Today is release day for Beth Thornley's EP Septagon, and BFTV recently had the opportunity to sit down with the Alabama-born, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter to discuss the new record, why she loves the EP format, and the experience of having your music placed in feature films. Here's what Beth had to tell us.
""I'm a singer-songwriter who writes piano-based pop that even guys have admitted to liking," she quipped. "There's no hugging and only a small amount of learning. On this new EP, Septagon, the songs range from upbeat dance tunes to psychedelic rock to indie singer-songwriter pop; production varies from simple and sweet to lush and complex. But I promise you won't be left with whiplash. It all works together with just enough variety to make it fun and just enough heart to keep it real."
"I just want [listeners] to enjoy it," Beth continued. "I don't want them to feel like they've got a homework assignment. I don't mind telling people what the songs mean to me, but I like it when they just listen without any idea. I want it to mean whatever it means to them. I think that's what art is for. We're always bringing our perspective to whatever it is we're seeing or hearing or whatever it is we're a part of.
"The interesting thing about this album is that it is about perspective," she added. "This album comes after a place of a lot of questioning for me. It comes out of spending a lot of time thinking I had figured some things out only to discover that I hadn't...I think everybody has things that they're thinking about."
One of the highlights of Septagon is the track "Last To Fall," a collaboration with and featuring Glen Phillips of Toad The Wet Sprocket fame. "He's a great guy and I'm super happy that I had the opportunity to write a song with him," Beth enthused. "The same song appears on Toad's most recent album [the digital download only]. They did their version of it for their album, and I did my version for my EP. Some people might enjoy comparing our individual interpretations of the same song."
Unlike many artists, Beth hasn't released this EP with an eye toward a full-length album in the future. "I can't say never again, but I love four and five-song EPs," she told us. "What I have discovered is that I really love the four to five-song format even more than I love albums, because it's so much more digestible this way. Even I will likely just listen to four or five songs on an album, at least in one sitting.
"It's not a time thing, it's a brain saturation thing," she continued. "On my previous three albums in iTunes, the first four or five songs are definitely the most popular - and some of my most favorite songs are song number six or song number seven."
Beth has built her music career on a series of placements in other media, including the Eva Mendes film Girl In Progress and more recently, the Channing Tatum-Matt Bomer film Magic Mike. She called the latter the coolest thing that's happened so far in her career. "Steven Soderbergh is just a great director, and it was a major film, and it's just crazy that a song of mine was picked," she told us. "I didn't know where they were going to use it or how it was going to be used. I had to go see the movie to find that out!"
Her song "Wash U Clean," the title track from Beth's previous release, can be heard in the sorority house scene of Magic Mike. Up at the top of this article, we've also included a live performance of the song, so you don't have to dig out your Blu-Ray to hear it.
But just as much as we're affected by hearing the right song in that perfect scene of a movie or TV show, the experience can also be deeply affecting for the artist in question, and that was the case with Beth and Girl In Progress. Her song "There's No Way" is used over a powerful moment where a 14-year-old girl plots to lose her virginity at a party - and the experience doesn't go as she planned. Seeing the scene made Beth burst into tears. "It became so wonderful to be a small part of something that just managed to be put together so well," she reflected. "I was just really proud and so happy."
You've also heard her music on shows like Friday Night Lights, In Plain Sight, Suburgatory, Ringer, Everwood, Scrubs and yes, even Jersey Shore. And when you're hearing her music, you're really hearing Beth Thornley, because her passion for music is very much her life.
"Music is pretty much what I do. Not to sound totally one dimensional and boring," she laughed. "I like to read books and I like to take road trips. I love going to see the movies, although I'm not a movie fanatic. I just find that music takes up a whole lot of time and that's generally where I spend it." We're not going to complain, not when she's turning out such beautiful releases as Septagon.
Beth Thornley's EP Septagon is now available via all digital music outlets. For more information on her April 26 release show at Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles, you can visit Hotel Cafe (hotelcafe.com) or Beth's website. For more on Beth, be sure to visit her website (beththornley.com) and follow her on Twitter (@beththornley).