Interview With Beekwilder
I recently had the opportunity to be introduced to the music of Sam Beekwilder. He had an opportunity right at his doorstep one night and the rest, as they say, is history….
Keith: Sam it’s a pleasure to meet you and have the opportunity to ask you some questions.
Sam: Of course, I appreciate you having me.
Keith: I understand you are from Holland. How did you end up coming to the U.S.?
Sam: I was born in the Netherlands and grew up there for the first 18 years of my life but was a foreign exchange student at a high school in Visalia, CA when I was 15. That year, I fell in love with the social culture of Americans and the spontaneity of everyone, and I was running away from some issues back home at the same time, so accepting the U.S. as a second home felt pretty natural. When I graduated high school back home in Holland, I wanted to experience that same feeling of meeting a bunch of new people and seeing what could happen, so I decided to go to the U.S. again, but this time for college. My parents moved to Bali, Indonesia that same year, so I felt like there wasn’t any reason for me to stick around as all my friends were moving all over the place too. I finished two years at Cal Poly SLO before moving to LA to pursue music, which I did after meeting Hero DeLano and Peter A. Barker at the studio in the summer between my freshman and sophomore year.
Keith: I think after what happened to you, getting a song on a major label and the circumstance that led to all that, has made you a believer of being in the right place and the right time? Can you explain the chain of events that led to your good fortune?
Sam: It’s crazy yeah, it absolutely made me believe in the right place and the right time. It even made me believe in destiny, which is corny to say but it’s true. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, so I came to America to figure it out and go with the flow, and now I got a record I wrote and performed released through Republic, it’s crazy. Back then, I couldn’t afford tuition anymore after my 2nd year, and if it wasn’t for me meeting the people at the studio, I honestly don’t know what I’d be doing now. I met Hero, Jason, and Pete one night in July 2016. I was staying on friends’ couches for a couple weeks after school ended before my flight back to Holland and spent a couple days with my girlfriend in Santa Monica during that. Her friend suggested we should go hang out at ‘the studio’ that night, and so I tagged along, and we did. I had no idea what to expect. When I get there, it turned out to be a professional recording studio for songwriters. I started making beats a couple years before that and had always been singing wherever I went, but never considered it a real aspiration along with school. I started singing that night while everyone was jamming, and before I knew it Hero and Jason asked me to sing on a record they were producing in a studio downstairs. I wrote, sang and basically finished the song with them in a couple of days while I stayed on the studio couch. It was a great start to my summer ha ha. I went home the next week and heard back from Pete that the record came out great and that he wanted me to come to the studio more to see if I could make more music with them. That’s basically history. My sophomore year I barely attended school and spent all my time obsessing over making my own music. I would drive down to LA for a weekend at least once a month and sleep on the studio couch until it was time to go back to school. We made so much dope shit in those short periods of time that I couldn’t stop thinking about having more time in the studio. I craved it. After that year I realized music was what I wanted to do and that I had an ear for melody and lyricism. I moved to LA after that year to pursue a career being an artist. I knew the music I’d made with the people at the studio was exciting, new, and the production quality was amazing. In the Summer of 2017, I was working on a new song with Hero, Dillon Daniel, and Tessa Rae, and that song turned out to be “Lava Lamps.” We would work endlessly on that same song, trying to perfect it out of some sort of obsession. We knew the song was good but we didn’t want to sell it short. Luckily, it didn’t take long for an artist from a major label to walk by and hear what was bumping from the room, walk in and be like ‘yo, I fuck with this. Whatever vibe you got going over here, I like it. Let’s work together, and that type of acknowledgment is all I wanted. Maty is such a sick person and she fitted perfectly on “Lava Lamps.” I honestly couldn’t be happier she was able to put it out as her single - it got me my first real release through a major label and I think the track’s energy works great with the two of us on there. If I hadn’t been stuck couch surfing 2 years ago, who knows where I would be now - if I would even have any music to call my own.
Keith: Growing up what kind of music did you listen to and what would you consider your influences now? And along those lines what artists or bands do you think are the ones to watch?
Sam: I grew up listening to a lot of soul, Latin music, and classic rock. Al Green, Manu Chao, and Queen are probably the main faces of those three influences while growing up, it’s what my parents listened to and I grew attached to it all. When I was about 10 I started discovering music myself, and I would mainly listen to hip-hop really, with big influences being Wu-Tang, G-Unit and Eminem of course. When I got to high school I really started delving into music and being from Holland I was, of course, putting together small, rough mixtapes of electronic dance music, although hip-hop stayed my main beloved genre. Today I listen to a little bit of everything, as I believe good music is objectively distinguishable from bad music, and every genre has good and bad music. I’d say I’m mostly inspired by the artists who I can draw from that and take the good parts from every wave to create their own. Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, Anderson Paak, SZA, Mac Miller, N.E.R.D., Outkast, Kaytranada, De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig, Tyler the Creator. I get such a sense of personality from their music, but also a sense of really good taste and eclecticism. Obviously, all of them have great voices, great lyrics and/or great production quality. But I think that’s the bar to be considered worthy of attention nowadays. In order to be great as a musician today, you gotta be able to hold your own on the sound waves, and in my opinion, those artists all do, simply by having invented a type of undeniable swagger paired with music you just can’t put in a box. That’s what I inspire to be honestly, the creator of my own wave that sounds naturally accessible to anyone who listens.
Keith: How did you find the right people to work with? When did you know you a had circle of people around you that you could trust?
Sam: Like I said earlier, the people I work with today are the people I’ve found by chance. That being said, I’ve met a lot of people in the meantime or aren’t as trustworthy, talented or care about music as much as they say they do. What I realized after witnessing one year of ‘Hollywood’ around me, is that there are a lot of people out there trying to be heard, without having anything real to say. Surprisingly, I met a lot of people seemed to be enamored with the idea of being a musician and aren’t willing to put the work in or simply don’t have the talent. I knew I found the right people in my circle because I saw they were noticing the same things in me for the required work ethic. I’m all about real genuine music, real emotion, and the people who taught me the importance of that are the people that introduced me to making music, and who I still work with today. It’s easy to trust someone in the studio when you want the same thing as them creatively.
Keith: Do you have a collection of vinyl records? I think it has come back very strong and has gained some momentum every passing year over the last 3 years or so.
Sam: I don’t really, I have some at home for memorabilia-sake like some Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix vinyl, but I never owned a vinyl record player, so if I wanted to use them I’d have to go to a friend’s house. I think they definitely gained some momentum with certain crowds, but I think the user-friendliness of streaming services is knocking that momentum out of the water. At the studio I work with I’m surrounded by audiophiles, so I do understand the difference of the crispy quality you hear when listening to an actual LP being played versus a digital mix. I wouldn’t say it’s inspired me to purchase my own LP player, but once I get to the point where I can release my own album on vinyl, I might just have to change my mind.
Keith: I think music is the universal healer, do you feel that way as well or do have a different outlook on how music affects you?
Sam: I absolutely agree. Music heals all wounds. There’s no better feeling than screaming along a song that talks exactly about how you feel at the moment, and the music accompanying it totally adds to the sensation. It can also expose wounds you didn’t even realize were deep wounds, but realizing you had them can be considered healing as well. There’s something about listening to a song from front to back, hearing the way certain words are pronounced and performed, hearing the sounds and instruments evolve into each other, and having the sense that it all ties back together in one message. It’s an experience unlike watching a movie, unlike reading a book, unlike looking at a piece of art on the wall. For me, it’s the perfect balance between presenting art in a complete package while leaving enough room for interpretation for the listener. Everyone relates to a song differently, yet everyone will sing along the same lyrics. It’s the personal healer that brings the universe together by making us realize we’re not that different. Of course, not all music is going to resonate with everyone, but great music doesn’t fade away.
Keith: What are your plans going forward? Are you going to release a full-length album this year or is that something you are working towards at this point?
Sam: I have mainly been working on developing myself as an artist; figuring out what it is I want to say to the world about who I am, what I’ve been through, and how I got here. I’ve realized while making these new songs that a lot of people relate to my pain or are in love with my energy. I released an 11-song EP earlier this year that I finished in 2017 called Bungalow Bill, named after the studio I work at. I have over 40 songs unreleased right now, and I think it’s all better than the music I’ve put out already. The stage I’m in right now is something I really treasure, because I get to work in a studio every single day with no pressure, trying to get every song just right, over and over again. There’s no money involved for me yet but having the chance to write and perform my songs completely makes up for that. The chances of me releasing another full-length project this year are definitely possible, although not certain. I will release a couple singles first to test the waters, as I’m experimenting every day in every way. My music is definitely different, and I think it’ll help carve my own lane in the music world. I’m currently still independent and having my message fall on deaf ears by releasing music prematurely is a scenario I don’t want. Whatever scenario, I will always make sure I have something new to show for.
Keith: What are your thoughts on the power of social media and how it can help launch the career of an artist or collect income (like Pledge Music)? Do you think this is something that will continue to grow?
Sam: I don’t think social media is going to stop growing anytime soon, and I guess we’ll see how artists continue to take their place in that realm. Social media allows the world to be a lot more connected, and music is able to find a way to a lot more ears than it could 20 years ago. I’m not a huge fan of having constant exposure to my everyday life on Instagram, but there are now famous artists whose fanbase is mainly based around their daily interaction with them through social media. It’s crazy how one person with a lot of online followers can tag your profile in a single post, and all of a sudden there are thousands of people knocking on your (online) door, peaking interest. Drake can co-sign an artist by simply playing their song in a video he posts; millions watch it, and that artist’s song blows up and gets on the radio the next month. The time it takes for people to get famous has absolutely shrunk through social media, but it also is a lot quicker to forget about someone these days if they’re not relevant on the internet. I don’t know if I’ll ever get comfortable as some other artists are with presenting their daily lives online. My power and my strength are when I am on stage. For me, I want to feel that personal connection to a fan by performing in front of them and seeing their reaction. Although I realize the importance of having a presence online and don’t see that importance going away anytime soon - I truly believe that communication through personal contact, artist to audience, can never be replicated online. It is the thing that creates goosebumps, chills, memories and moments, and it is what I think sets me apart from others in the arena.
Keith: Sam it has been a great pleasure to get some insight into your young career and what it is like for a man to jump into such a crazy business. I give you credit for your fortitude and wish you the best and thank you so much for all of your time!
Sam: Thanks so much for having me!
Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
"The original internet “MuzikMan” Reviewer since 1998!”