Text: Jillian Billard
Photo: Olimpia Dior
For Heather Golden and Emma Rose Jenney, making music was inevitable. The musicians, of the emerging folk-rock band Beau, began writing songs and playing together when they were just 13. Evoking the bluesy fire of predecessors like Stevie Nicks and Janis Joplin paired with dreamy guitar riffs and passionate lyricism of contemporaries like Angel Olsen, Beau is a force to be reckoned with.
Speaking with them over the phone, it is clear that the two have a unique, synergistic relationship. Like sisters, they complete each other’s sentences. “We grew up in Greenwich Village, and have gone to the same schools our whole life,” they tell me. “Our parents were artists, so we had exposure to art from a young age.” They recount how their parents were always playing soul music from the ‘50s and ‘60s, and how older siblings had exposed them to contemporaries like Radiohead. In terms of speaking about their own music, the two are incredibly humble. “I never thought that making music was something that I could actually do” says Heather. “It was amazing realizing that we could just write music ourselves.”
Once they picked up their guitars and started writing songs, however, there was no turning back. In high school they enrolled in a songwriter’s workshop, which allowed them to explore and develop their sound. The class periodically played at the Greenwich Village music club The Bitter End, one of the oldest and most iconic rock clubs in New York City. “It was an amazing opportunity, and an incredible place to get a first exposure to performing.”
Now, the pair writes every single day. From the way they speak about their process, it is clear that the writing takes precedence over the glamour and fame that they’ve garnered from releasing their sound into the world (in 2015 they played a fashion week event for Chloé, and have toured Europe and the United States, among other accolades). “It’s almost become a ritual” they say.
For Beau, making music is all about processing what it means to be young in this wild and crazy world. It is about friendships, heartbreaks, joy and pain. “All of our writing comes from our own experiences” they tell me. “Writing itself can be such a cathartic experience––it’s a way of processing what you’ve just gone through and making sense of it all.” This is perhaps what makes their sound so authentic and powerful: they are unafraid of being vulnerable and exposing their intimate thoughts and emotions. “It’s funny,” they say, “I wouldn’t even know how to write if not from my own experience.”
Writing is always a cathartic experience––it’s a way of processing what you’ve just gone through and making sense of it all.
In 2015, they released their first EP That Thing Reality; a stunning debut with equally strong and heartbreaking tracks that illustrate the bond between these two souls, and the friendship they share. It’s about forgiveness and how it’s alright to be tender and ask for help sometimes. They tell me that they are planning to release an EP soon, but right now they have far more material than could ever fit onto one, or even two records. We’re certainly excited to see what the band has in store for us next.
On their impeccable style, which has been likened to the flower child looks of Woodstock and Sofia Coppola’s dreamy films, the girls say “ultimately, style should feel effortless. As long as you feel good, you’re gonna look good.” “I like to be comfortable” says Emma. “I can’t play guitar in a crazy outfit.” Heather describes her style as a mix of “casual and glam,” naming influences like David Bowie, PJ Harvey, Kurt Cobain. “I love embroidery and glam looks, but I also love just wearing jeans with a t-shirt and converse.”
Before we finish our call, I ask the always dreaded question of how they got their name, and they reply laughing, “it was actually inspired by this graffiti artist from back when we were in high school. There was this one guy who wrote BEAU all over the place, and it was just so sloppy––I loved it.” The name, meaning “beautiful” in French, and “boyfriend” in English, represents an androgynous beauty. It is, for Heather and Emma, a balance of confidence and fragility, both inside and out.
I wouldn’t even know how to write if not from my own experience.