Chatting with Bea Stewart About “Nicest Song I’ve Ever Written,” Her Guitar, and Tone

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Bea Stewart
Photo: Dan Lindegren
       

Born and raised just outside Belfast, singer-songwriter Bea Stewart recently released her new single, “Nicest Song I’ve Ever Written,” a song from her upcoming debut EP.

“Nicest Song I’ve Ever Written” follows Stewart’s debut single, “Screaming At Traffic,” which has amassed more than 199,000 streams on Spotify since its release in September of this year. The song appeared on elite playlists such as New Pop UK, Fresh Finds, Sad Songs, and New Music Friday, and garnered support from BBC Introducing’s Gemma Bradley.

With her bewitching voice, Stewart imbues the song’s lyrics with deliciously tender tones and lush, subtle timbres.

You can rest on me if you need to / I think this is the nicest song I’ve ever written to date / And I mean it / You can cry on me if you want to / Just like I’ve cried to you and you’ve always listened / I’m on your team no conditions / I said it, I mean it

Signed to Kin Records, producer Eliot James immediately saw something special in Bea. They spent early 2022 putting together Bea’s debut EP, mixing her folk sensibilities with his indie-pop craftsmanship. Stewart speaks about working with James in the interview.

Guitar Girl Magazine caught up with Bea Stewart to discover more about the inspiration for “Nicest Song I’ve Ever Written,” her guitar, named ‘Max,’ and the evolution of her sound.

What inspired your new single “Nicest Song I’ve Ever Written?”

This song is inspired by my brother – I have 2 brothers and like most siblings I know, we’re not very good at saying soppy emotional things to each other like I love you or I’m here for you, or I’m proud of you. A while ago, one of my brothers was going through a tough time, and writing this song was my way of processing what I wanted him to know but struggled to find the words to tell him.

Walk us through your mindset as you entered the studio to record the song.

At the time we recorded this song I was actually living in Belfast so had flown over to London for the week to record with Eliot James. I was very excited to get in the studio and see what we could do with the songs I had been writing but mostly I just felt very calm and at peace about the whole thing. Eliot is a dream to work with – he is a wonderful producer and a very calming presence, and we were on the same page with where we wanted the tracks to go sonically. It was a very organic process and I think that comes through when you listen to the tracks.

How did you get started in music?

I started playing piano when I was about 5 years old because my big brother played piano, and I was insanely competitive – if he could do something I had to be able to do it too. I didn’t start singing in front of people until I was a bit older and started singing in church. Then I started writing songs as an angsty teen who didn’t know how to process her emotions and fell in love with the process.

Where are you from?

I’m from a town called Holywood just outside Belfast in Northern Ireland. It’s by the sea and is basically just one street of cafes and fish and chip shops.

Did your hometown impact your sound?

Absolutely! Growing up in Northern Ireland I was surrounded by lots of great music – music is a massive part of the culture and pretty much everyone gets involved in some way. I used to play the flute in the trad group at my school and also did Irish dancing as a kid, so I was always around a lot of traditional Irish folk music. This has definitely influenced my experience of music as a listener and a writer. I also listened to a lot of local singer-songwriters growing up like Foy Vance and that has massively influenced my lyric writing and the importance I place on storytelling.

Did your sound evolve naturally, or did you deliberately push it in a certain direction? 

It feels like it has been a very natural process. There have been times where I was deliberately pushing in a certain direction e.g. I studied songwriting at uni and as part of that we experimented a lot with different genres and production techniques and there was a lot of importance placed on ‘finding your sonic identity.’ I’ve been through phases where the songs I was writing were intentionally more pop or more experimental, but I feel like I’ve landed in a place that is a more refined, confident, articulate version of where I started. The songs I’m writing at the moment come out very naturally and I’m not doing much to try and push them in any direction. It’s fun to try new things and I’m sure my sound will continue to evolve but for now, I’m enjoying keeping it simple.

What kind of guitar do you play?

My guitar is a Simon and Patrick Songsmith Parlor faded bourbon burst – he’s beautiful and his name is Max.

What is your definition of tone? And has your tone changed over time?

When I think of tone I think of the character or personality of an instrument or voice. It’s natural for that to develop over time. I’ve done a lot more living than when I started playing/singing and am more sure of myself now. I still have the same voice; it just sounds more mature and more confident now.

What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, or other media?

My writing is mainly inspired by the things I see and experience in life, but I also find other forms of art really helpful if I’m struggling to find something to say. I sometimes like to start with a painting and see where that takes me. I also find listening to live music really inspiring – every time I go to a gig, I walk away wanting to make more music.

What can you share about your writing process?

My writing process is pretty simple. I normally start with a concept or lyrical idea and then spend 10 mins or so writing down whatever comes to my mind uncensored. Then I look through what I’ve written and take note of anything that sticks out or I think is worth running with. I sit down at the piano or with my guitar, mess around with some chords, and start singing some of the lines I’ve written to see if anything sticks. It’s very therapeutic.

Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?

There are so many artists killing it right now! Some of my favorites are Holly Humberstone, Orla Gartland, Griff, and Olivia Dean. The girls are taking over in my opinion.

How do you define success?

This is a big question and I think I’m still figuring out the answer. It probably looks different depending on who you are and what phase of life you’re in. Right now, for me, I think success is making music that connects with people and that I am proud of. That being said, I can’t ignore that there is a financial element to success – making a living from music is the goal so I hope that comes someday soon.

Looking at your experiences from the last few years, what have you learned from them?

Another big question! One of the most important lessons that I am still learning is not to compare myself to the people around me. People are unique and move at different paces and in different directions. There’s no one right way to do life so you have to figure out what works for you and makes you happy and healthy. Also, sleep and eat some veggies!

What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? Music videos? Live gigs?

All of the above! There is going to be a music video for this single, more music to come in the new year, I have a gig on the 17th of November and on the 19th of January with hopefully more to come after that. If you follow me on Instagram, you can keep up to date with everything that’s going on.

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