BY HAZEL REID
We chatted with Balu Brigada’s vocalist and guitarist Henry Beasley as the band’s new Almost Feel Good mixtape debuted and the guys toured the country sharing their new tunes with Kiwi audiences. The new record encompasses ten tracks which have been worked on over the past eight months.
The four-piece have already got international travel under their belt as they began the writing process out of Fatboy Hair’s basement (their hair product factory) in Brooklyn, New York. The mixtape, which is their first body of work involved multiple writing trips between Auckland, New York and Los Angeles to explore and find the mix they wanted.
Talking about the process of writing and recording, Henry explains, “Putting together a group of tracks was exciting because we’ve only released singles in the past.” The experience gave the band a chance to “explore a bunch of different vibes without the pressure of feeling like we had to be perfectly punchy or concise. It gave us room to breathe.”
Choosing just a small group of songs for an album out of all of the tracks created would be a challenge – Henry confirmed my thoughts revealing that when it came to finalising the track list and the final song mixes, “it definitely became a bit overwhelming and took us to the brink of our sanity because we really wanted the tape to feel a certain way.”
The Balu Brigada lads had a busy May, not just because it was their mixtape debut month and they had their own headlining tour celebrating their debut record’s release but because they also supported Kiwi duo Broods and UK singer Dean Lewis in Auckland for their tours. I saw both of the shows at the Auckland Town Hall and it was awesome to see people dancing and screaming even if they didn’t know all the lyrics. The band have been “really digging playing Part Time which is a fresh one from the mixtape.”
Henry, speaking on behalf of the group tells me that Good 4 U is one that they are “pretty chuffed with” and for him personally “from a songwriting perspective as it sums up the mixtape for me.” He explains, “Even though it describes a kind of ugly character and side of life, it’s kind of a cathartic in that it’s a conversation I have with myself when I get stressed out or overwhelmed. Reminding myself that ‘lows make you appreciate the highs’ aka life isn’t always peachy but that’s what gives it that flavour.”
Talking collaborations, they’ve got NZ’s Matthew Young and SWIDT on their list plus USA’s 3 Stakes and Gorillaz (UK). Balu Brigada wrote their music overseas and have been enjoying touring here which means when an American festival is on their ultimate gig list, it comes as no surprise. “We’d love to play a set at Camp Flog Gnaw [in Los Angeles, USA]. Mainly because Tyler’s creation of the festival is pretty inspirational but also because the line ups are always interesting and they tend to book acts that we look up to.”
As our chat comes to a close, Henry shared some words of wisdom that he heard from his girlfriend, “that will echo for eternity as the truest truth ever – you win some, you lose some, that’s life.” He also hopes that being based in the USA and writing and touring as much as possible is on the cards for Balu Brigada over the next few years, saying, “After getting a bit of a taste for it last year, I imagine living over there for a nice stint would be fruitful and inspiring.”
Balu Brigada’s ten-track record Almost Feels Good Mixtape is out now – this ‘indie hip-pop’ band are definitely ones to add to your playlist stat.
From tour managing boybands to working massive events and interviewing international talent, HAZEL REID is in love with the craziness that is the entertainment industry.
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