Brooklyn duo Beacon consists of Thomas Mullarney III and Jacob Gossett. Together they create a blend of sultry electronic jams coupled with smooth R&B influenced vocals. Their new album, The Ways We Separate, came out in April of this year and they’re part way through their national tour. After their set at the Movement/Ghostly stage at Saturday’s Laneway Festival they sat down with me to discuss their new album, their take on Detroit and the coolest thing they’ve ever seen.
How did Beacon begin as a duo?
Jacob: It was at the tail end of school. We went to Pratt in Brooklyn together. We met there essentially the first week of school, but only really started making music there at the very end like four years later. It started as a formative art type thing. Thomas was writing a lot of music at the time and we just started writing more and more together and performing more and just kinda went from there.
So were you both going to school for music?
Jacob: No, neither actually. I was in school for painting.
Thomas: Yeah, I was in school for sculpture. Visual arts.
Do you still do a lot of that now?
Jacob: Not as much now. There’s part of that in our live show, obviously not in this setting, but normally there’s a big visual/video element, but most of our time is dedicated to this, so nothing outside of that really.
Your album just came out recently. Did you guys have any particular experience recording the album that differed from your previous recording experiences?
Jacob: We isolated ourselves a lot more. The other EPs before were a little more recorded ‘here and there,’ like at our homes. Well, we actually went away for about a month, maybe a little more actually, and we were pretty dedicated to recording that whole time. We’d wake up record, write, record. So, pretty immersed in that process for this record.
Being from Brooklyn, how did you guys end up hooking up with Ghostly?
Jacob: We put out our first EP on a record label called Moodgadget which is affiliated with Ghostly and the guy who runs Moodgadget also does A&R for Ghostly and he is based in Brooklyn, so we sorta went through the normal channels from there. Ghostly does have a big presence in Brooklyn and they have an office there.
Thomas: Yeah, their office is actually right around the corner from our home.
Jacob: Which is kinda funny. It wasn’t always there, but it’s sort of this Ghostly community and our friends are all within a 4 or 5 block radius.
You mentioned the tour sort of kicking off earlier on. Is there anywhere in particular you’re looking forward to?
Jacob: We’re halfway through right now. We’ve done New York and that was a big one for us. The West Coast should be good.
Thomas: We’re doing the Decibel Festival which will be fun. A lot of great bands I’m looking forward to seeing there.
Jacob: Yeah, definitely. I think the West Coast are probably my favorite stops.
Have you toured out there before then?
Thomas: We did last year supporting How To Dress Well and that was our first time playing to those markets, so it’s going to be good going back and seeing what a year has done to change things.
I know this isn’t your first time in Michigan, but have you had a chance to check out Detroit?
Jacob: Yeah, we were down there pretty recently actually. We played at the Magic Stick and Zach, from Shigeto, gave us an amazing tour the next day and it was awesome. We’d never been before, although we had a show in Ann Arbor previously at the Blind Pig last October.
So seeing Detroit, do you see any parallels between the up and coming neighborhoods in New York with our city?
Thomas: There were early parts of Bushwick [in Brooklyn, New York] that could probably have some parallels. Not so much now, but when I first came to New York and there were a lot of young people flooding this area and a lot of potential for raw spaces and a lot of DIY stuff was going on and it seems like that is what’s happening. It seems like there’s a lot of potential there. When Zach was taking us around we saw it. It seems like if you have a quality to bring into that city [Detroit] then there’s real potential for growth and something to happen.
Jacob: Those areas of Brooklyn that we lived in sort of had that reputation because they did grow out of something similar and don’t really look like that at all anymore. That was a good 10 years ago.
Do you have a favorite release from 2013?
Thomas: I really like the Haxan Cloak record a lot. I listened to that record pretty hard when it came out. There were a lot of deep sounds there.
Jacob: I’d have to say the James Holden record that just came out a few months ago.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever seen? Period.
Thomas: Okay, I got it. I went to Bermuda a few months ago and there’s a place called the Crystal Caves there which is like this place where you go down into the Earth and there’s these insane stalagmites. You walk down and it’s literally a shimmering glass mouth or something. It’s a really intense place. Then they hit the lights off and you can’t even see your hand right in front of your face. It was really incredible. I guess Beyonce did a shoot there for one of her album covers or something. [laughs] But yeah, that place is really cool.
Jacob: Wow, I think I’ll do the next one. [laughs]
What’s your favorite song that you’ve produced.
Jacob: We did a song called “No Body” and it’s one of our earliest songs so probably still captures that sort of nostalgia being one of the earliest musical collaborations. It’s still mine for those reasons even though we’ve grown it kinda has a soft spot for me.
Where do you guys see yourselves in 5 years musically?
Jacob: Oh man, that’s a… [laughs]
Thomas: I don’t know. Hopefully doing more music, more touring, more records out. Just more music for people to listen to.
Jacob: Just kind of expand this project, both on a live/visual level. We’re going to be moving into expanding our live set, getting into something, well, you know when you see a two piece doing an electronic act playing the kind of music that we play there’s always room to grow. That’s a more immediate goal.
Beacon is on tour all across the US.
Watch the video for Beacon’s “Drive” here: