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Beatie Wolfe on music, storytelling and ceremony
“When what you do is what you love it’s just wonderful doing that. I feel very blessed in that way.” That was the start of my conversation with Beatie Wolfe – a musician, storyteller and an innovator.
Beatie always had a deep love of music, art, design and storytelling – creativity in every sense. She started writing songs at the age of seven. Also at that time, she found her parents’ vinyl collection. For her, these were musical books – a tangible gateway into the world of the album.
From then on, for Beatie, the music and its tangible and visual experiences were interconnected. And so, as the cassettes and CDs were becoming replaced by streaming services, it felt only natural for her to preserve the tangible, ‘old school’ aspect of listening to music. But she replaced nostalgia with innovation.
That’s how for her debut album 8ight she created a pioneering 3D Interactive Album App and also created a ‘Palm Top Theatre’ – a modern rendition of the 1980s viewfinder – on which you could watch 8ight’s interactive visuals filmed by Weavers Productions.
From then on, a technologically advanced portfolio of projects followed: The Montagu Square Musical Jacket, world’s first NFC Album Deck, beaming her album Raw Space into space as well as creating the world’s first live 360° AR experience, produced in collaboration with Nokia Bell Labs and Design I/O.
When asked how hard it was to bring these ideas to fruition, without any precursors in the field, Beatie confidently tells me that knowing precisely what you want to do, having the vision and clarity and then being open to finding people that will help realise the vision, is all you need to make things happen.
Through all of her work, Beatie aims to bring back the sense of ceremony to our lives. For her, that is about how we interact with one another, how we go about our lives. She shared with me her concern that a lot of the time we have to be on “some sort of an autopilot” as our lives get busier and we’re surrounded by information. Problems arise when this is the only experience we have - when we miss a deeper connection with ourselves and each other.
She also believes that building that deeper connection with music can have positive effects on our health. In her own studies, she has been exploring the impact of music on dementia patients – with some astonishing results which you can see here. For Beatie there is no greater application of music than being able to use it to bring people back from extreme conditions, allowing them to reconnect and remember who they are.
As our conversation nears the end, Beatie highlights that music is something way beyond entertainment – something that’s core to our humanity. And despite (or because of) the music industry becoming more calculated and algorithmic than it’s ever been, there’s an increasing appetite for music that moves us and makes us feel. For Beatie, that will never go out of fashion, because we’ll always keep coming back to the things that remind us of our humanity and empathy. Things which allow us to connect with one another.
Beatie’s new single Barely Living is out now – listen to it here.
Music by James Green