Wellingborough-raised, Northampton College [and BIMM] graduate Beth Munroe is back with her second EP of intensely personal indietronica. New Boots couldn’t wait to hear it, nor the story behind the artist. So here’s a little history and more from our conversation.
How did you first begin writing songs and performing?
I remember writing songs as soon as I picked up the guitar, before I could even play, honestly. I pressured myself to get better every day, but as soon as I would touch the neck my first instinct always was to just muck about and write and sing. I wrote heavier stuff and performed in rock bands when I was 18, searching for the right band members who were dedicated enough. When I realised I was going to have to go it alone I rethought my sound, and took my rock influences into a darker pop/indietronica sound.
How would you describe your current sound? Who are your main influences?
Someone called my music “indietronica” and I’ve been rolling with that ever since. I took my early guitar influences of Muse, Radiohead and Biffy Clyro and pushed into a more modern electronic dark-pop sound – more influenced by CHVRCHES, Billie Eilish or Tash Sultana.
You moved to Brighton for a while to continue your artistic pursuits, was that a useful learning curve?
Yes. I studied guitar and songwriting for four years, but I think I learned my most useful lessons just as a human being. When I came back I had a whole new world of experiences to write about; I wasn’t a naive nerdy kid holed up in my room anymore. I had my heart broken, I sank a boat, I was homeless for a while, I was fired, I made lifelong friends, I pissed other people off, I grew up, and I messed up so many times the ego-driven perfectionist in me was hammered out, failure by failure.
What was the reaction like last year’s University of Northampton-assisted debut EP, ‘The Euphoria Of Losing Everything’?
It’s nearly a year on and I’m still overwhelmed by the response. Especially at gigs: when I played the EP live there was such an incredible reaction. I remember the first time I came offstage and people were queuing to buy the EP I had to fight so hard not to cry. It meant to much, and still does.
Tell us everything about this new EP, ‘i amok’.
This couldn’t have been done more differently than the ‘Euphoria’ EP. Everything you hear was recorded in a different place. Some of it was recorded in my home; the backing vocals were recorded lying down in bed under the duvet! Some stuff was recorded in different studios, some at friends houses. It was absolute chaos. I produced and mixed some parts, other parts were done by three different talented friends of mine. The songs themselves changed constantly, and entire songs were scrapped and replaced twice. Each song ended up being about something completely different, meaning running themes and cohesion went out the window. It was all over the place and an absolute nightmare to keep on top of, and keep the momentum going. It was supposed to be released last September!
My personal life couldn’t have been more chaotic either, punctuated by an awful few weeks when my mum became so critically ill we really thought we were going to lose her. Of course everything else was dropped, and when finally I came back to the EP it was with the addition of the song ‘Brave’, in honour of her, and the moments that I absolutely begged the universe to let her live.
The feeling of absolute hopeless, endless chaos ended up being quite an inspiration for the name, artwork, and overall vibe of the EP. Ambitious projects can get messy very quickly, and life is messy enough as it is. More than anything else it just becomes a test of character to just carry on, even though everything’s imperfect and feels wrong and frustrating, and there’s just endless setbacks and obstacles. That’s how life just is, and in the end I absolutely love the fight this EP has been, and the fact that it represents standing in a hurricane inferno of complete mess and know that everything is OK. I am OK.
How are your live shows going in London and around the UK?
They’re incredible; every gig feels like the best night of my life, and they keep getting bigger and better and more terrifying. Not going to lie: touring the UK as a solo artist is exhausting, especially working a full-time job as well. I remember playing Eastbourne one night, Edinburgh the next night and then rushing back to London for work at 7am (poor tour management on my part). The feedback and support from the tour was more than anything I could have asked. I can’t explain how grateful I am to everybody who came, and everybody who bought an EP to support this.
Any favourite Northamptonshire acts and/or venues to you wanna give a shout out to?
I’ve been keeping an eye on Kilamojo for a long time. I love that they’re unique, and I’m super honoured to be playing with them at the end of this month. [sane] are another; a beautiful Northampton ambient-electro act that deserve more recognition. I went to college and university with Ashe O’Hara from Voices from the Fuselage, so I root for them as a friend but I’m also blown away by them as a fan. Their new album [Odyssey: The Founder Of Dreams] came out last year and it’s just stunning.
I’ve had a lot of help from people in Northampton, and for that I’m super grateful. Particularly SBD Promotions, Northampton University, WMTH Records, Audio Works and NLive Radio for all their help getting me where I am now.
What has been your favourite musical moment of the past year?
I would say one of the tour dates, but I’m not sure which one! Otherwise probably when my single ‘Masochist’ was played on BBC Introducing. That was a really surreal moment to hear myself on the same radio station I listen to every day on the way to work – till the day I die I won’t forget that night.
What was the last album/EP you bought/streamed?
Been listening to Paradise by [Canadian punk band] White Lung the last couple of days. They’re such unique and talented songwriters, they deserve so much more recognition.
What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
I do my best to run everything on my own but I do really need help, whether it’s a manager, record label, or another musician. I need to keep climbing the ladder and get to a point where I can earn a living as an artist and musician. If I have to do it on my own I will, I just need to reach the biggest audience possible so I can carry on doing what I’m made to do. I pour so much of myself into this, I have no doubt I can get a lot further, with the right people.
Beth’s UK tour runs from March 27th to June 6th, and the EU leg June 8th-22nd.