Much to the delight of indie electro fans everywhere, Seattle’s Beat Connection is taking some time off from classes this summer to tour the country. They kicked off their nationwide dates at San Francisco’s POPSCENE last Thursday.
It’s hard to believe that some of these guys are still in college because their sound is incredibly complex. An impressively advanced version of what we think electro/chill wave might look like when it’s all grown up. After officially adding a vocalist (Tom Eddy) and drummer (Jarred Katz) the boys of Beat Connection recently compleyed a brand new EP Palace Garden, (due out digitally on June 25) chocked full of harmonies, instrumentals and a compelling musical narrative sure to garner even more attention for the up and coming group.
We caught up with the foursome (Jordan Koplowitz, Reed Juenger, Jarred Katz and Tom Eddy) backstage at the Rickshaw Stop over some Hamm’s beers and talked about tours, growing up after their first release, and their favorite part about San Francisco.
The Bay Bridged: You guys sort of blew up after the release of Surf Noir. Can you talk about what it’s been like to be on tour since that release, and now that this is the first tour with the four of you, a little bit about what it’s like to get started on this new road?
Beat Connection: Basically, Surf Noir came out and we played in Seattle for a while, our first show out of Seattle was South by Southwest, nine months later. We only played in Seattle for our first nine months after the album came out. Then we played SXSW, then we came back and then in April we went to California.
San Francisco was one of our first shows outside of Seattle as well. But it was really just weird, because we made that (Surf Noir) without any idea of how we were going to play it. We had just been DJing, and a lot of our inspiration came from finding ways to combine different songs, and kind of extending that beyond different genres into one song and segwaying different songs, things like that, it was important to us.
Then there was this expectation for us to play live, and we were just like “uhh, I don’t really know how to make any of these sound like instruments.” So that whole year, even after SXSW, and up until now, a lot of it has been figuring out how to translate the new recordings into live music. Yeah, it’s been fun, though, is the main thing I think.
Our new album has been a lot easier to translate in a live setting with four people. Our stuff from Surf Noir was a bit harder to make into a four person live show just because a lot of it was instrumental. But the new stuff was more made with four people playing it in mind. So when we play it live, the songs from the new album feel the best to play because they just feel the most natural to us as a four piece.
TBB: So how do you feel like you’ve grown up, your sound and yourselves, between Surf Noir‘s release and Palace Gardens‘?
Beat Connection: A lot of learning. I mean, just in the two years since we finished that album, a lot of technical learning and musicianship that we’ve developed. But there’s also just a lot of life experiences. We were all in school at the time so we were learning a lot of things academically as well, that were all having new influences on us and expanding ideas for the four of us. It really helped bring in a lot of different influences and keep it interesting.
I think the fact that we were able to record it as a foursome ourselves in our basement is kind of, a new, not only awesome achievement, but I think we kind of felt like, we could make this happen. So I think that in itself is growing up and sort of we had the control to take as much time on it as we needed. We didn’t have the strain of being in the studio and losing money on that stuff, so I think that was a nice comfort thing that we had going on and just kind of helped us grow up. We had to get it done all by ourselves. That was also a really fun experience. It made the grey winter in Seattle a lot brighter.
I think the biggest difference is that we had an idea for the Palace Garden basically from the beginning of the making of the album. Surf Noir did not have that at all. We were just kind of like, we have these tracks that we made, let’s all put it together. Since we made them all they did sound relatively similar, they fit together, but the Palace Garden we had a narrative, a relative narrative that we were working with. We wanted to make songs that sounded like that . . . We tried to make the songs sound more similar to each other than on Surf Noir, and we got better at producing as well, so all of that combined and I think it really helped us.
TBB: You guys are all from different genres. Tom, you’re folk. Jarred you’ve got a jazz background. You guys (Reed and Jordan) played guitar, so how did you bring all of your experiences together to create your sound?
Beat Connection: I think that’s what makes it so much fun. It’s just like, sort of melding everything together and just coming from totally different places, attacking the same problem of creating music that sounds like Beat Connection.
It helps that we were all friends before doing this . . . It happened naturally, so that was key.
TBB: How do you think you have made yourself stand out against other electro pop groups?
Beat Connection: I think the singing. It’s Tom, because, on the new album we have a ton of songs with harmonies, complex harmonies. There’s not many electronic bands who have that. Tom, you’re all right. (Jordan pats Tom on the back)
Initially we got really lumped in with chillwave and that kind of gave us a springboard for that time period. To get lumped in with that and then move away from that was helpful because now we’re getting more into synth pop.
I think also our percussion is a little different, in our live show we use a shaker and tambourine. Not to say electronic bands don’t use shakers and tambourines, but I think that we do it in more of an afro beat, calypso, tropicalia way.
TBB: So, next question is just for Tom and Jarred, how do you like it so far, as new additions?
It’s going great. It’s just not an issue, because these are my best friends.
TBB: Jordan and Reed?
Yeah. We were kind of thinking it was reaching its peak of what we could do as a twosome so we really wanted to add some more on stage . . .
(Tom chimes in) But it wasn’t like they were like “we need to do something more” and they went on a search for a guitarist.
(Jordan responds) Yeah, Tom sang on Surf Noir. We were thinking about the album and we finally one day decided we wanted a singer to sing over the entire album. We were like, we should ask Tom. At first we didn’t know if it was going to work or not, but luckily it did and it’s been really good since then.
TBB: So you guys are in San Francisco, did you get to pick starting the tour here?
Beat Connection: We came here first because we love it! We came here first because it’s close to Seattle. And we love it!
TBB: Do you have a favorite thing you like to do here?
Sourdough. We’re really into sourdough.