Sweet, Melancholic Pop from West Coast Canada
Started by Edo Van Breemen and Bryan Davies in 2007, Vancouver-based Brasstronaut’s sound has developed over the years to include six members playing instruments such as flugelhorn, lap steel and trumpets in addition to their usual line up. Aesthetica recently spoke with Edo about their latest release, Mean Sun, which was released on 21 October. For more information visit www.brasstronaut.com.
How did the band originally come together?
It formed at a house party in 2007 in the inebriated backwater of post-university stagnation. Edo had been playing in more electronic orientated projects and Bryan had come back from conservatory training at the Amsterdam School of Music. There was never a plan for creating a band; it just fell into place and developed slowly from then on.
Your latest album Mean Sun comes only two years after your debut Mt. Chimera; how has your sound developed over this time?
We were more aware of what types of unique textures and layered sounds could be produced with our instrumentation. We wanted to make a lush album with pads created by almost unidentifiable combinations of sounds: synths, piano and slide guitar. Most of these sounds were processed with analogue FX gear like Korg tape delays, phasers and anything we could find at the time.
When did you start working on the record?
We had two songs written already in early 2012, but the bulk of the record was written in a mere month at a warehouse space in East Vancouver owned by a movie director friend who was out of town at the time. This was the gutted top floor of an old industrial machine warehouse from the 1920s; essentially a condemned building with a 360 degree view of the city, harbour and surrounding neighbourhood. We would order pizza and drink beer as the sun set over Vancouver Island. It was a very comfortable and private environment to jam out ideas as they were conceived.
Do you have any personal favourites on the album yet?
I think Mixtape, Francisco and Mean Sun are my favourites at the moment. But it changes. I’m working on a remix for Francisco right now, so it’s exciting to revisit that arrangement and see it in a different way.
Why was Colin Stewart top of your producer list?
We were excited about what he’d done previously with Black Mountain and Dan Mangan, and felt that he could bring a more relaxed fluidity. He has become one of our best friends since then and we continue to discuss our favourite plug-ins and nuances of producing in a digital/analogue world. I’m not a purist and feel like the most interesting studio results are achieved when there are no dogmatic boundaries to the process. This is the way we’ve always worked within our band, and it was good to meet a producer with a similar creative vision.
What have you got planned for the remainder of 2012?
We’ll be supporting our European release of Mean Sun with a month-long tour of the continent and UK. We are very excited about this, and returning to some of our favourite cities over there. Our two tours in 2011 were amazing, and eventually we would love to play some of the bigger summer festival circuits.