Photo Credit: Shawn Arvind
There are those who always want the next new thing, and then there are those of us like myself and Beharie who relish in our old soul ways. With me it’s television, but with Beharie, it’s life from being social in person rather than through a screen or musically as he pulls off jazz elements from the past with ease. We talked about that as well as the new album, ‘Are You There, Boy?‘ as well as the world behind our eyelids, and much more!
Kendra: You’ve been regarded as a young, old soul – so I can only imagine that growing up you perhaps leaned more towards the music of the past instead of what was present. Am I close? I’m just curious about your journey from a fan of music to a musician…
Beharie: I think my music taste has always been quite versatile and a bit random. I’ve always loved music with old references. Especially artists connected to the old-school soul and singer-songwriter traditions/elements. At the same time, I’ve also been into a lot of pop and R&B music throughout my upbringing in the ‘90s and early 2000s.
Kendra: Listening to your music, you’re definitely taking listeners on quite the journey with your debut LP. You’ve got the classic singer-songwriter vibes of “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind,” the sincerity of “We Never Knew” and some jazzy moments on “Deadly.” Did you have any sort of road map when you set out to make this record, or was it more like, let it come naturally?
Beharie: The album started with me just writing a lot of music and making demos, without really having a plan. Just making music I felt like making at the moment. After making quite a lot of demos, I went on a trip to Firenze for two weeks with my producers. We listened to all the demos and started to play around with a lot of the different songs. That’s how the whole process continued. Us playing around with the songs we liked and tried to put things in order on the go. A really fun and inspiring way of making an album.
Kendra: Also, you’re a Norwegian artist, but from the sound of it…I would’ve placed you in the heart of Brooklyn. Do you think that because of the internet, we’re becoming less and less tied to sticking with what sounds “local?”
Beharie: That’s really interesting to hear! I absolutely think so. With access to an endless musical catalog, you can really easily dive into whatever you want and find a lot of great music, in all the genres you love, and also reach an audience outside of your city and country.
Kendra: I want to go back to “We Never Knew” because I just loved the line about the “world behind your eyelids.” With that, what is the world behind your eyelids like? Is it like Earth, water-based, made of sound?
Beharie: To me, it means when you see the world through someone else’s dream. When they close their eyes and paint a picture of the world, you are totally drawn into their vision.
Kendra: The new record also covers something that I think a lot of us are seeking, and that’s a meaningful connection. It’s easy enough to like a status or double-tap a photo, but at the end of the day what do you personally believe is the best way to connect with someone face-to-face?
Beharie: I enjoy being social in small groups or one on one the most, where there’s room for deep talks and being honest and vulnerable through good conversations. I also love experiencing art and live performances with others — having deep moments with people you care for.
Kendra: Time for a side note – with this being October, I’m asking everyone to recall their favorite Halloween costume growing up – and if you don’t have one, perhaps your favorite candy to pick up for yourself now that you’re grown and don’t have to go door to door for it…
Beharie: My mom tells me I really hated wearing a costume when I was little haha, and I guess there is some truth to it. Always felt a bit weird and uncomfortable. And the Halloween tradition wasn’t as strong in Norway 20 years ago either. I think I actually just went once, and I didn’t love the concept.
But I sure am a sucker for sweets in my grown-up years. The more sour, the better.
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘Are You There, Boy?’ out October 20th, what else can people expect as we continue into fall?
Beharie: I’m having a release concert, close to my hometown, where I am going to play with a symphony orchestra and my band. Really looking forward to that. Other than that, I’m going back to the studio a bit. Maybe write some new stuff.
There’s a long tour coming at the start of next year, so I’m going to use quite a lot of time preparing for that as well.