Music Interview: Bedouin Soundclash earn a degree in rock

By Tara Campbell

Bucking the trend of most young bands, by the time Bedouin Soundclash released their second album, Sounding a Mosaic, in February this year, they were four months away from graduating university. With two albums behind them and each member with a degree, they’re focusing entirely on their music for the first time.

“It was a really cool transition because we were doing it for so long, and now we’re able to do it full-time–tour this album and do it non-stop.”

Guitarist and singer Jay Malinowski is excited to get back out there, ever after a small break between this tour and the one they did over the summer.

“You can see the pockets growing, so it’s really cool each time we come back,” he says. “The majority of our fans come to see us live and that’s how they come to know us. That’s kind of what built up our vibe.”

Meeting on campus, Jay discovered a mutual musical interest with across-the-hall roommate Eon Sinclair. “We got excited by each others ideas, we exchanged records and we had a meeting point of really liking reggae,” says Malinowski.

With the subsequent addition of Pat Pengelly’s jazz background, Bedouin Soundclash began. Four years later, it has evolved into something even Jay has trouble describing.

“All the words I can think of are really bad at talking. It’s like soul, punk, reggae. I guess, kind of,” Jay explains. “I think it’s between punk and reggae in a sense that it’s a bit more aggressive than straight reggae, but it doesn’t have any distortion. I think of it as soul music in that sense. We’re really interested in trying to think of strange ways to combine the music that we love.”

Suiting the title of their latest release Sounding a Mosaic, the sound has developed from the first in both songwriting and production.

“We recorded [Root Fire] in like a marathon day. We had spent a week before that just practicing, we knew to like the second what we were going to do. We didn’t have much money so we had to utilize all our time in the studio and do it all in one day.”

But with the production assistance of punk/reggae legend Daryl Jenifer of Bad Brains, Sounding a Mosaic got a lot more attention to detail.

“In terms of musicianship, he’d really make us listen in a new way we weren’t used to,” explains Jay. “When you play live you don’t have to listen that close, you can just kind of feel what you’re doing. Sometimes it would be frustrating, I think sometimes doing the first take and capturing it raw is a great way, but it really taught me some patience. You learn that is has to be there before you can move on.”

Classifying their first record as more of a demo, Jay sees this album as their first real release.

“We had an idea that there was gonna be a lot more people than before who were going to be listening to this record and wanted it, were waiting for it,” he says. “We thought ‘people are actually going to be listening to us on this record.’ So we just had an idea that we should make more of an album that matters to us.”

Feeling time has expanded both their experience and cohesiveness as a band, Jay says, “We feel like we’re saying what we wanted to on the first one, without really realizing that we weren’t saying it at the time.”

With that kind of clarity, Bedouin Soundclash is expanding their stomping ground with a dynamic defying genre classification and nobody’s going to stop them.

“If it gets picked up, great, if it’s not, it’s not,” says Jay. “Our goal is to make stuff we’re excited about.”

After graduating, degree in hand, isn’t that what we all want? Bedouin Soundclash is living the dream.

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