Beoga‘s gentle ride into the mainstream realm has really taken flight in recent years. Despite being an unconventional ‘pop’ act – they sit closer to folk and trad circles – they’ve worked with Ed Sheeran and Lissie, and found themselves with millions of plays on Spotify.
With years in the music industry, though, you get the impression their recent success is essentially just another phase to the band, who remain at their best in the live arena, and have a heap of new material waiting in the wings to be polished off and released.
I caught up with them ahead of the launch of new single ‘In A Rocket’, which features that folk star Lissie.
First of all, guys, congrats on the Lissie collaboration. How did that come about?
Thanks, the song had been brewing for a long time and then someone suggested Lissie could be the kind of artist who would help finish it. We approached her and she agreed so happy days! We’d been fans of hers and knew she’d bring the right folk tone to it all.
We could all use the kind of escapism that’s explored in the single right now. Does your music offer that to you?
All music does to an extent I suppose, it’s important to be able to take yourself away from the news headlines for a bit here and there and music definitely helps.
Have your lives changed significantly since the Ed Sheeran work, in terms of people reaching out to you, and recognition for your music?
Not really, a small bit maybe. We’ve always been pretty active so that hasn’t changed, the business side of it has changed in terms of having record labels and publishers and stuff involved. It’s definitely helped us reach a new audience that wouldn’t have found our music otherwise.
Can you tell me a bit about what to expect from ‘Carousel’?
There are a few collaborations with some of our favourite artists, and a few instrumental pieces that we’ve been working on too. It’s been a while in the making, a slow process but it was important for us to not really rush into pumping music out.
What’s the thinking behind the release of a ‘mini-album’?
Ah, it’s more to do with it all sitting together in one place. It’s weird, the way people consume music these days, albums all feel like they’re playing 2nd fiddle to singles. It wasn’t quite an E.P but also not a full-length album. It’s a snapshot of what we’ve been working on the past couple of years since we started dipping the toe into writing with artists from a more mainstream lane than us.
Will it feel odd releasing this record into a scenario with the music world as shut down as it is now?
It’s hard to say, I mean we all hope that we can get back out on the road soon and play this music live. That’s where we’re happiest, playing shows. I think though, with the global shutdown, people need new music now more than ever. People will hopefully be glad of it.
You’ve been in and then left two different record contracts already. What was the story behind those, and do you feel better about your status now?
Nothing major to report, it’s all been pretty amicable and just the nature of what is a pretty transient business. We’re happy out, and have been happy out since we started working on this record so it’s nice to finally see it come to life.
Trad purists have been known to turn their noses up at collaborations and pop-style work like you guys do. Do you care about that at all?
Not in the least. We’ve never been a band for the purists, not in our 17 years together. Music is music, no-one owns it and we don’t really pay much heed to anyone other than the people who come along to the gigs.
Spotify has an interesting relationship with a lot of artists, one that could perhaps be called ‘difficult’ You guys seem to be one of the huge success stories on that platform when it comes to Irish music. How do you see that relationship?
There’s no doubt that streaming has made it really difficult for musicians, even millions of hits doesn’t translate to much other than that maybe you’ve built a following of people who’ll come to a show and become a fan.
Music is essentially free now, which is a bummer. If you choose not to put your music on the streaming platforms, you may as well not exist. So it’s a double-edged sword in a way, vinyl making a comeback is pretty cool though!
I hear you have the guts of two or three more records already penned. Are they very different in style? Can they be expected in fairly short order?
We might put out something again soon enough, we’ll see. We ended up writing a lot without realising it, we had time off the road and were working on lots and lots of ideas with different writers.
Once we started sifting through it and putting into some kind of order, we were surprised how many great ideas were there. It’s hard to say what style they are, it’s definitely Beoga, the same 5 people who have been playing music together for years and I suppose it’s all part of the new chapter for the band in general. It’s definitely not one for the purists though, this I know!
What are your other hopes for the future?
To keep making music that we feel is a development for us and to not get stuck making the same records over and over. We’ve all hit a bit of relaxed stage in our lives outside of this so there’s not really pressure or urgency to do stuff which is great. We’re happy still being in the same van together after all this time so as long as that continues, I’ll be happy.