GLENN HERBERT – BEAUTIFUL CARTEL Glenn Herbert devours music. He always has. The mind behind Beautiful Cartel has rolled with the punches in his life and along the way created soundtracks that have reflected his feelings during different times, becoming a jack of all trades and many genres in the process. From EDM projects and hip hop to grunge and roots music excursions, Herbert’s musical travels have come to roost on the debut Beautiful Cartel album, Frisson.
It’s truly an exercise in both consolidation and diversity. “I honestly feel like this album is self-indulgence,” he says, candidly. “It’s not like, ‘look what I can do’, it’s more that I’ve been diagnosed as ADD and I don’t stick with one thing very well. I started out liking one genre of music which was grunge, which turned into rock and to rap and to roots kind of stuff.
This album is just as many aspects of me that I can possibly show.” Collaboration has been the key to Herbert focussing on bringing his many musical tastes into a cohesive vision. “I’m someone who’s always rushed everything,” he explains. “I don’t really finish things. I’m a perfectionist who doesn’t quite get there a lot of the time.
The last few years I’ve had to really knuckle down and pull myself back because it didn’t have to be rushed or done in any certain amount of time. I just had to get it right, you know?” Helping Herbert to get it right in these last few years has been Peter Renzullo, a multi-talented musician, producer, and director.
The pair met through mutual musical friends, initially collaborating on the tracks Cheat Codes and For the Love. The chemistry was immediate, and it led to an ongoing collaboration at Renzullo’s Scudley Records studio, as Herbert developed songs on vocals and guitar and let Renzullo run wild with his ideas.
One of those ideas being a video concept that evolved into a feature film. Anticipation, released in 2019, stars Herbert as Lenny, the lead protagonist and features several Beautiful Cartel songs on the soundtrack. The film and this Herbert’s debut album are intrinsically linked. “Without me in there doing the album we wouldn’t have ended up doing the film,” he says. “One would not have happened without the other.”
From the feature film to the new album (and plans for more) this commitment to artistry reflects the diversity and consistency that Herbert craves. “Exactly,” he says “Why can’t we mix things together? It’s creativity – that’s what I’m into. I just see it all as flavours.” And indeed, there are many. Sharing a space in the feature film and on Frisson is the exquisitely emotional track, Goddess. “The sweetest song I’ve ever written is about nobody,” he laughs.
In the film Lenny writes a song for Freya, a barmaid he has fallen head over heels for, but his nemesis Mick lies about their relationship and warns him off her. “He never shows her the song and love never blossoms,” Herbert explains. “The movie took some different turns like that, but I’m still glad because it’s one of the nicest songs I’ve written in my life, and I hope that there might be some women who could possibly find some empowerment in it.”
Man At War features acclaimed Irish/Australian singer/songwriter, Fieldsy. “It’s about a man leaving to go to war and his wife’s thoughts,” Herbert explains. “There’s a line in it, ‘I’ve been watching the TV, I hope you’re not the star’… “We felt it needed a female vocal and at the time Fieldsy was recording at Peter’s studio and he recommended her. I went away and wrote some lyrics and then she wrote the vocal melodies for those. And they were just amazing; they have this Irish lilt feel to them. It’s become really quite a popular song.”
The anthemic Start Again reflects on those moments of self-doubt we have before (hopefully) setting about to run right back up that hill. “I was in a really bad period and about to give up on all of this,” Herbert recalls. “One night I got a bit drunk just let everything go, I was thinking ‘start again’ and it kept going through my mind. I started to come up with a riff and within about half an hour most of it was kind of down. That song means a lot to me because I needed it, and other people have said the same for them when they’ve heard it.”
The chilled-out Smith’s Beach came into play one cold night when Herbert and some friends were camped out on the Yallingup beach as the rain started to fall. “We made a little fire, and I was happy to be there,” he recalls. ‘I may be here, and I might be cold as fuck but this is happening and I’m alive’. I was sitting there with a mini-Maton guitar, and this melody and rhythm came into my head. “That one’s a big one for me, it’s almost like Start Again – it’s there to bring you out of the slump. The vibe of it is uplifting without going to the point of being cheesy!”
Born in Kalgoorlie, Glenn Herbert has a country openness that is reflected in the honest nature of the music he creates. It’s a notion that characterises what Beautiful Cartel is and what it can be. “Beautiful Cartel is anything that I want to do but also any collaboration that I see fit,” he explains. “Beautiful Cartel is not about me, it’s its own thing, almost. It’s something that I created but now it has its own life. It’s about being experimental. It’s about being solid. It’s about being so many different things. It’s all my dreams and aspects and everything I want to be all rolled into one. “It’s like a band that’s also a radio station and it’s only going to keep being that from here.” Frisson is out now through Scudley Records.