2020 is a year that has come and gone, but it was a year that did not fail one bit to put us all through some trials and tribulations. Finding artists through TikTok can be either hit or miss, but with Avenue Beat, they prove with each release that they are here to make a lasting mark with their music. Penning the ultimate summation of everyone’s feelings towards the previous year with “F2020,” Avenue Beat has once again outdone themselves with their recent release, “WOMAN.” A trio with lively, high-spirited personalities, I am grateful to have had a chance to sit and chat with the group. Read along with my conversation with Avenue Beat as they talk about their whirlwind of a year and their journey as a group!
Meghan: Like our least favorite part of the first day of school, let’s start with the basics, introduce yourselves, age, where you’re from, how you got interested in music.
Sami Bearden: Hi, I’m Sami, born and raised in Quincy, Illinois. I am currently 23. I got my interest in music because of musical theatre!
Savana Santos: I’m Savana, I’m 22. I got into music because Sam made me.
Sam Backoff: Yeah, that is true. Hi, I’m Sam, I’m also 22. I got into music because, actually I don’t know how I got into music. I was just always singing or talking or running my mouth in some capacity and then I did musical theatre, and I made Savana do it with me, and that’s where we met Sami.
Meghan: Were there ever any musical influences that you remember as a kid. Is there a specific song that comes on now, that you think “damn, that song is what made me want to do what I do now?”
Savana: I feel like mine was maybe some early Kacey Musgraves or something, like “Merry Go Round.” I got into songwriting and was like “wow, that made me feel an emotion, I like this.”
Sami: I remember I never really got to listen to country music because my mom always had control over the radio and she didn’t really like it. But I remember hearing Taylor Swift’s “Our Song,” and I had a really deep emotional connection to it, so that was a big moment. That was the first time a song made me go *gasp*
Savana: I actually feel like I had a similar experience and I wanted to learn how to play the guitar after that too.
Sam: Taylor Swift really inspired a whole generation.
Meghan: You’ve all known each other since high school, which is roughly seven years. What made you all want to start Avenue Beat and what were those discussions like in the early days?
Savana: I don’t really think there were discussions. The only discussion I remember us having about Avenue Beat was what our name was going to be, and how could we convince Sami’s mom to let her go audition for America’s Got Talent with us.
Sami: That last one didn’t even work. But I don’t think there were ever really discussions, we just kind of started singing together, just because we liked it and it was fun, and we truly just enjoyed singing together. It was fun to just sit for hours on end in Sam’s kitchen, arranging these songs and mashups, and it was really fun and creative. Sometimes I was like “oh my god how did we have the motivation to do it? Oh, we didn’t need motivation, we just liked it!”
Meghan: A lot of time has passed, and I know personally, sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago while still feeling like yesterday, so how has that dynamic changed between the three of you from then to now?
Sam: I mean Savana and I have actually known each other since literal children, babies, and we’ve all basically known each since birth, 14, our first stage. I don’t know, I feel like we’ve only gotten closer in the weirdest ways. A sibling bond is close to what I could describe it as, but also, it’s not.
Sami: It’s like we are three warring sides of the same brain. It is super strange when I think about, like, “I’ve known you a quarter of my life, a third of my life?” We’ve definitely grown around each other with how we write. When we write together it’s kind of like this well-oiled machine now and we know where our strengths lie and what we do and we just work together, I’d like to think harmoniously.
Meghan: When you talk about writing and growing with each other when you’re in the studio, how do you know when to continue with a song and when it’s time to put the song in a vault?
Savana: I think you know in the writer’s room when you’re writing it, the vibe, if everyone is dancing around to it or if it’s just a struggle to even finish the song, which is most days. It kind of just tells you itself when it’s going to be the one.
Sam: Yeah, I think you know within the first 20-ish minutes when you’re really digging into writing a song if it is something you want to continue writing or not, and sometimes it surprises us, sometimes we’ll get to the end and we’ll be like, “actually, we wrote that really fast and it’s really good,” and we didn’t think it was a first. But most of the time we know super soon.
Meghan: 2020, let’s sum it up by saying it was a rough year. As rough and trying as 2020 was, the world was blessed with “F2020,” and because TikTok is so prominent, obviously an artist hopes to utilize that platform. At any point during the writing process of “F2020” were you like, “Yeah, this is the song that will do numbers,” or was it something you wrote just to write?
Sam: Savana had written that first verse and chorus after Sami’s cat died. I literally called Savana and was like “here’s what’s going on, it’s been a rough time.” She wrote it and sent it to us that day, and she was like “I think this is cool?” And I said, “yeah this is cool, and we’re posting this on TikTok and I don’t care what you say.” And then we did before it was even finished. But then we had to speed up and finish it to put it out within the next couple of days, and it was a very crazy time.
Meghan: “F2020,” absolutely golden, chef’s kiss, amazing. I think the whole world had to pause and process just how immaculate that song is, to top off a rough year. Thank goodness we’re out of 2020, and we’re cruising through 2021. We have “Woman,” the melodies, the vocals, absolutely incredible. The opening line is “I been sitting here trying to write a pop song, tryna follow that viral shit that popped off.” What was it like for the three of you in the studio after seeing the success of F2020?
Savana: We were trying to not think about the pressure because we always just wanted to put out music that we like, but all we could think about was “how do we follow up this song?” We literally just wrote what we were feeling into the song, and we were like, “What is the only thing immaculate,” I’m going to use your word, “immaculate enough to top F2020?” And women is the only answer, so that’s how “Woman” was born.
Meghan: What was the creative process like behind “Woman?”
Sam: I think we started a couple of other songs that day. Sometimes we kind of get to the point of finishing a song just to finish it, and it’s not satisfying because it’s like, “No, we’ll never use it,” so we started a couple of other songs and it was our third try trying to write something, and we were like, “if we don’t get something this time, we give up.” I think we had a track first, or maybe a little guitar vibe, and we started with that, and started singing some melodies over it. Then the chorus happened first before everything else.
Meghan: Besides the viral overnight hit, how did 2020 challenge you three, and how did it bring you closer as a group?
Savana: I think it was challenging to find things to stay motivated with, especially being an artist and the main majority of what you’re supposed to look forward to is touring and then getting in the studio, which was something we couldn’t physically do, so it was just finding new ways to stay creative.
Sami: If you talk to just about anybody in the music business right now, any artists or groups, and you say “content” to them, they’ll just shiver because that’s like, what’s on everyone’s mind right now is making content and trying to reach people in any way that you can.
Meghan: As a group, what are your individual goals for Avenue Beat, as well as what you all hope for collectively?
Sam: I’d love to play a show, sometime. That’d be nice. We’ve gotten the chance to like, internet meet our fans that we’ve made from “F2020,” and some of the earlier stuff we had released, and it’d be lovely to be able to get to do a show and play for these people and get to meet them afterwards and hug their faces and not be scared for our lives. It’s the little things haha.
Sami: I mean damn, that’s a pretty good one. It was really cool because I know personally, 2019 was a big year for me because I never really got to travel, even around the U.S. and we went on a radio tour and we saw so much of the country and it was so cool to be able to travel and experience all of this new stuff, but then it just stopped. So I think that my goal is to tour and meet people from different places, that’s something I really miss from the distant, distant year of 2019.
Sam: Yeah, I think that’s such a huge part of being an artist is like touring and traveling and we’re just completely isolated now.
Meghan: For anyone that wants to pursue music, whether that’s producing, songwriting, singing, what advice do you have for them? Essentially, if you were to speak face to face with your younger self, what would you tell them?
Savana: Good question, I would tell them, if you have something you want to do, this is so cliche, but just put the work in and get good at it, and the older you will look back and be so thankful that you did that because when you put the work in, you’re preparing yourself for the life you want to live, and you’ll be so much happier for when you get there.
Sam: And also I would add to that, I feel like, for a while, we struggled with finding our voices and what we wanted to say, and how we wanted to say it, so we tried to be things for other people instead of genuinely being ourselves and doing whatever. We were factoring in other people’s opinions, and it just wasn’t important, the only stuff that has ever worked for us is when we’re completely authentically ourselves, that is also a cliche, but it is also very true.
Meghan: The last and final question! Do you have any words for your fans and do you have any words for future Avenue Beat listeners?
Sami: To our current fans, thank you. We literally wouldn’t get to be in this position at all or get to have these conversations if it wasn’t for people just liking us, and not even liking us passively but really supporting us and taking the initiative to like, share us with their friends and stream our music. It might not feel like you’re doing anything, but it literally means the world to us and it has changed our lives. To our future fans, um, hi!
I highly recommend you give a listen to “WOMAN,” as well as every other Avenue Beat track. They are a group that exudes talent without needing to try.