Catch up with Wisconsin-based indie soul band Bien Bien's Javi and listen to their latest single, "She Grooves Me", title track off their upcoming debut EP, to be released soon.
What brought you together?
Javi: Well, one of the members I was actually a long time friend with him - I knew him before I went to college - so I knew that he had musical interests and that he was a producer for hip hop and other styles of music and I loved making music at that time myself and so I knew we had a link-up. So me and the drummer, Coniferous Wallace, we've been jamming together for years. And then, the third member of Bien Bien, Marshall Arts, we had a chance encounter. Ran into him at a party that I don't really remember back when I was drinking and he apparently had had a conversation with me about playing guitar and he played guitar and I was like, 'yeah, I play guitar,' and he was like, 'sweet, let's jam tomorrow, I'm free tomorrow,' and I was like, 'sure, come on over' and I forgot the conversation. And then, the following day [laughs], he shows up at my door and I'm like, 'what? Dude, oh, I remember you,' and we just started jamming. We had an impromptu jam session and, the same day, Coniferous Wallace, the drummer, had to pick up some equipment that he had left at my place, so he came over and, in that moment in that day, we had a spontaneous, impromptu jam session and I just fell in love with the sound. So that's how we got started.
Which musicians have you been influenced by, individually or as a band?
Individually, I'm kind of all over the spectrum. I kind of am in between the two stratifications, I guess I would say, that Marshall Arts and Coniferous Wallace have. Marshall Arts is influenced a lot by indie rock, classic rock and roll, and artists that have influenced his guitar style and his guitar workings have been like Johnny Marr Smith or Mac DeMarco - that chorus-y, beach-y, modulated guitar-type style to give it this good vibe and a jazzy aspect to it. Whereas, on the other side of the spectrum, is Coniferous Wallace. He's the drummer of the group and he's been a hip hop fan his entire life and he loves underground hip hop. The commonality between him and Marshall is the jazzy aspect to it. Because, Marshall loves jazzy indie rock progressions and minor 7th chords and all that technical stuff, and Coniferous loves jazzy hip hop and how jazz has influenced underground out-of-the-left-field hip hop. So, that came together and I fall in the middle where I loved all of those types of music beforehand, so it created this chemistry that was very organic because we all love very similar kinds of music and it came together in this nice little mesh.
How would you describe your sound to someone who had never heard your music?
In general, I like to call it indie soul but, more specifically, we've created sub-genres of our own take that aren't a commercialized or popularized term and we just call it a couple things. We can call it soul wave, or groove hop [laughs], or it can just be, simply, indie rock, just with a lot of different touches from other genres thrown in there.
What were your inspirations behind your single "She Grooves Me"?
"She Grooves Me" was influenced by, in general, just relationships we've all had in the past. How we've fallen in love with the women in our lives and how they've motivated us to be more creative, to express ourselves but, also, we feel kind of hindered by how they just take over our soul and how we're influenced by their way of captivating us. So, we realized that there's this dichotomy with our relationships that we've had with girls in our lives and, for one, it empowers us, but also it entrances us and we get lost and sunk into these relationships and get this illusion. There's that dichotomy with relationships that illustrates itself in the song. In the chorus, we say how, 'she grooves me, she moves me, she uses me,' where she doesn't take advantage of me, but it's basically saying that we have fallen so deep into a relationship or a feeling with a woman or girl in our life that it takes over us and we're just kind of entranced [laughs]. We lose control. But, by the end of it all, in these relationships, the girl still grooves us and still makes us more human, more spontaneous, a more loving person. It's all these abstract feelings and emotions that are brought about through these relationships that directed the lyricism of the song.
As far as the musical style of the song, it kind of happened spontaneously, too. Marshall Arts picked up an $18 thrift shop electric keyboard and we made the riff for that song from this keyboard, so it was just in the moment. We didn't try to make it this grandiose production and it all came together nicely.
Could you tell us more about your upcoming debut EP?
The upcoming EP is just four songs and the title of the EP is the title track, "She Grooves Me". It basically is a showcase of our styles of music. There's two vocal songs on it and then there's two instrumentals and the reason why we have two instrumentals on there is because we want to show people that we're not just making these pop-y, catchy, rock songs, but that we're also showing our technicality and our love for the music that's influenced us. We wanted to throw in those two instrumentals because we love the way that we created these compositions and how we love the technicality and the theory of music and behind the music. Because our sound is a mesh of so many little genres and so many technical genres, we like that we are able to showcase these genres through these instrumentals, but that's why we put the EP together like that. We're super excited to share it with you. They were recorded back in the beginning of Summer, so we've just been tweaking it and holding onto it and we're ready to release it; we can't wait for y'all to hear it.
Is there a track off that EP you're most excited to share with fans?
Yeah, from the EP, I'd probably say "She Grooves Me", which is the title track. I just think it's super fun to listen to and it gets people on their feet, gets people grooving. Yeah, it makes me feel the most happy when I hear that song. And then, hopefully, when they hear that song - it's going to be the first track on the EP - it entices them to go through the rest and it takes them on a little trip through the rest of the EP.
How would you sum up the She Grooves Me EP in one sentence?
Groovy, intimate eclecticism.
What do you hope listeners are able to take away from your music?
First off, I really hope that they're able to understand that we are music lovers at heart, we are not simply these calculated musicians or performers, we are trying to express the music that we've been influenced by, but in our own way. And, we want to give thanks to the forefathers, to the people that created the music that we were influenced by. Like I said about the EP, it's a showcase of our sound, so we want people to really be like, 'whoa, these guys have such distinct influences and also they created this mesh of genres that hasn't really been illustrated before'. We want people to really feel like they can latch onto this new sound and be curious after listening to it. Really, just be so curious as to the future songs that we will be releasing, kind of to hype them up about the future songs that we're going to be showing them because, just like our songs and lyrics are intricate, that leads into these intricate instrumentals as well and there's a lot of catchy songs in there. We want people to just be curious and open to the Bien Bien sound.