role has influenced your music?
Well I was nominated for the Rhodes Scholarship out of college, and so I was planning on going to Oxford for graduate studies. However, in researching I learned of a contemporary-art focused interdisciplinary program in London that I was much more into (as I am also a visual artist)–they wanted me and when the Rhodes committee gave me the boot, I happily joined The London Consortium. It was a very unique and prestigious program: we were taught at TATE Modern, The British Film Institute, ICA, Architectural Association, and it was all under the umbrella of the University of London. If I would have stayed in London I most likely would have remained in the contemporary art world, yet I moved back to the US and got back into music. I’d say my history of having a background in critical theory, philosophy, and an understanding of the intricacies of aesthetics and art definitely gave my creative engine more breadth…it also helped me feel more at home with myself as an artist. I would classify myself as an abstract artist across the board, and my schooling has enabled me to be at home with being me, defending my position(s) if need be, and being a curator of my own work.
10.) What has it been like working on your ambient recordings, nature field recording and creative abstract art? What made you decide to branch out and record “The World is Blown”?
I have gotten into making ambient music over the past handful of years–it just has seemed to resonate with me. I founded a record label that puts out such music, and it’s been a very zen and ascetic kind of space to be in. Also I have been painting a good deal for a body of abstract paintings I’ve been working on–that show will take place in Spring 2019. However, I’m still foremost a songwriter and singer, and I put out “The World is Blown” because I’ve been meaning to get back to me as an artist…..I also have so many songs I plan to record for the next record, which will be more band-focused. I’m excited.
11.) Since the beginning of music, people have turned to it for support and as an escape from their realities. How do you want your music received and appreciated?
Music is certainly cathartic and can help and provide people with emotional support in so many areas of life; sometimes you feel great and you find a happy song resonates just right, and other times you’re down, or at a difficult juncture, and find listening to a sad or introspective track makes you feel that you are not alone in your feelings. Life is a roller coaster of emotions and music is representative of that. I present my music, but I would not want to specify how the art is meant to affect someone…I would rather my work be tiny unique mirrors for one to approach singularly so he or she can see elements of themselves in the reflection; in essence, art is in the eye of the beholder, and the effect of art is particular to he or she beholding the art. I’d love for my music to be appreciated for its poetic elements, its mysterious and enigmatic components, and for certain its ability to serve as something personally-meaningful for the listener.
12.) What has it been like keeping up with your social media accounts and all of the different platforms? Is it hard to stay up to date on it all? What would you say is your favorite way to connect with your fans now?
It is difficult to keep all your social accounts in sync and updated. You have to for sure keep up on it, and I try to post every review and feature…so that can be quite time consuming. But I enjoy connecting with fans where ever, but I’d say Instagram is my favorite at the moment, as it feels the most personal.
13.) Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
My inspiration comes from so many places, as I’m always being impressed and influenced by different artists. I’ve always been a real fan of those who blaze their own trails with little respect to or worry about the confines of the industry, genre, etc. I’ve also always been a big fan of technical virtuosos and musicians with great technique. Sometimes these two traits coincide and other times they don’t, but regardless I’m a fan of both. Some of my favorite musicians are Mozart, The Rolling Stones, Leonard Cohen, Sly and The Family Stone, Soundgarden, Animal Collective, Brian Eno, Waylon Jennings, MGMT, John Cage, Herbie Hancock, David Bowie, The Stooges, Johnny Cash, Peter Tosh, Parliament, Led Zeppelin, DIO, Mark Lanegan, and the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack. Who would I love to work with: a Bob Dylan, Brian Eno and Beard Bates collaboration produced by David Lynch….that’s got a good ring to it.
14.) If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island forever, what musical item would you take with you and why?
I would take my old classical guitar: it’s my baby, and I also wouldn’t be able to make it. But I would try to carve a 6 hole native flute from driftwood–I love native flute.
15.) If your music was going to be featured on any TV show that is currently on right now, which would you love it to be on? Or if you prefer, what is a movie that you love that you wish your music was featured in?
I have had music previously in some pretty bad movies…there was some recent slasher-nun horror film I had a track in–I can’t even remember the name. But I’d love to step up my licensing game. You know, there’s some amazing scripted TV out there now, but I don’t watch any of it. Please send me recommendations of what to watch and then I’ll get back to you!….Movie wise: I’d love to have some music in a David Lynch film.
16.) Do you have any tour dates you would like to tell our readers about? How will you be spending your winter?
I’m currently putting a band together and tour-dates for 2019 are being sorted. First I will be playing around Los Angeles however in order to dust the cobwebs off. This winter: I’m working on my record label work, getting the live show together, and going camping in between.
17.) At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music? I’d like to know more about how you want your music to be timeless?
Ideally I’d like for fans to find an uncommon and deep inspiration in my music/art. If fans are mildly confused please embrace any confusion and try to experience the inspiration that created the work. To me my creative process is a mystical one and I believe much of my music can be mystically powerful. I’d like for people to feel something possibly transcendent, for that is what I feel.
18.) Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
I’d like to thank whoever might be reading this! Thank you All Access as well for the opportunity!