Interview: Balu Brigada on their upcoming EP.

Interview: Balu Brigada on their upcoming EP.

Multi-instrumentalists and writer/producer brothers Henry and Pierre Beasley make up Balu Brigada, the Auckland-based duo making groovy and undeniably hook-filled music. Their 2019 earworm 'medicine' reached 1.8 million streams on Spotify alone, and more recent releases 'Number One' and 'Favourite Clothes' showcase the brothers' skills with beats, and witty lyricism (“I shoot my shot like it’s a free throw").

The brothers are currently putting the finishing touches on an upcoming EP, set for release in 2022, along with writing more new songs, and working with new people.

We spoke with Balu Brigada about what 2022 has in store for them, their songwriting process, performing live, and more...

COUP DE MAIN: You've previously said that 'Moon Man' is about "trying to co-exist with someone that lives in an entirely different world." Why do you think that being in different worlds makes a relationship so much more difficult?
BALU BRIGADA - HENRY BEASLEY: Living in different worlds makes it harder to be on the same page in a relationship, and requires a lot more effort to see the world through each others’ eyes. For us, it has meant everything from having different sleep schedules, to partners, to living in different countries. It requires a lot of patience, empathy and understanding from both sides and is definitely not for the faint of heart.

CDM: Similarly, I always think that having a concrete communication style makes everything easier. You say, “They speak another language / Don't understand it.” What are the most important things to you in making a relationship, be it friendship or romantic, work?
BALU BRIGADA - HENRY: I guess again, it’s super reliant on empathy and trying to see where the other is coming from. A lot of the time I know I get really tongue-tied, and pretty inarticulate with my emotions when I’m stressed out, so it helps circle back to stuff and address emotions or frustrations even if you can’t in the moment. If you make the effort to try and know someone inside out, it’s easier to fill in the gaps of why they might be acting weird, even if you they can’t explain it in the heat of it.

CDM: In ‘How It Would End’ you touch on the inevitability of the ending of something, and trying to erase it from your memory: “Cuz when you fall in love the way that we did / I think it’s easier to try to forget.” What was running through your mind writing that song?
BALU BRIGADA - HENRY: It was loosely based on a high school romance that was pretty dramatic. Rollercoaster shit really. Even in hindsight, there were some intense moments that could make it into an episode of ‘Euphoria’. But with the extreme highs and lows it seemed pretty inevitable that it would blow up in our faces at some point. Sure enough it culminated with her ex-lover accosting me in a street with a bunch of his mates and telling me that she was cheating on me, and making some pretty gnarly threats. I had just finished watching 'Hannah Montana The Movie' as well, so it really wasn’t the vibe.

CDM: In 'Number One' you declare that you want to be someone else’s priority - their #1. Humans are generally naturally selfish beings… do you think that declaring someone else's wellbeing above your own is the ultimate declaration of caring?
BALU BRIGADA - HENRY: Yeah, I’d say that it is. As fun as it is to say melodramatic things like, “I'd die for you, I really struggle to see Bruno Mars catching a grenade for anyone. And fair enough, I don’t plan to either tbh.

CDM: I really enjoy the humour and wittiness inserted into Balu songs, like the line: “I shoot my shot like it’s a free throw.” Do you find that lyrics will just pop into your head, or do some songs take longer to form the lyrics to?
BALU BRIGADA - HENRY: It’s the best thing in the world when the lyrics pop into your head and you have to race to catch all of them, but the majority of the time it’s trial and error. We wrote 4 or 5 different verse ideas for 'Number One' because it took a while to get the mood and the flow of the verses. In the end, the energy of the song was rambunctious enough for us to commit to some tongue in cheek Pharrell-esque lyrics such as that one.

CDM: “I should be home by now, but I’m still trying to figure you out," you sing in ‘I Should Be Home’. Why is the mystery of what other people are thinking something that we spend so much time thinking about? Do you think it’s because it’s such an unknown - someone else's brain?
BALU BRIGADA - HENRY: Yeah it's kind of the dark cousin of the empathy thing. I like to know what people around me are thinking and feeling and often it means that I'm not present in my own mind. I’ve spent entire nights trying to make sure this one person is comfortable, and entire other nights trying to make sure this other person thinks I'm a good guy. What is that?

CDM: Do you think as brothers, you operate on a similar brain wavelength? I have friends where we know exactly what the other person is thinking / finish each other’s sentences etc.
BALU BRIGADA - HENRY: Yeah, we’re pretty similar for sure. It’s not uncommon for us to make the same niche joke a second apart from each other and then realise that we’re blurring into one person. We often joke that it’s a problem, but honestly it does a lot more good than harm!

CDM: Is there a song on the EP that you’re most excited about playing live?
BALU BRIGADA - PIERRE BEASLEY: I’m really looking forward to playing 'Number One'. We haven’t played that since it’s been released and I just love the energy of the song. It sounds like sweat.

CDM: I remember seeing you guys live last year and was blown away by the live show. When you’re working on music in a studio, are you thinking much about how it will translate into a live setting? Or do you think of them as two different projects?
BALU BRIGADA - PIERRE: Not all the time. Although it is good to keep in the back of your mind so that you don’t end up layering 7 synths whilst you’re producing, which you’re never gonna be able to pull off live. Mid-process, if the song is lending itself to more a ‘live’ sound, I try to keep all of the following ideas within reach of a live performance scenario. I think we’re slowly learning that all of our better songs tend to be ones that work well live.
CDM: Do you generally spend longer on writing the lyrics to your songs, or the musical / production elements of your songs?
BALU BRIGADA - PIERRE: I’d say it would be different for each of us. I spend a lot more time producing whilst Henry is always completely devoted to getting the lyrics and narrative right.

CDM: What do you hope people to take away from listening to Balu Brigada?
BALU BRIGADA - PIERRE: I hope that they can feel something, or be moved in some way or another. Our favourite artists can always make our general day-to-day existence a lot more enjoyable, so if we could do that for anyone then that would seriously rock and roll.

CDM: Pierre, what is your favourite thing about Henry?
BALU BRIGADA - PIERRE: He’s an insane cook. Like, he adds so much cayenne pepper, cumin, and various other herbs and spices but somehow the concoction is perfect every time. He’s also been making some Sichuan bangers recently. You should try it.

CDM: Henry, what is your favourite thing about Pierre?
BALU BRIGADA - HENRY: Favourite thing is his capacity for goofiness. We’ll spend multiple hours together and realise that neither of us has said a single sentence that wasn’t laced in heavy irony or some bizarre reference that no one else would pick up on.

CDM: If B.A.L.U. B.R.I.G.A.D.A. was an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
BALU BRIGADA: Boadcious, Allies, Like, Ultimately.
Brothers, Rocking, In, General, Across, Da, Atlas.

CDM: What do you have planned for 2022 so far?
BALU BRIGADA: A whole lot of business! Writing a lot of songs, and working with new people. Enjoying some moments overseas, believe it or not!

Balu Brigada's song 'Number One' is out now - lifted from their project to come in 2022 - watch the music video below:

[Made with the support of NZ On Air]