Willis Earl Beal
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|Willis Earl Beal|
Beal performing in 2012
|Born||Chicago, Illinois, U.S.|
|Genres||Lo-fi, folk, experimental, R&B, soul, gospel, blues|
Willis Earl Beal was born on the south side of Chicago, Illinois. In his early twenties Beal joined the U.S. Army, moving to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Beal was medically discharged from the army due to intestinal problems. He then returned to Chicago where he worked at Sears Tower, following a five-month hospital stay. In 2007, Beal moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Here Beal spent some time homeless, and working entry-level jobs, notably as a night-shift security guard. During this time Beal began to record music, leaving CD-Rs in public spaces around Albuquerque. Beal would also leave self-illustrated flyers around the town in the hope of finding a girlfriend. One of these flyers was discovered by Found Magazine who put Beal on the cover of their magazine. Found later released a limited-edition box set called The Willis Earl Beal Collection, which included Beal's poetry, artwork and a 17-song album. Through these flyers and the subsequent coverage in Found, Beal was contacted by more than 100 members of the public. Beal participated in auditions for Simon Cowell's The X Factor television show, but dropped out of the "boot-camp" stage of the competition.
- Acousmatic Sorcery (Hot Charity/XL Recordings, 2012)
- Nobody Knows. (Hot Charity/XL Recordings, 2013)
- Experiments in Time (self-released, 2014)
- Experiments in Time: The Golden Hour (self-released, 2014)
- Noctunes (Electric Soul Records/Tender Loving Empire, 2015)
- Turn (cdbaby/TMB Limited, 2017)
- Turn, Circle, Sun & Moon (cdbaby, TMBLimited 2017)
- ALMS (Bandcamp 2018)
- Principles of a Protagonist (BitTorrent, 2012)
- A Place That Doesn't Exist (self-released, 2013)
- Curious Cool (self-released, 2014)
- Flying So Low / 12 Midnight (TMB Limited, 2015) 7 Inch Single
- Through The Dark (Tender Loving Empire, 2016)
- A Chaos Paradigm (Tender Loving Empire, 2016)
- Circle (self-released, 2017)
- Sun & Moon (self-released, 2017)
- "Feel/You" (2017])7 Inch single
- "Dont You (Forget About Me)" cover
In 2012, Beal signed a recording contract with Hot Charity, an imprint of independent record label, XL Recordings. Beal's first single for the labels, "Evening's Kiss" was released on February 17, 2012 and the accompanying music video was illustrated by Beal. Beal's debut album, entitled Acousmatic Sorcery was released on April 2, 2012.
His next album, Nobody Knows., was released on September 10, 2013. Around this time, he also starred in a film entitled MEMPHIS directed by Tim Sutton that premiered at the 2013 Venice film festival. Afterwards, Willis Earl Beal moved from New York City to Washington State. It was during this time that he released A Place That Doesn't Exist an 8-song EP featuring light production from sound engineers Matt DeWine of Pieholden Studios and Alex Epton, formerly known as XXXchange.
After parting ways with Hot Charity/XL records, Willis Earl Beal released his third full-length record called Experiments In Time: The Golden Hour. The record is an independent release and is entirely self-produced. He describes the record as "a dreamy collection of Gregorian-chant like Dirges". The record documents the nine months he lived in Washington State and is 21 tracks long. It has been released via Cdbaby in digital form.
Beal went on to release Noctunes on August 28, 2015 after relocating to Portland, Oregon. The initial release of "Noctunes" was through the mini-label Electric Soul records managed by Erik Isaak Rodriguez on January 22, 2014 (Willis' birthday). Only 300 copies were initially issued and "Noctunes" was later released around the world by the larger but still independent, Tender Loving Empire. The music on Noctunes consists of songs that are intended to "aid the brokenhearted in sleep." The album was reportedly completed and inspired by the end of Beal's marriage. The album focuses on the grief, denial and perseverance of a character.
The 2016 album Through the Dark was released by Tender Loving Empire on April 1 of 2016, with Willis embarking simultaneously on a European tour. The single "Through the Dark" depicts a homeless man wandering through the streets of downtown Portland at night. Willis has been adamant about his disillusion with homelessness in the United States and considers the video a social commentary on the subject. Three tracks on "Through the Dark" involve an unknown producer from Olympia named Nathan Gibson and features his name on the album art. "Through the Dark" also lists other personnel in the digital booklet. They include Andrew Ebright on violin for "You Got away", Symona Meer on backing vocals for "Through the Dark", Andre Burgos of the Portland band Tribe Mars on the Rhodes piano for "Window of Memory". "Nobody" is listed as the record's executive producer.
Later in the summer, Willis Earl Beal began to use the name "Nobody" and released an EP called A Chaos Paradigm.
In 2017, as "Nobody", he relocated to Tucson, Arizona and is preparing to release his fifth full-length record, Turn, Circle, Sun & Moon. The first part of this record, "Turn" was released digitally via cdbaby and on cassette tape via The Minimal Beat Limited. The other two parts have not been released for sale officially but can be heard via Soundcloud. This record consists of three interconnected EPs and is meant to document another geographical transition. Among the tracks on the LP there is a song entitled "Fortuna" that is dedicated to and named after a motel briefly inhabited by the artist and his girlfriend upon initially arriving in Tucson.
ALMS is the most recent LP from Nobody aka Willis Earl Beal to date. The title doubles as both an acronym of his girlfriend's full name and "Alms for the poor". The songs are described as electronic folk rock songs.
In 2013 Willis Earl Beal toured with a full live band using the title, "The Church of Nobody"; a movement he describes as "A non-existent organization/congregation acting as an anti-church for those who wish to expand universal consciousness without the imposing dogma and oppression of established religion and government..." said Willis Earl Beal. In his own words, he described Nobody Knows and the rest of his music as "filled with an individualistic set of emotions that can be universally applied and understood". In the Nobody Knows package, Beal included a manifesto that implores people to turn away from capitalism.
- "On Display: Willis Earl Beal | Chicago Reader". chicagoreader.com. 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2011-07-18.
- "Tracks: Willis Earl Beal: Evening's Kiss". Pitchfork. 2012-01-04. Retrieved 2011-07-18.
- "Ice Breaker: Willis Earl Beal". gq.com. 2012-03-23. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
- "[Portrait] Willis Earl Beal : Le roi est nu - Standards and More". Standardsandmore.fr. Retrieved 2012-05-07.
- "On Display: Found Magazine Shop". foundmagazine.com.
- Usinger, Mike (May 2, 2012). "Bullshit-free Willis Earl Beal has one hell of a backstory". Georgia Straight. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
- "Video: Willis Earl Beal, "Evening's Kiss"". thefader.com. 2012-02-23. Retrieved 2012-02-23.
- "Willis Earl Beal debuts new track and announces first ever UK shows". nme.com. 2012-02-07. Retrieved 2012-02-07.