Enchanting quartet Being There is James Robinson, Nick Orlenshaw, Tom Rapanakis and lead singer Sam Lewis. After loving both the band's split single and their latest track '17', I jumped at the chance to send Lewis some questions. In the short interview below, we chat about his varied influences, style plans and even some possible future sounds! It reveals an artist and musician as humble and individual as his nostalgic music portrays. Read the interview below, then find my original review of Being There's split single 'The Radio' here! Thanks to everyone at Young and Lost Club and to Mr Lewis for answering the questions!
Music Dissection: How did you all meet, and what's behind the band's name?
Sam Lewis: We met at University, then moved down to London together and started taking playing music more seriously. As for the name, I wanted something that wasn't a 'The' or a 'And The' kind of name, and I just liked the phrase Being There.
MD: What are your influences and inspirations both musically and lyrically?
SL: Musically I love songwriters like Bradford Cox, Kurt Vile and Jeremy Earls, as well as bands like Duckatils, Yo La Tengo and Guided by Voices. Lyrically I like songwriters who have a slightly abstract approach, like Cox and Robert Pollard. Pollard especially has an amazing kind of collage approach to lyrics, with all these disparate images that amount to more than the sum of their parts. I love the honesty of Jeffrey Lewis and Jonathan Richman too. But my all time favourites are probably Bob Dylan and Arthur Russell.
MD: We loved your split single and track '17', so what are your plans album-wise?
SL: Thanks! Our debut record will come out on Young and Lost in late May. Exciting!
MD: Your brand of summer melancholia is distinctly nostalgic. Are we going to here an evolution from that style in the future?
SL: Hmm it's hard to say really...good question. I think nostalgia is a totally valid form of expression, and most of my favourite things are based on nostalgia - Woody Allen's films like Zelig, Annie Hall or Broadway Danny Rose. Bergman's Wild Strawberries. Gondry's Eternal Sunshine. Tolstoy's Ivan Illych and Flaubert's Sentimental Eductation...Sebald's books like The Rings of Saturn, and Nabakov's Speak, Memory. Tarkovsky even made a film called Nostalgia. And then there's the Ethiopian blues, which aren't called the blues but Tizita, which translates as memory or nostaliga. Some of the Tizita songs are so beautiful, like this one by Getachew Kassa, or this by Emahoy Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou. These are all things I love. I think nostalgia has this amazing mixture of sadness and joy, sadness at the passing of time and the happiness of remembrance....so to answer your question, I think I'd find it hard to move away from it altogether.
MD: Are there any instruments or sounds you want to record with in the future?
SL: I'd like to have more electronica in our sound in the future, more computerised beats and samples and keyboards.
MD: Who are you all listening to at the moment?
SL: I've been enjoying the new Lambchop album, Atlas Sound's Bedroom Databank albums, The Clams Casino instrumental record, the last Tiny Vipers album and Jonathan Richman's poem about turning 60.
MD: You were recently selected as one of NME's bands to watch in 2012. First off, congratulations! Did you ever think Being There would get as big as it has?
SL: Thanks, but I think we're some way off being big yet! But being in NME is very cool.
MD: You also toured with Noah and the Whale, which must have been pretty amazing! What did you learn from your time with them, and has the experience made you more confident performing?
SL: I think playing in front of so many people every night can only make you more confident on stage, which is a good thing. As for what we learnt, I think the key is just to keep playing...they're always touring and on the road, so a good show for them is just second nature, they don't even think about it or get nervous, as far as I can tell anyway.
MD: Finally, what is your favorite album and why?
SL: Blood on the Tracks by Dylan. Its got everything for me, lyrics, music, songs? Perfect!
Thanks again to Sam Lewis for answering Music Dissection's questions, and to everyone at London's Young and Lost Club for arranging the interview. I'm certainly looking forward to hearing Being There's debut full-length in May, but until then I'm satisfied with their split single and the melancholic '17'! Find coverage of both by clicking the 'Being There' label below, then, when you have the time, check out The Young and Lost Club's website here!