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16th Annual Artist Survey: The Beths

Elizabeth Stokes on 2018's Best Albums, MeToo a Year Later, The Muppets, Childhood Birthday Parties, and Family Vacations

Jan 17, 2019 16th Annual Artist Survey
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For Under the Radar‘s 16th Annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to the last year, plus some fun personal questions. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2018 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Elizabeth Stokes of The Beths.

The Beths are a new four-piece from New Zealand who released their debut album, the amusingly titled Future Me Hates Me, last year via Carpark. All four members of the band (Stokes, Jonathan Pearce, Benjamin Sinclair, and Ivan Luketina-Johnston) studied jazz at university, but the band has more of a scrappy indie rock vibe. Stokes had been a fixture on the Auckland music scene and prior to The Beths she played in a folk band. “Fronting this kind of band was a new experience for me,” said Stokes in a press release announcing Future Me Hates Me. “I never thought I had the right voice for it.”

For our annual Artist Surveys we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about the midterm elections, the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh, Kanye West visiting the White House, the #MeToo movement a year later, mental health conditions in the music industry, whether or not they have Flossed, childhood birthday parties and vacations, which Muppets character they are most like, whether or not they are going to The Good Place after death, and much more.

Top 9 Albums of 2018

1. Sidney Gish: No Dogs AllowedI called this as my favorite album when it came out back in February. I was evangelical about it. I messaged all my friends to tell them that I’d found the album of the year. It’s just so great, beautifully written songs, funny lyrics, clever arrangements.

2. Frankie Cosmos: VesselI was a huge fan of Next Thing but was a late-comer to Vessel. I was on tour and I think I wanted to wait until I had the mental space to listen it. I love Greta [Kline]‘s melodies and lyrics, that can be tricky or simple, and I have listened to it a lot of times. I think she is a really special songwriter.

3. Hans Pucket: EczemaHans Pucket is my favorite New Zealand band. Oliver Devlin, the principle songwriter, has a real way with blending great lyrics and melodies with really engaging instrumental parts. The album is kind of an ode to anxiety and self-doubt. Very relatable.

4. The Goon Sax: We’re Not TalkingThis album got absolutely thrashed on our most recent tour. It’s so, so great. Somehow rough around the edges and polished in the best complimentary way.

5. Chelsea Jade: Personal BestChelsea is the best lyric writer in the world. Her songs are eloquent and masterfully constructed.

6. Wax Chattels: Wax ChattelsIf you never see this band live, you will have missed out on something truly exciting that can take your breath away.

7. Illuminati Hotties: Kiss Yr FrenemiesI just started listening to this album last week and it’s all of the things I like in a record. Most of all, great lyrics and melodies. I keep finding new favorite tracks on it.

8. The Naenae Express: The Naenae ExpressThis is a Bandcamp only album, that enigmatic genius Scott Kendall snuck out a few weeks back. One of NZ’s secretly best songwriters, who almost seems determined to make sure no one hears this album.

9. Snail Mail: LushI was late to the boat on this record too. Worth the wait though, the bangers on this record bang so hard. Right in my emotional core.

What was the highlight of 2018 for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

Highlight for me was seeing our live shows grow so much between the first and second tours, once our album was out. Pretty cool that people were connecting to our music and we got to actually go meet them and play it. Low point was maybe touring in France and I maybe don’t want to revisit that one. Ha ha.

A year after the #MeToo movement, do you feel things gotten better or worse in terms of issues of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and misogyny in the music industry?

Better is quite a simple way to think about this, I think things are still wobbling and the #MeToo movement is ongoing. It is good to see people that I interact regularly with taking it seriously, but there are obviously a lot of people that do not even see the issue and won’t engage with it.

Be honest, did you Floss in 2018? (Meaning the dance craze, not the dental care.)

Yes.

Which Muppets character are you most like and why?

Maybe Gonzo, he’s nervous and cautious. And he has a big nose.

Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit tragically took his own life this year. What should be done to improve mental health conditions for musicians?

Mental Health services being taken seriously.

In 2018 there were more dire predictions about climate change and we witnessed some of its likely effects firsthand with various deadly storms and forest fires. What should touring musicians be doing to better offset their carbon footprint? How bad do you think it needs to get for governments and corporations to take stronger actions to fight climate change?

I don’t know… you spend a lot of time in a van driving around. Maybe plastic water bottles need to go?

What’s your favorite birthday party memory from childhood?

My mum had us play this game where you hung krupuk (big Indonesian shrimp crackers) from the washing line and had to eat it without using your hands. Challenging game.

What was your favorite family vacation as a kid? What was your least favorite?

My mum is Indonesian and would take us to Jakarta every couple of years as a kid. My favorite part was we sometimes got to stay in a hotel, which I found SO exciting. Especially swimming in the swimming pool. My least favorite part was when Jakarta was flooded (it does often) and I remember accidentally stepping down into a hole and dunking myself in the gross floodwater.

What’s been your most surreal experience in the music industry?

Playing on KEXP and BBC 6 this year was pretty surreal. It’s a bit like walking into the apartment you recognize from your favorite TV show. Doesn’t feel real.

When you die, do you think you’re going to the Good Place or the Bad Place?

Depends on the criteria I suppose.

www.thebeths.com

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