Sunday, 14 July 2013

Interview with Antonia of Beaches

Five girls plus three guitars does not equal "all-girl psych-rock" band. According to Antonia, guitarist and co-vocalist of Beaches, there are more elements at work. In looking back at the creation of their latest album, Antonia (who has art projects) finds a crossover in the creative worlds of music and art.

“I looked at some of the processes that we went through even in terms of layering, the way that we composed the music, and I see so many connections with the way that I make my own artworks. They are so interconnected and I think that there are interesting things that people can learn about art by including music within that sphere and vice versa.”

Now, returning to Sydney after their recent album launch for She Beats, Antonia says the group is happy to take a break from their busy lives in Melbourne to play an open, creative space. “We’ve played lots and lots of gigs in pubs so playing in a slightly different setting is such a good idea and people should do more of it.”
All of which began in an unforeboding way – in her back garage.

“Six years ago now we had our first rehearsal and we had no preconceived ideas about how it was going to go. I’d never played guitar before – I played bass in another band. A lot of us had really minimal experience or simply hadn’t played instruments that we were about to pick up. We sort of started with no idea about how it sounds.”

It’s been five years since their debut release but She Beats has been hot in the press.

“Yeah we were really pleased at how it’s been received. You never know what to expect. I mean you could make a really amazing album and it could get overlooked.”

“That’s not something you anticipate or rely on but it happens. The record comes out at the right time and the response is great because all the hard work you’ve done feels like it’s been affirmed by people that are receiving it.”

Nevertheless, Antonia is reticent to categorise it as a psychedelic album. Instead, Beaches draws upon the different interests, experiences and tastes of its members to create a rich, dense sound.

“In terms of our influences, there’s so much going on but sometimes people just say all-girl psych-rock. Sure, it’s just a tag, but it can be a bit reductive. There’s a little bit more going on than just that.”

“I like psychedelic rock, I appreciate it and I understand why we get tagged as that but I also like to think that there are other influences that come through as well – like post-punk and garage, even to an extent some 50s and 60s girl group or surf guitar music.”

And when it comes to playing live, although the songs are structured the group likes to leave space at the end of songs.

“We’ve got elements in our songs that are jammy, which means we have a group mentality that we’re going to see what happens. We don’t really know what’s going to happen and it’s just going to be a big rock-out at the end where there’s a lot of freedom in terms of where we take it.”

Their psychedelic intonations, however, did take them to Austin Psych Fest in 2011, where the group performed alone and mixed with other musicians such as The Black Angels and Spiritualized. Despite the miles of distance, Antonia says that the music scene in the US is not too different from home.

“In terms of the vibe and the types of venues we’ve played and the responses we’ve had to our music, it’s been really similar to Australia. Of course though when you go to the states there’s just so much music going on over there. I guess that affects bands and what they have to do to get noticed.”

"I think maybe in the last two years I’ve noticed more Australian acts getting attention in the states. When one band – say The Twerps – have done really well over the past few years it kind of puts a spotlight on Australia or on Melbourne or on Sydney or wherever."

Beaches came together through the Melbourne music scene – in fact, Antonia says that it was when they were all at a gig together that they decided to start a band. Now this musical project has taken them around the country and around the world.

“We’re so excited to play this Carriageworks show with such a great lineup. Also we want to go and buy lots of records on the day.”

And all because they decided to take a backyard jam seriously.

“It was really interesting, we weren’t expecting it to come together as well as it did and ever since then we’ve gone with that – listen to what we think is working and try to be really sensitive to that and follow through and see where it goes.”
Published on theAUreview.

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