by Chris Bryson
Following an experimental route in any artistic medium involves taking chances, sticking by them, and a drive for continued evolution. Beth’s mutating avant-garde aspirations put the trio in a wheelhouse where not many Winnipeg bands dwell, but that hasn’t kept them from digging deeper into the unknown.
Frontman Stefan Wolf says a part of the new sound comes from him and bassist Ken Prue, who used to play in a band called Pop Crimes before Beth, freeing themselves from an established way of thinking and getting into fresh ideas.
“I feel like we were still in the realm of thinking in kind of a Pop Crimes mindset for like half of the writing process,” explains Wolf. “And then we kind of slowly started writing things that were definitely much different but we were still kind of tethered to that idea and now I think we’ve shed everything that we originally thought about.”
Beth is now composed of Wolf, Prue, and Charlotte Friesen on guitar. Wolf says they’ve had difficulty retaining members; drummers in particular, and now fill out Beth’s sound with a drum machine.
“We did it,” says Wolf. “It’s a joke everybody makes and then all of a sudden it was like you know what, let’s try it. Touring our vehicle is half the size; gas is half as expensive. Our accommodations are not expensive. It makes things so much easier. And I mean obviously writing is a lot more difficult.”
Beth’s evolving shape is exemplified in “Isolation,” the first track released as their new iteration that flows eerily with solemn basslines, shimmering guitar, electronic percussion and distancing ripples as Wolf’s calm brooding baritone anchors the miasma. The feeling is encompassing: grand yet spare.
“We want to create a full sound but we don’t want to just throw in a bunch of different parts that just fills it up. So it is kind of minimalist in that sense,” says Wolf. “It’s an amalgamation of everything that we learned before and everything looking forward. I’ve always secretly loved electronic music. And I feel like for the first time in my musical career that’s actually kind of slowly moving in. Just like synthesizers and drum beats and stuff like that. It’s definitely not electronic music by any means. There’s ideas that are coming in there that are not rock oriented. It’s more of a feeling than a genre that it’s coming from.”
Wolf says this feeling is more of an aesthetic, and describes an interest in the German Bauhaus art school and movement as an influence on Beth’s new sound.
“It was basically an idea that you would be trained how to make, like not only would you design things but you would actually build all of those things,” explains Wolf. “It was more of a technical school where there was like… you would be in choreography, you would choreograph the dance, but then you would also build all the costumes. And then you would build all the sets. And then you would write the music. So it was a very all-encompassing kind of full idea. And there was lots of stark angles and really broad shapes, it’s so surreal.”
“I feel like we crafted this whole idea, obviously with lots of help from our friends,” says Wolf. “And there’s a greater aesthetic that I can kind of see for this new iteration. Where the last one the aesthetic was basically gloomy, dark, and theatrical, which was fantastic, but I think this is a little bit more focused and different.”
Wolf’s been writing in various forms since he was fifteen years old and writes all of Beth’s lyrics. He says that over time as he’s gotten more comfortable writing what he actually means. He’s also found there to be more meaning in the experiences that come from expressing his writing.
“It’s getting better. I’m not going to say I’m completely there, but I can actually say what I want to say now,” says Wolf. “Which as performing those songs it definitely makes the performance a lot more meaningful, a lot more powerful and intense, for myself and then outwardly for the audience. Because then it’s like, I know what I’m saying and I’m saying it pretty directly so there’s not a lot of armor there anymore, which is terrifying and exciting.”
“It’s definitely a lot more comfortable. I feel like at this point when I get on stage and the band starts playing, that’s actually the safe zone,” says Wolf. “I could be in front of two people I could be in front of five hundred people it doesn’t really matter. The music is the armor. And then you’re just in it. And if you go back on that point, the only disservice you’re doing is to yourself. You might as well just give in to it and see what it does as opposed to what you’re going to do with it.”
Beth will continue to tour and will be releasing singles for the next little while as they work on pushing their sound and building a collection of music – but without feeling obligated to put out anything specific until they’re ready.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us for the next little while,” says Wolf. “I think we’re going to be not so secretive about it anymore. We’re just going to keep being loud.”