Interview: Brian Campeau on Beck’s Song Reader

December 19th 2012

Tonight Sydney is being treated to something a little bit spectacular. Legend of legends and staple member of any 90s-kid’s CD collection, Beck, has released the sheet music for his new album, Song Reader. Yup, just the sheet music – not the recording… So Sydney musicians are taking on the task themselves in an even that FBi is presenting live tonight at The Standard.

The evening’s music director Brian Campeau came in to guest program The Bridge with Harry White on Monday, sharing some details of how the night will go down. He also talks about meeting Beck at Harvest Festival and explains his frustrations with the way music is being consumed. You can now listen to Song Read Sydney Sessions in its entirety below:


In Brian’s words:

“For those who don’t know, Beck, instead of releasing a physical CD or whatever, or MP3s, he’s decided to kind of revolt against that mentality of music not being made intimate enough with people – so he’s released sheet music, so if you wanna hear it, you’ve gotta play it. So Steph Harmon and Caitlin Welsh at The Brag have organised this concert so that we perform all the music.

What’s happening is we’re just going to plough through the album: a bunch of different arrangements… Richard In Your Mind is doing 3 songs as a band, Jonathan Boulet is doing 3 songs, Dappled Cities is doing 3 songs, and then I’ve organised the arrangements for the rest of the music. So that’s when a bunch of singers are going to get up, and a session band – the Green Mohair Suits are going to be part of the session band supporting all the singers.”

Campeau explained the motivation behind Beck’s approach, which might seem as ‘exclusive’ on first glance, but purely intends to include everyone in a much deeper appreciation of the music.

“Back in the 20s if you wanted to hear a song, you had to go out and buy the sheet music and learn it, and learn the music and you had this immediate connection to the song itself. Then over time there has been a bigger and bigger distance between the artist and the consumer: even the excitement of having a CD, and walking home with it and looking at the picture, that doesn’t exist anymore, it’s just a file on your computer – there’s complete detachment… so he kind of revolted against it and went “Well, here are the songs… learn ’em!”

So who’s taking on the challenge? Josh Pyke, Jonathan Boulet, Dappled Cities, Caitlin Park, Richard In Your Mind, Melodie Nelson, Aidan Roberts (Belles Will Ring), Thomas Rawle (Papa vs Pretty), Elana Stone and Brian himself. Plus, there will be special performances from Sarah Blasko and Brendan Cowell. See you there!

WHAT: FBi & The Brag Present: Beck Hansen’s Song Reader
WHEN: Tonight! Wednesday 19 December, 7pm
WHERE: The Standard, Level 3, 383 Bourke St, Surry Hills
HOW MUCH: $25 + BF here, some tickets on the door

All proceeds go to Sydney Story Factory.


Read more from FBi Radio