It's clear that they have a strong bond that transcends, as well as influences their music. All three sing and play a variety of instruments, lending their music a compelling breadth. Their 2011 album Killing the Darlings shows off their range and their cello - you gotta hear that cello! - as they weave together something clever and preppy and different. P&B's Jeremy Styles and Jocelyn Makenzie share their story.
Jeremy Styles: Jeremy "California" Styles, Emily Hope "Utah" Price, and Jocelyn "New Jersey" Makenzie, have more than likely been influenced by the vast amounts of music we have all been introduced to over our lives, and perhaps living in those certain locations colored it a bit, but not sure how much.
Songfacts: For that matter, to what degree has living in New York City influenced your music?
Jeremy: I feel like personally my music would have changed just from me getting older, and experiencing more. I happen to be in New York whilst I get older, so I'm sure this place has changed my perception of things. Being around more live music than a lot of people in the US experience can totally make an impact. And why NOT New York?
Songfacts: How did each of you come to music?
Jeremy: I was in church from the moment I could roll over on my own, and there were always songs being sung. My mom was always singing, and I saw how fun it could be, and how freeing, terrifying, and empowering it felt to sing in front of people.
Jocelyn Makenzie: My father is an experimental musician, and there was always music in my house. I was singing and making up songs as soon as I could talk. Instruments came later for me... Jeremy and Emily actually tricked me into learning how to play percussion. I'm glad they did though.
Jeremy: Hearing what new folks are doing usually. That and monotone car alarms.
Songfacts: I read that you all met through open mics in Brooklyn. Were you all mutual admirers of one another first? Friends?
Jeremy: I think the admiration came first, then the friendship. But the friendship has now overshadowed anything else, and I just get to travel and make stuff with two of my best friends.
Jocelyn: We were band mates before we were friends. We basically met, connected over the music we were making, and then worked out all of the interpersonal stuff as we went along. Turns out, that process built us into the family we are today. Just goes to show you can't chose your family... your family chooses you.
Songfacts: Where does the name Pearl and the Beard come from? Friends who I have shared your music with have some interesting suppositions.
Jeremy: A traveling band named Circus was in town with tons of games and rides. There was one particular game where if you rang this bell with a sledgehammer you won a free band name. All three of us grabbed the hammer and struck and we smashed the bell, so we got to win two prizes. One was "Pearl" and then we also got "the Beard" so we just put them in the same sack so it'd be easier to carry home, and when we got home they were all mashed together. I'd love to hear those interesting suppositions.
- A bald man with facial hair.
- An obscure ocean freighter reference.
- Some stuff that's far less family-friendly. A "beard" can be a woman in a relationship with a man presumed to be gay, and as for "pearl," well, there's a classic song by the band War called "Spill The Wine" where they sing, "Spill the wine, take that girl, spill the wine, take that pearl." Harold Brown of War confirmed for us that it was indeed a reference to a part of the female anatomy.
Songfacts: One of my favorite tracks on Killing the Darlings is the opening track, "Reverend." There seems to be references to a bygone genres and traditions in both the music and the words- can you describe the influences of this song, what it means to you, how it was conceived of and written?
Jeremy: Thanks! That song started was just a mix of everyone putting in their 2-5 cents.
Songfacts: Is there a golden age in music that you wish you could go back in time to?
Jocelyn: I just saw That Thing You Do for the first time the other day, and I have to say, I'd go back to any time other than that. I'd go back to the Neanderthal days to hear what they heard when they were first milking sounds from stones.
Songfacts: Are there any tracks on Killing the Darlings that you are particularly proud of?
Jeremy: I think "Sweetness" and "Swimming." "Sweetness" because we've never written like that before. It came together so quickly and in a pseudo-panic. And "Swimming" because I think it's just pretty as all get out and the arrangements really pumped it up for me.
Jocelyn: I'm a big fan of "The Lament of Coronado Brown," actually. Emily's voice on the lead up front sounds so sultry and intimate, and the horns (arranged by composer Jim Altieri) are simply triumphant.
Songfacts: In a perfect world, how would people listen to this album (i.e. alone with a cup of tea? At a party?)
Jeremy: I'm not sure. I've had people say they ran to our last album, and I never would have thought that for that album, but there it is. So with this one, I have no ideal situation anyone should listen to it. Let it unfold how it will wherever you are!
Jocelyn: Ideally everywhere. All the time. Everywhere. Non-stop. No breaks.
Songfacts: The soundscape your music creates is so rich that I could picture stories taking place as I listened. If you could inject your music into any existing film- which would it be?
Jeremy: Oh man, this is tough, because I love watching me some movies. I would have loved to have been on that O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack, but also anything with a lot of ice and snow (Star Wars Episode V, Fargo, Snow Dogs, Air Bud 17: Kick Some Ice) in it for our slower songs, or maybe none of those old ones since I look forward to what new things are coming out.
Songfacts: What kind of promotion is in order for this album?
Jeremy: Touring, videos, spilled blood.
Jocelyn: We're working with a great digital promotions company (Sneak Attack Media) for all of our online publicity, and we'll also be touring nationally all year, so please keep checking back for updates or sign up for our mailing list on our website, www.pearlandthebeard.com. There's also the tried and true "please tell your friends" method that seems to really be a great way to discover new music, so please tell your friends! On that same note, we're also really trying to use Twitter to it's best advantage... which is an interesting social science experiment that I'm kind of starting to love. Why don't you follow us? @PEARLntheBEARD
Songfacts: What are your aspirations for Pearl and the Beard, and as individuals?
Jeremy: For all three of us to be happy. Individually: to be happy.
Jocelyn: I just want to pay off my student loans and share our music with as many people as possible. If ever the twain shall meet I shall be a happy lady.
June 1, 2011
More Song Writing