A candid chat with Singer/Songwriter BeckwithJP

Singer/Songwriter BeckwithJP is about to release his new EP titled II on the 10th November 2017.  It features the new single ‘I Won’t Let You Down’ and is the follow up to last years #13 iTunes charting EP I.

Q:When you decide it’s time to make a new record, is that more exciting or stressful?

Ans: After we released the first EP last year and with the chart position (#13 chart on UK iTunes Singer/Songwriter chart) and video success (Can’t Stop Loving You – appeared on VH1 playlist) , I wanted to take a break.  From June (2016) to September (2016) I did not record a thing.  I went on full Summer Vacation.  When I did start to record again in early October (2016) the records that I cut had already been written in 2016 so we envisioned that this would be a quick collection of songs to complete…………..We we wrong. It took about 10 months of blood, sweat and frustration.  I had some vocal infections which delayed some sessions, I felt some of the material was not strong enough….. Well not compared to the first EP anyway.  I want to build a legacy and want to make sure all the songs are quality.  From the standard of writing to the music to the vocal.  All has to be good.  I think we set such a high standard in 2016, it was hard to follow.  We killed about 10 songs which was stressful.  I won’t begin to enjoy the process until 10th of November which is the release date for II.

Q:  How do you shut things out?

Ans: This is one of the hardest things to do.  Well it is for me as I am most harshest critic.  When I record a project I am immersed in it.  All I do is listen to my rough mixes constantly.  You have to be both analytical and critical at the same time.  There is a point, usually 3 months in when you are DEAD sick of yourself.  I get so tired and frustrated listening to myself all the time, especially when I don’t think that I am doing a good job, picking out all the imperfection.  You can shut other people and distractions out quite easily but what you can’t do is stop the little critical voice inside your head which says ‘that sounds a little flat’, ’the timing is off on that’, ‘you’re tone isn’t warm enough’.  At the end of the recording process I played my songs to people I trust and they gave me the feedback I was hoping for and that helped tone down my self criticism.

Q: How easily do songs tend to come to you?

Ans : To be honest and to not sound too arrogant but quite easily.  I would say that all the songs from EP I and EP II have been written lyrically within 30 minutes per song.  Which is pretty fast.  Well it is for me.  I have more than 100 songs in my catalogue but none of them have been written as easily as the ones on this project.  Usually if a song is written too fast the lyrical quality and content is not that great but I have been more than happy with my output.  Especially with the songs on II.

Q: What’s your motto or the advice you live by?

Ans: Embrace the pain and accept the hurt.  Not everyday can be beautiful.  The days in which you really win are the ones you have to battle through.  Also don’t be afraid to fail.  Sure it may hurt in the short term but you will learn many lessons from it during the long game.

Q: For our readers who have never heard your music, explain your sound in 5 words?

Ans: Acoustic, Soulful, Honest, Emotional and Lyrical.

Q: You write all of your own music; where do you draw inspiration from when you write songs and what’s your favorite part about the proccess?

ANS: The inspiration for my first EP was heartbreak, whether it was a friends/family divorce, my own shortcomings or failure.  It was an emotional project.  With this EP the main concept is friendship and togetherness.  You can overcome anything with support.   My favourite part of the process is sitting on my couch with my headphones on, pad and pen in hand and humming melodies and getting the lyrics written.

Q:Who are your inspirations?

Ans: My main inspirations are for lyrics are Babyface, Tommy Simms, Tracy Chapman, Dave Barnes and John Mayer.  For vocals, its the 90s R&B groups, Boyz II Men, New Edition, Shai, Silk.  I love Tevin Campbell and Keith Washington too.  For music, it is probably all the great singer/songwriters who have been out in the last 10 years, Amos Lee, Ben Rector, Norah Jones…….

Q: If you could perform with anyone, in the future, who would it have to be?

Ans: It would have to be Little Richard.  I found out on my iTunes that there is not one day that goes by when I don’t listen to a Little Richard song.  I LOVE that guy.  Can I have some past ones too?  That would have to be Sam Cooke, Luther and Marvin Gaye.

Q:What is your favorite song to sing live?

Ans: It’s a song I wrote a long time ago when in a group called Franklynson and the song is called Hustler.  Its my favourite song to sing live…..Ever!  Its a song that I don’t have to worry about timing, tone, pitching, I can just let go and sing my heart out.  Pure soul.  From my recent material its a song called ‘Off My Mind’ from the last EP.  I can just lose myself in the performance.

Q:Do you have any events coming up or recording going on right now?

Ans: Recording doesn’t stop.  I will take November off for promotion of this project and then I am back in the studio with my producing partner Jake Sanders in December.  Thats the schedule.

Q:Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to sing as a career?

Ans : Yes, only do it if your heart tells you to do it and you genuinely enjoy it.  DON’T DO IT JUST TO BE FAMOUS!  It won’t work and it will be a huge failure for everyone involved.  You have to be in love with music, give it everything you have and it will pay you back with interest.

Q:  Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?

Ans: There are so many.  My Pops was always my favourite drummer but my second favourite was Clyde Stubblefield the original Funky Drummer.  I admired him so much I could just listen to him play with no other instrument accompaniment.  I love to listen to Nat King Cole, just the timbre of his voice. There are many Jazz musicians I admire too, Cedar Walton, Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker.  Can’t forget about Prince too.  Maybe I admire him the most.

Q:  Were you influenced by old records & tapes? Which ones?

Ans: I had a few 12” records when I was younger but I really grew up in the cassette and CD era.  Cassettes which I had to buy twice because I ruined the original tape were Brown Sugar by D’Angelo, De La Soul is Dead by De La, Cooleyhighharmony by Boyz II Men, infact, II by Boyz II Men too.  My EP title is a tribute to them.  I remember buying Sam Cooke’s greatest hits 3 times.  I LOVED ME SOME SAM COOKE!

 

Q:  How do you handle mistakes during a performance?

Ans: Admit to them! Be honest with the crowd, they will respect you more for it.  I remember once a DJ messed up one of my beats when I was performing and I just stopped the whole set and started again from scratch.  The audience appreciated my honesty and I played it off so well that they actually thought it was a part of the set!! That was a great night.  One performance I had was affected by a broken guitar string, 3 songs in.  I just stopped the show, spoke to the crowd, did some accapella covers……Which I would usually never do.  I am not a covers artist.  When the guitar was repaired, the show began again and it continued to be a good night at the office.  One thing I would say though, is never let a bad performance get you down.  Don’t dwell on it.  Just have a better show the next time.

Q:  Do you get nervous before a performance ?

Ans: Always! If you don’t get nervous, you don’t care and that means you won’t give your best when on stage.  Just use the nerves as positive energy.  Let them help you sing a little louder, jump a little higher and rock a little longer…….That sounds lame but its true.

 

Q:  Do you attend sessions? What makes a good session?

Ans: Every musician or singer has there own way of telling when a session is going well.  My own barometer is older, jaded Metal fan engineers.  If you have a Metal engineer, which 80% of all engineers are, there is a good chance they hate all music except for 80s/90s Metal acts.  If after a session, the engineer asks you to take a copy of the Rub (song) you know you have something special.  For example, the two Metal engineers I had for my last project requested two ballads to take home.  Right then I knew that the songs were good and if those guys liked them, most people would like them too.

Q:  How often and for how long do you practice?

Ans: This is the most important part of a musicians career.  Its the things the public don’t see where the greatness stems from.  Most people will look at a singer, listen to them and just assume that they are naturally gifted and don’t have to try hard.  Thats the general perception but the actual truth is, that singer has probably sung for more than ten thousand hours in their lifetime.  I am huge believer of this philosophy. If you see me live, know that I have rehearsed each song at least 25 times……At least. Repetition, repetition, repetition.  Its where you will build your confidence from.  This also applies to the studio.  If I have a demo of the song I am about to record, I will rehearse it everyday for a week before I record it.  It just makes everything else become smoother.

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