Beccs Debuts By The Sea.

In Audiorotic, The Menu, Visual Arts by Simone Hougham1 Comment

beccs debut as a music producer and filmmaker, By The Sea, is a soundtrack to a warm, and mellow day. Her paradisiacal voice describes personal growth from a relationship with a distant feeling. Although the project emerged from the emotions of losing someone close, it sparked the collaboration of two close friends with a mutual passion for cinematography. The photographer and multimedia artist, Katelyn Kopenhaver, has a strong repertoire of working with a camera lens, and their creative duo has produced an impressive debut film. They complement each other well when they see eye-to-mind.

Photo courtesy of Katelyn Kopenhaver.

beccs songs look inward, framing the importance of moving forward to make connections between the environment and the inner experience of being alive. The body of work undulates with vulnerability with escalating instrumentation along with lyrics that reflect the drawing out of time.  Since the song is full and dense with visualization, it takes some time to unravel and expose itself fully. When it does, it shows the story that repeats frequently in life. Where we return to our prominent memories, the ones that are triggered by the way the wind feels or the way your best friend laughs, we understand how to go on with the imbalances in life. When she sings “When you’re not here/I can be a child back home by the sea,” we feel like all the fond memories aren’t so fleeting in times of reflection. 

The gradual unfolding is one of By The Sea’s many delights. The film transcends to the past and future by going from a jubilate, nostalgic shot and then to a deep meditative or contemplative place that seems to ask where to go from the present. It is venturing time by isolating the deep emotional attachments to other people and leaving only the self in eternity. beccs develops a relationship to healing, a way of negotiating with the future, a vessel for moving forward so that the listener can see through heartache in the new light of transformation.

To learn more about her creative process, check out this interview with beccs and Quiet Lunch:

QL: Was the experience of producing By The Sea different from previous projects? If so, how?

The experience of producing By The Sea was completely new for me. I had never produced before. I guess what inspired this evolution was feeling disheartened and stuck in the recording process.  I felt like my voice and vision were getting lost in translation when I had to rely on others to interpret my songs. I moved into a new home that felt like a gift from the universe in which I finally had my own space to write and record. My friend lent me a bunch of her gear and instruments, which I  only now had room for in this new home, and I could sense the circumstances in my life pushing me towards making with my own hands. I had to make sticker charts at first to motivate myself, clocking in the hours I fumbled on Ableton. But as time went on, producing By The Sea with the help of Sam Mewton felt much like writing a love letter — I got absorbed and obsessed in it and the work and learning involved just kinda happened…

Photo courtesy of Katelyn Kopenhaver.

QL: How did your relationships influence your creativity when you were writing and making the film? 

Aw, well so many of my songs are sparked by the people in my life. Or rather an unspoken dynamic between me and the people in my life. It isn’t to say I just write love songs, not at all. But there are seeds of truth in any given dynamic, and my songs carry them out, confront them or explore them as microcosms for what’s up in the world outside.

I wrote this about a friend: A friend who opened me up to possibilities I couldn’t before see. Who lent me love that made it possible for me to delve into my work with ease. A friend for whom I felt an ephemeral loss after every time we’d meet.

I wrote this song about the sea: I spent every summer at the beach as a child. From a young age I knew it was my bliss. But I didn’t know quite how important it would end up being for me. The song became sort of prophetic: it called out things before I could see them and prepared me for a different kind of loss that I would end up needing the sea to hold me through. It saved my heart, my faith in my voice, and helped my body heal. 

I wrote this song about me: (which you discover in the third verse as well as in the film) I have this hunch now that whenever I crave intimacy with someone else it’s usually a cry for needing intimacy with myself. I could be wrong, but as a songwriter and artist before all else, it’s kind of a sad truth I stand by. The song is very meta when it comes to this. It was the absence of someone that sort of drove me to make this song. “When you’re not here, I can fall in love back with myself.” Producing By The Sea was quite literally “me falling in love back with myself”. 

I produced and arranged the song only after Katelyn (producer and photographer) and I had already shot and edited the film, so the visual world we found together very much inspired the sonic one. But I think the two were talking to each other the whole time. Katelyn and I had been collaborating for a couple years. The last shoot we did was on the beach around the time I wrote By The Sea and the photos from it eerily set us up perfectly for the texture and message of our film. I sometimes think of K as the sea. Cause like the sea, she brought me closer to my voice. And while neither one of us had ever made a film, there was something very pure and wise that was there all along guiding us through it. 

QL: Do you see yourself producing work on your own or are you leaning towards more collaborations in the future?

Yes and yes! It’s very exciting to know that somewhere in me lives the skill of producing and arranging. I definitely plan to produce my songs but not without the help of friends. It was a collaboration that pushed me closer to my own hands, to discovering what they can do. It’s so valuable because not only does it stretch you, but it serves as a soundboard for working in an efficient way. It calls you out on your creative work habits that are or aren’t serving you, which is hard to have when you work exclusively alone. Collaboration really revved me on this one and I hope I get to do it on others’ projects as well. 


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