Formed from the notion of opposites coming together to complete perfect wholes, the name Arthur Beatrice recalls emergence, rather than memories of Golden Girls. Read More...
Formed from the notion of opposites coming together to complete perfect wholes, the name Arthur Beatrice recalls emergence, rather than memories of Golden Girls.
It seems vital then that the two monikers be male and female, and begin with the letters A and B – like two sides of a record, or the genders, they are unique, but find unison in one another. A truism that extends to Arthur Beatrice’s two distinct, dual vocals.
Founding members Orlando Leopard (vocals/instruments) and Elliot Barnes (drums) discovered early in their school-formed friendship, and musical partnership, that their opposing views would take them in interesting and often unpredictable directions. The pair were looking to introduce a new dynamic to their songwriting when they met and enlisted Ella Girardot (vocals/keys), after hearing her perform All Saints’ Pure Shores in the school talent contest. Brother Hamish Barnes (vocals/bass/guitar) joined a little later, quickly providing another point of creative tension when he began contributing songs that soon became as vital as anything before.
“When a person pulls one way, and another pulls in a completely different direction, it’s possible to find something in the middle without compromising… something a lot more interesting,” is the way Orlando sees the process, and this core idea of creation from conflict is intrinsic to the band’s writing; each member bringing their own ideas to the rest to be shaped by their differing input. It’s not a typical approach, with Elliot’s words interpreted and made real in different voices, through Orlando and Ella, but it works, and while the drummer may write with individual intention, the actual words are deliberately open to interpretation by both singer and listener.
Ella refers to these lyrics as being “Ambiguous…”, and they may seem as such, especially when twinned with seemingly unrelated titles. Each song name is in fact intended to encourage the listener to reconsider the words on realisation that the title words are always absent. “…It’s meant to be a ‘rupture’ of sorts – that thing that makes you realise that something isn’t quite right, and you have to look at the whole song again to work out why it has its name.”
Girardot’s vocals are unaffected by lyrics written largely by her male mates; while at times cold and disassociated, they are more often warm and always passionate, her voice leaning against Leopard’s reserved tones in a way that again forces the listener to ask questions of the songs’ motivations. While it’s natural to assume a direct dialogue between the singers, it’s quickly apparent this is not the sound of star-crossed lovers duetting. Instead, the occasional sharing of vocals only highlights further the different perspectives, aiming to push the pop-focussed songs into less familiar and comfortable territory. There are occasions and parts written from the male perspective and deliberately designed to be sung by Ella… Arthur Beatrice allows for different interpretations, throwing every songs presumed subject matter in to question.
A reluctance to release material before it’s been worked, and then re-worked, to the point of obsession has led to little and infrequent output during their formative years, but it has granted the band a sense of calm awareness and careful consideration in everything they do: from a painstakingly pieced-together aesthetic through to the creation and curation of their own night, Open Assembly and further still, to self-releasing their only two previous singles ‘Midland’ and ‘Charity’ on Open Assembly off-shoot label, OAR.
For a band whose music is composed of such wildly differing elements, who’s writing comes from so many perspectives and musical influences, and in an age when so much is served up so soon, they’ve maintained a hold of the reigns and remain firmly in control. They don’t look to be loosening that grip any time soon.
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