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Meet Beharie: The Newest Face of Indie Soul

Cover and images by Shawn Arvind courtesy of the Beharie team


Norwegian indie soul singer-songwriter Beharie recently released a string of singles leading up to his highly anticipated debut album, Are You There, Boy?, which is set to come out on October 20, 2023.

Since his first, self-titled EP in 2019, Beharie has attracted a devoted fan base, while continuing to grow and evolve his artistry. The musician's sophomore EP, Beharie // Beharie, received a Spellemann Award (a Norwegian Grammy Award), as well as acclaim from the Swedish Gaffa Awards. Beharie was named "International Newcomer of The Year" by the organization. He has performed in support of and alongside numerous acts including William Fitzpatrick and Leon Bridges. Beharie's live television performance highlighting the "Year of Queer Culture" brought national visibility and representation for the LGBTQ community.

Beharie's individualistic alternative soul sound brings out the warmth and vulnerability hidden within every emotion. His diverse discography ranges from wistful ballads to powerful pop-driven tracks, all of which explore themes of self-identity and interconnectedness.

Single "Heaven", which dropped on July 12, 2023, falls in the category of the former. The gentle waltz, literally feels like its namesake, with soft guitars, floating string arrangements, and an angelic vocal performance by Beharie taking listeners out of this world. The choral backing vocals are an understated, yet crucial component of the mix, highlighting the singer-songwriter's attention to detail. "Heaven", along with the artist's other recent singles, foreshadows an entrancing, dynamic full album to come.

We spoke with Beharie about his influences, new music, favorite shows, and more. Read the full interview below and check out "Heaven". Let us know what you think.


How did you first get into music?

I grew up in a really musical family. I have four siblings, all of whom went through a really good music school for youth where I’m from. I grew up singing in children's’ choirs and playing in high school band. I got into it with, as they call it in Norwegian, “mother’s milk”, or just by birth. I went to church and sang a lot there, as well, but I was really introduced to music by my parents and siblings who are really into it. My dad is from Jamaica and he’s really into soul and Caribbean music, so we played and listened to a lot of different music at home all the time.

Who were your biggest musical influences growing up?

I had a musical crush on John Legend for a long time. He was my first really big idol, both vocally and as a writer. I did a lot of copying of him and at some point, you could really hear how much I’d been influenced by him (maybe a little bit too much…). I heard a lot of Gavin DeGraw and singer-songwriters, too.

Who are you listening to most now?

Now, I listen to a lot of Michael Kiwanuka and different types of music. I love him so much. In the last years I’ve listened to a lot of Moses Sumney, Big Thief, and actually a lot of classical music. My tastes have opened up a bit; I hadn’t actively listened on classical music before, but in the last months, I’ve really enjoyed listening to symphony orchestras playing nice tunes. I’m always expanding my horizons and trying to learn new music. I want to be curious and I feel like that’s my biggest inspiration in making my own music.

"I want to be curious and I feel like that’s my biggest inspiration in making my own music."

Tell us about your experiences touring and collaborating with other artists.

It’s been really good. I’m enjoying it and getting more confident with my shows. Especially with support type stuff, you’re always playing for a new audience and they don’t really know you (and you don’t really know them), so you don’t know what to expect. I’ve felt that that was more scary in the past because you only get 30 minutes to prove yourself to the crowd, in a way. I really enjoy it now, though. I love going on stage when people don’t know what to expect and showing them what I make. It creates an interesting nerve that’s really exciting. I feel a lot more confident owning it.

What’s your favorite venue or show you’ve played?

I think my favorite show is probably one I played at a club in Oslo last year. It was my first sold-out show with a lot of people I had never met before. People were singing along and that was my first experience hearing my music and repeating it back to me… It was a pretty special moment. It was crowded and hot–people were mashed up together and just enjoying being there. There’s something so special with that atmosphere; live music is the best.

"People were singing along and that was my first experience hearing my music and repeating it back to me… It was a pretty special moment."

Share about your feelings and process surrounding the release of your second EP and in winning a Spellemann Award.

It was really cool to get the recognition for my music. You work quite a lot on these projects, and I had really good feelings around that one in particular. A lot of things that were important for my career happened after I won the award. There were a lot of people who were introduced to my music just through the Spellemann show, so I feel like it was a very big step for my artistry. It was that extra push from the outside that brought me to new audiences.

Your performance marking the Year of Queer Culture on television was a major event for the queer community around the world. What was it like for you?

It was very important, but it became even bigger than it originally would have been because we had a terror attack the day before during our big Pride Parade. There was a shooting at a gay club where two queer men died. The event just became so much bigger and more important because I wanted to be out there and be visual–to let people get to know the LGBTQ community in pop culture. It’s really important for everyone, but especially queer people, just to be able to recognize others who share their experience and not feel alone. It made me remember how crucial it is to represent my community and talk about issues that impact us.

What advice do you have for new LGBTQ artists coming up on the music scene?

Just be the version of yourself that you want to be. There are no expectations of what you want to be, so you can decide yourself how much you want to share of your queerness. If someone is not comfortable with that, that’s also okay. There are some people who are more comfortable with talking about their identity and showing it to others. I think that’s amazing, but it happens in the person’s own time. Do everything on your own terms. What’s most important is being comfortable in the way you pursue yourself and your art. Be true to who you want to be, because that’s how you’ll find your community.

"Do everything on your own terms. What’s most important is being comfortable in the way you pursue yourself and your art."

How can fans best support their favorite rising artists (queer or otherwise)?

Coming to the shows, listening to the music, and sharing it! I really appreciate when people reach out; it’s so inspiring.

Share about your single “Deadly”.

I tried to capture that feeling of when you’re dating someone and you really get a spark and just get addicted right away. There’s something that takes your full attention and I wanted to dive into that desperate feeling. What’s it called? There’s an edge and sparks, but there’s also a playfulness to it. “Deadly” is about being a bit obsessed even though you don’t know a person too well yet. It’s easy to get dragged into the idea of a person when you think they’re right for you.

"It’s easy to get dragged into the idea of a person when you think they’re right for you."

Walk us through your songwriting process.

I usually start here in my apartment, just sitting on my couch jamming on the guitar. I think about 80% of my songs start with me just playing some chords and meditating on them for an hour or so. I like to really dig into a feeling and forget everything around me to create something moving. When I find a landscape of chords and tones, I like to improvise with the melody. I mess around until one really sticks, then I write the lyrics last. Making melodies is more of an intuitive process for me, but I have to sit down and concentrate on lyrics. Often, my processes are a bit separate.

What can you tell us about your upcoming album, which will be out on October 20th?

I have a really good feeling about it. We really pushed ourselves further than we have before with this project. It’s more playful than some of my past music; I dared to be more experimental, both in the sound and with my performance. I was trying to dive into new characters, which I really enjoy. You can hear the confidence and happiness in the songs. My music has been pretty melancholic in the past, but now it’s more flirty and fun. Every song tells a different story, but it’s about finding love–with who I want to be and also who I want to be with. The album is me searching for something in someone else and in myself.

Do you have a favorite song on the album?

Yes, but it often changes. My favorite song right now is one that’s actually not going to be a single. It’s a track song, so readers won’t hear it until the whole album comes out, but it’ll be something exciting and new for everyone.

What’s next for Beharie?

The first show I’m playing after the album comes out is with a symphony orchestra, which is pretty crazy. It’s right next to my hometown and we’re going to play for around 70 minutes.

Who are three other artists you’d like to see covered on Enharmonic Magazine next?

There are some really good Norwegian acts that I feel like you should talk to. There’s an artist called Mia Berg who is a very talented, folky singer-songwriter. Moyka is a clubby, electronic pop artist and she’s releasing an album. You should also interview Adrianne Lenker, who is pretty well known and would be very interesting to talk to.



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