Beat Connection: They’ve got the beat
by Sarah Bryant
2015 is shaping up to be a huge year for Seattle’s electro-pop golden boys Beat Connection. After touring extensively in the US and Europe to support their 2012 debut album, The Palace Garden – including numerous festival dates, a show at Austin City Limits, and an epic 13-person jam at the 2014 Capital Hill Block Party – the band is almost ready to unveil their sophomore album. They’ve already released two singles from the record: “Hesitation” in May and “Another Go Round” in September, both to a significant amount of praise. With a handful of December tour dates to close out the year, including a date here in Bellingham at the Wild Buffalo, Beat Connection plan on throwing huge dance parties for its beloved Pacific Northwest family.
How does the band feel about going from a college dorm room to playing massive music festivals alongside some of their favorite artists?
“It’s amazing. Really fulfilling and rewarding. We’ve played in so many new places and for so many people,” said one of the band’s founding members, Reed Juenger. “It’s just absolutely crazy when someone knows the words to your songs when you’re playing a city you’ve never been before. It’s also crazy when you look in a crowd and start to recognize people that are there that you only know from seeing them at the shows.”
Producer and multi-instrumentalist, Juenger, started Beat Connection as a duo with friend and fellow UW classmate Jordan Koplowitz, and the project grew in numbers to accommodate live shows and their ever-expanding sound. In 2013 Koplowitz made the decision to leave the band less than six months after they released The Palace Garden. Since then Beat Connection has been fluctuating between three and four members, but Juenger said the current arrangement of himself, singer/guitarist Tom Eddy (also singer of 9-piece Seattle soul super group, The Dip), drummer Jarred Katz, and bassist/keyboard player Mark Hunter is here to stay. Juenger said the decision to expand was made because “having live instruments just adds so much more to the shows.” But his confidence in the line-up doesn’t stop with the live shows, he’s also pretty excited about the new material the band is producing.
“Writing and recording this album was really one of the first times we crystalized as a group,” Juenger explains. “It’s (the record) a massive step forward. Not that I think our old stuff was bad by any means, but we were just able to explore and expand. I’m really proud of it.”
Lucky for us the record is very close to being finished, the band is just waiting on a few key aspects, like finding the right record label to release and distribute it, as well as creating the accompanying artwork for the album. Juenger, who does graphic design work in the music industry, explains that it’s a decision not to be taken lightly, especially since artistic integrity and creative control are two of the most important aspects to the band when it comes to the music and art of Beat Connection.
“Our goal in Beat Connection is to be as successful as we can without compromising our art,” Juenger said. “I’m not talking about selling out and having our music on car commercials or something like that, because our music is pop music. It’s made for that. We want to make art that we are proud of. We’re a self-conscious pop band.”
This balance between commerciality and maintaining the integrity of one’s art, is a main theme in Beat Connection’s music, and it’s a constant inspiration for them. Perhaps because of this, the band pulls from so many different genres, from pop music to electronica to hip-hop to folk music and rock’n’roll, and on and on. The songwriting process is also very much collaborative because of this, with Juenger usually creating an instrumental and the other members each adding their own parts, lyrics or tweaks to a given song. And when it’s time to tour, the creation and arranging of Beat Connection’s live shows are just an extension of this songwriting process.
“The goal of the live shows is to bring the songs to life on stage,” Juenger explained. “We change a lot of tracks up to make them more upbeat but still finding ways to make it so people can still sing along.”
The band will perform Dec. 5 at the Wild Buffalo. You can also catch their New Year’s Eve show in Seattle at Neumo’s with Bellingham’s own Manatee Commune. For more information, follow their facebook page or visit beatconnection.bandcamp.com.
Published in the December 2014 issue of What’s Up! Magazine