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Beshken's New EP is a Product of Loss, Love, & Learning

If you pride yourself in finding the latest and greatest of the music world, look no further. Beshken is bringing raw talent to the game, not only by producing each and every track (sometimes using the natural—and often odd—sounds of New York City), but taking the mic as well.

The story behind his latest EP, For Time is the Longest Distance Between Two People, is anything but ordinary: traveling in Rome, and always at the ready to make music, Beshken brought all of his necessities (computer, hard drive with nearly five years worth of music, and lyric journal included), not knowing that they wouldn’t make it back with him. A product of this loss, For Time is the Longest Distance Between Two People is a study on the pain of distance (in its many forms), and the silver lining of hard times (in this case, he has some slick Roman thieves to thank for this one). 

Coming together with girlfriend Nina Gofur, the two constantly bounced ideas off one another and For Time Is The Longest Distance Between Two People was made both musically and artistically in constant collaboration. We sat down with the artist to dive deeper, hear the stories behind the EP, and get a first check on what’s next for him; check the full interview below.

So we just premiered For Time Is The Longest Distance Between Two Peopleeven though it was just recently premiered, what has the reception for that been like?

I mean it’s been private for a while so as for reception you know, people always say that they like it to your face. I’ve met with a few labels at this point who dig it. Although, I released it independently. I love doing it this way but it’s a lot of work. I wasn’t that much of an anxious person before, but I think planning the release over the last four or five months has given me a lot of anxiety, so putting the music out is definitely cathartic. It’s been done for almost nine months. I was so happy this morning when it came out and I could finally settle. If people don’t like it they haven’t told me. Yet.

Where does the title come from?

The title of the EP is an edit of a quote from the Tennessee Williams play The Glass MenagerieI was in Montreal last Thanksgiving and there is a really great contemporary art museum there. They had a cool exhibit going on which was called “For Time Is The Longest Distance Between Two Places”, which struck me right away and I was like “Whoa that’s an interesting phrase”. But basically the whole exhibit played with like photos and artworks that explored time and it was super stretched out and convoluted and I just thought that it was perfectly abstract. It spoke to me so that’s where this title comes from. My girlfriend also played a huge part in this whole process creatively – all of the artwork was created by her including the single artwork, press pics, and music videos. She was definitely my muse throughout this entire creative process and I bounced ideas off of her for everything—as much as I made the music she was there along the way to guide me—it was a true partnership.

So can you talk about what it was like to bring your song “Force of Evil”—which is a video that you’ll be releasing soon—to life visually? Or how do you plan to bring the EP to life visually?

I think that visuals are such an important part of making music, to explore the ideas you create in the songs and then expand on them and reinterpret them. So I had this idea for the song “Force Of Evil” but I was able to create a new meaning for the song with visuals and Jordan Tager, the animator, spent around six months painting and animating.

As far as the EP—is it a narrative with a story attached to it as each song goes?

Each song has its own meaning, but the EP does have a more abstract narrative. So the first song, “The Roman Call”, starts with the climax. It starts with me losing all of my gear and music in Rome and then as the music progresses it becomes a healing process, a coping mechanism. So each song that comes after that grows on that idea and then the last one is sort of a darker melancholic track which is, you know, about how I lost a lot of music but there’s a new beginning, a silver lining. I guess I could go in depth about every song specifically if you wanted me to, but that would take a while.

Well I was going to ask you about your headspace at the time. I know that had a lot to do with the songs.

I hadn’t cried that hard in a really long time which is funny because I’ll tell people about this and they’re like oh, you just lost your computer, you just lost music, it’s not like somebody died, whatever it’s not like it’s the end of the world. But to me, music is such a big part of my life and my identity so in a sense it felt as if I lost myself and I felt empty, so a lot of the EP comes from this empty feeling of not really knowing where I was or who I was. When traveling, I recorded a lot of sounds with my field recorder so the only thing I had left from the trip were all of these sounds. I didn’t have any of my previous sample library. So I kind of realized that I had my instruments and my voice and went from there. It tried to only use sounds that I had created myself. This was great because it was limiting and when I limit myself I can make something that’s more cohesive.

Did you try and go back and reproduce what you had previously made based off your memory?

I thought about it but it didn’t really make any sense. I had uploaded some stuff to Soundcloud and I couldn’t really do anything once they were uploaded, but I realized I was going a little too hard bringing my hard drive and laptop on a vacation ya know.

It was almost a blessing.

Yeah, I mean I was just stressing out too much about making music. It was becoming a job.

I feel that. Is there any song on the EP that holds a special place in your heart?

My favorite song is “Force of Evil”. Recording that song was the most fun for me and I think it’s the darkest song on the record which I resonate with. I do have some lighter, more beach-y West Coast stuff on there, but the new direction I’m going in is more music like “Force Of Evil”. It has the most meaning to me just because, in my opinion, it’s the most complex thing i’ve made thus far.

I know this is your first release in a while—how are you trying to define your role within your genre?

So I think that I am making music that doesn’t really sound like anybody else and that’s what i’m trying to do—take my roots as a rock and jazz guitarist and mix them with a lot of the electronic, house, and ambient music I’m listening to. Basically just developing a combination between all of those which I think exists in music but not in the way I’m trying to do it.

What is your creative process like? Where do you draw inspiration from?

I always start with a random, field-recorded sound. I have folders that are organized with the names of places that I have visited, like NYC, Big Sur, and Florence, and in them are recordings of me turning my stove on or the ringing bells of Il Duomo. I remember I was trying to record myself snapping in the Sistine Chapel and a security guard got really pissed off at me. On one of the songs you can hear wind chimes and breakfast cooking. So I’ll start with that sound and then I’ll turn it into percussion. So if I’m hitting stuff randomly in the recording I’ll warp it into a rhythmic beat in Ableton. With more conceptual ideas, I usually write lyrics after I’ve produced a track because I come from more of a producing background, and this is the first project where I have sang on the entire thing. Most of my older music consists of instrumentals or a feature like the song I did with Gus Dapperton. The lyrics come afterwards and they usually come from feeling empty. I use music as an escape sometimes. A lot of this album is about my girlfriend and being in a long distance relationship with her, which I am in right now as she just left Tuesday to Russia. We’re not going to see each other for four months, and we just started doing long distance again after a year, so it’s really timely that I’m putting this out. I go through phases as does everyone, and lately I’ve been using music to liberate myself from my own thoughts.    

Long distance can be really tough. So I guess my last question for you is, now that this is out, what are your plans for the rest of the year?

I might play a few shows in Berlin while I live there for the next few months, but I’m really just going to be releasing a lot of music. I already have three or four more tracks I’m going to put out and then hopefully in January I’ll play some more shows around the East Coast and in LA. We’ll see where everything goes. I think Spring & Summer will be good for touring and I’ll also just continue to release more songs during that time. I’m going to use Berlin as a creative space and utilize the fact that it’s an extremely creative city. It’s weird timing to put something out and then move away but that’s just how life goes sometimes. I’m excited to have some new experiences.   

Images courtesy of Nina Gofur

Stay tuned to Milk for more fresh talent. 

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