"Well this is just a thing that I've put a lot of time and energy into, and I want it to be awesome.”
Are the first words I hear Beardyman say when he pops from behind the decks to shake my hand, still in conversation with his manager. He's putting on a slightly camp American accent to detract from any seriousness. Something I shortly come to realise is a natural defence mechanism for him. The jest, not the accent.
Interviewing Beardyman is, different. The humour, the ability to shift from tech to philosophy, from fatherhood to fucking about, in a beat. It’s not the sort of interview where you can sit with a list of questions and get them answered.
I tried to, loosely, but somehow the conversation was on Hunter S Thompson within the first three minutes of meeting. Thompson served as the inspiration for his song 6am (Ready To Write) which we were at the premier of, so there was some relevance, perhaps, but then the conversation morphed and went elsewhere...
"Hunter shot himself in the face. I cried when he shot himself in the face. I wanted to believe that you could be a mash up and it would make you better somehow, like it was a superpower. But then he shot himself and I was like ugh, that's how it ends. They all go out with a bang... often literally. It's sad man."
Why did you choose to write the song?
We'd just had twins, two years ago: I say we, my wife had them, she did most of the work. So I was looking after them when they were sleeping and tiny, which is a nightmare because you're up all night, and I was watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on repeat, it’s my favourite film. I've been a daddy for a bit, not touring or spending every waking second in the studio, but they're two now, so I've sold them because they're nice and plump and ripe."
Who have you sold them to?
A Japanese businessman... you get a really good price actually.
What is the exchange rate of Baby to Yen?
It's 50,000 Yen per limb. [he grins] You have to have a backup plan.
A bit of laughter subsides and we manage to go back to the new song...
So I was watching the film. And then there was a weird moment of inspiration where I was like: 'didn't I hear Joe Rogan reading out Hunter S Thompson's daily drug routine'. So I watched that through and sat there thinking 'why isn't this a fucking tune', then I made the fucking tune, and it's dope and has a really crazy video. The record company wanted me to debut it on Pornhub and I said no. How are you anyway?
I'm good. How are you, exhausted?
I am happy and full of joy because Boris Johnson is eviscerating his own party, it is really funny.
This single is me returning into the sunlight, albeit squinting, and covered in bogeys and shit
How do you start making a song?
It's different every time for me. For example, I did a tour a couple of years ago, which was entirely drawing inspiration from the crowd. I've been working on a lot of music over the last couple of years, none of which has seen the light of day yet, because I've been in hiding, being a daddy for a bit.
On the topic of babies, when you knew you were expecting, why didn't you ...
Run away? [He laughs]
… not quite what I was going to ask, but you can answer it
Because you can't do that, it's out of order. If you're going to be a daddy you have to be a daddy, each child is like a full-time job. It's tough finding the time to do anything. Going to the toilet in my house is contentious.
So you did retreat from music to have a family?
No, I was having a family so I had to retreat. It wasn't an idea as much as there was suddenly shit everywhere that I had to clean up. And children are these tiny idiotic creatures that want to hurt themselves, they seem to move towards danger.
This single release is me returning back into the sunlight, albeit squinting, and covered in bogeys and shit. But what better way to reemerge than a very unsafe video? I hear it's doing alright on YouTube too...
You haven't looked?
I don't like social media, I don't trust it, it changed.
What was social media like and how is it now?
Once, the internet was a beautiful egalitarian dream and everyone had a voice and there was going to be world peace. What these people didn't realise was, while it is okay to be optimistic, most people are dickheads, and they say some wild shit. Also, you know, capitalism – the goal is keeping people addicted to their phones, as cynical as I sound, so I don't like it. I'm addicted to Twitter, I use it to get my news. When I wake up the first thing that happens is I'm hit with this deluge of opinions and pieces, it's a tirade. So I don't really like it. Was that even your question?
Where do you draw inspiration from?
It's mostly from my relationship with The Lord Jesus Christ, I'm very religious.
Before I could try and detect irony from the statement, his phone vibrated. It was not Jesus, but it was his brother.
SHIT DID I PUT MY BROTHER ON THE LIST. FUCK. Sorry mate I need to take this call, I've been an idiot. I fucked up. I always do this!
The call lasts about five minutes, the manager goes to pull the strings...
At least you've got a headline: Idiot beatbox dickhead forgets to put own brother on guest-list. He is the Boris Johnson of beatbox... no please don't put that as the headline.
How are you finding moving back into it all?
I think anyone with kids is going to struggle to balance things in their life, because given half a chance kids will take up all your time, and you should obviously give them as much time as possible.
Does it feel like a new career?
I think every new release, whether an album or single, is a fresh start.
You haven't really had a normal or linear musical career...
Right, this is the most normal thing I have ever done: releasing a single and video, on a major label.
"That's what I've been making behind the scenes... proper music"
I guess there wasn't a convention to use, beatboxing in 2006.
Well, beatbox is an art form which was incredibly rare to see when I was starting.
You once compared it to people with Tourettes, right?
I think it's related, cognitively speaking. In the same way as singing or poetry or any of these, artistic impulses... I think they are impulses, done as a release, a reflex. It comes from a place that you can't control.
It's like sex, you don't want the other person to be doing it as some kind of mercenary transaction, your heart has to be in it. I'll stop that analogy there though.
So how are you feeling about everything?
I don't know how I feel about anything anymore. The country is chaos, there's bigger problems than any of mine.
If being a dad changes you, obviously you try not to say it, but it does... you realise that all the things you thought were important aren't.
A lot of the music I've been making which nobody has heard is nothing like this track. We knew this was coming out, so I've held some of the other stuff back, I'll release other up-tempo stuff soon too, and then some pained ballads.
That's what I've been making behind the scenes... proper music. [laughs]
That wasn't your question either, was it? I keep answering questions you haven't asked and refusing to answer the ones you do.
I think it'd be boring if I scripted what you were going to say anyway?
What should I say? I'll do some stock responses:
It's really great, I'm really excited to be back you know, I'm really excited to be adapting to the changes in the music industry… nah fuck that. There's a Hunter S Thompson quote that goes, let me get it exactly right...
“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side.” [laughs] But for real, the music industry is weird because you're creating something that doesn't actually exist. Bowie said music would cease to be a commodity, but you'd turn it on like a tap. Which is something I’d like.
So your music is an escapism?
I dunno, you'll hear some music coming out in the next year that'll be wildly different to this track. Some are similar, but I make music on a whim and it's never been connected to anything else I've done, or am doing, or will do.
How do you prepare?
I more train than prepare, in the way you might for a sport as opposed to rehearsing a play. It's more about thinking on your feet, not memorising and doing the same thing every time.
I'm going to ask some more direct things now
I might plead the fifth amendment which is my god-given right as an American and a Christian.
What is your least favourite country and religion?
I plead the fifth. What's yours, cancel yourself!
I'll plead too. Are you concerned about the changes in humour over the last few years?
I am! Because Dave Chappelle did his edgy special which was all about cancel culture and how it's maybe not the right path to be hyper-sensitive about words. But now there's a moral panic three times a day which is a mad situation to be in also. I think it's a reaction to Trump. Trump is like a saw to our moral fabric, he's brought out the worst in everybody. He's got the liberal left all hypersensitive, and determined to try and squash his hatred – which is a good impulse but then the right wing nutters get wound up, and they feel empowered. He's just bad for the universe.
"Trump is the slime in New York City's sewers from Ghostbusters 2"
Is your new music politically charged?
Some politically charged tracks haven't been released but they will be this year.
What if it isn't a success?
I'll sit in the corner and cry. No, you have to be philosophical about that, like reading internet comments. You have to try and be open to the opinions of others without losing who you are. These days it's important to remember the reason why you did something.
We weren't meant to know what people think of us to this degree. Imagine taking the phones away – if you were walking down the street and somebody had a thought about you, there, or all the way in Azerbaijan, and you knew about it? That's really weird.
So why do you still make music?
Why do anything?
What's your answer to that?
Catharsis, I suppose. I'd hope it's cathartic. I tend to try and harness those pure moments, and I try to capture and keep them, encapsulating it. Music as therapy is a good way to do it.
Although I released a track five years ago that was the anthem of the time. Was that pure? It was neither good nor pure. It was awesome and ridiculous, that was Eat Sleep Rave Repeat, with Calvin Harris and Fatboy Slim. I was just chatting breeze all over that song. That was weird.
What's the future got in store?
Survive Brexit. I'm doing a tour of the UK too.
How will leaving the family be?
... bad. I'll feel bad. It's no lifestyle to be constantly leaving the family. I might employ them as dancers. So if you see two two-year-old podium dancers on my tour, please don't call child services – it's better this way. We're one big happy family. If they look like they're crying, they're not. And they're not in cages, they're in [breaks off into laughter] they're in fun pods!
You can find more about Beardyman here