Interview with Freya Beer: Art, poetry and music

Interview with Freya Beer: Art, poetry and music

“I’m not really into saying it as it is, I prefer to put a bit of a twist to the lyrics and a bit of a story behind it”. Freya Beer on Pre-Raphaelites, poetry and poor WiFi signal.

Eclectic singer-songwriter Freya Beer has released her first single of the year, Siren, a bewitching and moody masterpiece inspired by T J Waterhouse’s The Siren.

The single, released on the February 26 via Beer’s own label, Sisterhood Records, is both intense and beautiful, pairing classical lyricism with an alt rock sound. Her voice is powerful and brooding, the overall sound reminiscent of Wolf Alice and Nick Cave. In a genre lacking female artists, Beer is a breath of fresh air. She is new and exciting.

Beer is set to embark on her UK tour in May, providing coronavirus restrictions are lifted. She will be at Ramsgate, Birmingham, Leeds, London, Bristol, Manchester and Glasgow.

Carrot was lucky enough to catch up with her on her experiences and inspirations ahead of her tour and single release.

How has Covid affected recording and creating music? Has it made it better or has it made it worse?

I would say it’s probably made it better because obviously, we can’t go into a studio and have someone record it for us. So we’re sort of left to our own devices to explore Logic and learn how to produce stuff ourselves. I think at the beginning of the lockdown it was sort of like, how is it all gonna pan out? But it was a natural thought and it’s sort of working in my favour because I’ve learned how to use Logic and make my new songs.

Are you worried you may not be able to tour in May? What happens if not?

Well, with the situation at the minute, it looks like it will probably be rescheduled till autumn or December along with everyone else. So it’s nice to have that hope that there’s a possibility, especially with the vaccine rollout. But again, it’s very unpredictable with everything, so it’s most likely gonna be rescheduled to the end of the year.

Do you find that quite frustrating? 

Yeah, because like everyone else, live music is an experience which you can’t really have anywhere else. It’s having that connection with the audience as well. It is great to have online live streams but it’s different recording to a camera because there is no reaction.

Have you been doing live streams?

Yeah, I’ve done a few. But where I am in Dorset, the WiFi is rubbish so the quality hasn’t been that great. You sort of just do it anyway because you know you’ll get something out of it, like new listeners. It’s just a bit annoying that I can’t really control the signal or WiFi connection, but yeah it’s been good.

What’s the best thing about performing live? 

Probably the adrenaline you have because it’s like a mixture of nerves and excitement. Once you’re on stage, well for me, it goes away and you’re in your own world. You kind of just zone out and play your music.

What sort of audiences do you attract? What’s the vibe like? 

I would say it’s probably a mix. A mix of age groups which I guess is good because I don’t really want to narrow it down into one sort of audience. But I would say my audience is more of a listener rather than moshing.

What’s been your favourite live performance so far? 

Probably supporting the poet Dr John Cooper Clarke. He is someone who has influenced my writing from a young age and it was really surreal, just the fact that I had the opportunity to support him. And the venue in Southampton, The 1865, it was a bit of a full circle because I went to uni in Southampton. It is one of the bigger venues there so it was quite nice to end the year there, supporting John Cooper Clarke.

I read that you found inspiration in classical literature. What is it about classical literature that you find so inspiring? 

I think the imagery that classic literature sort of brings to the reader… yeah, I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

Do you think your audience relates to the classics? 

I guess it’s a certain type of audience which I have because I have noticed that some of the listeners recognise a Sylvia Plath reference in my lyrics. So I guess it’s that type of audience and I think I’m attracting the right audience.

Whose work are you most influenced by? 

The first poet I started reading was Alan Ginsberg, who was from the 60’s. He was part of the Beat movement in New York. So, I would say Alan Ginsberg because especially in my older writing, I would reference his poems a lot.

What’s your favourite book? 

Hmm, I read a lot. Probably Eclectic by Charles Bukowski, because I think his writing is very raw but very brutal in a way. It is just the reality of life which I really like, because I’d rather have an honest writer rather than a writer who sort of makes it all sort of lovey-dovey. I find writers who are more brutal in their words, they appeal to me more, because you can relate to it.

Do you feel like those themes are reflected in your work?

Well, I guess the subjects in my songs definitely have a darker aspect and I’m not too sure where that comes from. Usually when I write, I always joke that there’s some conscious energy channelling through me. In Arms Open Wide, I talk about “the devil sends the one you regret”. Where did I get that from? But I guess it’s just from reading into poets who have darker themes, that definitely reflects in my writing. I just like to use the words for the listener to create a world in their heads and have their own take on it, rather than writing blunt lyrics like “I loved him, he left me”. I wanna give it more imagery for the listener.

Moving onto Siren, what is the inspiration behind it? What’s it about?

Well, the name I got from a Pre-Raphaelite painting called The Siren, by John Waterhouse. I have always gone to Pre-Raphaelite for inspiration, even when I started off young and I had zero life experience. I always went to art because there’s always a story. It gave me a starting point and then I could adapt my own take on it, so it becomes more relatable to myself.

Does the song have a specific meaning or is it open to the listener’s interpretation?

It’s definitely open to adaptation by the listener because the opening line is “picking up fruit from the rotten tree, reminds me of the time you enjoyed fooling me”, so it makes the listener think. I’m not really into saying it as it is, I prefer to put a bit of a twist to the lyrics and a bit of a story behind it.

Are you working on any more projects at the moment? 

After this single, there will be another single, preferably in May. I’m then releasing my debut album Beast, which I’m really looking forward to. I’m currently working on that at the moment, recording remotely. The debut album is sort of the build-up.

When is Beast being released? 

Probably in June. I can’t wait because obviously, I’ve never released an album before and it’s gonna be on vinyl as well. That’s gonna be very cool, to just hold your own work.

I read that you have your own record label, Sisterhood Records, what was the motivation behind that? 

It was suggested by my managers, I think purely because as a new artist, I’m not gonna be signed immediately by a major label. I think creating your own label looks good so that you have music under a name. Sisterhood itself, like the name, is rooted from me and my sister. My sister would always come to all my gigs with me, so we were sort of a team (we still are a team). So I thought it was the perfect name for the label as well.

Does having your own label give you more creative control as an artist?

Oh yeah, definitely! Because obviously it’s just me and my team. There’s loads of creative control and who knows in the future, maybe I’ll take it to another level where I’ll introduce new artists to the label. But at the moment, I think it’s a good platform to release my own music. It looks more established that way.

Thank you, Freya Beer!

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