Leslie Bear makes music under the name Long Beard, a nickname she got after wearing a bearded mask at the beginning of college. Over melodic guitar chords, her vocals recall stories rooted in memory, which sound like electric lullabies. As a recent college graduate, Leslie is on the cusp of releasing her debut album Sleepwalker on October 17 on tape and October 23 on vinyl and digital, on Team Love Records.
I called Leslie last Friday to chat about her new song “Hates the Party,” which we’re premiering here. She also shared her thoughts about introversion, the spark that triggered her to create music, and navigating her relationship with music.
NILINA MASON-CAMPBELL: What is the song “Hates the Party” about?
LESLIE BEAR: “Hates the Party” is a song I wrote when I was a real big introvert, but at the same time always felt restless and like I needed to keep moving or go somewhere, even though I didn’t have a destination. At the time, everyone around me was really into going out to parties, so I would go and feel alone or sad. Also, most conversations I had with people there were about how boring or chaotic the parties were, and how we should’ve stayed home.
I was seeing someone at the time who was more introverted than I was, and [they] made me feel bad about going out to hang out with my friends, knowing I wouldn’t enjoy it, but because I [was] so restless I chose to go anyway. It was a battle that I couldn’t win.
Do you find yourself disappearing into carefree memories often?
I think about the past a little too much, especially through my music. It’s not something I’d say I’m proud of that I do all the time, but that’s usually when I write songs: because I remembered something or want to preserve some kind of feeling that I had from a memory.
As a teenager, I didn’t really get to go out much or have too many friends, and I spent a lot of time fantasizing about, Oh, it would be nice to have nice relationships with people or even just friendships. I spent a lot of time by myself wandering around outside, fantasizing about relationships or friendships that I could have, or all the really fun childish things I could do, or goofed around. Not that I never got to do that—it was kind of rare for me.
When did that begin to change for you?
I’m still not a super social person, but I think now it’s a little easier for me to talk to people I don’t know and relate to them on a certain level, whereas when I was younger, I was kind of terrified of people in the world.
Do you think it’s getting older or going to college that made it easier for you to talk to people?
Probably a little bit of both. Going away to college forced me to be in this position of, Well, I don’t know anyone, but I feel like I really want to meet people, have company, and [have] the whole experience. I want to learn as much as I can from talking to other people and see what they have to say about everything.
Sleepwalker was a four-year process. Were you always actively working on an album, or were you making songs and after four years it came together as an album?
Toward the beginning, I was more optimistic about music and being able to make music. I still continued writing songs, but I became more aware of the reality of being a musician or getting my priorities straight. I went through a kind of dark time where I stopped doing music as seriously as I did before. A bunch of songs piled up, and I always envisioned some sort of album, not that I thought I was gonna put it out. But it was, Oh, I have all these songs. It would be nice to put them together and have my friends listen to it. That’s what became of this album.
What was it that made you disillusioned with music?
I was figuring out what I was going to do in life, and I realized I probably could make a living [from] just doing music, but now I don’t even think about it—that’s not the goal. I thought if I did music too seriously I would not enjoy it. A lot of other musicians I knew who took it too seriously kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I felt like they were very pretentious about it and definitely put themselves and their music before their actual friendships with people. Stuff like that made me develop some [an] aversion to the whole idea of it.
Now that you have this album coming and upcoming shows, has your views of the music industry or what it could be to your life, changed again?
I am super excited about everything that is happening [and] so appreciative of everyone who’s supporting me and helping me out. I never would’ve imagined that I would actually be able to put out an album unless it was by myself, which I never would be able to afford. In terms of doing this as a career or life thing, I can’t say I’m super confident. I also really just want to make sure that I stay in my place, where I understand that I make music for fun or just for myself. I don’t want to start doing it as a means to get somewhere or money. I can’t rely on that. It’s risky. I don’t want to taint it or make myself hate it. I already was there, in the dark time when I hated music, and I don’t want end up back there for whatever reason.
Do you think that now that you have the first-hand awareness that that’s somewhere you could go, that you’re making decisions to avoid going back? Or that you have a different skill set to handle it?
I think a big thing I always told myself was, “I love music and appreciate it so much, and I am so glad I’m able to do all these things with it,” but I would [also] remind myself that music is not everything, it’s not the entire world. There’s still so much more. I would rather experience other things than just have music be my entire life and define me completely.
What are your interests outside of music?
Honestly, I’m not a super interesting person. I usually hang out with my friends or go to a convenience store and get snacks. I also just recently finished my major in computer science. I really enjoy coding right now. My friends [and] I are really into Pretty Little Liars. It’s funny, because I started watching it a long time ago when my little sister was watching it. I was like, I would never watch this show, but it’s actually really good. It’s really suspenseful and draws a lot from Twin Peaks, which I also really like. I think it’s also that I have friends who also like it and we all follow it together. It’s something we can talk about. ♦