The West Coast-touring indie duo Bearcoon has a sound that makes you feel like you’re always sitting around a late-night beach bonfire with the most important people in your life. Solange Igoa’s vocals tell you the story while Andrea Walker’s guitar actually takes you there. The two are distinct sounds that could stand on their own, yet they still find the perfect match in one another, balancing technical musicianship and emotion. Their music is feel-good-esque and, in all seriousness, charming.
I got the chance to speak with the band about their dreamy songs and their experiences in music.
Germ Magazine: Hello, and thanks for agreeing to this interview!
Let’s start with how you both got into music. Then, how did you come together to form Bearcoon?
Andrea: You know, I just always remember wanting to play guitar. I think I got my first one when I was seven, and I started taking lessons when I was eleven. I played “Tangerine” by Led Zeppelin in my sixth grade talent show. I didn’t necessarily come from a musical family, but I was always obsessed with music — folk music especially. I used to steal my dad’s CDs like Simon & Garfunkel and Jim Croce and listen to them non-stop.
Solange: Both of my parents are singers, and I’ve honestly been singing since before I could even talk. I’m 50% French Basque, and singing is a huge part of the Basque culture. When I was a kid, I was totally obsessed with The Phantom of the Opera, and I learned how to harmonize by memorizing the boy and the girl parts, and I’d watch the movie and switch back and forth.
Andrea: As far as Bearcoon goes, we started seeing each other around Long Beach at the Portfolio Coffee House open mic. I couldn’t believe Solange’s voice when I first heard it. She’s one of the first people I can ever remember hearing them sing and just thinking to myself, “Wow, that girl is really singing her guts out.” I knew that if we got together and combined her singing with my playing and songwriting, we could have something really special.
GM: Where do you find inspiration for your writing?
Andrea: I always write about whatever’s presently going on in my life. Right now, I’m writing a lot of traveling and road songs because that’s our life right now. When I wrote the music for El Guapo, I was in a much heavier place. My mom was dying from breast cancer, and I was trying to come to grips with some really impossible feelings of desperation. Writing was like a light at the end of the tunnel. It allowed me to find beauty in my own life, despite the pain and darkness of losing my mom.
GM: Your music has this really cool, unique, yet familiar sound to it. If approached by someone who had never heard your music, how would you describe it for them?
Solange: We used to call it “lesbian lumberjack rock,” haha. Lately we’ve been describing ourselves as an Americana/Folk band. I like the term “Americana” because it’s a little broader and covers the blues, rock, and folk elements of our music.
GM: Love it. I’m constantly talking about women in the music industry because it is far too rare, and so many female artists deserve so much more praise and recognition than they’re getting. What has been your experience as a female band in this male-dominated industry?
Andrea: You know, we’ve played festivals before and been severely disappointed by the underrepresentation of female artists. It still happens today where I’ll open up a weekly magazine and all the music ads are for dude bands. I think it’s sad too because women are so naturally expressive and emotional that it makes sense for women to make music and to be involved in the arts. We’ve had guys not take us seriously before because we are a female duo. But you know, we just stay focused and keep hustling, and we take ourselves seriously, even if guys sometimes underestimate us.
GM: Good for you. I know that you’ve been touring a lot for the past few months. Do you have any weird or funny stories of things that have happened on the road or at a gig?
Solange: Oh, yeah, I feel like funny and weird stuff is happening on a daily basis. One time we met a really nice guy at an open mic, and he invited us to play a private show o
n his boat that weekend. So we get out there and are expecting it to be like this little 25-foot thing. But as we start walking up we realize its a 150-foot tugboat! This guy owned a 1940s decommissioned Navy tugboat, and we played a show on it for a grip of people. We ended up becoming great friends with the tugboat owner and a lot of other people from the party.
GM: That’s amazing! Do you have any advice for young writers and creators?
Andrea: I would just tell them to never stop creating because you never know. Some of your best work may be waiting for you right around the corner.
GM: Great advice. Finally, where can we find you and your music?
Solange: We’re currently touring the West Coast and hitting as many cities as we can between San Diego and Portland. On our next trip north, we’re planning on getting into Washington state as well. We’re online at bearcoonmusic.com and Facebook. We’ve got a Tumblr and an Instagram. Our album is available on iTune
s, cdbaby.com, and Amazon. We’re also on Spotify and Pandora.
GM: Great! Thanks again for being a part of this. I absolutely love your music and can’t wait to see what else comes from you!