by: Evan Froiland
New Age Narcissism (NAN) is at the forefront of Milwaukee’s blossoming music scene, yet one member of the collective is largely unknown: Beno Beetho (pronounced Bay-No Bay-Toe, like Beethoven). If you’re familiar with Lorde Fredd33’s ‘Bango’, then you have heard Beno spit a verse. Aside from that, he’s pretty much off any sort of internet musical grid. Recently, I had the chance to sit down with him, along with Lorde Fredd33, and hear some of his story.
Beno describes himself as “a spirit experiencing human emotions and going through human trials and tribulations”. He subscribes to the philosophy of never looking back, to live in the present but plan for the future. With this philosophy, he didn’t care to delve into much of his background. However, he was not ashamed to share about his most recent tribulation.
“I just got out of prison on October 28th. I was in for about a year. I’m a felon. I went down for armed robbery. Beyond that, I know people are gonna try to categorize me as something or compartmentalize me or label me in a certain way, and really I don’t care. I’ve lived a good life, I’ve been through tumultuous situations, but in the same aspect, everything that I’ve done, I had to do. It wasn’t necessarily for a place to stay, or for food, or anything like that, it was simply all out greed to take over a lot of things, and eventually it got to a point where it affected my decision-making. It is a heinous charge, but it is evidence of how extreme I have always lived my life. It is what it is.”
Upon being released from prison, there were mentions of Beno being the ‘9th and final’ NAN member. In reality, he was one of the first.
“NAN was definitely still cultivating when I went in, it was in its incubation stages. It was a little baby, just trying to be born, kicking to get out of the womb. And then, by the time I went in, it had begun to get a little a bit of movement, a lot of people started to pay attention to it. And then, it just really kicked up. Right after I went in really. It blew up. All this stuff that’s going on, continuous shows and people wanting to know and just everything that comes with it.”
At the time that Beno went in, NAN had not yet grown to the size it is now. He notes Lex Allen, Bo Triplex, and Jay Anderson as artists he was familiar with prior to his sentence, but who hadn’t yet become part of the collective.
“Obviously through this past year, the group has linked up and expanded, but it was already going down that lane. Whether we were performing with Lex at this show, Bo at that show, Jay at that show, whatever, they were involved a little bit. I always knew that the instrumentation part of the group would be prevalent and really help cultivate the sound and what it is that New Age encompasses.”
I had to wonder if Beno truly understood just how large NAN’s movement has become, personally having watched it grown so immensely over the last year.
“Every week I would check the newspaper, and I started seeing Web’s name popping up every now and then. I got some info from people who I knew would be connected to the scene. Maybe it was something from Fredd33, maybe it was something from some other people who were in contact with me. And they were just telling me like ‘dude this shit is getting big, they are playing here, they are playing here, they have interviews at this place and that place’. But it didn’t really fully hit me until I went to the show at Company Brewing on Halloween. I had seen them do a couple shows, and I had the chance to perform with them a couple times because of Bango. Beyond that, I didn’t know the magnitude or the gravity that it had gotten to until Saturday (Halloween at Company Brewing). But I always saw it, I always saw the potential. Just checking those papers, I didn’t really understand.”
I also had to wonder how easy it would be for Beno to simply jump right back into things with NAN, re-joining a group that has changed quite a bit since he was last a part of it, adding new members and establishing a real cohesiveness in performing, along with a family-like tightness off stage.
“I have known Cam (Lorde Fredd33) much longer than anyone else in the group. Really, everybody else in the group is fairly new to me relative to Cam. We don’t have all have the intimate situations and past experiences that Cam and I share. It’s interesting to see everyone come together for the same purpose. That’s the most interesting part. It is a family-like and real cohesive group because everybody can let down their guards and realize that we’re all aiming for the same thing, we’re all trying to take it to the same place, while continuing to be our solo acts, doing our own things, but support one another, so it’s real.”
Despite Beno’s early NAN membership, he really doesn’t have any music to show for it other than his Bango feature.
“I was with this little two man group called BSC and we made quite a few things but it wasn’t necessarily something that I just wanted to push out right away because I knew that me and him were in a stage as artists where we had to continue to cultivate exactly what we wanted to sound like, so that we didn’t sound like everyone else, and so that we didn’t have the same content. It was primarily right around last year, right after I got in trouble for the case, that my eyes were really opened up to everything, and I realized I wanted to get serious about music. I realized that it is what I wanted (must agree w/ tense) to do, and kind of put everything else on the backburner and just started to hone and sharpen the sword, per se. The proverbial sword to go ahead with this new part of my life, really. Music, or expression as I like to call it. It’s just expression to me.”
With this new desire to really pursue music and freedom to record, you can expect to hear more from Beno very soon.
“I’m working on some stuff, I plan on dropping some things. We got a little show coming up, I plan on having some stuff for that. I really want to drop some stuff in December. If you’re curious about what my sound is or whatever, you will just have to wait and see. In all seriousness, I’m at a point where things are starting to come together for me and I’m starting to have outlets to create what I want to create, so once I do, I really feel like it will be something different. Definitely something different. I just pull from the influences around me, influences that I paid attention to throughout my life. It’s going to come across as very eclectic.”
Cam chimed in about the show.
“In reality, what this show is, is Beno’s presentation. It’s definitely his coming-home show, for one, and it is his first solo show, period, in life.”
Having seen Bango performed countless times but never by the both of them, I was excited about the prospect of doing so, but that idea was quickly shut down by Cam.
“We’re not playing Bango anymore unless we’re out of town. Beno needs to do Beno, and then we can do us again. He needs to establish his voice. As far as future collaborations between the two of us, I move like water, so if it makes sense, it makes sense, but we definitely won’t be collaborating again before Beno puts anything out on his own.”
Aside from finishing this year by releasing his own project, Beno has big plans for 2016.
“2016, that’s just something I’ve always had in my head that it was going be a big year for Milwaukee sound, the proverbial limelight coming to the city. I’m planning to release a lot of stuff, so during this time it’s going to be a really hard working period, taking a lot of time creating. I should be releasing an EP coming up in the next month. I’m not going to release anything on the internet until December. Be in attendance at Lucky Cat and you will hear it.”