Hiya Beau, thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
I’m not trying to be obtuse, but I don’t feel I decided. Music did! To trace it back to a particular moment is tough, but two of my uncles played guitar and they used to jam at family gatherings. I was transfixed from an early age, probably around 8 – 10. The music Gods grabbed me by the lapels and said “This is it….. this is your bliss”.
Introduce us to your musical history
My first instrument was the violin, which I played from probably around 10 to around 13. My grades weren’t so good, so the school I was in decided to take me out of an orchestra. To be fair though, nothing turned me on quite like the guitar. I started asking my uncles at family gatherings if they would teach me about music, in particular how to play guitar or piano.
They both taught me little pieces here and there, but it was my uncle Steve that had the greatest influence. He used to spend hours making me diagrams of different music theory concepts, usually with a carpenter’s pencil on a sheet of construction paper. I remember him forcibly but lovingly orienting my fingers on the fretboard into chord shapes and how painful it was.
But I had to keep going and brave the pain for the sake of the bliss of course. I think I was around the age of 14 or 15 when my parents got me my first guitar from the local music shop and I was hooked. I couldn’t put it down and delighted in just randomly strumming and making whatever sounded felt good to me.
Name me your 3 favorite Albums.
Depends on the day…. Things that come to mind right now though…. I would say the first (self-titled) Planxty record was a major influence. Anything Fela Kuti Touched and Raw Power by the Stooges.
What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?
I had one of my parents’ tapes with a Police record on one side and Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms on the other. Probably Our Spirits (In the Material World) by the Police blew my mind at first… I kept rewinding the tape and listening to that song and the rest of the album. Then one day I finally decided to flip the tape in my Walkman and try Dire Straits. I had climbed a tree in the front yard and was just up there listening to music, and when I heard the first few bars of “Money for Nothin” I lost balance and nearly fell out of the tree I was so blown away. So that’s a solid contender! Good thing I didn’t have to sue Mark Knophler for a concussion, although that would bring new meaning to getting my mind blown…. Lol.
The music industry is the hardest industry in the world to progress in, How do you feel you are doing?
I’m doing my best to learn and grow all the time. Having meditation practice and a commitment to working on myself definitely helps. The industry can be cold and I’m committed to practicing being positive in spite of that—both to myself and others in the field. I have my down moments but my belief is that it doesn’t matter how many times you fall down, it matters how many times you get back up, and how you comport yourself getting back up. It seems my progress is incremental, with occasional little wins. The key is to just keep pushing, stay positive and stay grounded in the love of the music.
What are your thought on Spotify’s monopoly on the music industry?
“Next question,” he explained. Just kidding of course. It is what it is. It has benefits and it has a dark side, just like any tool. On one hand the entire industry is considerably more accessible for newcomers than it would have been, say, 20 years ago because now kids can record an album on their DAW and the next weekend it’s internationally accessible via Spotify.
But of course the trick is getting heard. I don’t really love it or hate it, I just see it as a tool that is part of doing my job of making music. It’s kind of similar to their ubiquitous presence. Are there better operating systems than Windows or better word-processing apps out there than Word? Certainly possible. But if I were to get emotionally or intellectually caught up in that it would detract from my prime directive which is to share my heart through musical content with the world.
Do you sign up for any conspiracy theories?
Just the one big one. You are secretly in a conspiracy to hide your highest potential and most intimate, most beautiful aspirations from yourself because you are scared that they may become real and you don’t think you’re good enough to see them realized. That’s bullshit. You are good enough. Fight back. Study yourself, dare yourself to grow, and be compassionate to yourself and others. Life is filled with dreams waiting to be born.
Did you buy anything you don’t need during the pandemic?
Not really…. Unless you count all the delicious craft beer. Or this looper pedal that’s been kicking around my office that I don’t think I’ll really use. I just can’t get into it.
What was the worst experience on stage?
I don’t have too many horror stories. We had a gig a short while after getting a new PA and didn’t know quite how to use it. We got a super late start and had a lot of sound issues during the performance with a few grumbles from the crowd. We eventually got on track though. Still, it was mortifying.
Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about.
I am “legally” blind and I ran a marathon. I qualified for the Boston Marathon in the visually impaired category. That’s not super fast but when you have a partial sight you’re always hyper-focused on where you are going. So it’s tough to go really fast.
What makes you stand out as an artist?
I think my worldview from being part of disability culture makes me different. I don’t like to emphasize it too much, but it is a part of who I am and affects how I see things from a creative perspective. My experience with disability also makes me think about inclusivity. I have a passion for all voices being heard (if they want to be) and everyone is celebrated for their unique story. We all have something to share which can potentially inspire others, we all have a story to tell. I come from an abundance perspective rather than a scarcity perspective. Also that I am coming to the business of music at a later, less traditional age is a little different. I’d like to think I’ve grown up a bit and learned how to have healthy relationships, whether they be personal or professional. And I’ve taken enough time to try my hand at various pursuits, enough to know that music is my true love and it’s not going anywhere.
I hear you have a new music, what can you tell us about it.
A lot of this record was written around the time that I was about 400 miles away from my home and now wife, as well as around the time of my father’s death. Some of the themes explored include grief, longing, shame, what it means to make the most of this one precious life and transcending perceived disability or imperfection. I wanted to create something that was mean and rocked out but that also had a folky element to it.
Talk me through the thought process of the new tune/s.
I wanted to fuse two of my loves: 80s punk rock and Irish Traditional Music. So the album contains some of the tones of each. On the Irish side, you have Bodhran and Irish Bouzouki on 7 tracks and violin/fiddle on 3, plus the acoustic guitar vibe. Then the dirty, effect-laden electric guitar swoops in and crunchifies the serenity of it all into something evil and industrial sounding.
What was the recording process like?
Recording the record took about eleven months, almost one year. Since I work full-time and I wanted to take my time to reflect on the process, I went into the studio about once every other week and spent about five to six hours there.
I wanted to be deliberate and reflect on the sounds as I went, taking the time to create new parts and rehearse between sessions. The engineer JP and I would often take time to pause and chat about the direction and how things were progressing, which was vital. We laid everything in stages, so Guitar first, then bouzouki, then bodhran, then harmonica, then electric, then violin. The violin is the only instrument I did not play on the record, with the exception of the singing bowl, which the engineer JP played as well.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
My trend in songwriting these days is to really embrace vulnerability. Working with complex, sometimes very old, and very painful emotions can be more time-consuming to get right. I had to learn to forgive myself for letting the songs sit for a while before I was finally able to reach a feeling of completion with them.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
No, absolutely not. But it’s the honeymoon period. I just released the record and I’m still over the moon in love with it. Maybe in a year or two, I’ll have other reflections!
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Not much, except that I really hope people like the record and are able to gain some inspiration or feeling of relatability to it. The record is available on vinyl and CD formats as well as streaming if people are interested. I plan to drop a few singles in the latter part of the year, you can follow me on Instagram @beaujameswilding for updates, or hit me up there if you’d like a record shipped to you as well. Cheers, thanks for spending some time with me, I really appreciate this opportunity to share about this record which means so much to me.