Bean Sí are breaking new ground with their modern sound that shares 1980s influences
by Jessica Krieg
As Beano and Jason jam on stage at the Bernard Shaw, the euphoric audience can’t get enough of the duo’s lasciviously performed Dark Wave – equally fascinated by the chemistry between the two, the chemistry between singer and audience. These fantastic songs evoke memories of the masters of the seemingly cold, industrial-sounding sounds in smoky establishments of the 1980s, where bodies twitch and leather glistens in a stroboscopic storm.
When Jason Hamilton met Jordan ‘Beano’ Byrne in Berlin a couple of years ago they immediately felt connected through their shared taste in music. Beano started producing music when he was 16, first House then Techno while enjoying Dublin’s clubbing scene. During the Covid-19 lockdowns he “fell out of love” with Techno due to clubs being closed. Jason, who always wanted to make music but never felt like he could be a singer, started posting videos of him reading out his poems on Instagram. Thereupon, Beano texted him saying “let’s make a track out of that poem.” And that’s how the whole project unfolded.
“There was this one time I was walking home drunk after a night out and my phone died and I suddenly started hearing this track internally and I don’t think I’ve ever been home quicker to produce something.”
What was originally supposed to be a spoken word project soon unfolded into what Bean Sí is today. “It was pretty clear from the beginning that we’d do Dark Wave but still all spoken word. It didn’t sound right, though, and then Beano forced me to sing,” says Jason. They started messing around with different songs and soon found their niche and sound.
About the choice of their band’s name Jason explains the unusual method used. “We were out on Paddy’s Day in 2021, which I probably shouldn’t say because it was in lockdown. We were in a field and we were ‘locked’. We were all standing around in a circle trying to come up with a name. We definitely wanted to do something Irish. And then it was Beano out of nowhere who said ‘Bean Sí’. It was a drunken spitball in the field, really.”
They released their first single Nyctophobia in July 2022, followed by their first live gig as an opening act for London based band Nixer. Quickly after that and following a great response from fans, they realised that Dark Wave, which as a music genre in Dublin is almost non-existent, had the potential to become popular. They were set to play a short session at Electric Picnic, but Jason’s daughter was born a week before that, so they had to cancel. “We were obviously disappointed in missing out on such a great opportunity, but family comes first and in retrospect I’m not sad about it at all,” says Jason. It became a little quiet around Bean Sí after that, as Jason got used to being a father. However, they never stopped working on new tracks during that time.
Jason sometimes forces himself to sit down to write a few poems and just finds himself staring at a blank piece of paper for hours. “I don’t get to decide when to get creative. Randomly I just get an idea in my head and need to write it down straight away. There are times when I’m at work and I need to get my phone out to write down notes or it hits me when I’m outside. I don’t really have a creative process. It comes in waves and nothing ever triggers it either,” says the singer.
Beano, on the other hand, gets most of his inspirations from going out. “I often get inspiration after clubbing or seeing other bands. There was this one time I was walking home drunk after a night out and my phone died and I suddenly started hearing this track internally and I don’t think I’ve ever been home quicker to produce something.”
However, when they really do crave inspiration or need reference for a track, they are working on they always take recourse to their current biggest inspiration; US band Boy Harsher. “When I hear a Boy Harsher song, I immediately want to make a song myself,” says Jason. “If we could ever collaborate with them, I’d definitely be able to die a happy man,” the singer adds.
Bean Sí are similar to their other big inspirations Depeche Mode and The Cure but for the third millennium. They can sound harsh, but in the best way. The duo maintain a dark but utterly melodic aesthetic. When singer Jason shyly sings about psychological abysses over Jordan’s very danceable synth foundation – their songs introduce a young hip audience who was not even born in the 1980s to the genre.
However, Bean Sí are never ‘retro’, as they have proven with their two recently released singles but instead manage to fill familiar sounds with their very own energy, which also consists of related sounds such as synth-pop, Ambient or Industrial. Not only have they accumulated a loyal following among wave fans after their first gig earlier in 2022 but they also fascinate music fans that have never heard of Dark Wave before.
In November 2022, their first headline gig filled out the Bernard Shaw’s basement to the brim. They, however, had to keep their set short as Jason had Covid the week before and was not able to rehearse as much as they wanted to. “It was our first headline gig and there was a lot of stuff we couldn’t do. We did a gig before, but it was only 5 tunes, so half our set that night we haven’t played before.” Nevertheless, nervous and a little unprepared they went on stage and as soon as Jason started “shouting that first line, the nerves were gone.”
Bean Sí provide the broken soundtrack of a dystopian reality, rarely anybody else creates such intense and immersive soundscapes as the duo from Dublin. Beano develops the substructure of the tracks from precise, powerful beats and sawing synths, while Jason either sings or screams his heart out. These cathartic and magnetising tracks are a real alternative to the usual Dublin based music and have big potential to become real little hits in neo dark wave underground circles.