Photo by McCormick Photos & Design
A great song requires a professional attitude, great musicianship and successful song writing abilities, and for New York’s own Brett Randell, he has all these qualities in spades. With his new album Rise, he is here to show us why we should be listening to his music, and why we will want to listen to it.
You sound like you have been doing this a long time with how smooth everything sounds on Rise. Can you tell us a bit about your musical journey so far?
Sure! It’s been a fun, non-stop learning adventure – everything started with giving up the normal business job in NYC in 2009 to packing up everything I owned and moving out to Austin to be a musician. Then it was years of recording, playing, practicing, promoting, jamming, a bunch of tours across the US and Europe, to getting so sick of promoting and booking and going on a 6-month musical adventure around the Mediterranean with just my guitar and a backpack, to landing in Denver in 2013 to spend a couple years working on my 3rd CD Rise and collaborating with incredible musicians and engineers from Denver and Austin. There have been a ton of awesome people, adventures, musicians, and stories along the way.
The song writing process is different for everyone. How do you go about writing these songs?
I’m a fan of the organic process of not thinking much, plucking some chords and notes, laying down a few initial lyrics on the page, and then letting the song unfold, change, shrink, edit, and grow over a couple years. I like letting the song breath on it’s own for a long time and then once I feel the melody, chords/notes, and lyrics are pretty solid, I play it in different forms: solo, with a band, as a duo, etc to test out all of it’s limits and see which places it can grow and stretch. When it feels “solid,” it’s done!
The album has a very vulnerable feel to it, was this intentional at all?
Yeah, I believe so. I always think that my favourite CDs/albums/musicians get really vulnerable with both their writing, melodies, and production (see: Ben Howard, Iron & Wine, The Tallest Man on Earth), which is why I let it take a few years to develop, so it could grow very organically and naturally. I wanted the songs to really be lyric and experience focused, and be as vulnerable as possible.
From initial concept to finished project, how did this album come about?
Some of the songs were written back in 2010/2011 and others were written while traveling across the US and Europe a couple years ago. I really let the songs simmer over a bunch of years, playing them for all types of people in all different countries, sometimes in a house boat in the Netherlands, other times at a great venue in NYC, and other times to people who didn’t even speak English but still bobbed along.
When the songs were “ready” in early 2015, I scoped out some awesome studios in Denver and Austin and had the fortune to record at Mighty Fine Productions in Denver and Congress House studios in Austin. In early 2015, I did a kickstarter campaign to raise funds and was so happy to have exceeded my goal. I ended up having the funds to really get the best musicians, engineers, studio, photographers, graphic designers, etc and put out a musical product that I was happy about.
Where do you find inspiration for your songs?
My general inspiration comes from the travels I go on, the people I meet, the people I connect with, the ones I observe, adventures in nature by myself, and so on and so on and then I just pluck some chords and let it all spill out on the page, and see what turns up.
If you could collaborate on a future project with someone. Who would you like to work with?
Hmmm…I actually would love to start blending genres and styles so… RJD2 or Thievery Corporation or Beats Antique would rock to start blending some cool produced/electronic sounds.
At this point in your career what are some of your musical highlights?
I would say the ability to travel around the Mediterranean in 2012 with just my guitar and use music to connect with people from all different cultures was my favourite thing. And just in general, collaborating with amazing musicians from different cities is what music is all about and I’m so pumped for every musician I’ve ever played with.
How would you describe your music to anyone that has not heard your music before?
I usually just call it Acoustic Soul-Folk – kind of a blend of Citizen Cope, Ben Harper, and Amos Lee type stuff.
Do you have any advice to give any aspiring musician looking to make their own record?
Write, practice, perform, play out a TON (repeat 100x) and then do a kickstarter! If you can crowdfund and raise some funds, it will take the pressure off the financial side of recording/promoting so you can focus on the most important part… the art and the songs!
Lastly, thank you for your time. Do you have any upcoming news you would like your fans to know about?
Thank YOU for interviewing me – you rock. I just released Rise and have been playing shows across the country to promote it and I’m excited to start traveling around the world in the coming year to play some more. Also, I play for a lot of yoga studios and events so I’ll be doing that around the world later this year! Stay in touch at http://www.brettrandell.com 🙂 Thanks again!
Rise review: http://www.soundscapemagazine.com/brettrandellrise/