Interview - Beat Connection
We sat down to chat with Reed Juenger and Jarred Katz of Beat Connection ahead of their set at DC9. We talked about their latest release, Product 3, the current state of the music industry, One Direction, and dream collaborations. Read the full conversation below. Capitol Sound DC: How did you guys form, I think you guys all went to school together, right?
Reed Juenger: Yeah, we all met at University of Washington. Mostly just through like partying and hanging out kind of situation. We shared a lot of common interests, in music mostly, and decided to just work on tunes. There was a point in time when we were all just living in a house together that was like, alcohol-party house basically. But yeah we just came together out of a lot of shared interests in music and stuff like that and started working on tunes and here we are.
CSDC: So you guys lived together, what is your relationship like with each other now? Are you still close friends? How does that affect the creative process?
RJ: We spend a ton of time with each other. Nobody lives with each other anymore, we’ve all sort of spread out across Seattle, which I think is a good but yeah these guys are my best friends—I hope that they still like me, I think they do? But yeah I don’t know it’s very akin to working with your best friends. So there are moments that are kind of stressful but there are also moments that are really fun, and it tends to air on the fun side for us which is lucky.
CSDC: So Product 3 came out almost a month ago. How was recording that album different than your other recordings?
RJ: We spent a ton of time on it. And also we were making it in a pretty unknown situation in our lives, we were all graduated from college and one of the main members of the group had decided to leave and we were kind of at a crossroads where we decided to keep going. But we made the record without any real goals-for the first like, maybe six months working on it we were just like what are we doing, just working on random shit? And eventually it started to coalesce and I think there was a moment where we were all really happy that we decided to, you know, continue on when we were at a moment that we could have easily just thrown in the towel. So it was made under a little bit of stress like that but also during a period where it was like fuck it, let’s just go for it and figure it out. So yeah, it’s been done for more than a year—I know it just came out month ago—but we finished that thing up in like October of 2014 and had just been sitting around trying to figure out all the label negotiations, the best way to get it out there and present it to an audience. And to really have a unified aesthetic for the imagery, for the sound, all of it, and get it all poppin all at once.
CSDC: Do you think the subject matter of the album is reflective of the time period you were living in. Having graduated and maybe feeling as existential as I do right now? Just like WHAT?
RJ: Yeah I definitely think it did. A lot of the songs are masqueraded as love songs but they are more about dealing with sort of pretty mundane everyday struggles and trying to find something interesting as like a song topic. So just like things that are going on like are we really about to go through this whole record and go through this process again. All the like, putting yourself out there to get shut down by people you’ve never met—whose opinions you actually don’t care about—but for some reason they’ve got a loud internet voice so now you give a shit? Stuff like that- kind of self-referential, very aware of itself on a meta level and that was kind of like—I won’t say adult cause we’re still probably super naïve—I’m gonna look back on this later and be like ‘fuck are you serious? You sound like a twat.’ But, we were just trying to be mindful and aware of the fact that pop music is very much a commodity that’s been commercialized and we’re operating in that world. It’s kind of like, are we gonna dive in and do it? Or are we gonna be, you know, like against that. And we sort of had this mentality of let’s just dive into it and fuck it up from the inside out and make a record that has a self-awareness and sort of like, an eyeroll to itself a little bit.
CSDC: “An eyeroll to itself,” that’s that take away quote from this entire interview. With that, what are your thoughts on the state of the music industry as it is now?
RJ: It’s just changing every day, super fast, and no one really knows what to do so it’s really exciting. For me, I kind of like situations like that—where there’s truly no right or wrong answer right now cause it’s just fucked off, like no one really knows what’s going on. So that to me is exciting because there’s opportunities to use it as a new tool. So like every moment, every piece of social media I’m gonna be like oh I have to post or talk to some 16 year olds?
CSDC: Or to talk to this blog right here.
RJ: That’s true. It’s kind of just like okay, how do we use this artistically? Like how do we turn it against itself? How do we try and use it as a creative outlet as opposed to just a marketing tool or something like that. So that to me is exciting, I think that’s a large part of the music industry right now. You don’t need anyone to help you with anything, you can make a hit record in Garage Band on a laptop from 2012 and put it on snapchat and become a millionaire. It’s not outside the realm of possibility.
CSDC: Very true. Are there any contemporary artists that you are into right now that you think kind of “get it” and are inspirational to you?
RJ: Jai Paul is a super inspirational artist to us as a group. Just because of his unwillingness, I think, to play the game. Like, that dude, who knows if that record was leaked or if his laptop was stolen, but he just decided not to acknowledge it and ghost out. Like, it’s been a couple years now and no one really knows what’s up. So that level of mystery and intrigue is super appealing to me and it’s kind of lost in a lot of contemporary music. Like, the bigger the star the more available and accessible they are all the time—like fifteen Instagram posts a day minimum.
RJ: Yeah, Drake. Pretty good example. Yeah, it’s awesome to have that accessibility and to feel like you have a dialogue with an artist and you know what’s going on. And I mean that guy kills it all the time. But then on the same end it’s kinda cool when there are artists that are just super mysterious and you never really know what’s going on and then suddenly there’s new music.
CSDC: Adele! To me that was Adele, it was like wait she’s gone for years and then all of a sudden she like ‘oh, I’m dropping an album in a month.’
RJ: Yeah, kinda tight. And Beyoncé’s surprise release that everyone’s imitating now.
CSDC: So you guys did a few festivals this past summer, right? Lollapalooza?
RJ: Yeah, it was fun.
CSDC: I was there but I did not see you guys sadly.
RJ: It’s okay, we were at like, noon.
CSDC: It’s always so hard to see every band you want to see. But how was that? Do you like playing those huge, outdoor stages or would you rather play a small show?
RJ: There’s something fun with everything. But it’s a crazy experience and it’s incredibly affirming that we are incredibly lucky to be able to just like, play our music for people and have an audience. That’s crazy like we’re the luckiest dudes in the world. Every time I think about that I’m like, DAMN that’s amazing. But that said, sometimes they’re fun, sometimes they suck. Everything is different, every day is a new situation. Like, I think tonight is gonna be really fun I’m excited to be here but I was also really excited to be at Lollapalooza even though it was like noon. We got some new fans off those [festivals], those are cool too. People who come to see like fuckin’ Vance Joy or Hozier or some shit.
CSDC: What’s wrong with them? (laughs)
RJ: Nothing, it’s just these kids that show up at like noon and then they stand there right at the front and then they’re like ‘okay this is actually cool.’ And that’s exciting to me, to just like make new fans vicariously because of just being there. You know, like being in the building is the number one thing. So that’s why that was tight to us.
CSDC: Paul McCartney was there; did you see him?
RJ: Yeah we hung out for a bit, we caught up- we’re old friends.
CSDC: Did you?
RJ: No, but some of the guys from One Direction were hanging out though I ran into them.
CSDC: No way. Did you talk to them?
RJ: No I didn’t talk to them.
CSDC: Did you hear their new album?
RJ: No, I don’t know any One Direction Songs.
Jarred Katz: Is it out?
CSDC: Yeah, it dropped when Bieber’s did. But we all know Bieber’s is better—do you guys like Bieber?
JK: Woah, that’s competitive.
CSDC: I know! It is! It was like you must choose ONE.
RJ: I’m excited to see what Zayne Malik does. We were talking about this yesterday, Jarred and I. He’s the first one to branch out and now he’s got this whole bad boy image like ‘I’m cool.’
CSDC: Did you see his fader cover?
RJ: Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. He’s just doing a complete image change and now he’s the one who’s gonna like win. Anyone who decides to do that next in One Direction is just a copycat. There can only be one Justin Timberlake, you know?
CSDC: Good point! I never thought of that. There can only be one.
RJ: We’ll see though. He was kind of an underdog too, I think some of the other ones—I’m not really plugged in with this whole thing—but I was under the impression that there was maybe more loyalty to some of the other ones.
CSDC: Harry is who you’re thinking of.
RJ: That’s the one. I mean we’re a boyband, we’re just not a very popular one. We’re working on it.
CSDC: You’ll be there someday.
RJ: We got some dance routines for tonight don’t worry about it.
CSDC: So do you guys have a favorite city to play in?
RJ: I don’t know, this tour’s been pretty eye-opening in some situations. Like, oh damn we have we have people who are into it here which is exciting. We had a really good show in San Francisco—that was super fun. Austin went really well. It’s always great playing at home, in Seattle—that’s a different thing though. I don’t know, we’ll see. I’ll answer that at the end of the tour and we’ll see which one wins. It’s been awhile since we’ve been in some of these towns.
CSDC: You guys played with Jungle, right? Did you love that? I love them.
RJ: Yeah that was tight. They were like our favorite band at the time.
CSDC: They’re so cool.
RJ: They were like actually the coolest band in the world at that moment.
JK: We got to ride on their bus and just like fanboyed out. We had to just like keep it chill which was hard.
RJ: They’re super nice though. They were really fun to hang out with. They’re just all mysterious on social media and then they’re just completely normal people who are really fun.
CSDC: So the Seattle music scene, what is that like and what was it like to come out of that and be where you are now?
RJ: I don’t know, we’re like from the internet more than from Seattle to be honest. We take inspiration from so many different types of music from all over the world that being from part of a localized scene doesn’t make that much sense I guess. But that said, there are some great musicians there, there’s a lot of really strong musical communities and we don’t really exist in any of them. Which is kind of nice actually because we’re able to move through all of them and have friends who make all different types of music in the town and that’s rad. But there’s not really a distinct place for Beat Connection in that scene either. I can’t think of any band that is akin to our guitar style. There’s a pretty big electronic community that seemingly came up overnight—like didn’t exist in 2012. And now we’ve got the like thousand person DJ room where it’s just like straight up big room house no light show, shit like that, real trashy—that exists now. I don’t it’s cool it’s just like wild out there the way things change and the way there’s still like a huge influence from grunge and Subpop and shit like that but there’s also hip-hop out there, Odesza’s around, it’s all sorts of shit.
CSDC: Do you have a dream collaboration?
RJ: I’m trying to work with Andre 3000.
CSDC: Yes! Same. And I’m not even musically talented.
RJ: Yeah, I don’t know there’s a lot of cool people we’d love to work with. Jai Paul I mentioned earlier, Kendrick Lamar—an endless list of people we’ll never get to meet.
CSDC: You might!
RJ: That’s true.
We’d like to thank Beat Connection for taking time before their set to chat with us. The band is in the middle of a headlining tour throughout North America so be sure you check them out when they come to your city. To view a full list of tour dates you can click HERE.