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Posts Tagged ‘Brandon Schott’

Hello! Today we are joined by Brandon Schott, who has been featured on SKOM before and Andrew Curry of Curry Cuts fame. They are collaborating on the release of Brandon’s new album Crayons & Angels and were kind enough to take some time out of their busy schedules to share their thoughts on the process with us here at Some Kind Of Muffin. The Kickstarter ends July 28th so hop on over there when you’re all done here. Thanks! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/444321026/brandon-schotts-crayons-and-angels


Crayons & Angels

OK, first thing’s first. How did you two get together for the first Curry’s Cuts?

Brandon: Andrew and I first connected when he was putting together his compilation Drink A Toast To Innocence. I contributed an Andrew Gold song called Thank You For Being A Friend.

When did you start thinking about collaborating on Crayons & Angels?

Brandon: When Andrew started working on the Kickstarter for that record (Drink A Toast To Innocence) we kept in contact and I worked with him on the music video for my cut, offered some promotional energy toward the project, etc. But at the core of it, he and I just hit it off – shared similar interests / music tastes and just became friends in the years since..

Andrew, what made you want to work on an all original album?

Andrew:I loved doing the two multi-artist compilations that I did. Not only did I get to work with several dozen great artists, but I got a real crash course in putting projects like those together. But I always knew that working on an album by a single musician and comprised of original material was what I wanted to do next. It doesn’t mean I won’t return to the multi-artist format. (I’m kicking around ideas for my next compilation as we speak.) But I want Curry Cuts to do more than just that.

Why go with Kickstarter?

Andrew: My previous records were both funded in part by Kickstarter, so I was familiar with the ins and outs of how to put a campaign together. It’s a fun way to get your fans involved in the process. And while there’s lots of cool stuff available to people who pledge, I’ve mostly used it as an easy way to pre-order a record.

What do you each get from this partnership?

Andrew: As for what I get from our partnership, I feel like this more of a real collaboration than my compilations were. When I was working with 27 musicians at a time, I couldn’t really afford to bounce ideas off of all of them. I had to be more unilateral in my decision making. But on Crayons & Angels, it’s been a real opportunity to bounce ideas of a single person. And my ideas are all in service of Brandon’s vision of the record. That’s been great for me and for Curry Cuts.

Brandon: This is the first time I’ve had label support on a record, and it’s been a true blessing working with Andrew. I told everyone on the team from day one that this was a no stress project – and I gotta say, working with Curry Cuts in that regard has been perfect. We’re very much in sync with the energy we want to put out there, our taste in music and references – I can bounce ideas off him, choices for singles, how to build momentum. It’s been really rewarding. Plus, like I said – we just like each other, and have a friendship rolls on through it all

Where does the title “Crayons & Angels” come from?

Brandon: Crayons & Angels comes from a line in Every Little Song, which was written about the amazing artist Judee Sill. She has a song called Crayon Angel which I reference in mine, and it seemed to fit the tone of the record – a little playful, a little spiritual.

Who did the album art? Is the alien an angel? Is Brandon the alien?

Brandon:

The album art was compiled by my wife Michelle, who’s done almost all of my visuals since the first record but the illustration on the front cover – that’s from a print I’ve had hanging in my house for almost 10 years by an artist name Alexander Scott Hughes. One day, as I was deep into the making record I walked by the framed picture and it just seemed to hit. Here’s a guy, a little out of place – not quite fitting into his surroundings but doing his best to make it work. There’s a humor to the way he’s drawn, with his candy offering and rumpled suit – but there’s also a melancholy to him – like he doesn’t quite believe that he belongs.

There’s a lot of that on this record, the balance between light and dark – the longing and the celebration – this image just seemed to tie it all together. I was speaking with my buddy Ben Eisen not too long ago about how many of the songs from the 60s have this pop varnish to them, yet there’s a sadness that lurks underneath. There’s an innocent quality on the surface, but a real struggle underneath. Brian Wilson was a master of that, Warmth Of The Sun-Please Let Me Wonder… I feel like this record plays into that spirit a lot.

What were the challenges that arose for both of you during this project?

Brandon: The biggest challenge for me is a product of our time – getting our voice heard within a choir of talented projects. There are so many amazing records coming out constantly, the trick is always to find a way to differentiate yours from the rest. That’s the trick – marketing and navigation, but then I’m at my best when I’m making music in my basement or on stage…but being a songwriter these days is so much more than that, and that’s my struggle. Still, I try to have fun with it and I hope that the energy I put out there in this part of the process reflects that.

Andrew: I find that the challenges for me are to expand the audience for my projects beyond the circle of very loyal and supportive friends I’ve made here on social media. It’s undeniably rewarding to have been able to make connections with people on Facebook. But how, then, do I build on that? It’s not necessarily a question I have the answer for just yet.

What was the recording process like?

Brandon: The recording process was truly an international affair, maybe one of my most collaborative efforts. Most of the record was recorded and arranged at my home in California, but we had various tracks flown in from Nashville, Bay City (MI), and even the UK where Nick Heyward threw down his background vocals on BETTER VERSION OF ME. But the bulk of the sculpting, arranging and tightening was finished off here in California. At the end of the record, my buddy Andy Reed mixed whatever I hadn’t and mastered the record to tape at Reed Recording in Michigan.

Any chance of Brandon appearing on future Curry Cuts compilations?

Andrew: As for working again with Brandon, I’d be delighted. As I said earlier, I have ideas for future projects, and Brandon is welcome to participate in whatever capacity he’d like!

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Verdugo ParkToday we visit some new material by SKOM favorite Brandon Schott. Brandon’s new EP “Verdugo Park” is just three songs. The opener, the titular “Verdugo Park”, is an amalgam of Schott’s influences and is catchy as hell. Seriously, I’ve had it stuck in my head since I first listened to it. I want to go to Verduga Park. I want to get on the merry-go-round and sing this song. You will too. Then we head into the psychedelia wonderland that is the instrumental “Lapiz Lazuli”. This song is 2 minutes of pure 1960’s freakout. Talk about atmosphere, these two minutes have it. The instrumentation on “Lapiz Lazuli” and “Verdugo Park” is lush and complex. I kept hearing something new with each listen. And trust me, you will want to keep listening.

The third song, a cover of the Sherman Brothers’ “Castaway” from the movie ‘In Search Of The Castaways‘, stands in stark contrast to the other two songs. It is a simple and straight forward arrangement. It is just as atmospheric as the other two songs, but on the other side of the scale.

And then you are done. That’s it. And you are sitting there wondering “Where’s the rest?” “Why don’t I have a WHOLE ALBUM full of this?” And then you go to pre-order the EP here and you read

“VERDUGO PARK” is the 2nd single (following last winter’s “HENRY”) from Brandon’s upcoming 5th full length album, “Crayons & Angels”

And you breathe a sigh of relief. And you realize “life can’t be that hard in Verdugo Park.” Some day you will have a WHOLE ALBUM! In the meantime pre-order the EP at the link above and then watch the video for “Verdugo Park” below.

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Hello! Been awhile. I have been extremely busy. But wanted to share something with you all. You may remember my interview with Brandon Schott. Well, he has teamed up with Andy Reed (An American Underdog) and they have released an EP contributing two songs each from their soon to be released albums. Go give a listen!

http://popfactoryrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-a-b-ep-an-american-underdog-brandon-schott

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Today I am reviewing songs sent my way by Brandon Schott. Brandon was kind enough to let me interview him for Some Kind Of Muffin before. From that interview you would know that Schott has battled cancer and is currently in remission so the two charities discussed here hit close to home for him.  First up are two songs for the Songs For Aidan project. You can find out more at http://www.live-the-proof.com/songs-for-aidan.html, but let me share some selected quotes.

Aidan’s particular type of cancer requires him to spend a lot of time in the hospital. He has to be admitted to Children’s hospital every two weeks to receive his chemotherapy. He has two day admissions which aren’t that bad and five day admissions which are difficult for him. Near the end of those five day stays, he gets pretty homesick and just generally sad.

We had an idea for a project that might lift his spirits. We’ve created a YouTube channel called “Songs For Aidan” and I was hoping that we could get musicians / artists from all over to offer a little personal word or two of encouragement and play a song for him. When he’s stuck in the hospital and feeling down, we can show him the videos so he can see just how many people are pulling for him and really there’s nothing cooler than having someone play and sing a song just for you.

The Youtube channel can be found here.

To lend additional support Brandon Schott and Jim Boggia are offering two songs as part of Songs For Aidan. They are available as a CD or digital download and can both be found at the Live The Proof Link above. Jim Boggia’s song “Live The Proof” is a great acoustic offering. The song has minimal production and deceptively simple instrumentation. There are small bits of percussion and keyboard that add a lot, but are kept low in the mix. Boggia’s voice is immediate and personable. The lyrics are all about action and reaction and the choices we make based on our circumstances and are intelligently written and fit with Songs For Aidan beautifully. Brandon Schott’s “Turning Toward The Sun” is similarly themed; it discusses chance and how we react. It is a much more atmospheric number. I would use the term “expansive.” It stretches out and envelopes you. Again, there is minimal instrumentation and it is used to great effect.

Schott’s other release “You Take My Breath Away” is also a double single and it benefits The Benjamin Center in Santa Monica, CA. To learn more about what went into this project I recommend checking out the Popdose interview with him which also has additional info on how the Songs For Aidan project happened. The song “You Take My Breath Away” features piano and pedal steel guitar played by Portland’s own Tucker Jackson. It is a beautiful song full of imagery  and emotion. Listening to the lyrics I was transported to a “sweet sacred place” and could see everything unfold before me. The second song, “Now”, is wonderfully layered vocal harmonies without lyrics, though I am sure I hear the word “now” right around the :35 mark.

All of the songs are well done. They sound great and are not throw aways for charity; they are well-crafted pieces and I highly recommend listening to them and then BUYING them. All of the proceeds go to great causes. I reposting the pertinent links below as well to make sure it is easy for you to find. Please, please, please give a listen and consider helping out.

http://www.live-the-proof.com/songs-for-aidan.html

http://goldenstatemusic.bandcamp.com/album/you-take-my-breath-away

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How to introduce this guy….He loves life, he loves music, he loves people. I’ll let him tell the rest.


Photo by Suzan Jones

I want to go way back in time to start. When did you first realize that you wanted to devote your life to music?

Brandon Schott: Glad I had my coffee this morning, that’s some rememberin…hmmm…I think it first started just hearing music, my earliest records – Culture Club, Bruce Hornsby, Duran Duran and Huey Lewis back in the day. Especially, Bruce Hornsby – that led directly into my starting piano lessons at age 9. I don’t think I *decided* I wanted to devote my life to music even then but I definitely felt the power it had over me and I couldn’t ever really see it letting go. And it was constantly evolving too – from studying Beethoven and Mozart pieces on piano, to the days wearing out my Tumbleweed Connection by Elton John cassette or watching Billy Joel’s Nylon Curtain tour on VHS. Then, the time I was supposed to be spend running scales and chords (for right or wrong) became figuring out how to play LEVON or ROOT BEER RAG. That led to me wanting to make my own classic recordings (which of course they were not), but I started experimenting recording on a 4-track and on and on. Years later, I’m still on this crazy discovery path. Music was all I ever wanted, it’s my connection to the universe’s larger plan – as a geeky pre-teen/teenager to present day – it makes me feel so vastly less alone in the world.

Tell me about Berklee. What attracted you to Berklee? What was the experience like and what did you get out of it?

Brandon Schott: Somewhere in the middle of my junior year of high school I visited the campus in Boston. My father is a big Red Sox fan so it was a lovely excuse for him as well to get up to bean town and visit the great green monster. As I mentioned, I was very much 4-track geek by this time (those cassettes are LONG buried in time thankfully), but it wasn’t long down the first set of hallways filled with keyboards and computers and recording interfaces that I was sold. I didn’t look at any other schools after that, I was done.

Berklee was an amazing experience, and completely overwhelming. I studied songwriting and music business and aside from the great knowledge and tools I picked up in those courses- the greatest gift I got from Berklee was an overwhelming sense of community. The friendships and camaraderie I built during my time there continue to have reverberations over my career, and I’m still meeting and working with people who knew people who knew people I knew while I was there. In many ways, the overwhelming talent I saw there prepared me for the larger music world I’m now in. There’s a shared spirit that I’m very proud to carry with me.

Your newest album is “13 Satellites”. What can you tell me about the concept and how it all came together?

Photo by Madelynn Elyse

Brandon Schott: I had a whole other 4th record written and in the wings ready to record – those songs are still unrecorded – and coming off the heels of the DANDELION project which was very different and much more reflective, I knew I wanted to do something more lighthearted. In early 2010 (DANDELION dropped in the fall of 2009) my friend Billy Hawn – a tremendous drummer and percussionist – and I started casually trading tracks together. The first of which was the song EARLY MORNING NIGHT. He was in Pennsylvania at the time, I was in Glendale, and one song led to another which led to another, we developed quite the groove together – our sensibilities locked right in. I’d have the songs and create a skeleton arrangement w/ guitars, ukes, keyboards and background vocals etc – and he’d add these amazing percussive textures on top, send the files back. And because I wasn’t thinking about it as a record, my approach was more adventurous than it may have been if I thought “I’m making a Brandon Schott record” – I didn’t feel tied to any conceived definition of myself, chose more off kilter tunes to work on – I just let my inner geek fly, let the moment take me wherever it would. And before I knew it we had a record on our hands – almost the whole record is just Billy and I coming together cross continent. This became 13 Satellites.

What is your song writing process?

Brandon Schott: Man, it changes from song to song – sometimes, and very rarely, songs come fully formed, like they’re being channeled through me by some kind of other worldly force of nature. Most of the time, though, a spark of an idea will present itself – I usually write to a title – and I’ll usually very quickly get the architecture of the song in place, the chords – the melody – the framework (verse / chorus etc), and then over time (and hopefully not TOO long) start chipping away at the lyric until it rises to the vision I set out to cultivate.

Your last album, Dandelion, was written and recorded while you were going through treatment for stage three cancer. It obviously affected that project. How did that experience and beating the cancer into remission affect your approach to “13 Satellites”?

Brandon Schott: DANDELION was recorded (mostly live) in a church over the 1 year anniversary of my diagnosis and treatment, and featured songs that were all written during that experience. It was my musical diary/therapy workout – a way to put the whole thing in some kind of context, and hopefully along the way – heal a bit further. Consequently, it was a tremendously reflective and spiritual record and “13 SATELLITES” became the result of that project for me – a celebration of my living and an exercise in joy. I felt a certain return to my roots on SATELLITES in a lot of ways, the way the album was recorded there was a lot of spark and re-discovery – reminded me of the giddiness those early years on my 4 track, making music on my own radar without doubt or social roadblocks. In many ways it was the least self-conscious record I’ve ever made, because the fear was gone. I’d already lived through enough of that energy, this record is the sound of me casting that fear out. “13 Satellites” gave me that freedom in a musical context.

What’s the story behind “A Daydream (…or 2AM Serenade) ?”

Brandon Schott: That’s actually one of the oldest tunes on the album – I wrote it and demoed it around the time of the GOLDEN STATE record. That piano track is actually from those sessions, was a tune that just fell by the wayside as we turned our attention to other songs. So, when Billy and I started working together I was looking through the archives at songs that were a little left of center and that was one of the first ones to come up. I remember writing it, my wife had gone to bed and I started noodling around at the piano at around 11PM or so – demoed the piano melody and framework that night, couple of ‘placeholder’ lines scribbled on a notepad (the “2AM Serenade” came from that night, it was LITERAL). I wrote the lyric very quickly the next day, separated from my family for a spell – a longing in my heart. For as rambling as it is musically, the lyric itself is very simple and direct…a snapshot of a day in time I just wanted to be anywhere other than where I was.

I love your instrumentation. It goes from lush and full to simple and understated. Do you hear the songs like that in your head or does that come about during the songwriting/recording process?

Brandon Schott: Thanks, man. I don’t usually think too hard about the arrangements as I’m writing, though I do think about the feel I want or the dynamics I want to encourage pretty early on in the writing. But it’s not usually until I have a scratch demo – acoustic / vocal or something – inevitably pieces of counter melody start to creep into my head, and once I’ve started recording that’s when all hell breaks loose and I have to do a good bit of editing to get all these melody fragments sit together and make sense – that’s when the real arranging comes into play. I do have to watch myself and make sure that my editor is sharp as a producer, sometimes the best textures or harmonies have to go if they stand in the way of the song, the lyrical voice.

What inspires you lyrically?

Brandon Schott: This is gonna sound really hokey – but being present. When I’m able to pull myself out of my routine, and just see something for what it is. There’s a whole world inside the world around me (to paraphrase Rhett Miller), and when I’m given that gift – and I’m grounded – there’s poetry in the air. Beauty inspires me – anger, joy – a turn of phrase, a perspective. Oh, and Josh Ritter – have you heard him? That guy can write a novel with a verse let alone a whole song (and he’s actually written novels too – talented so and so)- but his way with words just inspires the hell out of me. Any great song inspires me, the simplicity of a Sam Phillips or the scope of a band like Elbow – my friends send me tracks from time to time, hearing their work always makes me smile and kicks me into gear. Or a great film, TV show, my kids, and my wife is a tremendous muse…



Your video for “Satellite” was featured on BoingBoing. How did that video come about and how much did you have to do with it?

Brandon Schott: Here’s what I had to do with it: I said YES.

My friend Matt Barrios approached me about doing an animated video for a track on DANDELION in the spring of 2010. When I asked him how long it would take to put it all together, he mentioned a number of months, and I suggested he take one of the new tracks I’d been working on. I gave him SATELLITE and when he heard it after a few days he pitched, “Monty Python meets Planet of the Apes meets Yellow Submarine” and then rattled off some kind of story line that I truth fully didn’t hear after the elevator pitch line – I just said YES. All I did working on the video was show up one afternoon for a green screen shoot for the bridge section footage of me you see in the clip, and Matt just otherwise worked his magic on his own. It was amazing to see that come together, it was his vision – I’m still honored by it.

Tell me more about what you are doing with Defying Gravity.

Brandon Schott: I’m SO stoked about Defying Gravity. It’s a monthly multi-media series on songwriting that I started with my partners over at Spinbridge.com . Each month we tackle a musical theme, and through an essay – video interview – an audio download – and an audio podcast, we explore the theme and the song from a variety of different angles as it fits into our creative lives. We’ve done a couple that have been my own submissions and song offerings, but most episodes we’ve done have been conversations with my peers – fellow songwriters and their backgrounds, influences. They’ll write an essay in a song of their choice (sometimes a cover, sometimes a song from their own catalog), and we’ll talk about it on camera and in the podcast. It’s been interesting because during the context of these chats I’ve learned a lot about my own approach, as well as been really inspired just hearing people talk about their loves and passions. We’ve had Marvin Etzioni (of Lone Justice) on the show, Steve Barton (of Translator),Rob Shapiro (Populuxe) and I wrote a brand new song for last month’s show and very shortly we drop a new episode with Steven Wilson (of Plasticsoul).

Also, something like this is a really fun creative outlet outside of the usual touring / album cycle. With this series my collaborators and I have a unique framework outside of the normal model to work within, so that’s a really cool benefit of the show as well. It’s a little home away from home online, a community for us songwriting nerds – a little musical residency – if you will…

People have a jaded view of the Los Angeles music scene. What has been your experience? What do you think would surprise people about the LA scene?

Brandon Schott: Here’s where I get sappy and romantic again…I’m constantly surprised at how incredible supportive and beautiful the scene can be if you surround yourself by beautiful and supportive people. I think it’s very much like anything in life, the energy you cultivate toward others and the people that you pull into your life makes a tremendous difference in your outlook and output. There are a lot of things about LA that can be a drag, and the nature of the business these days can be a seemingly unending struggle – but I try not to buy into that hype as much as I can, when there’s so much love within the music scene, for the work and for each other. Creatively, my time in LA has been some of the most fulfilling – inspiring – and joyful years of my life. The greatest compliment I can give my LA family is just that – they are family. While my parents and extended blood family are all back east – it’s a real drag to not see them more, but with there’s a balance of my long-distance interactions with them and my dear friends and creative family here in LA, I do feel very blessed. They all lift me up. They make me want to be a better artist – a better person, and I only hope I can repay that love someway someday…

What do you hope people get from “13 Satellites”?

Brandon Schott: An intense desire to listen to it again once they’ve finished it. Oh, and to share it with all their friends. And buy more of my music.

If you could only have one dessert for the rest of your life, what dessert would it be and why?

Brandon Schott: Strawberry ice cream. You got your desert, you got your calcium, there’s a little protein in there. If you had to live on it, you could. OK, not really…but it’s a lovely thought right?


Catch Brandon Schott live Oct 16 at Witzend 1717 Lincoln Blvd., Venice, California 90291 show starts at 7:30pm

Keep up with Brandon at all of these fine locations:

www.brandonschott.com
www.defyinggravitymusic.com
www.facebook.com/brandonschottmusic

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