Do you know Beginners? This Los Angeles trio broke out with 2 EP’s in the past couple of years, and touring nationwide. Led by Samantha Barbera this electro-pop band has combined a bold stage presence mixed with catchy songs that appeal to the audience. Now they are beginning a new chapter. They are releasing a new record called CREAM. One of the first singles off the album is “Let That Money Talk” which has a video that grabs your attention and doesn’t stop
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We were honored to catch up with Samantha/ Sam to talk about the new album, video and where the band is going. For info visit http://beginners.band/
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making CREAM?
SB: The biggest challenge has been narrowing down the songs! We have a bunch of song options for the record, but we want to make sure the record feels like a strong cohesive piece. To do so, we have to leave a lot of songs that we love off the record. Maybe we’ll do a B-sides record down the line with some of these misfit songs!
FEMMUSIC: Tell me about your trip to Berlin and how it influenced making CREAM.
SB: In 2017, I spent a month in Berlin working on CREAM and it had a huge impact on the record. For the first time in my life, I was doing music full-time and had the flexibility to travel and write with different artists around the world. I had toured through Berlin in the past, but had never spent significant time there. I fell completely in love with the city. Berlin has become this nesting ground to so many artists from around the world, because it’s one of the only major cities that’s still affordable for artists to live in (even though that’s changing). There is a palpable spirit of freedom and lack of judgement. Maybe that’s just me glamorizing the city, but that was my experience at least. You can definitely hear the European influence on the record production, as well as a sexual mischievousness that Berlin is famous for.
FEMMUSIC: How do you think you’ve evolved as an artist from Holy Fever, and the past 2 EP’s? What do you wish you’d learned earlier?
SB: In Holy Fever, I shared front person responsibilities with a male singer, so I was able to play off of him versus leading a crowd entirely on my own. In Beginners it’s all on me. That was a big transition. At the same time I went from always being a bass or guitar player in a band to having some songs where I don’t play an instrument at all. Sometimes the best performance is just running around the stage going apeshit singing pop songs like you’re Madonna. I took me a long time to feel comfortable with that. I wish I had been more comfortable stepping outside of my punk rock comfort zone sooner.
FEMMUSIC: Let’s talk about “Let that Money Talk.” Tell me about making the video. How was it to work with Verluxe, Eva Dubovoy & Caroline Blaike? How did it feel to recreate that scene and feeling from Jumbo’s Clown Room? What scared you most about doing it? What excited you?
SB: “Let That Money Talk” is by far the biggest budget production I’ve done for a video. The song and story behind it are so special to me. I knew I had to bring it to life the right way. Part of that included getting Caroline Blaike, a stunning queer dancer from Jumbo’s, on board. It’s funny because I knew there would be make out scenes and I was actually kind of worried that I wouldn’t be able to get into the mood and be convincing with 30 crew members hovering over us. But she is so incredibly magnetic. One look from her made everyone in the room disappear. I also didn’t know Caroline very well prior to shooting the video so I wasn’t sure if we’d get along, much less have chemistry. But getting to know her made me that much more attracted to her. By the end of the day, when we were in full make out scene mode, I think we were both having a lot of fun. It also helped immensely having a woman directing us. Eva Dubovoy has a naturally edgy and sensual eye. Her direction was essential in pulling off such a sexually charged video so artfully.
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
SB: I almost always have the same process when it comes to writing. Get a good vibe going instrumentally and then I get on the mic and record all my initial gibberish melody ideas in real time. I just keep doing that until my subconscious pushes words to the front. My subconscious really decides what each song is going to be about ultimately, because those words just start coming out! It’s the most therapeutic and revelatory experience. Sometimes I even record all the harmony parts to a song in gibberish as well. Just to get the idea down how I want to hear it. Then later I go in and fill in any lyric gaps.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
SB: Oh man that’s a tough one. I can’t think of a particular song, but definitely other bands have had an enormous influence on me. Even though BEGINNERS is super poppy, I came up in the punk/hardcore scene so a lot of my influences are artists like Fugazi, Black Flag, The Cramps etc. Also The Beatles, always The Beatles. Frank Ocean really inspired a lot of my writing style on this upcoming record as well. I love his stream of conscious lyrics and melodies.
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
SB: As I’ve become more successful, I’ve noticed that when working with men on videos, mixes, whatever the case, sometimes I’m treated as though I’m being difficult to work with, when in fact I’m just being professional and confident in what I want. As a woman, if you have too strong of an opinion, even when you’re knowledgeable in the field and paying for the work, you’re “difficult to work with”. I’ve been in bands with men who had far less experience than I have, and never saw them questioned like this. It’s a big part of why I try my best to work with women as much as possible.
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
SB: Well I always really wanted to collaborate with Kanye, but now that he’s on his Trump rant I think I’m out. Haha. This is sounds like a weird one but there’s this heavier rock band Metz that I love. It would be crazy and amazing to be able to collaborate with people doing stuff so different from us.
I’d love to be able to tour with Santigold or Tegan and Sara. I feel like those are within the realm of possibility. Someone hook it up!
FEMMUSIC: What’s one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
SB: Wow this is a tough one. There’s a lot I’d like to change. Lol. I guess the biggest thing I would change is the ageist, sexist way that women artists are commodified and trapped. Much more so than men, women have this ticking timebomb hanging over us. Like as soon as we’re not 20 years old and a sex symbol for men, we’re worthless and our art is irrelevant. I don’t think fans feel that way, but the record industry does and they hold the key to getting your music out for the world to see.