Spirit of the Beehive Q&A: “I think of making an album as a process of world-building”

spirit of the beehive i'm so lucky interview

Philadelphia trio Spirit of the Beehive make you forget everything that you once knew about music before making you fall in love with it all over again.

A decade since they first released music together, Zack Schwartz, Rivka Ravede and Corey Wichlin have shared their i’m so lucky EP to critical acclaim. In our 9/10 review, Overblown described the four track offering as “a welcome addition to a diverse songbook from a band that revel in the macabre”.

Opaque, ghostly and emotionally raw (a quality in the band’s music which has only been accentuated by Zack & Rivka’s recent romantic separation); Spirit of the Beehive have always excelled in channelling the human condition through an extreme filter and distilling it into its purest form.

It’s an interesting move to preview this EP with the sequel to a track from 2016; was ‘natural devotion 2’ written at the same time as its predecessor? Or is the link a thematic one?

RR: The original “natural devotion” is a fictional story about the death of a lover. The lyrics of “natural devotion 2” are about zack and me ending our 10-year relationship. It seemed appropriate to link the two.

Daniel Patrick Brennan’s double video for ‘tapeworm’/’natural devotion 2’ is visually very arresting, did Daniel bring the concept?

CW: We knew going into the video that we wanted to create a narrative across two songs in the same video. We sent over the full EP and some stylistic references to Dan, and he came back with the concept and character ideas for the video. We are all fans of his work and trusted his vision for how to tell his story, which I think turned out beautifully.

How much importance do you as a band place upon the visual component to your music once the recordings are finished?

RR: Since The Door I’ve painted all of the album art, it’s pretty important to me that the art captures the mood of the thing.

CW: I personally think visuals can be just as important as the music. I think of making an album as a process of world-building, and both videos and album art add depth to that world.

Congratulations on setting up your own recording studio this year, has the locational stability left a tangible mark on the final product?

CW: The room that we have built out definitely has upgraded both our recording process as well as the final product. ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH was the product of a less-than-ideal recording environment (basements, bedrooms, etc). While I think working within those constraints created interesting results, it also (at times) impacted what were able to do in a negative way. Our space now gives us much more control over what we can do, which is reflected in this EP and will be reflected in future recordings.

Have you missed the chaos of making music in the warehouse?

CW: Our studio space is actually within a warehouse unit that is owned and operated by our friends’ vinyl pressing plant, so we are still living in that chaos. Sometimes it sucks. We have no windows. It’s hot as fuck in the summer and freezing in the winter. It’s better than a basement though.

How has Zack and Rivka’s separation effected the day-to-day process of writing tracks? Or has each member’s contribution always been developed independently?

CW: Much of our individual contributions in the past have been developed independently, so I don’t notice much of a difference.

RR: The day-to-day process of writing tracks hasn’t changed in a huge way. How it’s affected everything else is a bit more cataclysmic, but that’s life.

When will we next see you performing in the UK?

CW: We are working on an LP. When that’s released we are hoping to do extensive overseas touring.

Photo credit: Luke Ivanovich

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