Softcore forever

Beau Pearl is the queer pop crooner lighting a fire with his combustible alt-pop
By Colin Graves | Music | 14 November 2017
Photography Samantha Igot

Berlin is perhaps best known as the techno capital of Europe but it’s also home to alt-pop lone ranger Beau Pearl. He might only have a single track under his belt – the majestic There Is A Fire In Heaven – but it’s a bold beginning for an artist that seems to have a firm grasp on his unique sound and vision.

There Is A Fire In Heaven itself is all swooning strings, whiplash drums, and epic chorus hooks delivered in Beau’s emotive howl. Beau says the track is all about conflict, calling it, “The soundtrack to those unique and combustible relationships that you only have with the people you care about most.” Amen.

You’ll currently find Beau Pearl writing and recording his debut EP. And if the rest of Beau’s songs turn out as ambitious as There Is A Fire In Heaven, then it’s probably safe to say he’ll be taking a seat at the head table alongside your favourite queer pop crooners.

Colin Graves: You’ve released your debut track independently and you don’t have a label or PR machine behind you. How important is it to do things DIY?
Beau Pearl: It’s not a deliberate ethical choice, it’s just how it is right now. It’s cool to have control over everything at the start but it’s damn hard work doing things on your own.

Colin: How would your describe your sound?
Beau: I can tell you what has influenced it and I can tell you what my intentions are in making it. It took me a while to ‘find’ my sound and my voice. Basically, I just want to make the most beautiful songs I can make, which sounds real corny and very earnest but it’s true!

Colin: What’s beautiful to you then? What inspires you?
Beau: I’m into David Wojnarowicz – his art, his writing, his band 3 Teens Kill 4 and just the way he lived his life. Patti Smith is the voice of god. Other than that I’m obsessed with flowers. My apartment is getting kind of crazy with all the dried out dead flowers I’ve hung up, I hate to throw them away. Buy me flowers.

Colin: What’s the last book you read?
Beau: I just binge read Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman and it completely gutted me. I don’t know that I’ve ever had such a dramatic emotional response to a book before. Luca Guadagnino, who directed I Am Love with Tilda Swinton, has made a movie of it. I can’t wait to see it, I’m just not sure I can watch it in public in a cinema considering how much I cried reading it at home [laughs].

Colin: You’re based in Berlin but you’re originally from London. Why did you leave London?
Beau: I left because I realised the city didn’t want people like me, not any more. There are too many bigger picture problems in the UK that need to be resolved and unfortunately Brexit and the last election have made it clear just how divided people are and how much misplaced hate people have. Look what it’s done to Morrissey! It’s a joke that there’s no rent control in London. That’s why I came to Berlin – to live better and to claw back my time, to get free.

Colin: Has Berlin had an influence on your music?
Beau: People here have influenced me and inspired me, but I’m not sure the city itself and its spaces have been inspiration. It’s kind of a transient place, lots of people coming and going, nonstop partying. The novelty of that stuff wears off in time. You’ve got to be self-disciplined because it’s a distracting place to live.

Colin: Have you had any setbacks in your musical career that you’ve had to overcome and if so how did you push through?
Beau: I’ve definitely been discouraged from being so emotionally open in my songwriting. I’m not afraid to be softcore in my songs, but I’ve felt like it’s challenged some people’s perceptions of male emotional expression or what a male singer can get away with maybe. No one is really saying to Lana Del Rey, “We’re not sure about you singing these lyrics.” I definitely let it affect my writing and decision making at the time but I escaped to Berlin and now I am just following my intuition. Softcore forever.

Colin: Can you be too emotional?
Beau: I am all for oversharing. Emotions definitely lead me, my intuition, my reactions, my decision making. I’ve had times where I’ve dealt with depression and felt like I couldn’t contain my feelings.

Colin: Do you believe in guilty pleasures?
Beau: No way. I love Alanis Morissette and Sheryl Crow. No shame.

Colin: How do you write your lyrics?
Beau: Lyrics are a puzzle for me. I’m constantly collecting pieces. It’s probably there subconsciously but it’s not until I’m writing a song that the pieces start to fit together and I get to properly see the picture that they add up to. I had “there is a ” in the back of mind for a while.

Colin: Who are your favourite lyricists?
Beau: I think Michael Stipe is a poet.

Colin: Do you feel any solidarity with other queer musicians?
Beau: It’s incredible that the world of popular music is full of people like Olly Alexander, Perfume Genius, Frank Ocean and Troye Sivan. I mean it’s not a new thing, queer people have been writing amazing songs for time – Bronski Beat’s Smalltown Boy is my anthem – but it does feel different now. Olly Alexander’s documentary Growing Up Gay was so important. Queer for me has always been more of a John Waters thing, it’s like an outsider badge. I’m okay with being on the outside.

Follow Beau Pearl on Bandcamp and Soundcloud.

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