Music _ Beacon
Text by Shanna Keetelaar
For their debut LP The Ways We Separate (Ghostly International) Thomas Mullarney III and Jacob Gossett, also known as Beacon, explore not only your home-grown, run-of-the-mill breakup, but the fundamental ideas of separation. The dark side of passion, desire, and regret is tangible, though the heavily processed guitar work and synth melodies function more as a meditation for love. In recent years they’ve quietly released two EPs, No Body and For Now, but The Ways We Separate shows us something more promising for the future. To get to know these two Brooklyners better we sat down for a chat, and had them explain their favorite tracks.
NOU: Can you tell us a bit about your musical background and how you started off working together?
T: We met at the Pratt Institute where we were both students. I was producing some electronic music throughout college and once we graduated, we started writing and producing together.
NOU: You’ve recently released your first full-length album, The Ways We Separate. Seeing as most of the lyrics are about separation and fading love, are your songs inspired by personal experiences?
NOU: Is it true that the best love songs are break up songs?
T: No way.
NOU: What memories from the recording process stand out?
T: When we were mixing the song “Overseer” we knew we wanted to treat the vocals differently. The eureka moment came when our engineer dropped a bit of distortion on them; at one point we were running the vocals through amps and picking them up through mics facing different directions in the studio. In this sense every tail on every vocal phrase is individual.
NOU: How do you think your music has evolved since your last two Eps? What has been the most important thing you’ve learned?
T: I think we’ve learned more about the songwriting process. We know what kinds of ideas work with the sketches and melodies we bring to the table. It’s definitely been inspiring to give ourselves the opportunity to experiment while having a sense of direction.
NOU: What do you want to offer to your listeners/audience with your music?
T: We hope the music is a place for people to which they can attach their own experiences.
NOU: Can you tell us a bit about the artwork for the cover?
T: The artwork is by Langdon Graves. We came to her with the idea of a magic trick, something that had become the lyrical conceit for Split In Two. It spoke to the album’s larger narratives as a whole. She interpreted the trick in her own way and the illustration carries its own life.
NOU: Best theme song ever made?
T: I have YouTube playlists with Pino Donaggio’s Blow Out soundtrack looping. Also love the hymn from Eyes Wide Shut.
NOU: Which track has the most beautiful lyrics?
T: Aphex Twin does a remix of David Bowie’s “Heroes” by combining his vocals with Philip Glass’s instrumentation. Lyrics aren’t anything without a performance, so this one is just about as gorgeous and tragic as it gets.
NOU: A song your parents made you listen to?
T: My parents are from and live for and in New Jersey; for me it was Bruce Springsteen twenty-four/seven.
NOU: Which track are you most proud of?
T: We made “No Body” two years ago; I’m still quite proud of that one.
NOU: A song that brings out the spring/summer feeling?
T: I’ll start listening to more house music during the summer months.