NY-based composer Rebecca Brandt, who has a very fascinating homepage on her website as you probably know from the links I’ve provided (I just hope you can tear yourself away long enough to read this interview), had a few minutes to talk about her recently-released album Numbers and Shapes as well as stuff related to it.
CM: How did you get started as a musician/composer?
Rebecca: I started doing the piano when I was 4, and immediately after that, I started composing. That was kind of the reason I wanted to play the piano was to start writing music, so the really basic songs started around 4 and they had titles like “Dunkaroo”! [laughs]
When I was in college at NYU, I started to take composing a lot more seriously, so, it was kind of from then until now, and right after I left, I kind of wanted to do a really big project for myself, so I was kind of taking a lot of the methods and the theories that I learned in college and applying them to more practical composing for today. That’s kind of where a lot of the inspiration was, taking different parts of music theory, and writing around that.
CM: There are people that take their own paths from that, whether it’s the orchestral one or the rock one, or something neutral like yours that is circular to those and still it’s its own thing.
Rebecca: I wasn’t sure where to take it, to be honest. I had all of this knowledge and these ideas, and I started writing music mostly by myself at the computer doing film scoring and then after a while, I really wanted to have other musicians around me, so I started taking those compositions and then doing them with a larger group, and then on the record, I had 30 people, and then at the release show I had a 14-piece group, so it went from doing everything solo at the computer to this really large group. It was cool to see how it works in different ways.
CM: What was your initial reaction to the way the the record is being covered now in the online buzz circles?
Rebecca: It was kind of surprising, actually! I still feel like I’m a no-name, and I definitely am, but the response from the certain groups of people are the ones that I actually really respect and I admire, like, someone like you who’s really into contemporary music.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Blushing right now, big time!]
It’s great to get that kind of interest going. The first day of the release, I had put up a reddit post, and within the first 24 hours, it just totally blew up! They were all purchasing the record, and writing responses to me, and that was the first time it clicked that “Wow! Maybe other people might be interested in this”, and I kind of just thought this was going to be something for me and my friends, family or whoever wanted to listen. But getting that reaction from people I didn’t know, it was the first time that had ever happened, and it was really cool to see, so, I just took that and ran with it! I even bought a CRM to keep track of everything!
It’s interesting doing everything on your own, getting to see all the different aspects that go into everything, not just writing, recording, and putting out a record, but what happens afterwards on the business side. It’s been kind of cool to see this kind of reaction.
Promo:”Numbers & Shapes” Album Release Show; Galapagos Art Space, NYC 9.21.12
CM: The record itself sounds like the perfect album for people that really like the music you hear in indie shorts…
Rebecca: Well, some of the songs largely had a visual in mind–I think I’d imagine the shot of driving down a street, and what would that be. I think somebody called it “a group of pocket symphonies” or something, I thought that was a cool phrase. But I do think it’s in its own little world. I guess hopefully there’s a common thread so it feels like it’s a record and not just a group of separate songs. To me, they feel like separate songs.
CM: What about the fact that the album was in the running for a Grammy nomination?
Rebecca: I’m just happy we even got to the point where we did! It was all really exciting to find out my album got a shortlist nomination for “Best New Age Album” several weeks after its release (I never thought the record was New Age, but apparently the Grammy Academy considers the New Age genre to be instrumental music with unusual instrumentations, that doesn’t fall into one of the conventional pop, rock, jazz, etc. categories). I didn’t think the record would even get past the first cut, because I was told 95% of artists on that list are backed by labels. But soon we learned the album was included after the first round of cuts down to 60 or so albums, and then remained on the list after another cut down to about 25 albums. So while the record didn’t make the final 5 nominations, I’m still pretty ecstatic to have gotten where we did!
Rebecca Brandt (rebeccabrandtmusic.com)
(Warning–you will be playing with this website’s homepage for a while 🙂 )