You can say that BEATFACE was an accidental inevitability from ambitious artists yearning for that something else. What began as shared interests in hip hop for two Toronto long-time friends of separate local collectives has budded into an inevitable experimental collaboration, but the partnership surprisingly deviates far from the comforts of their past. It meticulously, albeit successfully, treads in a realm of a light electronic funk, techno and an underlying pop-rock jaunt, accentuated by high hats and base with their newest addition, BEATFACE’s live drummer by the name of Jonny.
The debut EP, “Amy” is a fruitful consequence and experimental debut narrative in seven consecutive parts that feels out their “new sound,” while allowing for closure sonically by veteran producer, Book (a.k.a Bookworm) and lyrically by Paul, the vocalist and songwriter. If you’re wondering who “Amy” is, in a long story short, spurned out of a hint of spite and admittedly a lesson learned, Amy is Paul’s ex-girlfriend. But the band is having fun with it. Take memories of her and run with it as an inside joke within the band, and the band gets what you’ll notice as a re-imagined Amy through BEATFACE’s website and social media. What’s better than giving the fans a 360 degree experience?
Musebox: Tell me about BEATFACE. Who is BEATFACE and why are you guys doing what you do?
Book: I guess this all sort of started with me and Paul. We’re from a hip hop background and wanted to try something different. So we decided that we were going to start writing some songs, and challenge ourselves to write some songs in other genres.
It was just a songwriting project at first, but as we started to write and actually record some of these songs, we realized that they were coming from a different place. I think we found something that sounded pretty unique and special, and that’s basically when we decided we might as well as make it our own thing and call it “BEATFACE”. I think it’s still an ongoing experiment for us, and one of the reasons we brought on Jonny as the live drummer; so that we can add to that.
MB: How did you transition from hip hop to your current genre?
Book: It wasn’t like we were planning on transitioning. It was an experiment we decided to try and after we did it, we got more and more into it, and it just became something we did, so it’s sort of a natural transition I guess.
Paul: We also did some songwriting for other people as well. So that kind of took us in another direction. Part of the transition was wanting to write songs for others. Then we were like, “wait, this is kind of cool, and it’s working for us so let’s just make it our own and keep doing it.”
MB: You’re three guys, but I noticed that you sign off on each blog post with the signature, “Amy”. You also debut with the EP title, “Amy”. Who is Amy?
Paul: Amy is my ex-girlfriend basically. We had some difficulties. As a songwriter, you pull from the abstract part of your creative brain and embellish it. But it’s definitely not that far out from some of the day-to-day challenges of that relationship. She’s basically an ex-girlfriend I learned a lot from, you could say, and I wrote a song about it.
MB: When I was listening to the lyrics and from noticing the track titles, there an obvious cohesiveness that takes you journey by journey throughout the album. Where were you intending to take your fans?
Paul: I might embellish here and there, and mix reality with fiction and a bit of surrealism. But, yea it all stems from some real life experiences.
MB: What were your projects or lives before BEATFACE?
Book: I was in a hip hop group called the Oddities; Paul was in a group called The Pangea Project.
Paul: They were both local Toronto hip hop bands and they were pretty well known within a certain level of the underground hip hop community in Toronto. But even though we were in different collectives, we’ve been working together since high school, and completely different forms of music up to now.
Jonny: I’ve played in various bands in Toronto, New York and the UK.
MB: So out of curiosity, do you listen to hip hop or electronic?
Paul: Not hip hop in the majority. I’m not really an “albums guy” right now. I’m more of a “favorite songs of the week” kind of guy. My mixes for the week could be a house song or it could be an old blues song; it could be a rap sound, a folk sound – whatever sounds good. That’s sort of my palette right now.
Jonny: I’m not from a hip hop based background. I came up with rock mainly. That’s always been my main influence really, especially as a drummer. There’s some indie rock going on and hard rock too.
MB: In a claustrophobic industry, where just about anyone is able to create music and put out their EPs and LPs to the world, what would you say you have to offer for listeners out there? Is your music something you’re making for yourselves or are you creating music
Paul: I don’t think we’ve sat down and said, “What can we offer differently?” I like to believe that it exists, but it’s going to be more for people to pull it out, but we do it because we love it and feel like we have a responsibility to share it with people. It’s different if you strike a different chord with people, and that is going to be up to them. You just have to make that effort to give it out to everybody that you can.
Jonny: I personally feel we’re coming across as a pretty new sound. I don’t think it’s going to hit people right away. Especially with playing the drums live, it’s bringing something pretty different people aren’t used to. So it may take a little time to catch on. But we’re pretty confident.
MB: How’s the Toronto music scene?
Paul: It’s pretty vibrant. Toronto is pretty vibrant all around. I feel it’s very DJ based.
Book: We have a lot of talent. As far as I can remember growing up, there have always been a lot of talented artists and musicians. Now with the internet boom and everything, I think it’s starting to get noticed a lot more, especially in the indie rock scene and things like Drake and the pop world. So it’s really growing fast, and it’s a good time to be part of it.
MB: Is there anything that you’re working on, or do you have any shows that you’ll be performing in soon?
Book: As far as what we’re working on right now. We have a video about to come out for “We Don’t Need to Pretend”, a song from the EP and two other videos planned for “Until It Sleeps” and another for “Bottle of Wine”. In the meantime, we’re working on a full album together, and that’s what we’re basically working towards. Hopefully by the end of the year we’ll have the full album done. As far as shows, we’ve just had our release party and we’re just waiting on our next big show.
MB: Where do you want to see BEATFACE in a couple of years down the road?
Paul: Definitely doing shows and tours on a consistent basis.
MB: Is it a fulltime aspiration?
Paul: Definitely. There’s nothing better than waking up and making music your first obligation for the day… and your last. Also, having a strong presence on the internet for people to get our music.
MB: Ah, marketing yourself online…
Paul: We just want to be very accessible.
MB: But there are a lot of bands out there with tons of Twitter followers. Do you have any strategies planned out to compete for that space or are you just taking it day by day?
Paul: Well honestly, it’s a bit of both. We have a strategy and then as we go day to day, we learn specifics and we plug it in along the way. The good thing about this right now is that it’s an EP, it’s a tester, it’s semi serious, but it allows us to make some mistakes, for a lack of a better word and it allows us to know better the next time around when we put out the full length. We also see this as an opportunity to get some help from the “machine” as they say. I’m not sure what kind of help, maybe not a full out label deal, but something that will boost our exposure and maybe provide access to resources. There’s nothing wrong with getting that kind of help if the music is true to yourself and the fans right?
MB: Musicians do have to make money…
Jonny: We just want to be able to occasionally go to nice restaurants, sit down and eat good food. We don’t want to ballin’ out in Vegas every weekend. We want to get ourselves our own studio space, and we want to get an engineer, just to make it a reality. It’s not about, what are we going to do with a pile of cash? It’s like making the music a reality, our life, you know?
If you get into for the money, then stop now and get out of the business. There’s also an easier way of doing it in the industry; there’s a formulaic way of doing it. You can be really popular online or you can be popular in one scene, one city setting, but you never know at the end of the day. It could take one song. Keep doing what you think you should do, and do what you do best.
MB: Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?
Jonny: Persistence. It seems to be a waiting game. If you hold on long enough and keep doing it, it happens. Sometimes it’s quicker than others, sometimes it takes longer that you want it to take. But if you continue doing what you love and don’t pick up on what other people are doing so much, you’ll get there to wherever you want to go.
You’ve got to keep going keep going. You’re going to feel indifferent at times. You’re going to get feedback that makes you second guess yourself. You just have to find that thing inside and keep believing and keep going.
Master a lot of the tools around us. The internet and all of the tools you can get into online. Network. To be an artist that lives off of their music is necessary.