Arthur Beatrice have two singles to their name but they’ve already sold out headline shows in London and supported Metronomy at the Royal Albert Hall – and their elegant take on dark, spacey indie-pop has racked up comparisons to The xx. They talk to Wonderland about how, contrary to popular belief, they’re not actually Golden Girls fans.
Who are Arthur Beatrice?
Arthur Beatrice are Orlando Leopard and Ella Girardot up the front, Hamish and Elliot Barnes up from the rear.
You guys seem pretty mysterious – is that a deliberate decision?
No, not at all, we just never wanted to rush things; people began writing about the band based on one or two early demos that were never really meant to be heard, so naturally everyone expects to hear everything immediately from then on. But it takes time to get things right, and until recently it wasn’t quite. Now there’s two singles and a live video online, we play every couple of months in London and have done interviews and shoots – so if there ever was, I’m not sure there’s any mystery anymore.
How did you all meet?
We met at school; Orlando and Elliot played together from an early age, Ella got involved when she joined a year later, and Hamish completed the line-up after we left school. Although he hadn’t, which makes rehearsing and gigging interesting…
Where does your name come from – does it have anything to do with Bea Arthur from the Golden Girls?
We didn’t know who Beatrice Arthur was until well after we decided on the name. When we did realise, it wasn’t an issue, given that at the time we were playing in pubs to our mums. The name simply comes from having two singers, and being interested in the idea of alternate sides completing a whole. It’s important that the two names start with A and B, and are male and female, being very much opposites, but sitting well together.
How would you describe your sound?
We just make pop music really, but we try to keep it relevant. If there’s no point in regurgitating things to be blindly enjoyed, then there’s similarly little reason in creating something so challenging to listen to it’s almost deliberately unpleasant? We hope what we do is traditional songwriting, but with lyrics and production that unsettle the balance a bit.
Were you guys ever tempted to just go with one singer, as opposed to having two vocalists?
Never. Certain songs work for Ella, others work for Orlando.
If you could soundtrack one film, what would it be?
American Pie 2.
What inspires you?
You watch an amazing film or listen to a great album and you want to make something straight away, but invariably, it never works out that way. For us inspiration tends to come from others within the band; someone plays or writes something, someone else shouts at them to play it again, it gets recorded, or put into another idea, and everything works itself out from there.
How do you feel about those comparisons to The xx?
It seems like a slightly odd comparison. The xx are amazing, and did incredible things in re-introducing interesting music to the mainstream at a time when maybe there wasn’t a lot of that happening… Think us just having a male and a female singer and some delay on guitars probably doesn’t warrant comparison!
What’s next for you guys?
The album. We’ve chopped a library of 76 demos down to 16 tracks and there’s still cuts to be made…
Charity, the latest single from Arthur Beatrice, is out now.
Words: Zing Tsjeng