The third realm begins with a choir of winds – trumpets, horns, blend into an organic wave of warm soul and fused with gentle piano melodies introducing Beharie for the third time. The Norwegian singer Christian Beharie released his third EP Beharie, The Third in May and it is a tender examination of relationships, and an introvert’s search for identity.
The EP follows two others, which are also somewhat self-titled, yet all explore different facets of the singer’s identity. Last year’s EP Beharie // Beharie was awarded a Spellemann, the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy. The Third is the last step in the creation of what the singer calls the Beharie Universe. “When I make an album, I want to know who I am as an artist and songwriter. I told myself, that I would make three EPs, let myself experiment and have fun with it. Then after these chapters the Beharie Universe would fully be created.”
Over the course of these three chapters, we get to know a unique songwriter and sensitive observer of the world of emotions. Beharie finds his way of expression in drawing inspiration from the old schools of soul. The warmth of the instrumentation of the soul classics beds the messages of the songs which are often dealing with personal hardship and struggle. It is in the rawness of soul that the singer finds his truest mode of expression.
Beharie merges those influences with contemporary inspiration from artists like Michael Kiwanuka, Leon Bridges, and Moses Sumney, who shaped the writing process of the third EP. Beharie, the Third is a document of the growth of the singer.
“I think Beharie has grown. As a songwriter, vocalist, and human being.”
Ruling Your Reality
The EP represents the third chapter, Beharie says. “It is about being a human being. Trying to rule over your own reality.” That process can be as solitary as it can be communal. In Beharie’s music, the loneliness of the search for identity and belonging is inherent. But by expressing these paradoxical feelings – of the communal loneliness – that his music becomes a way of mending them. On tracks like Point of View or Love Me, the listener finds personal struggles mirrored in the music of the singer.
Above all, Beharie’s music is a connecter for the lonely. On the minimal ballad Point of View he expresses the inability to communicate, “always been one of the few straining my way out to make a point of view / my lips have melted off my skin”. On the chorus he searches for identity singing “What am I” and it is this somber sadness of the song that touches. Beharie shows the impressive range of vocals, and reaches right into the listener’s heart.
Music as Meditation
Point of View at its core is about the experience of an introvert living in an extroverted world. For the introverted singer the art of music making has become one of the main ways of coping with a world that has become increasingly overwhelming to introverted people. Its fast pace and the constant demand to interact, increased through social media. And it can be paralyzing. For Beharie music has become the anchor in the storm.
“I think the world sometimes can be too quick and overwhelming. Music has become the meditation in my life. It keeps me calm, and sorts out all my thoughts and feelings and puts them into place.”
Being the meditation for the singer, the music transports a quiet feeling of serenity and progress. While the songs can be heartbreakingly sad, they always come from a moment of growth and transience. Following the true soul greats in their power to create something healing from pain, Beharie’s record is for smiling through tears.
Connecting with Yourself
When asked about what kind of record has that mending effect on the singer himself, he mentions Haley Heynderickx’ record I Need to Start a Garden. “It is really wholesome and melancholic. The record makes me feel connected with everything around me, and myself”. That power of music is something that Beharie’s outputs also carry. From the first self-titled EP, to the Third, the artist perfected his craft of creating organic soul arrangements that soothe the pains of human existence and ground. They stir forgotten emotions and create quiet capsules for meditation.
In the process of finding this candid musical expression, the artist who was raised in a musical household had to go through the journey of studying music in Oslo. “To be honest, I don’t think I really tried when I was living at home,” he says about the path of finding his own musical style. “I tried a lot of different genres and styles, and just enjoyed it along the way. It has taught me a lot about the complexity of music.”
Music from Safe Spaces
It is also at home where the singer feels most inspired. “Home is my safe space”, he says. And for an artist based in Oslo these are interesting times for the developments of the local music scene. Beharie talks about the growth of the local scene and some concerts that he will play with his band in the summer.
“There is an underground more organic and soulful sound in Oslo, that is getting bigger. That is really exciting.”
So the singer leaves the Third Realm – the last EP in the cycle of EPs in exploration and search for a musical identity. Beharie finds his sound in the groovy RnB of the closer Simple Mistake, in the tender minimal soul of Point of View, and in the quiet grandeur of the gospel-tinged Love Me. Beharie breathes his meditations into his personal interpretation of soul and after three EPs he is finally ready for setting out to write that album.
Beharie, the Third is out now via V2 Records.
Every Monday the treasure hunt squad from the NBHAP staff is bringing an exciting new artist to your attention along with a 30-track-strong Introducing Playlist over on Spotify as we add ten strong songs by fresh acts on top of it. Feel invited to follow the playlist and give these talents a good spin.
This week’s picks include brand new music from artists like Fieh, Mia Berg, and thea wang. Come and hit the play button.