Beam Up – Interview with Brian May

BeamUp

Beam Up – Innerstand

Boom, and there it was – the debut album by Beam Up: “Innerstand” (BBE). Already one of my personal favorites for this year, since the varienty of sounds is amazing. “This album takes those dubwise qualities of rhythm, space and bass, to shape a series of tracks that could be tagged as a variety of genres”, says Brian May, the mastermind behind Beam Up, also known for his sets as DJ Delay or as an artists designing sound & painting installations. In order to get a little more background on the album, here is an interview with the dubhead based in Berlin…

You have named your debut album “Innerstand”. This word is not to be found in Webster’s dictionary. What does „Innerstand“ mean and what connection ist there between the title and the content?

It follows on from the logic of patois where words are modified to suit a different purpose or emphasize meaning – “Overstand” being one common example. “Innerstand”, to me, is having an inner understanding/knowing and is also one of the lyrics in “Innocence” on the album. I just did a quick net search on the word and there are a few different people using the word in a (mostly) similar way. You could paraphrase it to “knowing where you’re at”.

Your devotion to Dub is obvious. I would call your version of it “urban Dub”. Where do you see the biggest potential in this genre?

It’s really unlimited – anything can be dubbed (and hopefully will be). Perhaps the biggest potential is to switch people on to roots dub – looking back to the roots while moving forwards and building on them.

How would you describe your personal approach to Dub?

It’s different every time, but elements of space, tasty and full bass and expansiveness are important. Personally the playful and no-rules approach gives me the most satisfaction.

How did you get in touch with Dub for the first time? Is there something like an initial album or artist that caught your attention?

It was living in Manchester and going to some reggae events in the 80s that started it off. I’d already heard “Present Arms In Dub” (UB 40) by then, but didn’t connect with it until a few years later. Being exposed to King Tubby’s works in the late 80s really was the major turning point and after that I was hooked.

When I listened to your first 7 Inch with Terrence Alfonso Bowry’s amazing “Hanabi Dub” on it, I was stunned by the clash of sounds merging into synergy. On your new album “Innerstand” you feature this amazing artist on 5 songs. Can you tell us a little bit about his background? What do you like most about him?

His background is the UK/St.Kitts/Canada/China and now Berlin. In China he spent many years in residency at the Shanghai Cotton Club, working with many top visiting Jazz artists. His improvisational ability and soulful voice are the qualities I enjoy the best.

Jornick Joelick and Daisuke Ichihara are not really known in the Dub- or Reggae szene as well. How did the cooperation with them come to life?

I met Jornick in Melbourne about 10 years ago when he was guest deejay on the Heartical Hifi when I was selecting one night. 2 summers ago he was on tour with Mista Savona and the recording came about when they came through Berlin. I met Daisuke whilst living in Osaka, Japan, and occasionally guested in one of his groups “Bush Of Ghosts”. Both of these artists have recorded with some of the greats – Alton Ellis, Earl Chinna Smith, Prince Buster, Winston Jarrett and more.

If you could pick any know and famous reggaeartist to voice one of your upcoming tunes, who would it be?

A very hard question there are so many – but a few people immediately spring to mind – Chronixx, Horace Andy, Earl 16 and Tikiman. If Prince Far I was still alive, he’d be first choice.

Beam Up 2

You have cooperated with Aldubb in the past. How did you guys meet and what do you like about him musically?

This happened through Tricky D and it’s also how I met Terrence – about 4 years ago. The 4 of us were jamming up tunes for a while, but there was always 1 person overseas for long periods of time so it didn’t get to the “live” stage. Maybe some time in the future – who knows? Musically his I connect with the “roundness” of the Aldubb sound. Always plenty of space and that tasty signature bass sound of his. There are always surprises too like the under-heard digital tracks well worth checking out on his 6-1*0+2/2 album.

Where do you see similarities and differences in the approach towards creating music and sounds between you and Aldubb?

I don’t know how he approaches making music, so this is a difficult one to answer. There’s no set way for me either. Sometimes starting from zero, sometimes a bassline, sometimes a classic 70s roots track… renovation work sounds…nerdy software synthesis, kitchen equipment, etc… !

You’ve been playing guest horn at the Mad Professor show with Dub Across Borders friday 6th at the Yaam in Berlin. What was it like to be around this magnificent veteran and master of Dub?

I did spend a while thinking how I could possibly look over his shoulder for the whole show… or install a video camera over the desk! It was great to see & hear a master of the dubwise desk at work and was also a good warmup for the Beam Up live dub gig the following day at Serendubity!

Are there any projects in the pipeline right now that keep you busy? What is to be expected next after the release of “Innerstand”?

There will be a 7” from “Innerstand” out in May….. possibly some new tunes on vinyl in other places and of course there are always new dubs being cooked up in the studio. More Beam Up live shows as well! There are also a couple of different active identities for other music (Sonical & DJ Delay). This year, further releases will come from Sonical and also sound+painting installations with John Aslanidis. On the visual side there are 2D & 3D video animation productions to keep me busy as well. Never a dull moment!

Interview: Karsten Frehe (03/2015) Fotos: meggyesi.com

More Beam Up/Brian May Links:

Beam Up homepage: http://beamup.org/
Sound & painting installations: http://www.brian-may.net/sonical/category/installations/
DJ Delay : www.brian-may.net/djdelay

Karsten

About Karsten

Founder of the Irie Ites radio show & the Irie Ites Music label, author, art- and geography-teacher and (very rare) DJ under the name Dub Teacha. Host of the "Foward The Bass"-radio show at ByteFM.