Bitbird beat-builder BeauDamian stems from The Hague, Netherlands: home to Johannes Vermeer’s Dutch Golden Age painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring.” Beau D. Schaepman’s moeder/mother, Cécile, named him after the “As the World Turns” soap opera’s fictional character Damian Grimaldi and her love of all things French. Schaepman’s Oct. 26 release, Bipolar, is barely shy of reaching 100,000 SoundCloud streams. BeauDamian continues his reign, together with Taska Black and Chet Porter, on San Holo’s album1 tour at The Bluestone: a 19th-century Baptist church converted into a concert hall in Columbus, Ohio. DROELOE, San, football, illness, criticism—Beau’s contagious cheerfulness caffeinated my bushed body and cut through the 4,000+ miles that stood between us.
Why is soccer significant to both BeauDamian and Beau D. Schaepman?
I started playing soccer when I was four years old, and it was my biggest passion. I did it each and every day. I never wanted to stop. I always had to have a ball around me. When I was around 14 years old, I made a big development as a soccer player; I had the chance to go to the Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie (N.E.C.) football club, where I trained 3-5 times per week. I had soccer matches 1-2 times a week. Every morning, this little bus would pick me up and other soccer players too. I’d come back 13 hours later. They’d pick me up at 7 a.m., and I came home around 8 p.m. Basically, that was my life for two and a half years. It was quite intense. It was a very nice experience but also really hard.
When you’re a soccer player, you’re playing a soccer match for 90 minutes. You’re given immediate feedback all the time. When you’re producing music you have a lot of time for yourself to create and in the end, you have a product. Then, you can give it to someone and get feedback. Soccer taught me how to deal with negative feedback. In soccer, people can be really harsh. It helped me develop a thick skin and keep on going. Now when people give me feedback, I know it’s not personal.
BeauDamian introduced DROELOE’s Vincent Rooijers and Hein Hamers to San Holo’s Sander van Dijck. How has their stardom affected you?
It was really hard for me to see them go that hard. Not in a way that I don’t think they deserve it because I love them. It made me insecure. I realized that it had to do with skills and being a really good producer. When I started with bitbird, I wasn’t at the point that I could say I was a real professional; I was just making music for fun. They both studied at the same art school where I’m studying right now, HKU University of the Arts Utrecht. You can hear the difference when they released their first song; they were a bit further as artists than I was when I started producing music. I had this realization that I should become better and improve my skills. There’s always someone who’s better at something. I tried to use that to my advantage. DROELOE has always helped me improve myself with their feedback and support.
What’s a vast improvement you’ve made, subsequent to working with bitbird?
I think it’s consciousness. I can distance myself from my product. I’m making my product, and I’m feeling it. Then, I step away from it and immediately ask for feedback from around 10 people: people who are in the business, other artists, publishers, even my mom—I can see how different people perceive my music. At first, I thought my opinion was the most important thing. Also, I realized that I can’t make music only for myself because I’ll make the weirdest stuff ever. I really like abstract music and audiovisual work. I started making music because it’s a way to express my feelings, mood and experiences. It’s a way to escape reality or create my own reality. It’s not really about production, but it’s more about professionalism.
When did San Holo invite BeauDamian on the album1 tour?
That was a crazy moment. I was laying in my bed thinking about the next kind of production I wanted to make, and I had this voice message on WhatsApp from Budi [Voogt] in June. He contacted me and told me. Then, it started with getting my visa together. It was an amazing moment. The funny part about it is that I wanted to be part of his tour a year earlier. San decided to go for a bit more established artists, so they had to choose someone else: Just A Gent. I can totally understand that, but I was quite disappointed because I really wanted to go. Then, I let it go. When I least expected it, bitbird management said like “Hey Beau! We think you’re a really good DJ and performer and we like your music. You had some great accomplishments this year. We are super impressed with your development. We would love to add you to the tour because we think that you’ll be the perfect fit.” At that moment, I realized that they literally asked me instead of me asking them.
Which Bipolar track(s) were originally on the chopping block?
San didn’t have any doubt about “Bounce,” “Shut Up” and “In Between Storms,” but he had some doubts about the first two songs “Galaxy” and “We Get Lost.” Normally, I don’t work with vocalists. This was my second time working with vocalists on a track. We changed a few things with the topline which made the track “Galaxy” much better; I had written the lyrics with Lola Rice, but bitbird only wanted to have four or five lines. Now, it’s a bit easier to listen to and remember the lyrics. “We Get Lost” is getting a lot of attention.
Why was Bipolar distributed through bitbird versus a self-release like 2018’s Endorfine?
To be honest, I wanted to release ‘Endorfine’ on bitbird, but they had a really tight schedule. If you want to release something on bitbird it takes a few months; I didn’t really want to do that, so I decided to release ‘Endorfine’ myself. ‘Bipolar’ is my first EP on bitbird. That’s kind of special to me because I had around eight or nine singles. I could have done it myself, but I felt it was the right time to release my fourth extended play. We had originally planned the release of ‘Bipolar’ around August, but San was also working on ‘album1’—of course, that takes priority. I had to reschedule the release around three or four times. That’s just how it goes. I’m really happy to release over there.
Was there any backlash over the extended play’s title Bipolar?
No. Basically, I only got positive feedback. At the end of the day, I’m only just a person. I have daily struggles. I have off days. If I share those feelings with the world, they can connect with those same feelings or situations. I never wanted to use the term in an offensive way. I used it because I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder two years ago. I had the same feelings since I was a kid. It was always there, but I never knew what it was. At first, being diagnosed felt really painful. After being angry and afraid, you realize it’s nice to know how you can improve yourself. When I go to my therapist, I ask them “How does this work? How does that work? How can I deal with these patterns?” I’m more like a psychology student instead of a patient.
Please, visit NAMI.org for more information, support and resources regarding mental health.