Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Interview with Allon Beausoleil

Introducing: Introducing: Psychedelic Folktronic Extraordinaire Allon Beausoleil
Location:Tokyo, Japan

JR-I understand you have been gigging in Japan for a bit,
Whats that been like compared to the States?

AB-I think the "system" in Japan is not as flexible as it might be in the States but I'm in no position to complain.
There is a whole kind of "pay to play" thing happening here where you have to guarantee that you can bring a certain amount of people, luckily I've never had to do that.
I don't even really book shows anymore, generally speaking I'm asked by the club or promoter to play.

JR-When did you start really getting serious about playing music?

AB-Probably at around twelve years old.
I was deaf until the age of around four so I had a unique relationship with sound as I was growing up but I started getting music lessons and started writing tunes at twelve.

JR-What did you listen to growing up?

AB-I was first hooked on, I guess you would call it "Oldies".
My dad always had it on the radio.
It was lucky for me cause it was a great introduction to good songwriting and early psychedelic rock.
After that I found Pink Floyd and Bowie, which led to The Stooges and Velvet Underground, Beatles, Donovan, Dead Kennedy's, etc.

JR-Is it easier to be a solo artist, I see that you do have a live drummer?

AB-Being solo has it’s advantages but it adds a certain amount of pressure as well.
Every little mess up is on display.
When I’m on tour and it’s just me or me and the drummer, with the guarantees I get we can stay at hotels and get to the next city and keep going.
Much more difficult when you are with five people and their significant others.

JR-Do you ever use backing tracks when playing live to get additional sounds?

AB-It just depends on the show, I do kind of a full on show and I also do a more solo acoustic act as well.
I’m not sure if I would call them backing tracks but yea I use electronics or what have you.
When you see my show it’s pretty clear what’s going on.
I’m playing and singing, the drummer is drumming the machines are machining.
At heart I’m a singer songwriter but I am far from being a purist.

JR-How would you best describe your sound, what genre would you categorize your music?

AB-Hmmm.....How about psychedelic modern folktronic rock.
If there is such a genre, does that sound about right?
JR-Thats what I was thinking when I was listening to your music, elements of folk and psych.

JR-Has YouTube really helped you spread your music , I see you have several postings?

AB-I think YouTube is just starting to help me.
Actually most all the vids on YouTube are posted by other people.
I think I only have one “officially sanctioned “ video up there.
My whole last show was posted in HD so it’s an easy way for people to see what they can expect.
Recently a lot of other websites have attached my videos to their websites and YouTube connected some of those “sponsored videos” to one of my songs.
Guess it’s a good sign.
Working the video side is a really good way for artists to help promote themselves, last year we web cast pretty much the whole tour live every night.
For some reason video gets a lot of cross reference on the web so it’s a quick way to up your Google search presence or what have you.

JR-Is the acoustic guitar your main choice for live performances, do you find any other instruments you may bring up on the stage?

AB-I do love me some acoustic guitar but depending on the show I play electric guitar and Sitar as well.

JR-Are you using any fancy stage lighting , special effects and or props for your live performances or do you rely on the venue to provide the basics of what you need for your show?

AB-I just use what the venue has.
If it’s a small place with almost no lighting I do have a classic water, oil, food coloring mixer lighting thing that I use sometimes.
I like to dress up so that becomes part of the visual atmosphere.

JR-Do you find songwriting easy, how often do you write?

AB-I write whenever I have something that needs to get out.
At this point I would say I write about eight to ten songs a year that actually get finished.
I do go a little crazy on writing and re-writing and arrangement and trying make a natural bridge.
I guess it’s not so easy.
It pretty much keeps me on the edge insanity.
In the end I just want to make a song that is catchy and easy to listen to but if you are a musical sort of person you can hear that there is something kind of tricky going on.
I’m probably a little too hard on myself when it comes to songwriting.

JR-.Is it worth it these days to put out a physical product like a CD?

AB-I think it’s good to still have a physical product but it’s important to understand whats happening in the industry and consumer culture. At this point there’s probably not much reason in printing 5,000 Cd's if you are an indie artist.
The market is so saturated now that it’s hard to get any attention without some kind of promotion machine behind you.

JR-Seems like people these days want there music for free, any thoughts on that?

AB-Recently I’ve heard people talking about a new kind of etiquette that says go ahead and download the music for free but if you do you should go see the band live and buy some merchandise in return.
If that’s the way things go I suppose I wouldn’t fight it, an artist can make more money by playing 10 sold out shows then they can selling thousand of Cd’s.
Plus the whole thing with so many bands having their music licensed for TV and commercials etc., that’s the new money in music.

JR-Is there any artists, bands that your really into as of late?

AB-When I was on tour last year I opened for The Head and the Heart and thought they were great.
I also like some of the modern art/hip hop stuff like Nosaj Thing to name a few.

JR-Have you ever met anybody famous like a musician for example you admire?

AB-Ive been fortunate enough to hang out with some great folks.
I had lunch with Thom Yorke, Donovan once called me his son, chatted about how it’s hard to get good Mexican food in NYC with Drew Barrymore.
I better stop now, that’s enough name dropping for the time being.

JR-If you did meet that person did it change the way you perceived that person?

AB-Not really, everyone has been rather sweet, at least to me.

JR-What can fans expect from Allon Beausoleil in 2011?

AB-Keep an eye out for a full length release around late summer, probably tour around the States again around that time. I will play more shows than necessary, produce a few albums for other artists and get a haircut or two.

JR-Thanks Allon, for taking the time to interview with The Underground Echo. It was a pleasure to get to know you and your music .

For more news and information on Allon Beausoleil you can find him at www.allonmusic.com

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