I was introduced to the work of New York City-based artist John Beckmann last year, and I haven’t looked back since! As one of the most experimental musicians I’ve come across, John’s sonic landscape is fluid and unpredictable, creating constant excitement and anticipation with each new release!
Performing under the moniker of Mortal Prophets, I was floored by his most recent album ‘GUITARWORKS’, and was over the moon when Beckmann said yes and agreed to chat with us! Speaking about what he loves most about being a musician, what “being successful” in the industry looks like to him, and his plans for 2024, please give a big welcome to our friend Mortal Prophets!
Hi John! How have you been? I’m so excited to re-introduce you to our ever-expanding audience! I was turned on to your music last year and have been a keen admirer ever since but, for those who have yet to discover your musical prowess, who is Mortal Prophets and how would you describe your sound?
Thank you. I’ve been fine, I’ve been working on a great deal of new material for 2024. Pinning it all down is difficult because I have an experimental nature and all of the new songs and concepts are quite varied, from soundtracks (tentatively called ‘French Summer,’ an opera ‘Hanussen: The Enigmatic Clairvoyant’), to a series of alternative /indie EPs and albums).
I can say that the EP ‘Sleeping in My Bed,’ which releases on March 15, will be the last part of the post-blues trilogies for the moment. But never say never, right?
As you know, I’ve been blown away by your latest album, and my colleague and fellow writer labelled it an “abstract masterpiece that heals the ears”. How proud are you of the record and who do you think it will resonate with most?
That’s a very kind compliment. I think it’s perceived as being abstract because it is a series of loose riffs that are combined, built up, reflected, and returned on themselves in various ways. A study in repetition and difference, a continuous refrain. In my mind, they are minimalist guitar compositions that have a transcendent quality. I’m very proud of it, and I’m delighted that people are enjoying it.
Now, I know this is a toughie, and possibly like asking you to pick a favourite child, but which tune of yours from the album are you most proud of, and why?
That is tough! I would say ‘Martian Daydreams’ because it encapsulates the intention of the album, which is in essence to evoke daydreaming.
What aspects of being a musician do you cherish most? And on the flip side of that, what would you say have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered?
I like the immediacy of making music. I also believe as Walter Pater has stated, “All art aspires to music.” A painting doesn’t make you dance. The challenge is getting your music heard because, as you know, 80,000+ songs are dropped on Spotify every day!
If you were allowed to “steal” one song in the world and claim it as your own, what would it be and why?
Oh boy, how about ‘Ring of Fire’ by Johnny Cash, or ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie? Or some songs off of ‘Exile on Main Street’ by the Stones.
Right, now I’m doing the “stealing”! If I stole your cell phone and opened Spotify (or your streaming service of choice), who would I see under your recently played section?
Haha, that’s Top Secret.
What would “being successful” in the music industry look like for you? And do you see it as an imperative or more of a cherry on top?
Building a large enough fan base so it’s sustainable. I just started making music in 2021, so I’m just going to run as fast as I can with the football.
Thanks so much for chatting with us John! It’s been great getting to know you a little better! Before we say farewell for now, what comes next for you musically?
It was truly my pleasure. 48 new songs by the end of 2024 is what I’m looking at, in a variety of genres. Most of them are finished, it’s just a question of release dates at this point.