Seattle Indie-pop band Beat Connection have been around for a while but the Beat Connection you’re hearing today is not the band of old. After a few years of silence the band have returned with a new lineup and armed with a fresh LP full of funk-tinged cuts that seep into the brain immediately.
Product 3 is the new album and it showcases a whole new band with a new sound to fall in love with. It’s part nostalgic, part futuristic and a lot of catchy, serving up track after track of polished gold. There’s a certain familiarity to each song as well. On first listen on the album it’s easy to feel as if you’ve loved the songs in another life. Of course, that’s completely ridiculous but there’s something warm about just how immediate the tracks are.
We caught up with frontman Reed Juenger to dig into the album a little and find out what’s going on inside the intricate minds of Beat Connection. He also shared with us some of his favourite releases of the year and as it turns out his music taste is bang on.
For those who want to play along at home, the album is streaming right now ahead of its 23rd October release date.
Apart from obviously coming out with an album, was there an end goal in terms of sound when you started on the record?
That’s a tough one. You know, when it comes down to it there were so many different points of inspiration playing into the process of creating this record that the real goal was to make something that we all collectively stood behind 100%. We never started out with an idea like “let’s write a future funk R&B record.” More like, “let’s write the soundtrack to what’s happening in all of our lives and draw from everything that inspires us and leave no stone unturned."
You've said before your music has an element of nostalgia. Do you think some of your early musical influences came through subconsciously?
Oh yeah, certainly. Maybe not sonically, but you know how sometimes you are stuck in the car in some town you’ve never been to and you’ve only got the local radio to listen to? And then, suddenly, a song you haven’t heard in years comes on? That flood of nostalgia, all the memories associated with that song is definitely something we are trying to reference or emulate when we make a song. In that sense, my parents record collection might not shine through (not much grateful dead playing out in our songs innit), but the feeling of early musical influences, something that sticks with you, definitely comes through.
How did the four of you come together and start making music?
You could maybe say out of necessity. Seattle has a strong musical community that is very diverse, but we don’t really fit in, and we all share a strong desire to create something that really exists in its own aesthetic space. But, to be real with you, we all met in some very drunken party situations and then became friends. At one point we all lived together and slacked out on university courses and made music and were just generally very naive and carefree.
The album sounds joyous even though in parts the lyrics aren't. Was that juxtaposition on purpose?
Yes, definitely. We are trying to pull one over sometimes--making it seem like the bright commercial sheen of a shopping mall display, but in reality having it cut through a bit more with some realism. I feel overwhelmed by hollywood cut scenes and flawless photoshop jobs, so we are trying to occupy that space…and then fuck it up from the inside out. I love pop music, and I love producing sounds that are really crisp and triumphant; but, I get shot down at work, I get shut out at home, I get passed over, I get confused--we all do--so we work to soundtrack that.
What's the perfect place to have a live show for you in terms of country, indoor or outdoor, size?
I’m trying to take this shit to an art museum back garden area. Outdoors, sun just setting, free drinks, modern art sculptures all around, that sort of thing. Probably only exists in my dreams, but trust the first art gallery that opens its doors to us will be having a real show.
What's changed for you guys in the past three years since the last record?
A whole lot. The lineup has changed, the loves in our lives have changed. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the hospital dealing with some health issues. I can’t really think of one thing that has truly stayed the same to be honest. The four of us who make up Beat Connection now though are best friends, and we are here to see this thing through. It turns out we were all here to make it happen since day one, too.
The album cover is really striking. What's the idea behind it and also the album title?
Well, the title is about being honest about what we are delivering--a product. After all, we will be replaced by the next hot item on everyone’s timeline in a swift and efficient manner, so we better be honest, and we better be on sale. Then again though, when it comes to pop music (and I mean pop like anyone trying to play the game, be it in death metal, or the most sugar cube teen pop out there), it’s pretty unclear what the product is and what actually sells the record. Is it a radio hit? A press photo? A poster up for sale at the mall? The band itself?
The cover itself is an extension of this same train of thought. A scene so completely scrubbed clean of anything personal that it doesn’t even have people in it anymore. Also--does it not look totally ballin?
Apart from your own, what are the best releases of the year?
Kendrick - To Pimp a Butterfly, Tame Impala - Currents, Jamie xx - In Colour, UMO - Multi-Love, Mura Masa - Someday Somewhere, Skepta - The Tim Westwood Tape (a lot of older stuff on there though), Nao - February 15…. The list goes on, gonna have to think some more on that one
Product 3 drops on Friday (October 23) and will be available where all funk-induced beats are sold | streamed.