Canadian independent artist Don Beekeeper has just released a full-length album called Slave. This interview is interesting because it represents the music community often misrepresented in the popular culture. There is a lot of musical wealth within the indie community and Don Beekeeper is an avid supporter of his and the works of fellow musicians. He has never performed live in front of an audience but he is very active in youtube and soundcloud. He also loves collaborating with other artists.
Now that Slave is out, what’s your dream about the album?
I never wanted anything more from the album than for people to listen to it. I think that’s mostly what people want, anyway. It’d be nice if it sold a million copies, but that just won’t happen. For now, I would be satisfied if it got more plays.
I have my own personal favorites and most of them are tracks involving your amazing poetry. Do you have your own personal favorites?
I tend to not think of the songs that way but “Mardi Gras” is a piece of writing that means a lot to me, as is “Free”. I always focus on the words – it’s what I know best. People tend to expect coherent narratives, but that doesn’t appeal to me. I find no narrative in life that isn’t fiction. The movie, play, or novel progresses along its plot through its climax and there’s always the awkwardness of what happens next – because we all know that in real life, that’s the point at which order must be restored. And then it’s much more than just “time to put your toys away” – one also has to do something else.
That answer may seem tangential, but it has a lot to do with the words in “Mardi Gras” and “Free” — as well as “Bound”.
I love the liner notes. Do you still feel that liner notes are very important that one must give a lot of effort in making them in this age of digital media?
I put a lot of effort into making the document that accompanies the album. The recordings are roughly half the whole writing project – the poems included in the document should fill out the idea of the concept for someone interested. That makes this a special case – I had more writing that was recorded. But for any music release, now, I think people crave something that they could hold in their hands. It would always be nice to get the album physically produced, but I’m not in any position to do that or promote it enough to recover losses. The book is meant to be a bonus for people who either want the music or want to support the artist. Most people still will not buy a digital release – most people don’t even consider independent music to be real music deserving of their money. So, any packaging and extra that can be added makes the release more credible.
Are there plans to perform track in front of an audience?
I don’t perform live. So no plans. The closest thing to a live performance I do is on YouTube. And I think if I was to do actual live performances, I would need a band.
You also have collaborations with other artists. Are there plans for a full-length project with other artists?
I have no plans to do that, either – but there’s nothing stopping it from happening. It would depend on the other people, as well.
Who is Don Beekeeper when not writing or performing music.
Unfortunately, the answer to that question just isn’t very interesting. I could supply the standard answer, “I like music and roller skating and dog races and long walks on the beach…”
What’s the story behind the making of Slave?
Slave has to do with relationships between people and also a person’s relationship with himself. The characters in it are all bound together through circumstance and need. But nothing in the writing is literal. There is no actual Slave and there is no actual Brother. It has more to do with the kinds of things that make people do what they do – whether external forces (such as being enslaved) or internalized morality or moralized dogma (the Brother’s charity) or a pure sense of responsibility and love (taking care of the Sister). The whole album is about the idea of what makes someone do something and what makes someone stop doing something.
Is Don Beekeeper your real name? I see that the songwriting credits go to Don H.
My real last name begins with H – but I don’t want anyone who does a search for my real name to come across Don BeeKeeper. So, I keep them separate.
What do you look forward to this year in terms of music?
I never have any specific expectations. I’m happy when I write something new, because, like every writer, I often feel that I won’t write anything again. But I do write more. It’s a nice surprise to find you’ve written something that’s different from everything else you’ve written – that’s always the hope when writing.
Listen and buy Slave through the following: