‘Creative’ is an overused and diluted word especially when it comes to music.
However, in the case of Peckham bred three-piece Beaty Heart, their creative blood continue to flow today just as they did when they formed. First coming together as an artistic collective of sorts, they plied their trade as artists and filmmakers as well as musicians, playing a mixture of house parties and art galleries, never once doing the same show twice.
Over the years James, Charlie and Joshua have boiled that creativity down to what is now Beaty Heart. On the verge of releasing their sophomore LP, ‘Till The Tomb’ and heading out on a UK and European tour, we sat down with them to chat all things Peckham, house parties and police raids.
- - -
- - -
How did Beaty Heart come to be in its current form?
We’ve known each other since we were really young - we were at school together. It’s difficult to place a starting point for the formation of the band. When we moved here (Peckham) we decided to come together as an outlet for all the artistic things we were doing, like a focal point… although we probably only became fully focused on the music about three years ago.
We always did these weird art shows around here, though we never played the same thing more than once. One day we would do a full set and the next show we would just have one sampler. It was pretty ramshackle. We would go from doing gallery shows to house parties. It was a period of development I guess, we’ve been together for a while, but I think it was only when we starting releasing singles and working with producers that we could call ourselves a band in the conventional sense.
Can you tell us a bit more about the house party scene?
One of the most memorable ones was when we played this house in New Cross. It was this big seven-bedroom house belonging to some really good friends of ours, and it got called off at about 2am while we were playing. There were about 10 riot vans, police cars and dogs outside – it was a full-on raid, we had to grab out gear and evacuate! I think that was probably the last one. At other parties we used to hand out instruments to the crowd, and a few bits got stolen so it was at that point we sort of said, ‘OK, let’s do something else now’.
- - -
We would go from doing gallery shows to house parties...
- - -
So what makes Peckham such a creative hub?
It’s changed so much in the last five years but I’d say there are still a lot of opportunities out there for bands. It’s been gentrified to fuck but that’s probably the perfect environment for a band. You know that there’s always going to be a ‘scene’. When we started out here there wasn’t really a live venue anywhere, that’s why we ended up playing all the gallery shows.
At least there’s not a Pret or a Waitrose yet, then you know it’s fully gentrified!
Yeah but I’ve heard there’s a massive Beyond Retro about to land. I think there is still a community clawing on somewhere, but I don’t know how long that’s going to last…
How was working with producer David Wrench (FKA Twigs, Caribou, Jungle) on the record?
Really good actually, although it was mostly over email – I never properly met him face to face. It was a bit of a disconnected way of working but he’s got a really good ear, really good taste as well so the whole thing was pretty easy. He’s got a great way of finding space. If you listen to the record with headphones there’s so much going on, it’s amazing. Listening to FKA Twigs, you realise how much he’s managed to get in. It sounds really beautiful.
- - -
I think we might actually get on better when we’re touring...
- - -
And what about spending time with Jungle?
We were on the road with them for nearly a year so we got to know them pretty well but we only worked with them for the our latest single, ‘Raw Gold’. We started writing the new album while we were with them on the road, so we shared some of it with them. We sent them a demo for 'Raw Gold', which was super chilled out, more like a slow jam without all the bass and rhythm in it. At that time it was just a minimal synth loop, crescendoing at the end with added bass, then they came back to us saying it was sound, but we needed to have that bass throughout. So, yeah, we went into the studio with them and made it into a banger.
Overall I think we learned a lot of from being with them for such a long time. It’s interesting to know how different bands work, for example the Jungle guys were saying stuff like, ‘this is the bit when all the crowd throws their hands up in the air’. We had never thought of that, of writing music with the crowd in mind. I think we will probably remember it in the future, but I don’t see myself writing music in that way. I don’t want to pin anything on it though; I think they were saying it in jest, just imagining the vibe of the track and how it would go down on stage.
Do you guys all get on when you’re touring? How’s the Beaty Heart dynamic?
I think we might actually get on better when we’re touring. When we're in the studio we bicker much more. It’s sort of inevitable when you’re in the process of creating something together. I think when we’re on the road and on a roll it’s always really exciting so there’s a lot of positivity. Although there’s usually some new slang word we’ve invented when we’ve been travelling…
Can you give us one sentence with as much Beaty Heart slang as possible?
I don’t know, it’s probably too inappropriate! Let me think about it…
One more thing – how would you sum up Beaty Heart in two words?
Erm…Sleaze Pop. Nice!
- - -
- - -
Beaty Heart's new album 'Till The Tomb' will be released on July 29th.
Words: Milo Wasserman