Over Spring Break, West Chester sophomores Jeff Holmes and Reggie Smith got together and made Beekeeping. Holmes was kind enough to answer some questions about the duo’s creative process. The album can be streamed from jeffreyholmesandreggiesmith.bandcamp.com and can be purchased at Electric Avenue in West Chester.
MH: Why did you two decide to work together?
What Reggie and I share is an interest in seemingly niche experimental or fringe music. My love of avant-garde and harsh noise compositions compliments his interests in industrial and shoegaze. For us, we choose not to listen to a piece of music to take away a hook or a catchy chorus, but for how instruments and musicians interact with one another on a recording. First meeting Reggie, most of our conversations were centered around our favorite books and authors, but the moment I learned he played piano, my impulse was to jam with him. From there, I was immersed into this spectrum of sound that channeled everything from the grittiness of Skinny Puppy to the pristine beauty of Tim Hecker. I saw that I could push him by introducing ideas that Ivo Matlec or John Wiese would find one on of their recordings. Together, we constructed these compositions that took the walls of noise and washes of reverb common to both noise and shoegaze music, learning that our styles of writing complimented each other. We decided to release a full-length together after positive feedback we got on earlier recordings that we co-wrote and performed on together.
MH: Describe the sound you were going for.
JH: Reggie and I were trying to encompass several different areas of experimental and avant-garde music. The majority of the album falls under the guise of electronica, with several tracks identifying as either IDM, ambient, or industrial music. Most of my musicianship during high school was spent studying jazz musicians that range from big band greats like Count Basie to the fusion artists like Brand X. This jazz background really shines in tracks like “Illiodd” or “Daddy’s Dreamcoat” with walking bass or sparse jazz chords being played on piano. I tried to channel several harsh noise and power electronics artists, such as Ramleh, Jason Crumer, or Cremation Lily in how I created many of the album’s textures. I felt like walls and washes of abrasive noise functioned as an effective juxtaposition in the record’s more tender moments. This goes hand-in-hand with Reggie’s industrial influence. Tracks like “Restless Nightmare” or the extended break in “Chex Mix” feature the pulsating percussion that would (hopefully) make Front Line Assembly proud. Some of the other tracks like “Paper or Plastikman” or “Tomorrow’s Memories” feature programmed drums and keyboard arpeggiation that hearkens to musicians like Aphex Twin, the Orb, and Plastikman, some of the IDM artists that Reggie and I both love. The last style that we wanted to encompass was our own take on pop music. “Chex Mix” features myself singing a pop-ish melody, but over a wash of ambient swirls void of any rhythmic pattern. We both agreed that it sounds like something Animal Collective would go for.
Molly Herbison is a third-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at MH757997@wcupa.edu.