NY-turned-LA Electro Pop artist, Beca, has utilized her composition talents since graduating Juilliard to produce “trance-like pop” (Lucky Magazine) songs tailored to Generation Y’s neo-noir nightlife culture. Musically gifted at a young age, she traveled the world, performing with an array of artists while developing her own path and voice. Beca has made appearances at CMJ, SXSW, Miami Fashion Week, and NXNE with Red Bull Sound Select Showcase. She was a Finalist for her song "Enabler" in the 2014 ISC International Songwriting Competition, Electronica/Dance Category. Expanding on her two EP releases via UK label This Is Music Ltd. (Little Boots, Charlie XCX), Beca recently released her album ‘Ecliptic’ through LA indie label All Scene Eye.
On top of everything Beca's accomplished thus far, she is also a winner of our campaign with ReverbNation to find the best Pop, RnB, Hip-Hop, Soul and Electronic music artists in the world. After selecting Beca out of over 4,500 other artists, we listened to more of her songs and it became clear that we needed to connect with her to find out more about the person behind the music. So below is our exclusive interview with Beca to find out how her recently released "Ecliptic" LP came together, her thoughts on the differences between the NY and LA Electro Pop music scenes, who inspires her music and much more.
*Photos by Brian Vernor
What was your time at Juilliard like and what would you say that you learned during your time there that has prepared you the most for what you're doing now?
My time at Juilliard was extremely challenging and exciting. I grew up pretty sheltered in a small town in upstate NY, and was kind of used to being the musical star in high school. I just thought that things would come to me. When I went to a conservatory in NYC with top students from all over the world and studied with award-winning composers, it was extremely intimidating. I worked harder than I had ever worked before, pushed my boundaries as a writer, and discovered a lot of insanely beautiful music.
What prepared me the most for what I’m doing now - was finding out that having something to say, and having a voice - is way more exciting to me than writing music that’s technically challenging to play or listen to. And also that you can’t wait for luck to happen, you have to make it happen for yourself. That was probably the biggest lesson I got from Juilliard.
Tell me about the 'Ecliptic' LP. Who were the producers on the project and what was the experience like creating the 10 songs that comprise it?
I produced ‘Ecliptic’ with Morgan Wiley at his recording studio in Brooklyn….which was like running around a playground comprised of analog synths. Each song went through an entirely different writing process. The whole thing took about 2 years to produce from start to finish, including a 6-month break I took to deal with some big life changes and to work on something else (which will be revealed very soon!). At that point, I was able to return to the project with a new perspective and finish it fairly quickly.
The songs themselves took many paths to development. Here’s a general breakdown -
Flying, Hunted Me Down, We’ll Meet Again - I had already written them and brought them into the studio to record.
Ice Cream - went through a lot of changes, the first few drafts are almost completely unrecognizable from the final version. It was inspired by spending a few summers being in a daze, kind of drunk on love. Some songs arrive quickly and others require a lot more work. I’ve learned not to give up on the ones that take more effort and I’m glad we kept fine-tuning this one, since it’s one of my faves.
Bayonet - I wrote the “heartbeats are racing” part first and the other parts were written in a few different sessions. This one went through some changes too. It’s about conquering fear.
Crystal Ball - I wrote most of the lyrics on a trip, then the music came together later on in the studio, starting with some beats and the bass line, then improvising over that.
Abe Seiferth had already mixed Bayonet and Crystal Ball, and Xack Xweig had done some additional drum programming. I had originally planned to release these two together as an EP, before I decided to make them part of this 10-song album.
Hit To The Head - I wrote the lyrics and melody in one sitting on top of a track Morgan had fully produced. That was the only one that I didn’t co-produce on - since it was already perfect.
Meteor, Enabler, Ecliptic - were written very quickly, mostly at the studio. They were the last three songs written and recorded, and in some ways I like them the best since they were the most fluid. Jonathan Kreinik, who mixed the record, co-produced and helped put the final touches on the song ‘Ecliptic’ - which was the last song completed on the album. I feel like it ties everything together conceptually and reveals my musings over a relationship that brought out both the best, and the worst, in me.
It was fun working in studios all on the same floor - with super talented producers who had already worked together. That made for a pretty seamless and fun creative process. We used to joke that I should get roller skates and be the hired studio singer all day every day. That’s still a dream of mine, although now I’m based in LA…but still…making this album was a beautiful moment in my life. Being able to go into the studio kind of saved me in a way. Just knowing I could create something beautiful out of all of that pain helped get me through to the other side.
Who are some of your musical inspirations?
This is always a tough one since so much of what I listen to inspires me to some degree. My parents always had records playing when I was younger and I grew up listening to everything from Debussy and Ravel string quartets to Villa Lobos, Astor Piazzolla, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis - to more 80s and 90s pop like Prince, Michael Jackson, Madonna, David Bowie, The Bangles, NIN, Beastie Boys, etc. That definitely shaped a lot of my tastes. I tend to go through various musical phases, like at one point I was listening to a lot of dancehall, and later ambient electronica. Right now, I’m inspired by new indie artists I discover nearly everyday. For example I recently went to see LP at The Echo and her performance moved me to tears. It’s kind of crazy to have access to so much talent all in one place.
For an artist such as yourself, would you say that the Electro Pop music scene is different in LA than in NY?
Definitely. It’s hard to generalize and there’s great music in both cities. But for whatever reason, I’ve found that LA seems to embrace me more and the crowds seem more appreciative of the music I’m making, which is a nice feeling. I also happen to know way more artists who are going in a similar direction, but maybe that’s just a sign of what’s going on right now in general.
If you had to choose one song off 'Ecliptic' that defines or represents you the most, what song would you select and why?
I kind of see all the songs as equal parts of a whole but if I had to choose one, I would probably say Meteor is my favorite. Ice Cream probably represents me the most because it’s full of hope even when there’s no real hope left - that’s the eternal optimist in me!
Do you prefer being in the studio writing and recording or being on stage performing?
I love all parts of the process equally at different times….it’s all very fulfilling to me. Creating songs - from the first seed of an idea, to recording it, to seeing through my auditory vision - is pretty cool. I find that singing into a microphone with headphones on is quite a sensual, visceral experience that I wouldn’t trade in for anything else in the world. Collaborating with people who share a common vision and who bring something new to the table to perfect a song is just exhilarating! Standing onstage, feeling the energy of the crowd, and giving the music life is quite a rush. I’m always excited about the prospect of making someone’s day just a little better when I’m up there singing my songs. Maybe someone who’s gone through something similar, who needs some hope, or who just wants to connect. Just the same way I do when I’m listening to another performer. THAT is the power of music.