Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s featured selection, chosen by Morning Show host John Richards, is “Evil” by BEADS from their self-released debut album No One Knows.
The Morning Show faithful have no doubt heard today’s Song of the Day on a few occasions but may not be aware that BEADS is a side project of The Blakes led by Snow and Garnet Keim. No One Knows is markedly different than the music people have come to expect from The Blakes and is generating quite a bit of well-deserved interest from its release earlier this month. The sparse arrangements and raw vocals give the listener time to connect with the deeply emotional and personal lyrics. Not many people know that the brothers Keim are both prolific songwriters and generally have a cache of songs, melodies, etc. at their fingertips but BEADS came about after a personally trying year for the brothers and originally was not intended to become an album. I got the opportunity to talk with Snow Keim about this project and how it came to be.
KEXP: Snow-you collaborate with your brother Garnet on much of the songwriting for The Blakes, but I understand you took over much of the songwriting on this album. How did the material for BEADS come about and what was your original inspiration?
Snow: In this collection of songs we explore an entirely different sound than The Blakes. We are coming from a very different place. (Because Everyone Always Does Something). We felt we had to do this for us. It was my idea and I played most of the instruments but I didn’t do it without collaboration. Garnet brought some very nice songs to the table for this that he had been hiding away for years! Each of us sing lead on the songs we wrote and the other of us comes up with the harmonies.
KEXP: You use a lot of different instruments and sound techniques on many of these songs. What was the recording process like?
Snow: We had the opportunity to wake up and work on whatever we wanted. Usually it started with vocals and guitar as one take to capture the moment and then everything was built around that. It was more about capturing the feeling or essence of the songs- it was very spontaneous. Garnet wrote this song on the piano first then we just built on top of that.
We never used a grid or metronome that is why this record feels so organic and “loose” -also recording to an 8 track adds color and noise that can be pleasing.
KEXP: Can you give me any background information on the song Evil? What’s it about or can you give me any ideas on what listeners should take away from this song or this album?
Snow: Evil was written through the eyes of a child looking at a man and what he will become when he reaches adolescence. We used the ideas of innocence and evil throughout and that is part of the bi-polar nature of this song’s movements. The bridge has an angelic sort of quality that feels like something you might feel in a chapel. The recording of this song was mostly about letting the music come through us and to try to let it do the talking. The song “Voices” was another one that came from somewhere else, a dream with words and a melody. That was an easy one to write. When you’re sleeping and you are on autopilot but yet you are still dreaming music -- that is always fun. You never know what you’ll find after midnight!
One thing no one knows is that Snow is making his acting debut this year at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). He has a small role in a locally filmed movie called True Adolescents that also features The Blakes playing a previously unreleased song with Mark Duplass (Hump Day, The Puffy Chair) as The Effort. Check out the festival website for screening dates.
You can catch BEADS’ first official performance during KEXP’s Hood to Hood broadcast from Capitol Hill on April 17th. They will be live during the Morning Show at 7:30 am from Café Vita. They are working on booking some more shows in the near future but in the meantime, keep your eye on their MySpace page. It’s also worth mentioning that The Blakes are back in the studio and may have something out in the near future.
Here’s a video for the title track, “No One Knows,” which features a very hirsute Snow exploring some of his innocence: