Written by Jordan Reisman
Photo courtesy of Bewilderbeast.
Bewilderbeast plays music of the future. What “the future” entails is a quiet, withdrawn English guy living in a London flat making music on his computer. In the future, music is made anonymously and distributed through Soundcloud with most listeners never seeing the musician’s face.
One can walk through the streets of London with adoring fans passing them by, and these fans will never know. For better or worse, this is what the future of electronic music will be and what Bewilderbeast has already been doing.
BTR had a chance to speak with the face of Bewilderbeast, Gus BC, while he was hanging around his “flat” in London.
About Bewilderbeast’s beginnings, BC says, “I’ve been involved with doing different kinds of electronic stuff for quite a long time, like I started off doing this thing called Chalices, which is kind of noisier and quite silly. That used to be 8-bit stuff, like chip music. I didn’t really listen to that much chip music, I just kind of made it which is quite indicative of the chip music scene in general. I wanted to make music that was more like music that I was listening to and actually enjoyed so I started to make chill-wavey stuff.”
When BC says, “I didn’t really listen to that much chip music, I just kind of made it” this seems curious because how could one know what such an incredibly niche genre like chip music is if it’s not even on their iTunes? Did these soundbytes come to him in a dream?
“It was all from 8-Bit Collective,” says Gus. “It’s like a web community. I was always into computer games so I was always into computer game music.”
What attracted BC to 8-Bit was that it consolidated people on the nternet who liked what he calls, “weird, soulful music.” In London, BC says, there is a drought of that style but more music focused on “the floor” (dance floor). He describes his music as more out there and less about dancing.
“It’s music that borrows from tropes and themes present in lots of dance micro-genres like house and some techno. I wouldn’t say that it’s floor-oriented, it’s not really for dancing as far as I can tell.”
An aspect of the 8-Bit community that resonated with BC was its laissez-faire style of music collaboration and distribution.
BC described a show he played recently where a stranger came up to him to say hi, and went on to say that he knew BC from “awhile back.” As it turns out, BC had done an album with this man years back when he was 16, all without knowing the man’s name or ever seeing his face. He was the Anonymous of chiptunes.
BC affirms that this sort of collaboration was commonplace among the 8-Bit community, though he doesn’t know for sure what they are up to right now. American emo kids had LiveJournal, English beatmakers had 8-Bit.
“The 8-Bit community’s got a pretty high turnover, they’re actually not making an album every three weeks. This was a pretty regular thing that used to happen on there, people would just put posts up in forums asking for collaborations. It’s not that uncommon as a trans-genre thing,” says BC. You look at Soundcloud, most people are trying to piggyback onto other producers like, ‘Do you want to do a remix album?’ or ‘Do you want to do a collaborative piece?’”
The reason behind this, as Gus describes, is competition, “That’s kind of what micro-genres tend to be like. If you think about the beat community; people who make beat tapes, it’s just a constant never-ending turnover of music. You have to have something out every week and if you don’t, you’re just going to be washed under a tide because there’s thousands of other people doing the exact same thing.”
As a “one man band” of sorts, BC does not experience the types of things that more traditional bands do (creative struggles, that really cool “back-to-back” pose that Jagger and Richards do) but if you ask him, he likes it just fine.
“It works pretty well for me I struggle to collaborate with other people very effectively,” Gus Laughs. “I tend to have a pretty solid idea of what I want to do and how I want to do it. I find it quite hard to find other people who want to do the same kinds of things as me, even in the internet world.”
Though not part of any musical “collective” he is technically part of the label Airlines based out of Australia. However, much like his involvement with 8-Bit, he has never met anyone on their roster or their staff. Yet there is one person in his real life that he collaborates with (and he’s currently crashing on BC’s couch to stay off the streets).
Bewilderbeast’s upcoming album, Unreal Estate, is six tracks long with most songs going over the six-minute mark. It is BC’s first album with no conceptual theme present and it is also the longest amount of time he has spent working on music. The album will be on vinyl whereas most of his past projects came out on cassette.
“It was the first record that I’ve done as Bewilderbeast that hasn’t been themed or had a particular narrative arc to it. It’s a more abstract collusion of different aesthetic themes. This was the first album that I wrote that I knew was going to be a full album. Before it’s all been tracks that I’ve written from different places and I’m pretty messy with how I do music, I do like five different things at once.”
According to Urban Dictionary, a bewilderbeast is, “A person who is in the habit of derailing a conversation, which at first seems like it may bear some relation to the conversation at hand.”
BC had never heard this term though he admitted, “That’s a pretty apt description of my life. “
So which one is he? The one who derails the conversation or the one having it?
“I’d say the world is the bewilderbeast.”
To be part of Bewilderbeast’s conversaton, click here.
Listen to the music of Bewilderbeast and the interview on Discovery Corner on BTR.