What were you doing when you were fifteen? Well if you’re Beaux South, it was frantically finishing up your A-Levels several years early. With dreams of being a musician and a hefty online following through posting covers on YouTube, he felt that school wasn’t cutting it. He took some harsh parental advice literally to “finish school first” and rapidly finished his exams so he could focus on pursuing a career in music.
Now 21, Beaux’s ditched the surname – like Cher or Prince – signed to Dirty Hit (The 1975/Wolf Alice), and just dropped his debut single ‘Look How We Started’. A strutting slice of synth-pop that’s catchier than a rash, it boasts whispery vocals that evoke Troye Sivan, huge pop-hooks à la Lorde and glittering production somewhere between Billie Eilish and label-mate No Rome. It’s a bit of a smasher and an exciting tease of what’s set to come on Beaux’s upcoming EP, due out next month.
NME caught up with the Surrey artist to talk the new EP, getting signed off the back of an Instagram DM and texting his musical heroes.
Tell us a bit about your new EP…
“I’d say it’s quite honest. I speak a lot about the fear of failure, and the whole premise of it is: ‘what’s the point even of having any success?’ I feel like you spend a lot of your time going, ‘I want to be successful in whatever I do’ or ‘I want to have a good music career and I want to just do music’, but what’s the point if the people you like are not around to share your success with you. The EP talks about losing loved ones, too. My father died when I was seven, and I’d just gone through a breakup when I wrote it. So it’s sort of just the idea of what was the point of everything if the people you love aren’t around. It’s quite fun stuff!”
There’s a bit of an Ultralight Beam vibe to ‘Best Friends’…
“Yeah definitely, I do really like Kanye. Production-wise, this EP has been influenced by No Rome and The 1975, then on newer music I’ve been doing in lockdown it has been Tyler, the Creator and Kanye. On the lyrical side, I’ve been really inspired by Rex Orange County and Declan McKenna and what they’ve been doing.”
This is your first release on Dirty Hit. How did that happen, then?
“I went to Reading Festival in 2019 and saw The 1975 headline, and after the show I messaged Jamie [Oborne, Dirty Hit label boss] and I said that ‘I really liked their set’. He asked, ‘Are you an artist as well?’ I sent him a link to a demo of my EP, and then he asked me to come in to a meeting, and then I signed off of that. It’s like the old handing out your record or cassette outside the record label, but you know… the digital version.”
How long had you been making music before you got in touch with Dirty Hit?
“The first time I tried to write and produce anything was a few months before that. I heard the ‘A Brief Inquiry…’ album by The 1975 and for some reason it just made me want to produce so much, it just clicked something in my head.”
Where did your production skills come from?
“I just watched YouTube videos. And then there’s this app called Splice, which is just loads of samples and sounds, and I just found that so easy to just drag and drop and you can get really creative. Then I just expanded from that to teach myself how to do things. When I was younger I used to want to do like visual effects, so I’d follow along with like tons of tutorials and things, so I find it quite easy to move that over to just watching tutorials about Logic and learning from YouTube.”
Any instruments on the go?
“I play like drums, guitar and piano, but I’m not like an expert any of them. I can play myself enough to accompany me singing or I can add a guitar to my production and things like that, but I’m not going to win any awards for my guitar playing. I want to get better! My neighbour plays piano on the EP, though. I went on a dog walk once I just randomly spoke to her and found out she played, so when I made the EP, I was like, ‘Hey, can you come and play piano, because I played it myself, but you can play better’. So she’s on the EP and now we’re like best friends.”
You started out releasing covers – how did that help define your craft?
“Well I already had a following on social media because I would do covers and things like that. That helped me earn money and sustain my career from that as a way to sustain myself. I already knew that I wanted to do music but, but how do you do it? So I started on social media and did covers because I’d seen Charlie Puth and Justin Bieber had done that sort of thing.”
Seeing as he’s the reason this EP exists, did you sling Matty Healy a DM for his take on the tunes?
“He texted me right after I sent it to Jamie, and he just said really liked it! Honestly, I’ve probably never been so excited in my life. Up to this point, every day I watched like live videos of The 1975. There was like no one higher for me than Matty who could have like said he approved of the music.”
‘Look How We Started’ is out now, from Beaux’s forthcoming EP on Dirty Hit