Edo Van Breeman doesn't give a damn about your music blog.
Okay, this may have to do with the fact that his band, Brasstronaut, is not a "super-trendy blog band." And fair enough — none of the Vancouver jazz-afflicted indie six-piece's albums have yet been reviewed by those highbrow tastemakers over at Pitchfork. But does that really matter?
The band was, after all, long listed for the Polaris Music Prize back in 2010 for their debut album, Mt. Chimaera. They sell out headlining shows all over Europe, where it seems their music is more appreciated.
And in the end, that's all that Van Breeman really cares about — playing great shows to a room full of people who are there because they want to be there.
"The thing that I'm most interested in is how our audience reacts to (the music), and how the music spreads via word of mouth," he says in a phone interview from his hometown Vancouver.
"I think it's easy for a musician to get confused between that satisfaction you get from playing shows and from writing music, and that vindication that you get from a blog. For me, one I day I realized I just didn't want to read any more of that stuff. I don't want to yearn to get on some blog because that's not where my ultimate satisfaction in doing this art form is going to come from."
Yet, their latest album, Mean Sun (released May 15) makes a reasonable music nerd wonder how Pitchfork can endorse some bands and ignore others. Granted, the album ignores the synth-pop zeitgeist in favour of texture and mood over immediate hooks. It's a deeply layered album. It's the sound of some other world — a world created, mind you, by six very talented musicians.
It's also an album that demands your attention. Repeated listens are essential and any fan of Grizzly Bear or latter-day Radiohead will happily indulge. Van Breeman says this was very much the intention.
"(The music) acts as a place for the listener to go. It's not sort of Anglo-centric story-telling rock-folk music. It's music where you can listen to the lyrics if you want and reinterpret them in your own way, or you can, I don't know, bathe in the music because there are layers to it," Van Breenman says. "I want to make music that you can listen to over and over again. You might not hear a hook or a recognizable pattern at first but if you keep listening to it, it'll become ingrained."
Brasstronaut was founded in 2008 by Van Breeman (piano, vocals) and Bryan Davies (trumpet) — two formally trained jazz musicians who were bored with traditional jazz structures and wanted to expand on the genre. They enlisted Brennan Saul (drums) and John Walsh (bass) and together released Old World Lies EP in 2008, followed by Mt. Chimerea in 2010.
Mt. Chimerea was recorded as the band was coming to grips with being a four-piece. For the tour, they added Tariq Hussain (guitar) and Sam Davidson (clarinet) to the line-up and the result of that relationship would inevitably become Mean Sun.
Van Breeman says the recording of this last album was far more "collaborative" than anything they've done in the past. Last summer, they started jamming out ideas at an old warehouse in Vancouver's Strathcona neighbourhood. They recorded it at The Hive, a staple of Vancouver's indie scene, with producer Colin Stewart, best known for his work with Black Mountain and Dan Mangan.
But despite the decidedly Vancouver origins of the album, Van Breeman's wary of calling Mean Sun a "Vancouver record."
"If that means we're inspired by our environment, then yes and no," he says. "We've been touring so much that a lot of this soundscape-y stuff is inspired I think from travelling, moving around a lot and seeing so many different cities, even as far east as Slovakia, going close to the Ukraine and driving over into Hungary," he says.
"I just feel like Vancouver's a city where there isn't a Vancouver sound or anything. You can just sort of do your own thing here, which is good, I guess."
He says the band has little interest in creating a scene or being a part of any trend-setting movement. As we said, he hates your blog.
"The only thing that really matters is that people want to hear the music that we make. If they don't anymore then I'll make it for myself and I'll play piano on my own. If people want to support it then we'll tour," he says.
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