There’s just something about Ariel Beesley. Something real and raw and infectiously refreshing. The LA based musician exudes an effervescent warmth coupled with an effortless creativity that seems to extend into all areas of her life, from her vibrant vintage style to her atmospheric and utterly absorbing brand of new wave dream pop. Unapologetically bold, she has a fierce sense of self and isn’t afraid to get a little vulnerable, the kind of performer who brings so much enthusiastic, undulating energy to her shows that she ends up stripping down to her black lace skivvies onstage to avoid heat exhaustion. Needless to say, she’s our kind of woman.
Her self-titled EP, which dropped six months ago, unfolds like a shimmering, sparkling daydream, with 80’s inspired synths careening over powerful lyrics steeped in personal experiences and memories that range from the electric thrill of infatuation to the gut punch of heartbreak to the adrenaline rush of realizing your worth. The result is a feverish whirlwind of rich sound and intricate feeling that basically demands you to dance, with lyrics that wind their way into your brain and melodies that are tailor-made for dancing around your bedroom in your underwear, whether you’re falling in love, out of love, or just trying to love yourself a little better. This is music for those magic moments when life feels a little bit like a movie, for better or for worse. This is music for when you want to lose yourself in a moment or a mood or a memory.
We chatted with the LA native about music as a cathartic experience, what fashion means to her, and how “feeling a lot of feelings all the time” helped shape her as an artist. Catch her live this Saturday 3/9 at The Peppermint Club (8713 Beverly Blvd, West Hollywood). Get your tickets here.
Live FAST: How did you get your start? Tell us a little bit about the role music has played throughout your life.
Ariel Beesley: I started writing my own music when I was 14 years old. I was always bringing my guitar to school and playing in front of my classes when the teachers would let me. My love of writing music came through my love of writing in general, specifically poetry. One day I just picked up a guitar (my dad had taught me the basic chords) and put one of my poems to music, and I was hooked. When I was 17, my dad was working in Hawaii and brought back a ukulele for himself. I thought it was so cute. One night, he fell asleep early and I picked it up, tried whatever guitar chords I know out on it, and wrote my first song on the uke that night. That’s when I got really serious and knew it was going to be what I do for the rest of my life. Music has saved my life time and time again. It is the most beautiful outlet because it’s like listening to people’s diary entries, but we all can relate. At least that’s how I like to think of my songs.
LF: What’s your creative process and what inspires you?
AB: I feel most inspired by love and heartbreak and human interaction in general. All of my songs are about super specific things that have happened to me, or feelings I just needed to let go of. Basically if I didn’t write songs I’d be a nutcase…maybe I still am, but it helps. As of late, I’m feeling more inspired than ever, which is kind of wild. I’m a bit of a workaholic.
LF: What life experiences have shaped you as an artist?
AB: Man. This one’s kinda heavy but I love it. I’ve always written in a way that was therapeutic to me, so that I could feel better about whatever I was writing about. Or if it’s a happy song, I wrote it just because I have so many emotions that I have to get them out. I’ll fully admit I’m feeling a lot of feelings all the time. Everyone has gone through their fair share of hardships. I’m just grateful I have an outlet that lets me work through mine.
LF: Your EP pairs an infectiously 80’s new wave vibe with some personal (and highly relatable) lyrics. Who are your musical influences? Is making music a cathartic experience for you?
AB: First of all, thank you! That’s really kind. My biggest influences have always been Blondie, New Order, and the Cure. My stepdad showed me “Just Like Heaven” when I was 8 years old and that’s the song that truly made me realize what music can do, and that I needed to do it. Making music is not only cathartic for me, it’s truly quite necessary.
LF: What themes do you find yourself returning to within your music?
AB: Love, heartbreak, whatever the fuck being in your twenties is all about.
LF: Your live shows have an undeniable electric energy to them. Do you consider yourself a natural performer?
AB: I’ve gotta say, I love performing more than anything. I feel it is such a chance to connect with the audience, and show them what you were feeling when you wrote that song. Like I said my, my songs are truly personal, so it feels very therapeutic to express those emotions and see it connecting to other people. It makes me feel less alone.
LF: What advice would you give to your younger self?
AB: Remember who the fuck you are. And that you are a badass. Don’t ever let anyone, friends or lovers, make you feel like you’re not worth something. You’re worth a lot and it’s all going to be ok.
LF: What do you like most about LA? Has living here impacted your music?
AB: I was born and raised in LA! Specifically the Valley (gr818 ayyy) and it’s strange because growing up here, I actually hated it. But I feel like no matter where you grow up, all you’re trying to go is get the fuck out of there. And I did – I moved to New York as soon as I could and then spent a while traveling while writing my EP. I never thought I’d end up back here but it’s the best decision I ever made. I love LA and feel so grateful for my life here. And I now recognize how lucky I was to be able to grow up going to punk shows in alleys and sneaking into concerts. I realize that wasn’t the norm for everyone and I’m very grateful.
LF: How would you describe your personal style? What does fashion mean to you?
AB: Goddamn, I love clothes. I’m definitely a self proclaimed clothes hoarder. I get really attached my clothes because I get really attached to the memories I made when I wore them. I love anything from the 80’s. I’ve been wearing a lot of prom dresses, and I have a massive addiction to cheetah print. It’s kinda gotten out of hand but I’m down with it. Fashion is just another way of expressing myself, and God knows I’m always looking for a way to do that.
LF: What book, movie, or film changed your life?
AB: This is a hard one! I love books so much. I have some book quotes actually tattooed on me. Reading Just Kids by Patti Smith was a big one for me. I also love Kurt Vonnegut, I love poetry compilations, I love The Virgin Suicides. Currently I’m reading We Got The Neutron Bomb – it’s about the LA punk scene in the 70’s and it’s sick as hell. Pulp Fiction is my favorite movie but I also love Science Of Sleep, Snatch…I could go on and on. Oh, and I live for true crime documentaries.
LF: What’s something we wouldn’t guess by looking at you?
AB: When I was younger my dream was to be the first woman baseball player in a men’s league. I was obsessed with Babe Ruth.
LF: What’s your favorite form of self care?
AB: Eating burritos. And doing face masks.
LF: What’s next? What are you excited about?
AB: So much! Currently I’m working on finishing my debut record. I’ve got a few surprises that I can’t talk about but I’m just so happy to be playing so many shows and talking to the strangers that listen to my music. It means a great deal to me. Next up is my next single…I can’t wait.
LF: How fast do you live?
AB: My favorite animal is a sloth, but you know I live fast.