by: Myles Tiessen
Bush Lotus has had one hell of a summer. Between months of tree-planting in the heat and thick smoke of forest fires in Northern BC, Arielle Beaupré played her first headlining show, did a triple on the Manitoba festival circuit, and released her debut EP, Floating Kitestrings.
Her performance at The Harvest Moon Festival in Clearwater proved to be a culmination of all those months spent living in the world of the EP. As the crowd filtered in to watch the performance, she fed off the energy of friends and collaborators who came to witness her pensive tracks brought to life. After the show, she hugged, laughed, and swapped stories with those same people backstage, embracing the community of friends around her. Originally from Quebec, Beaupré may be a transplant in Manitoba, but she has clearly made it her home.
Speaking with Stylus under an oak tree following her Saturday afternoon set, Beaupré sat in the slowly dying fall grass, sipping an ice-cold draft as the autumn wind swept down the leaves from above. Her relaxed joy–no doubt still reeling from the set–was boundless as we settled into the scenery reflective of her fanciful EP.
“Part of what writing music is to me is touching on something that’s slightly ethereal and resolving feelings that are too hard to talk about or comprehend,” says Beaupré. Whether it’s a therapeutic process or just for the joy of putting words to melody, making music isn’t really an option for Beaupré; “It’s a necessity.”
That sort of instinctive urgency is found all throughout Floating Kitestrings. Beaupré prefers candid balladry over the flowery language often found in modern folk songs, editing out and removing the excess until all that remains is the purest, most intimate representation of emotions. It’s a literary approach to songwriting that is, without a doubt, and most obviously, laborious. It’s a practice that sees communication as art itself.
When she sings: “I stretched my arms wide/ As through my fingers tips would reach the ends of the sky/ It didn’t matter that my feet were on the edge of the concrete parking lot,” on “Open,” you immediately feel the sober reflections of the mindfulness practices that inspired the song.
“Breathing and being with the body and with the world is very grounding. And music does the same thing for me,” says Beaupré.
Despite the lyrical clarity, there’s an imagistic rubric at the heart of the EP, and it all goes back to the way Beaupré approaches music or the way she says music comes to her. “It’s often like grasping at something beyond my reach, and the image that sticks with me is a kite floating far above me, where it’s just out of my reach, but it’s also quite beautiful that they are a little too far away, so you have to let them fly.”
Although her music reflects her deeply personal experiences and heavy emotional sentiments, Beaupré is a deeply upbeat individual with unrelenting passion and excitement for the like-minded musicians around her and for performing live. After a season of playing with a full band, her approach and even outlook on songwriting has changed. “I want people to experience those ecstatic personal sentiments that come from music, but there’s another part of me that just wants to get people to dance,” she says with a laugh.
Whether it be the groovy Latin upbeat “Dans Le Jungle,”–which features playful unaffected laughter–or the grungy “Running Away,” Floating Kitestrings hints at the intentional shift in modalities Beaupré has been experimenting with since playing with a full band.
“What [the band] did was absorb the feelings in the songs on the EP, which I feel are pretty different from one another. We’ve reworked some, tightened them up, and something like playing “Hazy” live especially is almost more like what I wanted it to be at the start.”
Beaupré sees Bush Lotus as a creative unit where collaboration is at the heart of the magic that’s reflected in their synergistic live performances. “Looking out over the crowds, I felt like everyone I’ve met from all walks of life has been there.”
Beaupré’s well aware that though the songs come from her essential, spiritual nature, they’ve grown beyond what she could have ever hoped for. “They’ve become things that can walk on their own, so I had to let go of them and let them be in the world.”