Harrisonburg's duo Bees met and first performed together in just a day

By Nick Piccinino

I sat down with one half of the duo, Bees, for a quick chat. Guitarist and vocalist, Alberto Sifuentes, gave some insight on the band’s origin, influences, as well as plans for new music.

What was the inspiration behind Bees and how did you form?

"Ben and I are both from Virginia Beach and we didn't really become friends until he was a senior in high school and I was a junior in high school. We just knew that we liked the same music. We were some of the only people who knew that we were into Animal Collective. Ben had a rap group in high school, and he had a show booked at Easy Greasy and they all bailed on him. He had all these beats that weren’t for the rap group, but he had them, and I was like, 'I could play over them.’ This was two years ago. We came up with the name Bees because it’s Bert and Ben — just two of us — and then someone pointed out a couple days later, 'Oh, is it Bees because of the Animal Collective song?' Which is kind of funny because they were a big inspiration but the name didn’t necessarily come out if it, but I guess it works.

It’s definitely not anything to do with Burt’s Bees. I never wanted that to ever be a thing at all. So, yeah, like I remember waking up and Ben was like, 'They bailed on me.'  I was like 'OK, yeah, I can play.' We spent a Saturday about two years ago in February figuring out something I could play over all his beats. We arranged the first Bees show in less than 24 hours from when we woke up and we played in the afternoon at Easy Greasy. That was the first day Bees ever existed. It all happened in one day."

How would you describe your sound?

"OK, so, at first it was like, 'Let’s be, like, Animal Collective and Homeshake-y using, like, drum machines and stuff and simple guitar stuff.' Then I got more into stepping away from that kind of stuff and doing dancier music — weird guitar parts I would come up with because I got into Sonic Youth and Palm and stuff. Ben is really into avant-garde electronic music, like Four Tet and Aphex Twin, and obviously we talked about Animal Collective a lot. For the first year of Bees it was trying to emulate artists that had combined electronic sounds with rock sounds like Daft Punk. LCD Soundsystem and Gorillaz were also huge influences."

What music have you put out and do you have plans to put anything out soon?

"We put out an EP of songs where we were just like, 'Let’s try to write something.' Because for a while we were just doing a lot of experimenting trying to find our sound. They weren’t really songs because for a year's worth of performances we didn't sing or anything, and then we wrote the first song where I sing. We were like, 'Let’s write five songs so that we were forced to have something to start with.' That became our 'While You Were Working' EP that we did in 2018 in May. That can be found on Soundcloud and Bandcamp.

We probably have six unreleased songs right now. Now, I really don’t have incentive to drop any of these songs soon because I want to keep working on them until they’re really good. So, I don’t necessarily know when they’re going to drop, but hopefully before the end of the year because Ben is graduating."

What’s something you want to leave everyone with?

"Be patient on the Bees music because Ben and I are really busy. We probably meet once a week, and I really wish we could meet more. But be patient because we really care about the music and want to have something really good for all our friends to listen to, something new."

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