CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Music is inescapable. There is rhythm in everything just as there is air in our lungs. Whether people know it or not, they exhibit their own rhythm, their own cadence, their own songs. From the crescendo of an engine as a plane leaves the runway, the steady drip of a runny nose on a cold winter day, to the squeak, squeak, squeaking of a desk chair spinning in circles, there is power in music, and there is music everywhere. Most people only listen to music, enjoying the creations of others in tandem with the beat of their own life. Airman 1st Class Josiah Beecham doesn’t do things like most people though.
Hailing from “the poor suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia” (his words, not mine) joining the Air Force was an easy decision.
“I joined the military because I just needed some time to figure things out,” Beecham said. “I joined the Air Force because my uncle was in the Air Force and he said it was a good idea. My father was in the Marines and he said [the Marines] was a bad idea [for me].”
Beecham spends the majority of his day on the flightline, working as a 27th Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental apprentice. The maintenance performed on the flightline is vital to the success of the Air Force. It can be a grueling job, with long hours in harsh weather, fixing whatever is not performing up to par.
With a tough schedule and limited entertainment opportunities in the local area, it can be difficult for Airmen to fill their free time. Some go to school, dedicate themselves to the gym, or travel (COVID permitting of course). Never one to stay bored, Beecham likes to spend his free hours playing a lot of basketball and “dabbling in music”.
From the waves on the top of his head, down to his quick feet on the basketball court, nothing about Beecham is expected. His style is unique, throwing together thrifted clothes to make an outfit only he could pull off. One of his tattoos has “seek discomfort” in script around his arm, a testament to his outgoing attitude and his hunt for the unconventional ventures he often takes part in.
He can turn almost any conversation into a debate over music, whether it be artists, features, samples or albums. He will not shy away from disrespect to his favorite artist and has no problem given a dissertation on why a certain creator is under or overrated. His taste in music is varied, sometimes bumping the newest, hottest tracks, other times grooving to lesser known creators who have yet to gain mainstream attention. Nothing Beecham does however, is meant to draw attention to himself.
He is as genuine as a sunset over these high plains, carrying about how he pleases. While a majority of his peers busy themselves with video games, kicking back with friends or living on their phone, Beecham has dedicated himself to making music.
“I am learning piano, I am trying to learn how to produce music and in the long run become an artist,” Beecham said. “But right now I just learn piano and make cool beats… I like it because it gives me something to do, and that is good for your mental [health].”
Growing up in Atlanta, musicality was always on display.
“Growing up, everybody in my family touched music,” Beecham explained. “My father works with speakers, and he used to be a DJ back in the day. My sisters and brothers and all them went into orchestra, music was always just… around.”
Being exposed to all different kinds of music throughout his youth helped influence his decision to dabble on his own. He constantly makes new beats, edits old ones, and writes down lyrics to feel the flow and the energy. His portfolio is diverse, with no two beats sounding similar, but all sounding distinctly like him.
And Beecham definitely has his own distinct sound. Never one to pass up the opportunity for a joke, he is always able to bring a smile to the faces of those around him. His goofy, loving nature rarely sees him down, and he has a knack for making people feel good on a bad day. His personality is like an uncut gem, countless facets shining in different situations, not yet polished but still a bright individual with plenty of promise.
The music industry demands uncommon individuals. Stereotypes and patterns don’t thrive in the ever-changing environment as music itself is as diverse as there are stars in the sky. While there are set genres and categories, there are no real constraints to what can be created. If you can dream it, you can produce it. But you have to work for it.
“The best part about it to me is having a specific task, being able to grind that task out and complete the task. [It provides] meaningfulness to my work,” Beecham said.
Just like learning how to maintain aircraft takes time, learning how to produce music takes repetition, dedication, and motivation. It can be hard to find long lasting motivation but Beecham knows exactly what he wants to do with his music.
A lot of popular music feels good. It does not have much of a message, but exchanges importance with pleasant vibrations and addictive energy. Some frown at the idea of pop music, meant only to feel good in the moment and have no lasting impact, but there is no denying its popularity. Beecham isn’t looking to be the next hot artist though, but wants to focus on his messaging instead.