Beth // James is an indie folk pop duo from Austin, Texas, a city where one can imagine 70 percent of the population is a member of an indie folk pop duo or group. Popdose first introduced loyal readers to the heavenly harmonies of Mikaela Beth Kahn (vocals, piano) and Jordan James Burchill (vocals, guitar) in early 2017 when we featured their Lion Eyes’ single in our round up of the year’s most promising new artists. We caught up with them at the end of the year to take a preview of their 2018 plans.
Well, life didn’t turn out exactly as they planned. A full-length album didn’t (yet) pan out, but the duo started plotting out a much more important album — one for their upcoming wedding. Yes, the ”will they or won’t they?” sexual tension that electrified their stage show finally reached a crescendo when they announced their engagement to fans on social media late last year.
Next month, the duo will deliver triplets (fraternal, not identical) in the form of a 3-song EP, Falling, available February 1, 2019 on all streaming services and download stores. In honor of the world premiere of their new single, Blurry’, Popdose caught up with the lovebirds on the eve of their show tonight at the legendary Hotel CafÁ© in Hollywood. An official EP premiere party is scheduled for February 1 at the Cactus CafÁ© in Austin.
POPDOSE: Usually when bands get off the road, they need some time alone—you two got engaged. How did the proposal go down and what steps do you take to keep the romance and the music fresh? Then again, Buckingham Nicks turned their heartache into multi-platinum sales….
JORDAN JAMES BURCHILL: Yes! We got engaged in New York at Washington Square Park. It’s one of our favorite places to go whenever we’re in the city. Mikaela was totally surprised. It was awesome. We do spend a lot of time together but we never really get sick of each other. When we’re not playing shows or writing music, we’re out seeing friend’s shows in Austin or watching our TV programs (currently binging The New Girl on Netflix and True Detective on HBO). We do like our alone time though and definitely make time for writing and practicing separately. Whenever we have a night off, Mikaela’s trying out new recipes in the kitchen, and Jordan’s out playing music with friends. On the road we try to have a mix of work (playing shows, networking) and having fun. We always save up some money and go to a nice dinner together in whatever city we’re visiting.
How did ‘Lion Eyes’ make its way into the Spike Lee film, BlacKkKlansman? For people who will be catching it on VOD, where in the film can they hear it?
JORDAN: Sometime last year Mikaela saw an open call for independent music submissions on Spike Lee’s Instagram looking for music for his Netflix show She’s Gotta Have It. ‘Lion Eyes’ was the second song we ever wrote together. We got a call a few months later from Spike’s music director telling us that Spike passed on our song for the TV show but had been holding onto it for his new movie. We had completely forgotten about the submission and were shocked! We are so excited to have a small part in such an amazing and important movie. Our song is in a pretty tough scene to watch. It’s about halfway through the movie where a Klan member and his wife are talking in bed saying some really horrible things.
With two EPs behind you, and some big gigs ahead (like tonight’s Hotel Cafe show in LA and your official premiere gig in Austin), what songs do you add to flesh out the headliner set?
MIKAELA BETH KAHN: We’re definitely playing songs from our last EP and the new one, but we’ve also added some brand-new songs to the set. We’ve been writing a lot for our next record and some of the songs we’ll be playing will actually be on that. We’ve also really been digging Lennon Stella’s new EP (Love, me) lately and we cover one of her songs in our set. We made an Instagram video of it a few weeks back.
For the year ahead, are you eying a touring bus or is it still the two of you in the car?
JORDAN: Definitely no tour bus but we’d love to get the full band to do a Texas tour sometime this year!
Do you sing to stay entertained on the highway? What albums do you bring with you (or stream)?
MIKAELA: In the car we’ve been listening to a lot of Kacey Musgraves and Ruston Kelly — a power couple we look up to. We also love podcasts so we listen to a lot of Bill Simmons sports podcasts and true crime podcasts. We don’t really sing in the car unless we’re making up weird songs when we get bored (laughs).