Out of all the Bay Area music projects I’ve found out about in 2015, South Bay’s Try The Pie has to be one of the most meaningful to me. Bean Tupou’s way of connecting their personal emotions and stories through music successfully allows anyone to listen and feel welcomed, but especially queer femme POC. Bean gives us all a home to rest, but opens this home with wide doors to all who feel homeless and underrepresented in indie music and society.
Bean is not new to the indie music or DIY scene. They have been involved in making it a better place for those that needed it for a while, from being a part ofThink and Die Thinking to being in twee-punk bands like Sourpatch. With Try The Pie, we get a deeper more intimate connection and reflection, especially through the recently released compilation of early recordings Rest.
When Rickshaw Stop announced that Different Fur Studios were going to be hosting a show with not only PWR BTTM and Dude York, but also Try The Pie, I knew this would be one of those events that I couldn’t and would never stop talking about. So I decided to talk to the people making it a reality. First off: Try The Pie.
The Bay Bridged: This project tends to be a lot more of a solo effort, which is always a braver approach to music. What was the motivation to start Try The Pie and make it a reality?
Bean Tupou: Try the Pie was a place to put all the songs I wrote and wouldn’t use for other bands. I started this as a teenager and since it existed before any projects I’ve been in, the motivation was simply to start a structured thing and have a format for writing songs. I didn’t really imagine that it would evolve with me and eventually become a more serious musical effort.
It has become my primary source of writing recently, beyond poetry, prose or even instrumental music. The words and music go hand-in-hand with Try the Pie and it is something I like to express my truth through — I think that’s the main motivation.
TBB: Your music always had a lot to do with identity and the feelings we all tend to lock away. The music video for “Root To Branch” deals with these and cultural identity. How does culture fit into your music and what you want to do with it?
BT: I recently listened to this talk James Baldwin gave to teenagers at Castlemont High School in Oakland on June 23rd, 1963. In the speech he is asked by a student if Black folks in America should “learn African history and culture to gain pride, dignity and strength so that when [they] are confronted by white people [they] can say, at the very least, that [they] have a culture that is equal to that of white peoples”.
James Baldwin responded by saying, “Find out all, you can, but don’t find it out with the intention of proving a point. Understand this: there is no reason for you prove yourself to anybody but yourself. When the world talks about culture, understand this: it is not talking about culture, it is talking about power.”
Listening to his words gave me a broader perspective on what culture means to me. Culture is a kind of weapon, as my friends in the band Downtown Boys would say, you can use it to protect you. I also believe it is a torch to gain visibility, it is there to remind us of who were are in times we feel we have lost fortitude. It is a vehicle for sharing and maintaining a narrative that may not get told otherwise.
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