Simone White's "The Beep Beep Song" Gets a Second Life (premiere + interview)
Los Angeles musician, filmmaker, and visual artist Simone White reflects on the origins and evolution of what may be her best-known tune, "The Beep Beep Song".
It's been a little more than a decade since Simone White's "The Beep Beep Song" captivated viewers and listeners when it became the soundtrack for Audi's R8 campaign. What she had written in a quarter of an hour became widely covered and remixed. Her video for the track received over a million views on YouTube. That she had only spent $30 making it seems one of the more endearing elements of the story.
White has returned with a new version of the song which is also being used in Audi's current campaign for its R8 V10. The song is no less charming in its new setting, a two-minute dreamlike exploration of love and time which feels like it traverses a lifetime in that narrow window of time. Though there are hints of life's weighty reminders at the edges, one can't help but feel weightless, elevated while listening.
White will release a new album this October, Letter to the Last Generation. She spoke with PopMatters about "The Beep Beep Song's" incredible journey.
What was the origin of "The Beep Beep Song"?
Summer 2004, I was visiting Seattle, staying at a friend's house. I heard two cars outside beep back in forth twice in perfect time, perfect complimentary notes. I sat down and found the notes on the guitar and literally wrote the song in 15 minutes. It was one of those songs that came out very nearly complete. I changed just a couple words, and the title (it was originally called "I Wrote This Song About You" but everyone remembered it as the "Beep Beep Song").
How did you feel when you'd finished writing it?
I felt crazy and triumphant. Wow! I just wrote a song! But I always feel that, because I'm never really sure I'll write another one. Although, it arriving all happy, shiny and splendidly complete did make it feel special. I think it was my first truly happy song.
The song first appeared on your album I Am the Man. When you look back on that record, what are your memories?
I went to Nashville to record with producer Marky Nevers. I'd found him from my love of the Bonnie Prince Billy album Master and Everyone. I was listening to it nonstop in the car, summer of 2004, driving up and down the coast from LA to Seattle, doing a little mini tour I'd put together. I kept telling people how much I loved that album, and then a new friend that I'd just met in LA said oh hey, my boyfriend knows that guy. She got me the number and I called him up. Marky said come on down and record, I can tell you're a good singer, you talk in tune. It felt like kismet, a magical introduction. I don't think it ever would have occurred to me to approach him otherwise. Marky sent the album we made to Honest Jon's (he knew them from working with Candi Staton) and they signed me.
How did the song come to be featured in an Audi commercial?
I asked my contact there at the time, how did you find it? They said it just appeared.
I know that that was a lucrative market for a number of artists but also one that, more often than not, they stumbled into. I would think it'd be extremely hard to write specifically for that medium.
I've worked with a few producers making commercial demos. I like working with deadlines, the creative constraints. It's a different process. I also like singing and writing in a way that I wouldn't necessarily do for myself. Putting on a character.
You re-recorded it and it sounds wonderful. Did you have anything particular in mind when you remade it?
Just clarity. Singing it really purely, playing it well, the vocal and guitar. They added the beats and synths to it. I was happy to re-record it. I think I'm a much better singer now.
You have another single coming out later this summer and then album later this year. What can you tell us about your upcoming full-length?
The title track on Letter to the Last Generation is about climate change and all the songs seem to have a futuristic, near or post-apocalyptic feeling to me. But also with personal themes, self-doubt, anxiety, love and heartache in a time of great change.
The producer, Pete Min, gathered a great group of musicians to play on it, and there's a kind of celestial, floating in space feeling throughout the album. The album artwork (by Alex Mata) reflects that space/celestial theme as well.
I try to always look up at the sky, the stars, find the moon, imagine our planet in the universe, pop out into space in my mind and look back at the tiny dot, lost in the infinite.