INTERVIEW WITH BEACH SEASON
photo credit: module creative (bryan dellosa, kyle bonville)
Making waves through the electronic youth crowd, Beach Season recently hit up Toronto to perform at the Drake Hotel. From a humble basement studio; Sam Avant (a.k.a Beach Season), a young producer/singer from Calgary, AB began recording ambient pop/hip-hop songs with long-time friend Simon Blitzer (a.k.a. Monski). Together they created a fusion unheard of in the local Calgary scene.
This young duo have carved a sound of ambient dreamy beats, intertwined with refreshingly authentic vocals, that will take you on an irresistible sonic daydream.
Their genre ‘Booty Wave’ ignited all the right feels during the concert. "Midnight Seasons" and "Tribes" were just two of the most anticipated songs of the night and left the crowd asking for more. Their recent album Libra Year – EP is now out!
Luckily, I had a chance to chat with Sam Avant from the band.
photo credit: module creative (bryan dellosa, kyle bonville)
Mehwish: Who would you want to collaborate with?
Sam: Dream collaboration or realistically speaking.
Sam: with Jamie XX. He has been such a big influence on me. Mura Masa, his style is awesome, even his production style is very unique. As for vocalists I would say Young Thug, I would love to make a track with him, he is so versatile; he would take us up a notch with creativity. All the guys from OVO, especially Party Next Door and Majid Jordan are two of my favourites.
Me: What is your creative process?
Simon and I, we’ve worked together for years and years, we’ve never made music apart. How it all starts is like Simon and I are somewhat reclusive… we’ll come with an idea on our own, on our laptops while we lounge in our home or in bed and then we’ll bring things together. If I can’t get the drums right, I’ll contact him and if he can’t find the right chords he will come to me, so we basically just bounce off each other like that. It’s honestly super simple, it doesn’t take us much time to create something, we can create a beat pretty quickly but finalizing the song can sometime take more time.
We don’t use a lot of other producers or writers; it’s just us and no restraints. We just let ourselves put something together as it comes up in our minds and then work off of that.
Mehwish: You said finalizing can take some time. How lengthy is that process?
As far as EP goes, a lot of the songs are from like two years ago. Pink room took around 6 months to make but that’s because it went through a lot of transformation. In general we try to get it produced in a month. We get bored of our stuff really quickly and change our minds too much, that’s usually why it takes long.
Mehwish: What you would you be doing if not music? Oh but please don’t leave music.
Sam: I ask myself this question all the time, architecture or something in the design world.
Mehwish: GET OUTT!! That’s awesome. Okay, I’m more curious about how ‘BootyWave’ came about.
Sam: hahaha, Booty Wave, it’s kind of funny actually; it came about in the early days when we were putting our stuff on Sound Cloud. We had to choose a genre and we saw Booty Wave and just randomly selected it mostly because it sounded fun. But then people kept asking what it was and we just rolled with it. It is our branding staple now and is also just an easy label.
Mehwish: What’s your all-time favourite song?
Sam: Hold on, I have to take a dig at my record collection. Hmm…I would say, probably “D’angelo – cruisin” is without a doubt one of my favourite. Oooo “Curtis Mayfield – P.S I Love You”, that’s also one of my number one. Basically, if you are ever having a bad day these two songs are a stellar bad day songs.
Mehwish: I was at your concert recently, did you enjoy Toronto?
Sam: Oh yeah we love Toronto, it’s a second home, it feels like another Calgary.
Mehwish: I love the cover art, who did it for you?
Sam: Simon does a lot of photo work, he does paint and Photoshop. So he came up with the idea, it was his art project. We painted a section of our basement entirely pink and then smoked it out, got textured clothing for Tommy who is a model and we just took a lot of photos. It was super cool and textural, plus that pinky beige colour is completely in right now so we went ahead with it. Those water photos are all photos taken by Simon. Henry our friend put all of our art work together, he put some typography on it and that’s it, it was that easy!
Mehwish: So, what’s your favorite thing to do when you aren’t writing/producing/playing etc?
Sam: I’ve been playing way too much Xbox lately. All of our roommates, we all work like downtown in the restaurant industry. So we are all spoiled that way, we just go out eating and drinking for the most part. I love eating!! Our friend is a sommelier; he brings the best of the best wine, so we have a lot of wine and charcuterie nights as well.
Mehwish: You write all of your own music; where do you draw inspiration from when you write songs?
Sam: Usually what sparks an idea is…okay so I love Tumblr, I follow all these cool design blogs. Wild life and scenery blogs and if I see a certain image or place, sounds just come to mind.
Mehwish: So, visual stimulation? You know that’s a kind of genius.
Sam: hahaha, really? I don’t know... I wouldn’t call it genius but yes, I capture sounds through visuals. I’m mostly just trying to put a picture together. So when I hear a certain cord, I give it a colour. Certain chords I associate with certain colours. I’ll start off by thinking of blue and think of synths that go with it, and then I’ll think of what’s close to blue, like maybe purple and then think of other synths that go with each.
Like for instance, sometimes I wonder how I would turn this living room into a song. Or a picture of me and friends, or a past girlfriend, and pick up the emotions from it and turn it into a song. Other songs inspire me too but mostly just going through photo journals and try to capture from there. This probably sounds weird.
Mehwish: Nope, not at allllll, that’s what they want you think. Okay, but you do you get nervous performing?
Sam: All the time, sometimes I take off my glasses, so I can’t see anyone and I just hear stuff. Then you just accept it and ride with it once you’re into it, you don’t realize or worry about other perspectives and just accept it as just another hour in your entire life. Just taking a step back and evaluating helps a lot.
Mehwish: Why did you call it Pink Room?
Sam: Pink Room, it’s funny because one of our lamp’s light bulb burnt out, so we just threw in this pink bulb we got from our friend who does a lot of photo stuff work. So for the longest time all we had was this pink lamp in the living room making the room all pink. That’s it.
Mehwish: Pink Room sounds like a love-y dove-y song.
Sam: It is, “pink room” is a supplementary love song. We had a couple of writers come and help us out with it. I don’t like to write about one specific experience. Usually if it is about a girl, I’ll write about several experiences with girls in my life and make it about a bunch of people. It makes it a collective experience for the listeners.
It is personal but not as personal. So honestly, it’s a collection of different muses to create a very easy flow. It’s not a deep song with deep insecurities, just a supplementary love song anyone can relate to. It’s simply a collection of different muses and experiences.
Mehwish: If you can give a piece of advice to rising artists, or even those who are just too scared to talk about their art, what would it be?
Sam: I wish so many things people told me when I was starting out. Study and study and study and really hone in on the skills for a quality product. I don’t think I listened to enough music and paid attention to a lot of artists. I only ever looked at idols, and then you take yourself out of the league because you are afraid you can never rise to their level. This is why you have to branch out and listen to more and see what you can learn from others.
If you think you are out of someone’s league, you’ll never get anywhere. Always think you’ll be at the league where your idols are on, just aspire to be there. Think like one, and consider what they’ve done and what they do and keep at it. Put yourself in that mindset, and be sure to utilize your venues and networks to the best.
I would say as well, a lot of people especially in the electronic, hip-hop, and r&b community, they say things like we blew up ‘overnight’, and that’s so much load of shit. My manager always told me this, “it takes five year, to blow up overnight.”
I think the whole aspect of doing everything by yourself and blowing up is just not true, it’s more than just the artist behind the work. Value the people around you; you know the ones that push you because they will be the ones pushing you even when you can’t push yourself.
Music is all about connections, respect those people who keep you going and be sure to keep them near and dear. Remember, most of these big producers started out just like us and people put these artists on such pedestals but really they are just the same as us; humans.
Also, again study your craft, don’t be ignorant and arrogant and value yourself and value what you can become.
Mehwish: Did you study music?
Sam: We both did but we don’t study classically as we used to. I took drums, piano, and did singing lessons but eventually as we both started producing and getting a little older, we stopped.
Mehwish: What was the first song you ever produced?
Sam: Ocean coast. You won’t find it online though.
Check out their two-week old EP "Libra Year"