Photo credit: Jason Guffey
Beauregard and The Down Right’s Steppin' Out is a spirited show of steampunk reggae and dub punch. With a keen eye, Beau muses on political inequality, hazy nights and the urgent necessity of love. Beau accents his lyrics by modulating from sunny croon to teeth-bared growl; going from Bob Marley teaching self-care to Tom Waits at a 3 a.m. poetry reading. On “Atlanta Anthem”—an epic sketch of his hometown—Beau offers a mouthwatering tasting menu of the Atlanta music scene with an eclectic blend of horns, ebow, and a ukulele.
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SC: I like how this song uses place to drive its narrative. How do you see Atlanta fitting in to the song? Is it just a location? Or is it also a character?
BH: I see Atlanta as my home and it most certainly has its on life. The people and history of this city make it come to life though as its own character.
SC: This song is titled “Atlanta Anthem” but it’s at a slower tempo than we normally associate with anthems. Can you tell me about this choice?
BH: The slower tempo of the song for me kind of sets the pace for the story of a year in the city to unfold. Kind of like a folk ballad with a tangible story line that you can easily imagine yourself drifting through. It’s the pace of the story more than the song, I suppose. I wanted a listener to be able to digest the story as it blossoms rather than being bombarded with word salad and losing track of the narrative.
SC: The song begins in the summer and ends in the winter. Can you tell me about that choice?
BH: As far as the change of the seasons go, its more about the experiences and the time that they happened within the storyline, but it also ends on a winter season to wrap up the feeling that the sentiment is still the same towards the city—and its people and art—year round, even in colder slower times. The feeling of a connection to the landscape of Atlanta rain or shine, so to speak. It’s a beautiful, weird place and even though the city sometimes creates a love/hate relationship for its occupants, it’s still our city and we value and protect its uniqueness. Or try to anyway.
SC: What was your writing process like for “Atlanta Anthem”?
BH: The process for writing “Atlanta Anthem” was kind of loosely related amalgamation of certain events that I had experienced within the city. Mostly touching on specific location I frequented, or events that stood out in my mind. It was also part of the process to pay homage to some of the artists in this city through a storyline of how I perceived certain happenings around town.
For example, "its a Friday night down at 529" is a line setting the location and atmosphere for the rest of the story in that verse. If you are familiar with Atlanta nightlife and the music scene you should instantly get an idea of the environment. The verse goes on to say "watching jungol play for the very first time wearing body paint under the black lights" if you have ever seen Atlanta's twin brother outfit Jungol, this line becomes instantly relatable and paints a picture of the experience. I wanted a listener to be able to dive into this without too much description of the happening and find a place within the narrative as it flows together. Each verse kind of comes together with that same formula.
SC: What is your writing practice like? Do you write every day? Or do you wait for inspiration?
BH: I try to set some time aside daily to kind of test out ideas and lock into a feeling for my writing style. Honestly, my process is a little unorthodox, I suppose. I don’t really sit down and write out outlines for songs or anything like that. My process usually begins with a melody or a personal emotion or both and either a song comes naturally and is usually finished within an hour or two, or it doesn’t come at all.
I would say inspiration and my sentiments just pour out when the time is right and a new creation is born. Its kind of surreal and strange, I guess. I never really sit down and try to work a piece out, its just there or it isn’t. I can’t force it.
SC: How does your community of songwriters inspire you?
BH: Sticking with the theme of Atlanta, there is a wealth of talent in this city—from painters, poets, MCs, songwriters to producers, visionaries, street people making jewelry, etc.—I find the community and all its multifaceted uniqueness are an ever changing sea of inspiration.
As far as the song writer community goes, I’m constantly in awe of how the writers and troubadours from Atlanta and around the country that I have come to know are ever changing and growing; developing their craft and plucking heart strings. I’ve spent a lot of time hosting open mics and visiting songwriter nights and showcases and watching the progression and growth of these incredibly talented people; observing the process from unknown to making a record to crafting ever deeper more powerful songs.
I’d rather spend my money on a local songwriter showcase than a big national act because the heart and soul is omnipresent in those places. Watching someone pour their heart out in front of strangers with a piece of art that helped them make it through high and low times is very touching and a constant reminder to keep pushing and expressing those deep-seeded feelings that ultimately create the truest representation of life as an emotional creature. Hemingway said a man alone is doomed, and I believe that to be true in the artistic world. Observing other artists finding comfort in their expression brings a kind of elation and hope.
The Sound Connector is an online magazine for songwriters. We feature songwriting challenges, monthly interviews, and the opportunity to discover new songwriters. We are interested in all things related to the craft of songwriting.
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