Brighton’s beatastic is the solo project of Nico (Nicolas Pierre Wardell). When I say solo project he performs, writes, produces and engineers everything himself. This is quite a feat as their musical style encompasses; shoegaze, indie, grunge and electronica. I have been listening to the latest album staticity and really enjoying the multi-faceted sound that is different in each track yet you can tell that it is from the same source. I managed to catch up with beatastic supremo Nico and ask him a few questions.
What is beatastic all about? What are your main influnences?
it’s evolved a lot, it started as an electronic project, the idea was to do something I’d never done before, something that wasn’t rock, a bit like LCD Soundsystem, but little by little the rock elements came back and now the electronic touches are minimal. I would say The Cure for the way they build music, lego-like. Smashing Pumpkins for the scope, they could do anything they wanted , fearless and productive.
In staticity, you are the only writer, engineer, producer, and performer credited on the album. Is beatastic really a one-man project? Is it really difficult arranging all the different instrumental parts and vocals back into a song?
Sure is, music is lego, you just put blocks together. I would say writing a song is extremely simple, writing a good song is a lot more difficult and impossible to control. I’ve used guests in the past to do things I can’t do myself, like female vocals or rapping, anything else I can do or program.
Despite it seeming very difficult working alone, your output is prolific. Three albums and four EPs since 2014. What are you working on at the moment?
I actually find it easier, I don’t have to explain anything to anyone or compromise. I don’t have to wait for people. I remember being in a band before and having to record the bass player’s parts cause she was struggling with it, it wasn’t nice for her or for me, but it was the best solution for the band. I have about 40-50 songs ready for Beatastic, whether they will be used or not, I don’t know. I also have a side project called Xeresa (xeresa.bandcamp.com) which is mostly instrumental but there will be some guests like Thomas Himsworth of Guerraz (https://guerraz.co.uk/) and Krissy Vanderwoude of Whimsical (https://whimsical1.bandcamp.com/) . Billy Corgan wrote about a 100 songs for Mellon Collie, so it’s doable. Prince wrote about 200 songs each year. So I’m still far from that level of productivity.
Before moving to Brighton, you hailed from France. Did that help shape the beatastic sound?
Well, I honestly don’t know. My influences aren’t french music, but environment is supposed to shape sounds. So maybe? but if it has I have no idea how
To be honest there is only a couple of French shoegaze bands around now that I have heard of; Hermetic Delight and Maria False. I always had the stereotypical vision of French indie kids listening to Stereolab, Air and Daft Punk. What is the French indie scene like?
I have no idea now, back when I was there the biggest band was Noir Desir and they weren’t shoegaze at all. There was 2 camps: the ones who wanted to sing in English and the ones who wanted to sing in French. The francophiles were really snooty about the anglophiles. I think it was Serge Gainsbourg who said: french music is some great lyrics with hopefully a good tune, English music is a good tune with hopefully good lyrics. I’m all about the tune to be honest. Shoegaze has never been about the lyrics since you can barely hear them, so that certainly doesn’t make me very french in that respect.
There’s M83 as well, and they’re huge, he’s a posh southern boy and I’m a poor northern kid, so we don’t have much in common. He grew up by the sea, I grew up by an airport. There’s lots of French shoegaze bands but they’re mostly on the black metal side of things, like Alcest or Les Discrets https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackgaze
The genre originated from France, no idea why
Are there any future plans? Or any last words?
I’m releasing new tracks with Xeresa when I feel like it, they’re all free downloads. There will be a new Beatastic album or EP at some point but no idea when since the last record only came out in August. There will be a Christmas song out in a couple of weeks, probably a free download on soundcloud to thank all the people who’ve supported me.