Photo by Susana Gellida
Sarah, it says that you formed the band when you moved to Barcelona and got involved in the underground music scene here, when was that and can you describe what that was like and how it might be different to now?
I moved to Barcelona ¨for good¨ in 2001 and after that year´s SONAR festival ended I continued on into the Drum & Bass scene here which at the time was going wild. I ended up as a resident MC/ vocalist every Tuesday and Sunday as part of a Drum & Bass crew which is where I met Josh who was also resident MC. We were residents on stage together for quite some time and that naturally took us into experimenting in the studio and what came out of those sessions was the first inkling of Beatspoke which started out as sort of down tempo trip hop beats and spoken word. We´ve evolved quite a lot since then but I feel the essence is still the same.
You are a poet and a vocalist, how to the two feed off each other?
As I said we started out with beats and spoken word and I just loved flowing in and out of singing and speaking and experimenting with different emotions through that vocal dynamic. Ursula Rucker, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and Lauren Hill were big influences for me.
The line I've read about the band is that you make 'organic soul and gritty truth' can you explain that a little bit more?
We tend to put labels on things which may not really describe who or what they truly are. Many people put Beatspoke into the category of Electronic music but our sounds are not programmed in to be absolutely perfect and we have almost no samples, we play our music in the studio and live—so that's where the organic comes from and our sound has a heavy soul influence. Gritty truth, well I guess that's because writing lyrics is an outlet for me to manifest my thoughts, feelings, frustrations and life lessons and sometimes it's not tactful or sugar coated.
No Rush, your first LP came out in 2009, did you enjoy the process of recording and how does it differ from live performing?
Ha! The never ending story. Maybe it's the same for everyone but for us the first album was like an enormous hurdle. You want everything to be perfect and you end up spending a lot of time just experimenting and trying to figure out your true style and what you really want to say. It took about 4-5 years to be able to say ¨this is it¨. People are really surprised when they come to see us live because our live show is so different It reflects how much we´ve grown since we put out the album but the core is still the Beatspoke that created No Rush. Live performing is the moment where everything you've been working on comes together and you can finally communicate it all face to face - there's nothing like it.
Bugs in the Attic, Spacek, Dilla and Wajeed are all mentioned as being influential to your sound, who do you listen to when not working?
We love the soulful music that's coming out of New Zealand right now: Fat Freddy's Drop , Electric Wire Hustle, Ladi 6, Julien Dyne… We also listen to artists from the US like Bilal, D'Angelo, Aloe Blacc, Shafiq Hussain, Jose James… or artists from the UK like Alice Russel, TM Juke, Foreign Beggars but most of all we listen to oldie stuff like Nina Simone, Herbie Hancock, Marvin Gaye, Cornell Campbell, Little Willie John, Fela Kuti… I don't know I'm leaving so much out but just to give you an idea
You won a New Talent competition at Gilles Peterson's Worldwide Festival in 2009, how important for you are competitions like this?
We actually haven't entered any other competitions and we wouldn't have entered into the Worldwide Festival's competition had it not been for our good friend Son of Kick who pushed us to do it. That was a really important moment for us. We'd released our album earlier that year and I had spent a lot of time trying to promote us and to get a booking agency, publicity company and just gigs in general. For many groups this a vortex I like to call Catch 22 where if you don't have any festivals under your belt no agency is willing to take you on, but if you don't have an agency no festivals will even consider you. So someone had to take the first leap of faith for us and that was Worldwide festival. After that people started taking more notice—we're so grateful for all their support and now we go to the festival every year without fail in fact, we're playing there again this year.
You've started a new monthly night at Café Royale, can you tell me a little bit more about it, who you've got lined up to play and who would be the dream line-up for you?
Café Royale opened again, after having been closed for quite some time, just this last August and the person in charge of making it all work is DJ Fred Guzzo. He is really passionate about music and sincerely wants to see Barcelona grow into having a great music scene that is varied and accessible to everyone. The idea of Café Royale is free entrance and live music or DJs. On some nights there's flamenco, on others a sort of Brazilian acoustic, Friday nights DJ Roger Cowell, on Sundays there´s jazz…We were given the opportunity to do a once a month Beatspoke session and invite who we like so we can just have fun and experiment with our kind of music—too good to pass up really. The first was on May 19th and it went really well. The crowd was amazing and the vibe was just priceless. The next one will be June 16th and we've invited singers Graziella and Shar Alexandra from the UK to join us with their new project Scarlet Lowe.
Are you booked to play any festivals this summer?
Well of course there's the Worldwide festival on July 10th and since we were going to be in the area we've set up a mini tour in the south of France and one to be confirmed in Paris. We're also playing on a boat in Marseille, a party called ¨Le Bauteu¨ on August 7th. We really have great support from our people in France, they are amazing!
What's next for Beatspoke?
To keep getting live shows here and abroad, to continue to really grow and develop this Café Royale monthly and create a scene for ourselves here in our home town, we'd always just played out of the country, and to get that second album out. We've got quite a lot of material, sketches etc. but we need to decide what we want to work on and how to put it all together and who we want to collaborate with.