Beaty Heart are three childhood friends who formed a band in Peckham after moving there for university. When they supported Jungle in Birmingham in March, there were five of them on stage and three of them were drummers. Sometimes the clue really is in the name.
Tropical is a word that is often misappropriated, yet it’s difficult to think of Beaty Heart as anything other. They say they’re crafting ‘rhombus pop hymns’ and it’s psychedelic too, a la Animal Collective – calypso rhythms that flutter with loops and twists, hooks and chants and with a pounding, tribal, beaty heart at its centre.
“We found a blog when we were at college called Awesome Tapes From Africa on which we’d find new stuff to listen to and we got pretty obsessed with it,” explains James Moruzzi, on how the band got together. “That was probably the major source of inspiration but Animal Collective were a big influence on us too, The Beach Boys, The Congos, Teebs. We all kind of bring everything to the table, we have our own palates and ways of making samples and melodies work. That’s what’s so fun about making our music – you can kind of do what you want and think about it later. It’s also what can sometimes make being in this band so frustrating.”
Beaty Heart’s debut album, Mixed Blessings, is due for release at the end of this month. It’s a beautiful creation filled with euphoric bursts of energy, songs which sound like light, such as Banana Bread, Kanute’s Coming Round and Seafood. But there are also delicate moments – the sleepy-eyed Yadwigha’s Theme and Muti, which drip with morning dew. It’s really exquisitely balanced.
“There’s always that danger [to keep playing about with songs, adding in layer after layer] but we were actually really lucky in that we recorded Lekka Freakout and Banana Bread about two months before the rest of the record,” says James. “In that time we were able to get a real perspective on what we actually wanted, to de-clutter everything. We cut Banana Bread from a four minute plus track down to just over two minutes and stripped out loads of wishy-washy crap. That kind of became the ethos for the rest of the record, to really concentrate on making sense of the clutter.”
These are songs that the band have been working on since they first began to make ripples within the music press around three years ago. But in those three years they’ve honed and they’ve perfected the material which sounded so promising even then.
“Lekka Freakout and Get The Gurls have both developed so much. If I type those names into my iTunes, it almost tells the story of our band through song. They’ve both been re-worked from lo-fi jams into acoustic and choral pieces and have verses from some of the first tracks we ever demoed,” James says of their progression.
Live, Beaty Heart have expanded out into an instrument-swapping gospel celebration. They’re a pleasure to observe. But they’re adamant in not compromising the dynamic they’ve worked so hard to achieve on their recordings.
“Playing live is such a personal thing between a group of people, and I think if we kept on bringing different people into the equation we’d just lose the vibe. We’ve only recently started playing with Pat and Phonix, and probably the main reason we went for it was that they’re both such safe people and easy to vibe with. The live show is very important to us, we’re always talking about how to improve it, change it, develop it – it’s another thing to have fun with. We all have super short attention spans and get bored easily though, so the more we change things, the happier we are.”
Beaty Heart take charge of all their own artwork and visuals too, “partly because we don’t trust anyone else…and also because it’s fun.” Forward-looking, thirsty for a challenge and charmingly crafting interesting material in an age of saturation, we couldn’t ask for anything more.