Friday, January 29, 2021

Bumping into... James Beardmore

Bumping Into... is a series of mini-chats with a variety of peeps that you might run into in some of our local music communities. (There's a bit of an intro and my thoughts behind the series here.)

How are you? Where are you?

I’m… alright! That sure is a big question these days. It’s a mixture and it changes, like it is for everyone. I’m writing this the day before I attend a livestreamed funeral for a close friend back from the UK so that’s a heavy and surreal feeling. But I’m healthy, safe, employed, and I have a home with my partner and two wonderful idiot cats. I regularly check back to that and realize in the grand scheme of things I’m incredibly lucky. I’m currently at home in Fairbank, Toronto.

What have you been up to since March or so?

Working from home, finding ways to work on music that doesn’t result in me permanently staring at the same laptop on a desk when combined with said work. Enjoying new and exciting ways to brew coffee. We’re lucky to have access to some backyard space so that was a big part of the summer. Walking around the York area, usually at night. Been enjoying the beltline trail quite a bit.

Music-wise I ended up being fairly productive but I consciously decided in March 2020 not to push that or feel bad if I didn’t feel like being creative. It really felt like everyone had this unspoken pressure to use all their new free time to churn out music. But you either feel like making music or you don’t. And stress and uncertainty are creativity killers.

I had a split tape with Shayu released on DISPLAY in March 2020, just as we were all locking down, trying to find groceries, and disinfecting our doorknobs:

Then I allowed myself to ignore making music until I felt like it, which it turned out was several months. It was the right decision.

In the meantime, I did take part in the Basilica Hudson 24 Hour Drone. I invited lots of Canadian musician friends to take part in a performance as part of a multi-livestream event as Canada Resonance Agency (CRA) It was: Eternal Real World + Colin Fisher, Fog Spirits, Brigitte Bardon’t, Leucrocuta, myself as Cares, Marty Adem, Hensu, Brother Tiger, Ylang Ylang, Cetacea. I’d never organized that sort of thing before. It was fun learning both the technical and creative possibilities and working with friends. It was a memorable day with beautiful performances. We went from noon until about 8PM, then Bryan Bray continued into an epic endurance-performance odyssey until noon the next day. Unfortunately it was all too long for Youtube to archive.

Around June I realized I was back into recording and production mode. The late summer I spent a lot of time recording and arranging and I now have a couple of releases lined up.

I remixed a track by Wasn’t from their latest album in the summer. HENSU just did a beautiful remix of a single from my last full length. I have a split tape with Altar Boa (Harpur from IRN) out in February, and a new full length Cares album is out March 26 on Zabra. A few other things are in the works too.

Have you found any new ways to do old things? How are you feeling about the shifts in how music is being made/shared/listened to?

In music, I have resolved a lot of anguish about the process so I can just get on with it. Music always involves chaotic experimentation for me which can be messy, and I’m finally cool with that. Lots of people go through the cycles of loving and hating what they’re making, and I’m more comfortable with that now too. Generally just happier with my approach. Not focusing at all on how anything works live has reminded me how much I love production.

Spotify needs to die. The more I see headlines about Spotify gaming it’s own system with fake artists it doesn’t need to pay, the more I get spam emails offering to get me onto bullshit playlists, the more I also see artists continuing to invest in a platform that actively resents their existence. I honestly think Spotify is trying to move to a model without musicians.

I’ve seen some good discussions about people forming more collectives to boost each other and I think any sense of community like that is a great thing. It could be compilations, labels, connected projects, but can even (in future) translate to live spaces and events. My guess is that’s where good things are going to happen more than ever.

Any works of art that have been a light for you in these times? Anything that's just been a good diversion?

I’ll keep it short. Buck II: Where Do You Want It? by Buck Young (AKA Zoe Burke). Such a unique album with a powerful atmosphere. Country themed tape loop experiments, musique concrète and the odd guitar ballad. I’ve heard nothing like it.

Really enjoyed watching Avenue 5. I’m a big Armando Iannucci fan and these days the more satire TV like that the better. We watched that show in the late winter and had to re watch because it just got more relevant as the year went on. Probably the funniest, most absurd yet real thing I’ve seen in years.

How are you feeling about 2021?

Cautiously optimistic. Socially, locally, artistically I think we have learned a lot and there’s the potential to do some really meaningful things together. Maybe later on this year we’ll go to a show?! Maybe! There’s a lot of awful goings on right now and it seems like it’s more incomprehensible every day. But the main theme I see is that more people are done just accepting it. For all the or bastards profiting off or actively worsening disaster, there are more people than ever organizing, helping each other and deciding that things need to be better. I’m hoping that beyond the pandemic slowly coming to an end, more of us are going to realize we need to look after each other and improve a society that has ended up benefiting very few of us. Locally we need to band together and push against the interests gutting our city for profit.

Anything else we'd chat about if we bumped into each other?

I'd want to know what you're up to! Always great to hear the latest things you're putting together. If I go to a show and I see you there I always know I’m in the right place. I look forward to that again in the future.

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