The acoustic duo of Belgrave boys Ben Langdon and Bryce Turcato formed just over a year ago, coming together after being introduced by a mutual friend. At the time Ben was writing music for an earlier band, and needed a way to reproduce the sound of a horn live. So entered Bryce, and it wasn’t long before The Bean Project was created. With their unique combination of guitar and French horn, the vibrant duo push into the territory of folk, jazz and classic acoustic styles. Their distinct and interpretive style saw them take out the top prize for the statewide FReeZA Push Start Battle of the Bands, beating over 300 bands in the process. While their much anticipated self titled EP is in the works, we caught up with Ben to see how the boys were faring since we last spoke.
You have both been dabbling in music for a few years now, but only started The Bean Project in early 2014. How do you feel about how far you’ve come in that time and the traction you’ve gained?
It’s been equal parts fun and super busy for us the last year and a half, but we’re really happy with the feedback and support of all the awesome people we’ve met during that time. We’ve got a lot left on the to-do list but we’re pretty pleased with what we’ve been able to get done so far.
Congratulations on taking out this year’s Freeza Push Start Battle of the Bands competition, you were up against over 300 bands from all areas of Victoria. What was your experience in participating in the competition and then winning the grand prize at Melbourne’s Moomba Festival?
The competition from tip to toe runs over about 9 months so at the beginning we we’re chuffed to have won the heat, but didn’t really expect we would be competing at the end. As each heat went on, the grand final became more of a reality. It wasn’t until we were standing on stage at Moomba that we really thought we might have a shot at winning. We’ve met some great friends and contacts through the competition, played with some incredible bands and now we have an invaluable collection of goodies to push us into the next phase.
It’s a pretty sweet prize pack you’ve scored for taking out the top spot. When we last spoke, you were most excited about the recording and CD pressing prizes. Have you given any thought to how you will utilize all of the prizes throughout the year?
We’ve got a neat little plan brewing for the coming year that the prize pack is very much a part of. We’re currently releasing an EP, and at the beginning of next year we hope to release a full album recorded/mixed/mastered/printed/etc with the prize pack vouchers. We also plan to tour as much as we can in 2016 so the t-shirts and posters will get a heavy workout then.
We know you have an EP coming out. What’s it called, what’s it about, and how was the process in creating it?
It’s been a long time coming but we’ve finally got everything lined up! We decided to call the EP simply The Bean Project. Listening to this group of songs will be the first experience of us that most of you will have, so we wanted this EP to be an honest reflection of who we are, what we can do and what we care about. Everything was recorded in a large timber lounge room overlooking the gum trees in a valley in Tecoma. There was something so raw about the sound in that room, it was intimate and authentic and we hope that’s a feeling you get when you listen to it.
Listening to your music evokes a range of emotions in the listener. Do you aim to create a certain mood when you’re crafting a song?
When we’re in the zone of writing or arranging a song, we tend to immerse ourselves in how it feels and what it’s saying and base other creative choices around that. Often songs will stem from a real feeling or thought, so the rest of the writing and arranging aims to replicate or reinforce that authentic mood or message.
What do you set out to achieve with your live performances and how do you feel when you’re performing on stage with a live audience?
For us performing is the absolute highlight of being in the band. We want to give you the best experience we can and we’ve sweated long and hard to make that happen. Every time we perform we learn something new about ourselves as musicians and about you as an audience. We want to try to do you the service that you do us.
What has been your favourite song to create and work on so far, and why?
During the recording of Blank Pages we couldn’t seem to get a rest from the birds perched on the verandah outside. After a while we started to like the sound of the birds in the background so we kept it. They even got their own microphone!
Ben, you’re the main songwriter of the two of you. Where do you get your inspiration from? As your writing has developed over the years have you noticed any common themes, is there a particular direction you favour?
I’m inspired by great songs. If someone can write something in another timezone, another headspace and even another language and it connects with me, that is truly amazing. Recurring themes in my writing tend to be parallel to themes in my life and our lives more generally, things like meaning of life, social equity, love and loss. I’m a sucker for a bit of darkness in writing too so most of our songs have a tinge of melancholy.
When you’re creating your music, do you try to you pay homage to any of your influences or do you try to completely blaze your own trail?
Between the two of us we have a quite broad and diverse list of influences, and sometimes the playing styles of some of these sneak their way into our songs but mostly it’s inadvertent. If someone’s playing is really cool, it’s really hard not adopt aspects of it that we like. I guess it’s how we develop our unique styles as musicians. In short, we don’t try to pay homage, but we accidentally do!
Have you got any tours coming up this year? Over the next few months where can we catch you playing?
For the rest of this year we’ll be keeping it local here in Melbourne, but we’re organising a huge year of nationwide touring for 2016. We’ve got the great pleasure of playing with local legends Lily and King at Sooki Lounge on the July 18 from 8pm. We’ll have more info about that and other upcoming gigs on our facebook page.