April/May 2017

by Jean Bell

Fresh Talent: Balu Brigada

by Jean Bell

Fresh Talent: Balu Brigada

Balu Brigada is quite literally a band of brothers – comprising three Beasley brothers and one close friend. Henry Beasley owns lead guitar and vocals, with brothers Pierre manning the keyboard and Charles on drums. Their friendship with Guy Harrison (bass and vocals) dates back years.

“The first couple of gigs we did just as a three-piece because our youngest brother Pierre was 15, so we couldn’t really get him into bars,” laughs Henry. “When he got old enough to be able to slip through the cracks, we started playing as a four piece.”

Having a band with your brothers makes for an interesting dynamic.

“It’s definitely positive in the sense that I often band lead and it’s usually taken quite well,” Henry reckons.

“At the end of the day, it means we can be more brutal.”

So far, the four have released just two well-received singles, Weekend and Ricochet.

“Those two singles are probably the poppiest of our tracks and what I see as an introduction to Balu Brigada. Weekend is about my friend who got pregnant unexpectedly at a young age. That song is kind of me wishing that I could’ve been more helpful, which is the idea of, ‘Hey you could stay at my house for the weekend while I help you sort things out.’

“People are often surprised because it’s quite an upbeat kind of song so it sounds like it could be about having a shawty over at your crib,” laughs Henry. “But it’s actually a personal little anecdote.”

Having studied pop at the University of Auckland (alongside classmate Amelia Murray), Henry draws inspiration from a range of artists.

“From Tame Impala to Tyler The Creator and a whole range of genres in between. I grew up as an indie rocker kind of dude listening to Kings of Leon, the Chilis, Nirvana and Muse all those kinds of classic things.

“Then along the way I discovered the Gorillaz, who kind of mixed alt-rock and hip hop elements, which is a mix core to Balu Brigada’s own sound. I think Frank Ocean and Kevin Parker (Tame Impala) are just amazing artists. You can just tell that they’ve put so much into it rather than it being an external force telling them to do this.”

Closer to home it’s acts such as Nikolai, dbldbl, Siobhan Leilani and Yoko-Zuna that have captured Henry’s attention. He wrote and produced most of the music, the process of making, re-making and refining demos a key part of his process, before the songs get fleshed out with the band.

“I’ll listen to a demo like 76 times, and if I can listen to it 76 times in a row I’ll make another demo. Some of my favourite times on earth are when I’m in my car, I’m enjoying the demo and I’ve got a coffee in my hand.”

With a third single dropping in April, Balu Brigada are working towards an EP release in June before jumping on tour.

NZM's Jean Bell with Balu Brigada's Henry Beasley

NZM’s Jean Bell with Balu Brigada’s Henry Beasley

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