The effortlessly cool Beachwood have released two singles Marbles and God Only Knows. Their compelling, hypnotic brand of electro pop shines bright on both tracks; completely mastering an unexpected cover in God Only Knows, and documenting a gradual lapse of sanity in Marbles. Beachwood (otherwise known as Jarrad Rogers and Angeline Armstrong) are the new kids on the block – only these multi medium artists already know exactly who they are, and are already making waves across the globe. After working with massive international artists such as Charli XCX, 5 Seconds of Summer, Lana Del Rey and Lauryn Hill, and much loved Australian artists Montaigne, Daniel Johns and Luke Steele (Empire of the Sun), it's finally time for Jarrad and Ange of Beachwood to step to the front.
Their new original track Marbles was conceived in Los Angeles and features Texan MC Tray Haggerty, and you can almost hear the buzzing heat in the final release. Surprising beat changes, inventive melodic vocal ideas, almost overwhelming synthesisers and hits are all contained within Marbles. It feels like a true masterclass in marrying the art of songwriting and the art of production and the end result is one very exciting pop song. Speaking on the inspiration behind the single, Jarrad says, "Sometimes, caught up in the moment, we find ourselves saying and acting like someone we don't even recognise - someone who is not at all the person we want to be deep down - that sort of inner struggle just seems to be a part of human nature. It was cool to work together on a song that found a way to really capture that universal feeling of letting someone you love down, of 'losing your mind, your grip on things, your marbles.'"
God Only Knows may seem a strange fit as a cover for a modern electronic pop duo – but Beachwood's version of this classic Beach Boys hit is the track you never knew you needed. Eerie, progressive and warm, the gorgeous nature of this stunning song glows in Beachwood's thoughtful remake. Angeline's voice is soft and emotive as impressive production swells and recedes with stunning technical prowess. This cover highlights the melancholy within God Only Knows, as Ange explains, "God Only Knows is such a sweet, romantic sounding song - but when you dig deeper and pay attention to the lyrics, it's quite bittersweet and dark - there's a real desperation and longing in it. That same longing and bittersweet feeling exists in both of our new tracks: hidden beneath pulsating pop beats and big progressive sounds, there's the raw voice of a desperate longing for a relationship that won't spoil or break. I think that taps into something very personal for all of us, no matter how deeply buried."
The decision to release the two songs side by side was one that felt natural to Beachwood, as Ange reflects, "It's always nice to give people more. As artists we're always so hungry to release our music faster than is sometimes possible - it feels really good to just let go and hand these two over to the world all at once. We wanted to do something a little different - there's a big focus on releasing one single at a time these days, but we felt that there was a bit of a story here in releasing both together. We love re-imagining songs, especially ones as amazing as God Only Knows." No matter what the song, the Beachwood sound will always come through.
Beachwood is Jarrad Rogers and Angeline Armstrong.
Question: Can you tell us about Marbles?
Jarrad Rogers: Marbles started quite a while ago when I was living in LA, it kind of sat on the shelf for a while and I always loved it but didn't have the right outlet for it at the time. The one day I thought I play it to Ange, our sound was evolving and this felt like it would fit. She dug it! We then finished writing the song together. I had previously reached out to Tray Haggerty (a rapper/MC from Texas) through my publisher. He originally laid this sick MC part over the classic spot for an MC - the verse beat. I was playing around one day and flipped it into the chorus. Felt great, something totally different, so we ran with it!
Question: What's the inspiration behind the track?
Jarrad Rogers: It's a song about the moment you realise the decision you made may not have been the best decision you could have made. It's an honest account of diving into a situation and realising that maybe this isn't the best thing for you and wondering why and how you let yourself get here. Must have lost your marbles or something.
Angeline Armstrong: Our words have power, and sometimes what we say can make things spiral out of control. We say things we don't mean, we say things we regret, we often hurt the people we care about most. Sometimes, caught up in the moment, we find ourselves saying and acting like someone we don't even recognise - someone who is not at all the person we want to be deep down - that sort of inner struggle just seems to be a part of human nature. It was cool to work together on a song that found a way to really capture that universal feeling of letting someone you love down, of 'losing your mind, your grip on things, your marbles...' That image is so strong, of all these little glass balls just rolling out of your grip, it really does feel like that sometimes. It's our song to say sorry to those people closest to us who we've sometimes hurt, or said things we didn't mean, or taken for granted.
Question: What motivates you most when writing music?
Jarrad Rogers: Real life situations on a lyric front. Also fresh sounds and different ways of presenting songs!
Angeline Armstrong: I'm drawn to exploring characters and building empathy through funnelling my own emotional experience into songs - there's real power in that sort of collective experience, when you're able to communicate something that someone else out there has felt in the exact same way. I always strive to represent truth in some way, in my songwriting
Question: What inspired you to cover The Beach Boys classic God Only Knows?
Jarrad Rogers: We were given permission by the publishers of The Beach Boys catalogue to cover it, so we thought why not? It was actually a really scary thing! It's such a brilliant song, that if you get it wrong it is going to be REALLY obvious. We wanted it to be a gut reaction; a moment of inspiration rather than a super calculated cover of an already brilliant song. We were looking for a vibe more than anything else. We really love how it turned out.
Angeline Armstrong: We both love the Beach Boys, I particularly love the way this song has such a sweet, almost twee, exterior to it, you know, sonically...but that is actually in bold contrast to the darker undertones in the lyric. I wanted a chance to bring out that dichotomous nature of the song, it's like the quintessential definition of 'bittersweet' actually.
There's an element of darkness and pain in that very raw and human cry to be loved and to be secure in something that won't ever fade or change; a divine kind of love I suppose, that perhaps isn't even found in human relationships.
Jarrad kicked us off with this really dark and brooding sort of vibe. It was good fun to play with the mood and tone of the song in our interpretation of it, which just brought out those thematic lyrical elements and shed a new light on a beloved song - it's definitely a very different feel to the original, but I love how a good cover can do that, re-interpret something without changing the lyric at all - but just drawing out a meaning or another side that you maybe didn't see before (laughs), like the Upside Down, hopefully people have a bit of an "upside down" moment listening to this the first time.
Question: What is it about the song that just makes it so damn great?
Jarrad Rogers: It's just so musically and lyrically perfect, the chord changes and the way the lyric turns back on itself. The darkness in it yet it still feels great to listen to and experience; you could go on about it forever actually, it's just a mind blowing song.
Question: Do you prefer performing live or recording?
Jarrad Rogers: They're both super different, I personally love the studio. I was classically trained on the piano for 14 years, but now I'd say my instrument is the studio. I love the moments of inspiration you get when working in the studio and then the process of refining it to the point where you know it's done! Then hearing it back on radio or in a shop or something and all these memories from when you created it come flooding back. That's such a rich and rewarding feeling.
Question: Which is your favourite song to perform live and why?
Jarrad Rogers: Probably a new one we haven't released yet, it's currently called 'Ride Out' as it just seems to get everyone moving and dancing and in a kind of trance! It's super fun. I can't wait to release that one.
Question: If you could have anyone, in the world, attend a show, who would it be?
Jarrad Rogers: My mum and dad, they haven't been yet and it's always the best when they get to see what you've been up to!
Angeline Armstrong: I think anyone who was having a rough day and feeling a little alone - and needed to feel a part of something bigger. Honestly, if someone can come to our show, and leave different to how they came in - better, uplifted, lighter in some way - because a song articulated something they'd been feeling and felt alone in, or because dancing made them feel freer than they have in a long time, that is honestly the best reason to play a show and pretty central to why I create music in general. There's escapism and there's empathy and there's power in music.
Question: What is the story behind the band name?
Jarrad Rogers: We both chose Beachwood as the first place to stay when we arrived in LA, my family and I had been living there for a bit over a year. Ange was coming into town on a yearlong visa and a friend of a friend put us in touch, she chose Beachwood before even talking to us! It's a beautiful area just at the foot of the Hollywood hills, Ange worked in a cafe that we used to go, I love Beachwood, such a great place.
Question: How did the band come together?
Jarrad Rogers: A friend of my wife put us in touch with this 'chick' from Australia just before Christmas, I was currently living in LA and had been for a bit over a year, and she (Angeline) was coming over to LA for a year to further her film endeavours and engage with that community in LA. We invited her over for Christmas dinner as we used to always have someone new at our Christmas dinners when we lived in London, it really does help make the day special. And, we all got along great, started to hang out and I knew she did music, but didn't want to throw the friendship by trying something together. Then there was a chance for her to feature on a record I was putting out through my solo artist project on Ultra Records called MSTR Rogers and she crushed the vocal. The next step was to try and write a song together, we smashed something out in about 1.5hrs and she took it away to work on lyric. A day later she called and read out what she had written, we then just kept doing more and more together; kinda grew super organically!
Question: Which music/artists are you currently listening to?
Jarrad Rogers: Too many to mention to be honest, I keep this running playlist going of all the music that inspires me, it's getting pretty big, nearly over 1,000 songs. I love where music is at and heading; creativity is king rather than a genre. It's all very inspiring at the moment! Question: What or who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Jarrad Rogers: Prince and Quincy Jones.
Angeline Armstrong: Oooh would definitely have to be all those alt indie bands who made me feel things when I was a teenager: Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, Death Cab For Cutie, Cat Power, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Joanna Newsom, Sigur Ros - alongside the classics - Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Johnny Cash, Jeff Buckley - can remember so many long train trips and late nights with the headphones up real loud. Those artists took me to other worlds - that's a huge part of what music is for me.
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Jarrad Rogers: Prince and Quincy Jones.
Angeline Armstrong: Right in this moment, probably Kanye; I want to sing on that Jesus Is King record and wear a sick robe in the Sunday service; maybe another me in another life is doing that somewhere in a parallel universe.
Question: Can you share your socials?
Jarrad Rogers: @beachwoodband
Interview by Brooke Hunter