Arthur Beatrice mussten nach Erscheinen ihres Debütalbums ‘Working Out‘ nicht lange auf Lob warten: Der melodiöse und klare Sound kam gut an und schnell wurden die Newcomer aus London für ihre musikalische Verschmelzung von majestätischem Elektropop und Eighties-Klängen von vielen Seiten gefeiert. Zwei Jahre später hat sich einiges verändert: Orlando Leopard begleitet die eigentlich vierköpfige Band nicht mehr zu Konzerten und der charakteristischen Gesang von ihm und Ella Girardot ist auf dem neuen Album dem alleinigen Gesang Ellas gewichen. Dafür gewinnen die neuen Songs an Fülle durch das London Contemporary Orchestra, das das Quartett bei den Aufnahmen ihres Albums unterstützte. ‘Keeping the Peace‘ soll direkter und offener klingen und eine klare Aussage haben – welche Aspekte dabei wichtig waren und ob dieser Anspruch erleichternd oder erschwerend gewirkt hat: Wir unterhielten uns darüber mit den Brüdern Hamish (Gitarre) und Elliot Barnes (Drums) sowie Ella Girardot in Berlin. Und natürlich blieb auch die Frage, wie sich die Konzerte von Arthur Beatrice ohne ihr viertes Bandmitglied gestalten werden und ob es trotzdem noch Songs vom alten Album zu hören geben wird, nicht aus…

Arthur Beatrice - Interview

Your second album ‘Keeping the Peace’ will be released in May: What would you say is the main difference between your debut ‘Working Out’ and this one, regarding the process, the topics or the sound?
HAMISH: I think all aspects that you just said are different in a way, because the general difference was that we wanted it to be a bit more direct and open and kind of “free”, I suppose. The first record ‘Working Out’ was more introverted, it was just us in a basement, making this album whereas we made this one in a big studio with a producer, an orchestra, a gospel choir.
ELLA: We wanted to open up more and get more people involved in it and get creative with them. We wanted the whole record to be more honest and open and let go a bit more.

But why weren’t you that open and honest before? Because you were just starting to try out things?
ELLIOT: I think the last time we were hiding behind some things, for example the lyrics were more guarded then. And this time we tried to make it more related to people and in this way more honest and direct.
ELLA: I think when you’re young it can be scary and terrifying to put yourself out there. But when you grow up, you realize that that is an important thing to do. And you’re less neurotic.

So would you say it easier for you to finish the second record than the first one?
HAMISH: No! I think finishing an album is never easy – it is a proper process that you’re going through individually, but also as a group. So yeah – it was tough…
ELLIOT: I think it was easier in one way, because of having a producer, a different studio and the fact of letting people work with us, for example the orchestra. Once we were trying to create a sound on the keyboard – to make our sound big and cinematic – but then you have 16 people playing the violin. So these things were easier, because people were kind of doing them for us, but then finishing all of it was difficult.
HAMISH: And I think we put more pressure on us this time.

Elliot, I read that you’re writing most of the lyrics for the songs? Is that still the case for this album or have parts of your working processes as a band changed?
ELLIOT: Well, I think because of the whole opening-up-thing I was also more willing to open up regarding the lyrics. There is one song where Hamish wrote half of the lyrics so yes, we got a bit more flexible, but not that much has changed! (laughs)
HAMISH: What hasn’t changed is that we’re still comfortable with writing on our own and then bring the ideas to the others and play them in front of the three of us.
ELLIOT: I feel like on this record there were definitely a couple of songs which made it from fully-written lyrics to songs – in that kind of order. Whereas before we often had little bits of music that inspired us and then we wrote the lyrics for it. And these former songs are kind of my favorite songs because there the idea carried the whole way through. So yeah – maybe that changed a little bit.

Since we’re talking about song-writing: Where did your song ‘Real Life’ come from? What’s the story behind it? Was it always meant to be read as a song about parenthood as the video suggests?
ELLIOT: Yes, it was!
HAMISH: Well, if you hear it without knowing that it is about these kinds of scenes as shown in the video, you might not find that meaning obvious – it doesn’t necessarily scream that. But as soon as you know that the song is about parenthood, you will definitely understand. I always enjoyed the idea that it was quite a weird thing to have a pop song like that. A song that says “Cheers, Mom and Dad! I ruined your life!” (laughs)
ELLIOT: Our dad told me that he hasn’t felt different since he was 21 in his head. And I was like “shit!” So we carried that idea on…

On your last album Ella and Orlando sang lots of songs together and the duality of these boy-girl-vocals was very characteristic. Now it’s only you singing, Ella. I read that you’ve discussed this decision a lot together. Did you never think that you might take quite a risk by changing your musical setup this much?
ELLA: Yeah, I guess that there was that characteristic kind of sound through that, but you can make up for that tension in different ways musically. We just came to this new setup naturally as Orlando didn’t feel like he really wanted to sing, he felt like he wanted to be much more involved into the production. And I felt good with singing alone, so that was just a natural thing that happened.

But he is still part of the band?
ELLA: Yes!
ELLIOT: It kind of has been difficult for all of us as a band – when someone doesn’t want to carry on, when there’s no choice for him – you can’t force somebody to sing if he doesn’t want to!

When you explain it like that, it makes much more sense. First I thought you might just strategically want to become that classic band-formation with a front woman singing – but of course you can’t force someone to sing if he doesn’t want to. But will Orlando still be on tour?
ELLIOT: Well, one of the things he just loves is being in the studio. And one of the things you should try as a band is that everyone can do what they want – so everyone is happy. As a result, the plan is to get Ella away from the keyboard and have some session musicians play with us, a bassist and a keyboardist.

Does that mean that you won’t be performing old songs anymore?
ELLIOT: No – we were thinking about reworking some of them. It’s inconvenient sometimes, but it’s necessary.

And the orchestra will also be on tour with you?
ELLA: No. We wish! That would be awesome! (laughs) We just did one show with them in London…
ELLIOT: We got recorded backtracks of the orchestra. I hope that people will forgive that we can’t have the orchestra with us in person! That is slightly expensive, having an orchestra around all the time.
HAMISH: On tour we just have to make the best out of the instruments that we got! There’s a song on the record which has a trumpet solo and on tour we just play it on guitar or on piano. It stays part of the song, but we accept that we can’t have a trumpet on stage every day. And it is nice to be able to reimagine songs and get creative with them.

Do you ever think about people being disappointed when a lot of things won’t sound the way they might expect?
HAMISH: Well, it’s a thing that often the second album comes out and people buy tickets afterwards. So they sort of know that this album has only Ella singing. And whilst we still withdrawal from the first album, we will still be playing lots of songs from it. But we’re coming back as a different band. Obviously we don’t want to disappoint, but at the same time we’re not hiding behind the fact that a lot is different now.
ELLA: What you got to do is not to try to just please certain people. We just did what we wanted to do. If we lose some people because of that, then that’s going to happen, but we’ll also “gain” some people, you know. You just got to do what you think is right.

So you feel good in that role where you’re in the front singing all by yourself now?
ELLA: I feel great! (laughs) It has been really fun for me; it’s great to be able to just let yourself go, for example dance like mad. (laughs) We have only done two shows so I am still developing and it’s probably going to keep changing. We’re still developing all parts of the live show, that’s kind of the next thing.

When seeing you on stage, it totally makes sense for you to be in front, Ella. There are quite a few resemblances to other female singers. Are there any singers that you adore the most? Or that inspired you?
ELLA: There a lots of singers that I look up to when it comes to performance. I can’t think about a certain way of doing something too much – if you start doing that, then I think you can tell that it’s a bit fake so you just do what to you feels natural, and to me apparently that’s a lot of spinning around. (laughs) And regarding female singers – I always liked Agatha James and Nina Simone. Nowadays Adele obviously is amazing or Erykah Badu – there are so many female singers that are amazing, empowering and strong.

And a final question regarding the future: What do you hope for with the release of ‘Keeping the Peace’? Are there any certain developments or changes that you would like to achieve as a band with that album?
ELLA: To be able to travel more, go to different places and reach a wider audience! We just want as many people as possible to listen to us and to be able to see more of the world at the same time.
HAMISH: In a way we’re also ready for lots of people to not like our music as well, because it is very – as we said – direct and open, and the lyrics are very to the point. I think that that’s being more risky. We hope more people will hear it, but then we also know that lots of people will not – which is fine. It’s not the safest way; maybe the first record was safer.

Does that mean you felt more secure with the first record?
HAMISH: Yes, I think so, because we were sort of more guarded with it. This time it is more collaborative and common. And the result is more a in-your-face-sort-of-thing. I really love the first record, but on this record there might be people who say “oh they shouldn’t have done this, they shouldn’t have done that”
ELLA: It would be nice if this will be successful enough so that we can go on a worldwide tour – that’s the dream!
HAMISH: Would be nice to get the chance to make another record as well!
ELLA: …yeah, and that!

‘Keeping the Peace’ erscheint am 27. Mai 2016 auf Open Assembly Recordings / Vertigo Berlin.