INTERVIEW: BeatBuds

Pic by Jonathan Lee

1) Can you talk to us more about your latest single “I Have A Voice”? 

Matty: We are super excited about it! It’s yet another step for us toward blurring genre and demographic lines in an effort to connect the whole family. As artists, parents, and citizens, we are struggling to keep it all together trying to make sense out of the social, political, and health issues we are currently experiencing. We wanted to find a way to inspire families to self-reflect and reinforce the idea that everyone has the power to make change toward a better world. Specifically, for The BeatBuds, as a children’s music entity and as educators, our goal here is to make sure families open up a dialog with their young children about the importance of their ‘voice.’

2) Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Matty: Absolutely! When the whole pandemic hit, our in-person performances immediately came to a halt. We couldn’t sit idle, so we quickly figured out how to operate in the virtual realm to give our young BeatBuds fans the sense of normalcy they needed. Naturally, we kept brainstorming about the possible ways we could continue to engage the kids musically and sure enough, an opportunity to do a large scale virtual concert came our way. With this format, we could channel the larger than life ‘concert’ feel we love so much and maintain current safety guidelines. As with all our large scale events, we try to always include a philanthropic element to make sure that our efforts are serving those in need and reaching far beyond the event at hand. During the planning stages of this ‘BeatBASH’ virtual concert, our society was experiencing the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, a tornado-like upheaval in response to the endless social and racial injustice found in our communities, and ultimately, a high level of fear and uncertainty within us all. Rather than just pick a charity to donate to, we opted to focus our efforts on a more holistic approach that could transcend a specific point in time and reach beyond the hardship in our local communities. Consistent with our BeatBuds core value of being creative with a purpose, we chose to write a song that served the greater good for people of all ages and backgrounds. Making it clear to everyone that they have a ‘voice’ and can make change is undoubtedly the first step toward a better world. While this song happens to be extra relevant nationally, considering the 2020 US presidential election being just a few months away, we aim for it to reach a global level as a source of inspiration to all those who have ever doubted or were unaware that they have the power to make change. As a result, we premiered the song live at our virtual BeatBASH concert and are now prepping to release the studio recording in mid-August. It was a combination of our own BeatBASH event and national and international events that inspired the writing of “I Have A Voice.”

3) Any plans to release any sort of video for the track? 

Matty: Yep! We just finished a super cool lyric video that truly complements the concept of the song. Whereas most lyric videos offer pretty basic imagery behind the words, we opted to treat it a bit more like a real music video in which each image plays a vital role. We made sure that there was a true synergy among the music, lyrics, and visuals to enhance the listening experience and drive home the meaning of the song.

4) How was the recording and writing process?

Jonny: Writing and recording this song happened fast! The way we write every song is different, but for this song, once we had the concept, the first thing we came up with was the title: “I Have A Voice.” That title was so powerful in its message that it really spoke to me and inspired me, and melody and structure came almost immediately. It was so inspirational in fact, that it kept me up the night we thought of it. It was 2 a.m., and with my trusted acoustic guitar by my bedside and my iPhone voice memo, I started demo’ing the song.  By the next morning I had a basic structure to show Matty … verse, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge, and melodies for those parts (with some guiding lyrics to get us through the the song that weren’t necessarily going to be kept but were a good starting point to build off of). I showed Matty the idea, and he loved it. We went to work, collaborating as we always do to create the sound that is so uniquely “BeatBuds,” then digging into the lyrics together to find the message that was so meaningful to us in this song. Between performing live every day and being dads and family men, we would meet in the studio at 8:30 p.m. every night and work until we were too tired to continue. Eight days later, the song was fully completed, recorded, mixed, and mastered. We even had the idea to have guest vocalists come in and sing different verses for this song because we wanted “I Have A Voice” to represent all walks of life. We accomplished all of this, from conception to final mix, in about a week. So it happened fast!

5) What role does LA play in your music?

Jonny: LA plays a big role in everything about us. We are LA. We are both born and raised here. And when it comes to music specifically, we grew up in a music scene in Los Angeles that was really making waves at an impactful time in our lives. Bands from LA had a particular sound and attitude. That sound actually translates into the music we create today for The BeatBuds in many ways, as we meld adult and children’s music into our own unique brand of family music.

6) Were you guys always interested in turning your learning experience into a band and write music?

Matty: To be honest, we never intended to start a band with our children’s music endeavors. Our main intention was to simply write music for the kids in our lives that we could genuinely enjoy listening to with them. As fate would have it, the music we wrote and the dynamic we have as childhood best friends paved the way for an unexpected entrance into the “family music” genre. Our past experiences in music and bands, as well as a technical understanding of the landscape, became incredibly useful once we noticed the buzz that was developing around the music we had created. The impact our music was making on kids and parents alike was magical, and we began to nurture it into the fully functioning music entity it is today. Looking back, the organic and innocent development of The BeatBuds is like something out of a fairy tale. It’s the perfect example of “great things happen when you least expect it.”

7) Was this project always intended to focus on Children’s driven music or did it start as something else?

Matty: Jonny and I have been best friends since the age of six, so you could say it’s been a 35-year “project.” This project in its early forms was not based in children’s music. From grunge bands, rock bands, punk bands, to metal bands, we’ve taken many turns. But I feel it’s fair to say that the “project” is more about our unwavering friendship than the various permutations our music has taken over the years. One could say that everything we have done in our lives previously, both musically and as best buds, was preparation for The BeatBuds and certainly has given us the tools to embark upon the most challenging musical endeavor yet. 

8) In movies there’s a difference between a kids’ flick and a family-friendly feature film – do you guys see yourself trying to get to make music for all the family and would you say that has been a challenge for you guys? 

Matty: We make music for the whole family. In fact, we prefer our genre to be called “family music.” It’s a genre that’s defined less by musical style and more by the wide demographic we aim to serve. The sole reason for the creation of the BeatBuds was to create music that we could legitimately enjoy with our kids. As it turns out, other families were looking for the same thing. Both Jonny and I will agree that writing this type of dual-purpose music and performing it is more challenging than anything we have done previously. We use whatever style we feel is best, including rock, punk, techno, indie, pop, doo-wop, etc. to effectively convey our ideas and hook both the kids and parents. Unlike many music genres, we have no set formula in The BeatBuds, and our versatile approach lends itself to tons of “outside the box” creativity that we likely wouldn’t have realized in any other musical project. But a certain challenge lies within that type of freedom, and it’s up to us to trust our instincts and use our past and current music experiences working with children and parents daily, to make the best creative choices.

9) How do you go on walking the thin line between the two? 

Matty: We take it one song at a time and we constantly reevaluate our work to make sure both kid and parent sensibilities are being acknowledged. We have put in place our own rigorous guidelines and expectations, which serve as a checks and balances to make sure what we do is always captivating the listener and always authentically “BeatBuds.”

10) Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?

Jonny: There is always new material coming from The BeatBuds, but that’s not always in the form of music.  For us, it’s about content. Our business is so multifaceted that “new material” for us needs to be in the form of putting out different content constantly, whether it be our live stream show that we were doing for so many weeks, videos, music, books, DVDs, or even showcasing our special performances like our BeatBASHes (both virtual and live).  These are all forms of content that we are constantly creating for our brand as we grow.

11) Any tentative release date or title in mind? 

Jonny: Release date is August 21, 2020, and the title of the song is “I Have A Voice.”

12) Any plans to hit the road?

Jonny: Hitting the road and gigging is what we know best and love to do. With the coronavirus pandemic, who knows when live music will come back and what concerts will even look like when it does? So we shall see. But we do hope things get back on track because performing in front of live audiences is what we love to do the most, and seeing smiles on little faces is the most rewarding part of our “job”.

13) What else is happening next in The Beatbuds’ world?

Jonny: Theres always something new to expect from us, and that’s always changing. Right now, we’re focused on working on our animated television show with Nickelodeon. We can’t wait to bring The BeatBuds to kids all over the world! This has been a dream of ours since we conceptualized The BeatBuds and our alter egos — Jonny Jingles & Matty Maracas — and to see it coming to life in animation form with these amazing stories that we’ve been creating and our music as the centerpiece, is truly a dream come true.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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