The Beths are Following their Bliss

// Image courtesy of The Beths.

The members of indie pop band The Beths from Auckland, New Zealand find attempts at their accent “endlessly amusing.” I got to talk to lead vocalist Elizabeth Stokes while the band was beginning its first North American tour since 2019 after releasing their latest single, "A Real Thing."

This interview has been edited for conciseness and clarity.

What’s on Stokes’ mind while she performs:

Elizabeth Stokes: With the older songs that we've played hundreds of times (maybe even thousands now), I reach a kind of flow state sometimes. It feels almost like hypnosis: I wake up in the middle and think “oh, well, I'm playing a song—I hope I’ve been doing it right,” because I just get lost in it. With the newer ones we've been playing, it's just this very intense focus. I've been trying to be present and remember to enjoy it while it's happening. Sometimes, things go by in such a flurry that you forget to breathe and look around and see that people are smiling and happy.

On writing songs:

ES: Lyric writing (which I often do first) helps me process. Sometimes it's embarrassing, the stuff I write down: it's stuff that I’m embarrassed to be feeling. Sometimes it's a way to purge. Of course, the word element of it is fun. I like word puzzles and playing around in the space of language.

On the exchange of advice with other musicians:

ES: We have lots of conversations with people all the time about what we're doing. I guess it never feels like advice as much as feels like sharing knowledge with other musicians. In music, everybody's experience is so different, and no one gets to where they are in the same way. People are following their bliss in different ways. So all you can really do is share your experience and then listen to other artists share their experience, and then interpret that for yourself, because there are no hard and fast rules.

On relationships with the band:

ES: A friendship within a band is very strong and it’s also very circumstance-based. I think that is true of a lot of friendships: you know, friends that you make at school or at work; you become close through the regularity of seeing each other and through shared passion.

There are two things that I like the best about music: one of them is writing songs, and the other is just playing music with other people. It's hard to consistently play music with people that you don't like, even if the music is really good. They go hand in hand.

What Stokes hope listeners will get out of The Beths’ music:

ES: My relationship with music that I love is usually that I dive really deep into it, and it connects me to whatever time it was when I was listening to it, almost like a time capsule. So it means a lot when people say that they tie our music to a particular time, or that it means something to them… that's the jackpot. But I mean, I don't know, if people just put it on as a vibe when they're making breakfast, that's also fine.

// Rachel Mehler '24 is a contributing writer for Record Hospital.