Published Jun 10, 2014Willis Earl Beal has had a busy year so far, offering up both the A Place That Doesn't Exist and Curious Cool releases for free online, and now the outsider artist is hoping to issued a new LP called Experiments in Time on his own.
A new, lengthy interview with Under the Radar has the musician explaining that he's in the process of leaving XL side-label Hot Charity, who issued his 2013 album Nobody Knows. Beal has plans to properly follow up that LP with Experiments in Time on August 8 with a CD Baby release.
The interview has Beal confessing that "signing a record deal was the best, most exotic thing that had ever happened to me," but adding that he feels he was mishandled by the label. According to the songwriter, "a series of very, very tedious circumstances, like legal disputes, misappropriations of funds, songwriting credits — all sorts of things," led him to choose his own path. He has, however, not fully left the XL fold just yet, saying he is heading out on his own for now while XL try to help him find a new label.
"What I needed was the attention by the record label and the support of the record label, but I think I should have been signed to a more substantial subsidiary within XL Records, because the subsidiary I signed to [Hot Charity] was an upstart," he explained. "I was the flagship artist. And with respect to the people involved, I just don't think that they were prepared — not only to deal with an artist but to deal with a human being."
According to Beal, some of the material on Experiments in Time was written as far back as 10 years ago. He details a number called "Now Is Gone," which began with him recording his vocals an piano in Memphis on a tape recorder and later reworking the song in New York City.
"It sounds a bit scratchy, and the way I decided to sing sounds old-fashioned. I used this Casio synthesizer that gives it this retro-futuristic minimalist feel. That's why I decided to call it Experiments in Time, because it has this grey tint. I have synesthesia, so I see colours and shapes of sounds, and it felt very white, grey, and silver to me."
Other track titles include "At the Airport," "Traveling Eyes," "Washed Away" and "Questions." You'll find out more about the genesis of the tracks over here.
Beal also discussed problems he faced on the road, the difficulty of issuing material on his own schedule and putting together his recent EPs, which he described as having featured "throwaway tracks."
He continued, "I hadn't really fully fleshed them out, and I wanted to see what people would think on SoundCloud, because I didn't think anybody was going to notice them. And, as it turned out, 10 or 15 blogs blogged about them. It wasn't like an international sensation or anything, but it got more attention than I thought it was going to get."