There's something that stands out rather immediately with the Philly-based Spirit of the Beehive, which among other things has made them a favorite in the Juxtapoz office. Each album is a bit of a trip, moving seamlessly between subtle ambient interludes and jarring distortion, bold and somehow difficult, yet satisfying and mesmerizing. The band originated as the brainchild of Zack Schwartz following the dissolution of his last band Glocca Morra in 2015, breaking with their more distinctly emo sound and experimenting to get something that sounds unmistakably unique.
In anticipation of their upcoming release Hypnic Jerks, we interviewed Schwartz about Spirit of the Beehive, the intriguing found-audio sampling in their music, cover art, and more. Read on below.
Eben Benson: What's the background behind Spirit of the Beehive? How was it originally conceived?
Zack Schwartz: I started the band when my old emo band was ending. Not to say that band was bad, I just wanted to make more interesting music that was more along the lines of what I was enjoying and listening to at the time.
Have the ideas behind the music stayed consistent, or do you find they change substantially for each album?
They tend to change album to album. I think it’s harder to make the same record twice as opposed to trying new things. It’s just natural.
Did you grow up interested in visual art? Who were some artists you liked growing up?
I don’t know really. I grew up really into film though, and the relationship between film and music. I think that’s definitely helped shape Spirit records.
A lot of the lyrics in your music have existentialist themes, is that something you've always had an interest in?
I'd imagine everyone is into Existentialism to some degree. I don’t think about the lyrics too hard. They either work, or they don’t.
If I write it immediately, I know it’s good. If it’s taking a while, then I’m probably trying too hard.
You use a lot of found-audio recordings etc. in your music, where do you usually find it? Do you have a particular interest in "forgotten" artifacts of media?
For the latest record, all the samples were home recordings that Rivka’s (bass) dad made when he was a kid. I sifted through hundreds of hours of them until I found ones that made the record what it is. Sampling is an art, and it’s music in and of itself. I like digging for the perfect sample, even if it ends up being laughs from a Late Show interview with Jennifer Lawrence.
For the cover of your upcoming album, you used a collage by Dylan England, how did that come about? What's the story behind some of your past album covers?
I was asking online for people to design a cassette cover did us. The record was originally going to be a little tour mixtape. dylan sent me his mixed media stuff and collages and I loved them. it worked out perfectly since the project became a full album. our first record was all photos from Rivka during Halloween. the second one was planned out and our friend Amory executed the ideas in LA. pleasure suck’s art was done by our friend Josh Mackie. I feel like that horse image is iconic.
Band photos by Emily Burtner