The Making of “Beans Beans Beans”

Thank you everyone for the recent love on my song “Beans Beans Beans.” Here is some insight into the background of the song.

I created this song as a one-word mantra elevating one of my favorite foods, the humble bean. Both a carb and protein, it has long been known that the bean is kind of magical, and can be used and consumed in so many different ways.  With a colorful past and diverse array of manifestations, the humble bean has saved many people from starvation, and is still a staple in our diet today.

My plan with creating a loop around the word “beans” was to make various stacks of vocal melodies and percussive elements that helped the listener picture one dancing bean (symbolized by the initial bass line “beans”), then two beans, then three, and soon a cascading waterfall of beans pouring down from the heavens and surrounding you with a multifaceted world of glorious beans.

I thought about the sensation of dipping your hand slowly into a huge container of dried kidney beans at a market, and how the texture of those beans feels soothing on the skin. I wanted the song to be soothing, hypnotic and silly but without being overly ridiculous. I suppose it sounds like I planned this piece out a lot, but in reality it came out rather quickly in one of my loop practice sessions in 2010, and I stuck with it.

I remember playing it in my Center Camp set at Burning Man in 2010 and hearing people shriek with sheer joy. After that, I just kept throwing it into my live sets to see how people would react. I loved seeing their expressions of hilarity or incredulity when they realized the entire loop song only had one word in the lyric. Each time I played it, it came out a bit differently, and I learned how to improvise and push myself just a little bit more.

Recording this song in the studio with my engineer Mike Garrigan was a fun and spontaneous process. We didn’t make the studio version until 2014, which was four years after I composed it. By that point, I had already test-driven this song live on my vocal looper many times in front of random audiences (some receptive, some not!). In doing so, I had figured out the exact tempo that would work; too slow was a death sentence, and too fast made the song totally inaccessible for people. And I had to settle on the underlying layers that would loop well. Once those were established, adding new layers and improvising new melodies and beatboxing on top was a pure delight.

Mike and I laughed a lot in the studio, and often referred to recording this song as one of the more carefree  production sessions over the years. I had been writing and recording a lot of vocal tracks for EDM producers around the time (between 2012 and 2015). Even though my vocal lines in those songs may sound simple or obvious to the listener, those EDM projects were very actually very meticulous and hard to put together. The projects could be stressful when there were looming deadlines, fussy producers to deal with and various labels and stakeholders to please. “Beans Beans Beans” was the antidote to all that, and it represented the type of freedom I needed in that moment.

Thanks for listening, and for reading my story.