Beck’s music is as diverse as the Los Angeles neighborhood he calls home. The iconoclast has been one of the most consistent acts in alternative music, with a catalog of records that span the gamut of music. His postmodern approach to recording has created the tapestry of alt hip-hop, funk, soul, and introspective folk that has defined his career. From the Slacker-era defining Mellow Gold, to the dynamic horns of Midnite Vultures, and the Grammy-winning melancholy acoustics of Morning Phases, Beck has never been scared to evolve.
On his thirteenth album, Colors, Beck created a radio-ready, joyous piece of alt-pop that is perfect to be unleashed on the dance floor. With the aid of pop producer Greg Kurstin, who has worked with Adele, Kelly Clarkson, and Sia, this relentlessly upbeat album delivers off-kilter escapism that is much needed in our politically turbulent times.
While speaking to Harms of LA’s Alt 98.7, Beck talked about what fans can expect at ALTer EGO (you can live stream here), his first show of 2018, his return to Los Angeles, crafting Colors for the live show experience, and what it’s like to be front and center in a huge mural in Silver Lake.
iHeartRadio’s first ALTer EGO concert goes down January 19, 2018, at The Forum in Los Angeles. Beck will perform along with Mumford and Sons, Cage The Elephant, Dashboard Confessional, Spoon, The National, and Walk The Moon.
Read their conversation below:
Harms: Friday night is our ALTer EGO show, is that going to be your first show of 2018?
Beck: Yeah, technically, it’s the first one. We did a little thing at Stella McCartney’s (party) last night in Hollywood but it wasn’t with a full band. It was just piano and gospel choir. This will be the first official show.
We talked a couple of times in the lead up to the release of Colors and you mentioned more than once that when making the songs for this album you had the live show in mind. These were songs you we’re cultivating know that the live show was obviously where they were going to end up. How did that turn out for you now that it’s all said and done and you’ve played show’s since the album’s come out.
It’s working out, I have to say. The half dozen or so songs that we’ve put in the set are really working and usually it takes years for a song to connect with an audience at a live show. It takes a while for people to get used to it. These songs have taken pretty quick so I’m pretty happy. They bring a kind of energy and urgency that’s been really helping the show. A little more visceral, a little more fun.
Playing new songs is something an artist always looks forward to, right?
Yeah, it’s weird. Sometimes songs just hit right away and some just take a couple years. It’s like an outfit. You’ve got to break it in. It’s like a new pair of shoes. Then, after a number of years, they become part of this whole musical experience that you’re trying to put out there at the show. It’s a process. I’m lucky because I have people coming to shows for years and I always try to have something new happening. If you haven’t seen the show in a few years, there’s new musicians, new staging, new songs. (I) try to keep it something that evolves.
Is there anything new for Friday night or should that be a surprise?
Yeah, we did a little surprise show last fall but we really haven’t played in LA in a long time - in many years. I think this will be a great opportunity for us to try to catch up with our fans that are coming out. Last fall, the shows were really hitting their stride. There’s a good energy happening now.
Have you played The Forum since they redid it?
Yeah, I’ve only done it once when we did a show about two or three years ago but I’ve been going there since I was a kid.
Mumford and Sons are opening up the show on Friday. What was the thing that happened between you and one of those dudes last year?
One of the members of the band (Ben Lovett) owns a club in London (Omeara) that I played at about two months ago and he went down to the flea market and made me this little gift basket. It was really sweet and he bought me a new hat. There’s connections, that’s how it is in music. We’re on the same team. We’re all kind of living the same life. I enjoy these kind of things.
One last question and it’s just because I think about it every time I pass it. I don’t know if you’ve seen, there’s a barbershop in silver lake that has a mural on the side. It’s huge and your face is front and center. Have you seen that?
That’s so funny. I have a funny story about that. We were working on Colors, we were recording it up the street and I was driving home at night and I remember cutting down that street and seeing the mural. It just kind of came out of nowhere and it had all these bands including Elliot Smith and all these people who were associated with Silver Lake and I wasn’t on there. What was funny about it was I used to live on the street that the mural is on for years. I think I was living there while I recorded the first two records in this little apartment literally four or five doors down from where the mural is. It’s ironic that I used to live right there and I made all this music. So the next day I was cutting down and they dropped me in there. I materialized.
*Laughs* You willed it to be so.
I willed it. I don’t know how. The mural god heard me. I’m in there in this very pure, long-haired version of myself
It’s good. It’s a good likeness.
It’s very surreal to be on the billboard.
Silver Sun Pickups are on there and I talked to Brian (Aubert) about that and he said his first reaction was “Oh my god, did I die?”
I know! Exactly! You don’t really know how to process it. It’s so surreal. You’re like, “wait, I don’t know if I should be on a billboard.” I’m thinking about twenty other bands that should be on there.
Beck, I appreciate it. We’re looking forward to seeing you later in the week and have a great couple days. We’ll see you on Friday.
We’ll see you then.
Listen to Harms’ interview with Beck below:
Photo Credit: Getty