Flaunt Premiere | Beshken "White Gemini"
Look up the word tempestuous in the dictionary and you’ll discover a picture of Beshken, spinning a dreamy track, alluring those lucky enough to hear him live behind the DIY electronic music scene. For those (like myself) who don’t typically have tempestuous in their repertoire of vocabulary, imagine ocean waves crashing down—the harshness of the sea foam-green water creating everlasting symbiotic energy in relation to the golden sand. Between vivacious rhythms and lyrics that, as they bounce off his tongue, emulate the same smoothness as the sand against your toes, Beshken likes to describe his sound as tempestuous. I believe it is that, but also so much more.
Sitting down to interview Beshken before he plays a sold out show at the Moroccan Lounge in Downtown Los Angeles feels analogous to getting coffee with an old friend. As engaging conversation flows with ease, and his pulsating eye contact never wanders, the zestful energy he radiates brings vibrancy into both the dimly lit backstage area and the hungry crowd outside.
When he proposes asking me questions, too, I see that his persona parallels the liveliness of his music. Beshken’s debut album, Aisle of Palm , released this June, puts you in a transient state of bliss. The record is a gust of wind on a sullen midsummer day; the breath of fresh air you didn’t know you needed.
Check out Flaunt’s Q&A and the premiere of Beshken’s haunting music video for track, “White Gemini,” below.
Did you always know you wanted to go into the music industry?
I committed to making music when I was about 16 years old and I felt like that’s what I was going to do for the rest of my life. Before that, I was sort of iffy. I went to college for music but I also applied undeclared to a lot of places, so it really was just depended on who accepted me (laughs). The fact that I got into music school, I was like, “alright!” and then I committed.
How was your experience going to NYU?
It was great. I was in a music production program and it was really cool. I met a lot of talented fucking people. Everyone’s super different because it’s a small program and I learned a lot being in New York. I still live in New York, though I grew up here in LA.
How has being from Los Angeles and living in New York City influenced your sound?
I got really into the New York scene. I felt like in LA, because I was younger, I never really knew what was going on. I used to go to Low End Theory all the time and I was really inspired by Flying Lotus. Moving to New York, I became interested in the DIY music scene there. That’s where I played my first real shows. Playing at venues like Palisades and Cameo Gallery when they were still around, I really got to know how to do everything myself. I live by that DIY ethos still. Right before this, I was setting up the visuals for the show. I learned a lot about how to do things on my own.
Being in the DIY electronic music scene and having to set up your own equipment before shows, how did that make you feel the first couple of times you performed?
It was really nerve racking and there weren’t that many people there. It was always exciting because there was nothing to compare it to since I hadn’t played that much. I would think, oh ten people are here, that’s sick! I’ve only played a show to 2 people. There’s a lot of experimental music going on in New York so I think I became really influenced by the electronic scene. In New York the scene is very strong, it's a very tight knit community, so as I lived there more I started coming into myself, just making different music and being less commercial with what I was doing originally.
I know you also lived in Berlin for a short period of time. How was that experience and what did you take away from being in what can be considered as the heart of electronic music?
I left my guitar in the corner for the 4 months that I lived there. I’ve always been an electronic musician at heart so I did a lot of listening. I went to clubs all of the time. I knew I wanted to make music with electronics and synths so I was experimenting a lot. That’s when I got into modular synthesizers, and started building my own. Then I came back to New York and thought, oh I can play instruments again. I think the mentality [in Berlin] is staying out really late and people are always tired and that’s how I felt. I was tired often but was exploring myself. I became more myself because I was alone a lot of the time too—I was just meeting new people and musicians.
How would you describe your sound and style as an artist?
Let me think about this for a second because I don’t want to fuck this up (laughs). The thing is, I am literally always trying to do something different; I’m running from what I just made yesterday. I’ll make a song and think it was cool, and then the next day I’ll want to make indie rock. I feel like I am very influenced by indie rock music. My music mostly on dreamy electronic. I like using the word tempestuous a lot to describe my style; it’s stormy, windy, dreamy and it can be a little creepy sometimes. Also, colors—violet was a big color for me for this new album. It’s often that you see colors when you make music. I’ve read a lot about that, for example a lot of music-concrete artists claim to see grey and dark reds. I find it really interesting how certain artists see the same colors. For me, violet comes from that time right before it becomes night. At dusk, the sky is a bit emotional and moody, and violet feels like a moody color to me.
What type of music do you like to listen to?
I’m all over the place. Can I pull up my Spotify? (laughs) I just put Tirzah on, she’s really good. I listen to a lot of ambient music when I am on my own because it is the only music I can focus to. I can’t really do anything when I am listening to music besides listen to it, unless I’m listening to ambient music. SFV Acid is an artist I’m really into along with Emily Sprague who just put out a great album. I buy a lot of records, too, and most of my record collection is electronic music. I really care a lot about it—maybe a bit too much. I’m not pretentious about it, but maybe a little bit (laughs). When people come over to my place, I want to make their night feel really nice and create a good energy for them [via the record collection].
Do you want to make music for the rest of your life?
Ya—100%. I’d like to delve into other art forms too. I co-direct a lot of my music videos. I usually work with somebody who knows what they’re doing a little bit more than I do, but I come up with concepts for them. I would also love to explore painting more. I am constantly looking for other ways to make music, I get really bored when I’m using the same materials to create. I am continuously interested in progressing as a musician. I feel like there’s a lot more to learn personally and from other people. Right now I am surrounding myself with a lot of talented people to learn from which I never really did in the past. I wanted to make all of my music by myself and this album that I just put out is that. Now I am collaborating, every song that I am working on for the next album was started with somebody else.
How does working with other people impact your creative process?
I learn a lot doing things that way. I feel that I stay stagnant when I am working on music alone, it’s harder for me to push myself. Everyone makes music differently, I can keep learning if I make music with other artists.
Would you say collaborating with other artists has been your biggest change within the last year?
I actually started a studio in New York with my bandmate and a drummer. That’s allowed me to bring people in that I normally wouldn’t have been able to work with because space is so valuable in the city. For that reason alone, I’ve been working with a lot more people because since we have a drum set, a ton of synths and gear, people want to come hang out, it’s a share creative space at this point.
How do you hope to change and evolve as an artist in the coming year?
I’m trying to make people understand what I’m saying. A lot of the lyrics I have written I cover up with effects as an aesthetic decision. Now I am getting to the point where I feel like I have something important to say, I want to share part of my emotional being. People can feel it when they listen to the music but they don’t know what I’m actually talking about. I’d like to connect with people as a lyricist.
Lastly, as a lyricist, where do you draw your inspiration from and what do you write about?
A lot of the times I am writting about just being totally fucking able to write about anything. I wrote a song about randomness. At the same time it’s about me being free, it’s almost just spur of the moment lyricism.
Photos by Jeremy Bali