NEW MUSIC, NEW STORIES, AND NEW SHOWS FOR BEARCOON

BY: JANUARY 31, 2017

BEARCOON backed by MOVE (Raccoon riding Bear)

BEARCOON backed by MOVE

For any band’s rock n’ roll story to be great, it has to include the stars aligning just so in order for some magic to take place.

The tale of Indie Duo Bearcoon’s Long Beach story goes like this:

Once upon a time, there was a music therapist named Andrea Walker, who dug up her southern roots to head west and take a job in Norwalk, California. Soon after arriving in California, she made a friend who invited her to the city of Long Beach. After spending so much time there, she decided to make the new, welcoming community her home.

While Andrea was making new friends and writing songs in Long Beach, singer Solange Igoa decided to leave her small town in Central California. Though just out of high school, Igoa had already tired of living in the kind of town whose biggest claim to fame was an annual county fair and one refurbished downtown theatre. Ready to explore the world, she took up a friend’s offer to move with them to Long Beach.

Here’s the magical part– during a party at a mutual friend’s house in 2011, Igoa and Walker met for the first time. Andrea picked up a guitar and started playing. Solange joined in and started singing. There was an instant “something special” there.

After the party, the two parted ways and returned to their respective music endeavors. Andrea, however, could not get the notion of being in a band with Solange out of her head. After some soul searching, she knew that forming a band with Solange was the right path for her. She reached out to Solange and their partnership began. Upon settling on the foundation that one is a Bear, and the other, a Raccoon, thus creating a musical spirit animal — Bearcoon.

As a new duo, the two ladies had an immediate impact on the local music scene. They won  Buskerfest in 2014,  recorded an album with their winnings, earned the title of OC Weekly‘s “Best Folk Act,” released their first full album El Guapo, went number one on Amazon’s “Hot New Releases” chart, then traded in their apartment and most of their worldly possessions for an old van and the open road. The raw talent of Bearcoon combined with their bold leaps of faith, and unwavering commitment to the integrity of their craft, will undoubtedly catapult them to greatness.

(Not) The end

I sat down with Bearcoon‘s guitarist Andrea Walker after the band’s  Laminak EP release party. We had a long talk about the road, their recording process, and the future. Here are some excerpts from our conversation:

Jewell Faamaligi [LBI] After the release of your first album El Guapo, you guys left Long Beach to live on the road for over a year. You have now circled back to work on this new body of work with Antoine Arivizu again at The Compound Studio. Let’s start by talking about what happened in the middle of your journey and what coming home has been like.

[Walker] I counted it up a few weeks ago and realized that since leaving Long Beach we’ve gigged in at least 25 different cities. We’ve spent the bulk of our time on the road in Portland, Eugene, Ashland, San Luis Obispo/Morro Bay, Half Moon Bay, and Bakersfield. Half Moon Bay has a very special place in our hearts. We spend time there throughout the year to get a respite from the road and to meditate on new directions.

[LBI] Which communities have really embraced you?

[Walker] Portland OR, Eugene OR, Ashland OR, Half Moon Bay CA, and Bakersfield CA. We’ve got a handful of close friends in each of those towns so we love gigging and spending time there.

[LBI] What did you learn about yourselves on the road?

[Walker] On the road we’ve learned to be much more self-sufficient than ever before. If something breaks on the van we often don’t have the time or extra cash to hire someone else to fix it, we roll up our sleeves, do some research, and dig in and fix it ourselves.

[LBI] What did you not miss as much as you thought you would?

[Walker] We don’t miss the feeling of being “stuck” in our lives. I used to feel pretty depressed a lot of the time, like I was just living for payday and the weekend. We were both working jobs we no longer felt passionate about. Life had begun to feel like a long and monotonous trudge to the grave. I don’t miss that feeling.

[LBI] What did you miss more than you thought you would?

[Walker] I think the thing we miss the most is our friends. Oh, and running water. But yea, we travel so much, sometimes 3-4 different cities a week. We’re always saying goodbye to people that we love. It feels like our hearts are always divided because there are people all over the country that we’re very close to. Our Long Beach family, Solange’s biological family in Bakersfield, my family and old friends in the south, and now our new found road family. No matter where we are, we’re missing so many people.

[LBI] Did so much time on the road have an effect your songwriting relationship?

[Walker] Yes, for sure. It used to be that I would write all the songs and then teach them to Solange. Now, Solange jumps in much earlier in the process; crafting melody lines, writing harmonies, offering suggestions on song structures. Solange is now much more involved from the beginning. I love her input. She’s much cooler than I am.

[LBI] What fed your spirits the most on the road?

[Walker] All of the wonderful friends that we’ve met along the way. Road life can be sad because we’re always saying goodbye to people. But as we leave one town, we have friends waiting for us in the next city. Looking forward to whoever is waiting for us in the next town always keeps us going. And our dogs- I’d say that they bring as much daily joy to our lives as anything else. We’ve redefined the concept of “home” for ourselves over the past year of living in a conversion van on the road. But nothing makes a place feel more like home than having your dogs there!

[LBI] What was the most challenging experience you had on the road?

[Walker]  We spent the early part of the winter in Portland OR and our roof was leaking badly (in six different places!). The heater in our van was also broken so we were wet and freezing cold for over a month. Solange’s uncle was kind enough to fix our heater while we were in Portland. But once the heater was fixed, the warmth plus the moisture from the roof leaks created a mold situation you wouldn’t believe. It was everywhere! We went back to Bakersfield to spend the holidays with Solange’s family, but instead of a relaxing break from the road, we spent every single day for 2 1/2 weeks gutting the van down to the metal and rebuilding everything. We worked long days, usually ten to twelve hours a day. And we were on a time crunch too because we had to get back to Long Beach by 1/9/16 for an important show. With some very basic construction skills, and the help of Solange’s dad,  we were able to get the entire interior rebuilt. Now it’s better than ever.

[LBI] Did you return to LB with any new insights about your music?

[Walker] Performing on the road for new audiences all the time has really helped us to hone and refine our live performances. When you go into a new town and no one in the audience has ever seen you or heard of you, you really have to work hard to show them why they should care about your band. It’s a lot different than playing in your hometown for your best friends every week.

[LBI] After you finished recording your first album El Guapo that was recorded and produced by Antoine Arivizu he said “This is one of my favorite records I’ve ever worked on, for the music and the experience.” When you returned to the Compound Studio what was this second experience with Antoine like?

[Walker] Our relationship with Antoine has grown so much since the first album we made with him in 2015. It’s come to feel more like a family relationship than just an artist/producer interaction. We’re comfortable enough with each other at this point to all be 100% authentic when we’re working together. It makes for an intensely unique, demanding, but ultimately rewarding experience. We both felt more comfortable bringing new ideas to the table this time around, and as a whole we all pushed ourselves to venture into some new territory artistically speaking.

[LBI]  Tell us about the Laminak EP and why you chose to release it as an EP instead of a full album…

[Walker] The recording of a full-length album “Home” started in February 2016. At the time we were both struggling with sickness that interfered with the recording process. We came back in April 2016 and recorded nine songs with Antoine. While we were very happy with some of the tracks, we were unsure about the overall cohesiveness of the album. We spent May and June gigging heavily throughout California and Oregon and in August 2016 we decided to finish and release five of the tracks as an EP, Laminak. We’re still writing and working towards finishing and releasing “Home” the full-length album.

[LBI] There are only five songs on Laminak, but it feels like a complete musical experience. Tell us about this special collection of songs.

[Walker] The EP opens with “Portland,” by far one of our most popular new songs.

It then moves into a moody blues tune called “Apparitions” that was written by Solange. We practiced that song together and then did a few live takes. It turned out that Antoine had the microphones turned on during our practice run and that’s actually the take we ended up putting on the album. It had a special kind of looseness and confidence to it because we didn’t realize we were being recorded.

Then we’ve got “Ships,” which represents our venture into bigger productions with the addition of bass guitar, organ, and some additional voices at the end of the song.

The fourth song is “Holes,” which I wrote during a difficult time on the road. We’d finished rebuilding the van, but were both struggling to remain healthy. We’d been on the road for about seven months and weren’t really sure which direction to move in.

The last song is “Until You’re Mine.” This is the oldest song we’ve ever recorded, having been written by me about five years ago. It’s also one of the tunes where I feel like we pushed ourselves stylistically the most.

[LBI] What do you want to accomplish with this EP?

[Walker] Overall, we’re hoping that Laminak will reflect the maturation process which has been accelerated since we went out on the road. The songs show the variety of our musical influences, from the bluesy “Apparitions” to finger style Spanish guitar of “Until You’re Mine.”

[LBI]  You guys posses some rare qualities that only happen when all of these random pieces fit together in just the right way at the right time. Do you feel like this is a special time in your career?

[Walker] We’ve both been playing music our entire lives, but neither of us has ever had so much fun doing it. Things are clicking in a really special way with us. The future is wide open and we’re already so grateful for the journey we’ve had together.

[LBI] If you are to look back at this time ten years from now, what do you most want the music to reflect about who you are right now?

[Walker] We want to remember this time as a period in which we fearlessly chased down our dreams. We hope the music reflects the passion of our pursuit and the authenticity of our effort.

[LBI] With the Laminak EP now released what’s up next for you guys?

[Walker] We’re going to keep writing and working towards getting the next full-length album finished. We’ve got an incredible amount of footage from our travels and live shows and we’re working on getting that put together into a short documentary about road life.

                   Since returning to Long Beach in December 2016 the duo have been gigging around town, and recently entered their submission to NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concert” series.

During this month’s Bixby Knolls First Fridays event Bearcoon will preform a set with a full band for the first time. Bearcoon‘s full band will be provided by local favorites, and First Fridays monthly residents, MOVE. Some of the members that comprise the MOVE collaborative are Long Beach musicians; founder John Zell and the lovely Rachel Star Albright, Gregory Moore from Tall Walls, Freddie Dilsdale, Roland Cruces,and Heather Jean Somerhauser from Nothing But Flowers. Additional music support for the Bearcoon + MOVE show will also include Antoine Arivizu on drums.

MOVE performances are as unpredictable as their revolving collection of guest musicians and diverse styles. You never know exactly what you will get at a MOVE show. You just have to show up. The energy of MOVEpaired with Bearcoon‘s songs is guaranteed to be something really special.

To follow Bearcoon on social media and purchase their music please visit their website: http://bearcoonmusic.com/

 

Source: http://www.longbeachindependent.com/2017/01/new-music-new-plans-new-shows-bearcoon/

Bearcoon Releases New Album

By Eric Gray (LBLN Contributor)
Long Beach, California

Bearcoon, Long Beach musical group who began forming in the summer of 2012 has announced the release of their new album “Laminak” after the wild success of there first album, “El Guapo,” which hit #1 on the Amazon.com “Hot New Releases” chart in June 2015.

“Laminak” which comprises of tracks from musical duo Andrea Walker & Solange Igoa also has musical contributions from local musicians Antoine Arvizu from the Compound Studio on drums for the songs (“Portland”), (“Ships”), (“Until You’re Mine”), Lily Stretz on bass, Matt Cohn on keys for the song (“Ships”) and Candra Jakeem also on drums for the song (“Until You’re Mine”).

“Laminak,” Andrea Walker describes,  “is a collection of old and new songs. “Until You’re Mine” was one I wrote in an afternoon about 5 years ago. I wrote “Holes” while we were in San Diego last spring and “Portland” was written in the fall of 2015. Solange wrote “Apparitions” while we were still living in our apartment in Long Beach and i wrote “Ships” the week after we won Buskerfest in 2014.”

Over the past year before releasing “Laminak,” Bearcoon hit the road touring many cities across the United States from Bakersfield, San Diego, Santa Cruz,  and San Francisco, CA,  to Portland, Ashland, and Eugene, OR, through cities in Virginia,  North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Andrea Walker describes their whirlwind year of touring and recording in her own words, “Exactly one year ago Solange and I were frantically rebuilding the interior of our van. We’d spent 7 rainy weeks in Portland with a bunch of leaks in the roof and by the time we made it south again we had a variety of molds growing on nearly every surface in the van. We had 2 1/2 weeks to get the job done, a limited budget, and some very basic carpentry skills. But we hunkered down and got it done and came down to Long Beach to play some gigs around town and in San Diego also. We tried to start recording in February but we were both pretty sick from the mold so we weren’t really able to start recording until the early summer. We spent the early summer touring up and down the coast. We spent April May and June gigging and playing festivals (we headlined the LB Green Prize Festival, played Joshua Tree Music Festival, and also Psychic Faire in Bakersfield). We spent July hanging out in Oregon and playing shows around Portland. In August we made our way back to SoCal and decided last minute to throw a surprise EP release party at the Compound Studio. It sold out in less than 24 hrs and we did a preliminary release of the EP at the show. Then we took off for the east coast! We spent Sept gigging around Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. We spent the month of October busking, playing shows, and hanging out in Asheville, NC. We left the east coast in early November and headed back up to Portland. We opened for the Posies in Portland, played some gigs around town, and made our way back south. We spent Thanksgiving in Bakersfield with Solange’s family and landed in Long Beach the first week of December. We played 8 Long Beach gigs in December and played a killer new years party too (The Official New Years Eve Long Beach Banger). I think that just about sums it up….”

Laminak is available for download at CD Baby, iTunes, and Amazon with physical copies available online.

Here’s a video and song from Bearcoon’s travels through California and Oregon called “Waking Eyes”:

Source: http://longbeachlocalnews.com/2017/01/10/bearcoon-releases-new-album/

BEARCOON to Headline Benefit Show Fundraiser for Legally Blind Woman’s Experimental Stem Cell Surgery

by ASIA MORRIS LONG BEACH POST STAFF  on AUGUST 12 2016 16:38 in MUSIC

Image courtesy of Jax Braggiotti. 

When Jax Braggiotti was 11 years old, she woke up one morning to a strange sight: when she looked at her door frame, it seemed as if it was bent inward. She closed her left eye and realized she had a huge grey spot in the middle of her right eye that was blocking her center vision.

A week later, the Long Beach local was warming up for a softball game when she experienced double vision for the first time.

“At that point, my parents got worried and took me to an optometrist,” she said. “He looked in my eyes, quickly sat back and told me he had never seen anything like this before and to get to a retina specialist immediately.”

She would later be diagnosed with Multifocal Choroiditis, a rare disorder characterized by inflammation with swelling of the eyes and multiple lesions in the choroid, a layer of blood vessels and connective tissue between the white of the eye and the retina, according to the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), a center of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Continue reading →

Weekend: Bearcoon on Saturday

Press Telegram

Also totally worth it is whatever clump of beer-sodden bills you find in your pocket to gain admittance at 10 p.m. tonight for a wild and weird triple bill at the Prospector, 2400 E. Seventh St., in Long Beach.

Headliners are Bearcoon, which is, like, ‘nuff said. It’s the acclaimed Long Beach duo’s first appearance at the opulent (in an ersatz Gold Rush tavern way) Prospector. The band goes on at midnight.

On the undercard, you’ve got openers the Champanties, a trio of singing women who sound like they stepped out in the 1960s’ girl-band scene by way of the 1950s.

Sandwiched like a delicious Reuben between the two acts is (or are) Cowboy & Indian which, if you hate train songs, don’t even bother. But who doesn’t love train songs? Cowboy, in this instance, is crack guitarist and singer Robbie Allen, with Indian being played hyper-realistically by the mighty Antoine Arvizu (who’ll also be behind the kit for the Champanties).

Cowboy & Indian go on at 11-ish.

Source: http://www.presstelegram.com/events/20160128/weekend-bearcoon-on-saturday-lotsa-ukes-on-sunday

Best of Long Beach 2015 Winners: Arts, Culture and Entertainment

by LONG BEACH POST STAFF JANUARY 22 2016 17:50 in LIFE

Long Beach’s thriving arts and culture scene is not just healthy; it’s the pulse that keeps the city alive. We asked you to tell us about your favorite things that bring life and color to your life, from karaoke and open mics to up-and-coming artists and galleries off the beaten path. You voted, we counted, and here they are: your Best of Long Beach 2016: Arts, Culture and Entertainment winners.

Bearcoon – El Guapo
Best Long Beach Album of 2015
By Matt Cohn

BEARCOON Lookout

After winning Buskerfest in the late summer of 2014, Long Beach duo Bearcoon went into mission mode, teaming with producer Antoine Arvizu early in 2015 to record their first album, El Guapo.  After making the album, the duo continued gigging steadily in and around Long Beach.

Just days after a sold-out album release concert at Fingerprints Music last June, Guitarist Andrea Walker and vocalist Solange Igoa gave 30-day notice on their apartment, bought a conversion van, and headed north to parts unknown, with their instruments, a small PA system, and CD copies of El Guapo.

The duo lived in the van with their two dogs and took their music to the people, gigging at coffeehouses, busking, and getting unexpected opportunities along the way.

“One of our favorite shows was this one we did on a 1940s decommissioned Navy tugboat up on the river in Portland,” said Walker.  “On another day, we were busking in Sebastopol and a girl bought one of our CDs.  She went home at played it for her father, who happened to be putting on a music festival the next day.  We found ourselves playing for a crowd of 600,” Walker said. Continue reading →

Your Next Favorite Band: Bearcoon

GERM magazineThe 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.

BEARCOON

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. Continue reading →

Bearcoon’s “El Guapo” – Album of the Year

liverockgig

Bearcoon have created a truly remarkable debut record that is, in our opinion, this year’s best album. The acoustic folk duo consists of Solange Kaye Marie Igoa on lead vocals and Andrea Walker on guitar and vocal harmonies. Their album titled El Guapo is a collection of poetic lyrics combined with spellbinding harmonies. Like all great recordings, several themes run through and bind the overall sentiment of relationships, love and loss. The redemption of hope is the silver lining in this profoundly heartfelt collection of recordings.

BEARCOON

The theme of loss runs from the beginning track through to the end of the album. The tracks run the gamut from beautiful laments to intense anger. Cold Steel of Night, Darkest Corners, End of Days, Waking Eyes and Whiskey are sonic parallels to the emotional roller coaster ride that loss creates. Continue reading →

AWARD WINNING BAND BEARCOON TALKS ABOUT TWITCH AND THE GEEK & SUNDRY COMMUNITY

Geek and Sundry

BEARCOON Feature Image Credit: Sean Armenta

Feature Image Credit: Sean Armenta

OCTOBER 2, 2015

Meet Bearcoon, a band made up of two lovely ladies, Andrea (Guitarist) and Solange (Vocals), who have the best chemistry you will ever see on stage. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they are the coolest couple (who just got engaged!) you will ever meet and were literally brought together by music.

The Long Beach based Bearcoon won the 2014 Buskerfest Music Festival and used their winnings to record their debut full length album, El Guapo. After their first performance on the stream, the album quickly hit #1 on the New Folk Releases Chart on Amazon and also sold out on CD Baby. Bearcoon became the first band to be asked back for an encore performance on Geek & Sundry Twitch Channel.

While they’re now on the road as full time musicians, we’re still keeping tabs on the band. Get to know Bearcoon a little better as they share about how they got to know the Geek & Sundry community.
Continue reading →