Welcome to my first solo record! How does it sound?
For most people, these songs might come across as love-songs, and in a way they are, but for me these songs are about suicide and stages of grief.
Valli Diane Brandt was my mother, a complicated being whose struggle with severe mental illness brought her to suicide in 2011. My mom was unsettling and unsettled, from moment to moment a vulnerable child and a menacing force, but she was also my introduction to music. I loved watching her drift off in her mind while playing the piano, and even as a child I was keenly aware of its calming effect on her. She gave me piano lessons, enjoyed reminding me to sing 'through the top of my head,' and let me borrow and destroy her poor acoustic guitar throughout my rambunctious teenage years. Now, after her death, I’m using these songs to actively calm myself, and as crude attempts to distill her essence from my memory and the air. (Flying shards of her wild mind continue to fuck with mine.)
This album is a solo record in the simplest terms: no producer, no label, no band, and no budget. I celebrated that freedom whenever and wherever I could -- writing, performing, recording, and mixing these tunes in my apartment while the neighbors were out and my kid was at school, and asking for help from friends when it seemed convenient. I tried to be open to new sounds and textures, and I learned a lot about some new software along the way, which has made this record a unique moment in my songwriting experience. I only have two microphones, and I did most of the engineering using clunky gear that I found, borrowed, or stole, along with some nicer gear that generous friends gifted to me. That help was crucial. I'd like to briefly acknowledge:
• my brother Jonathan for software, sample libraries, sharp ears, access to the family piano, and juicy details in a couple arrangements
• soulful buddies Erica Lee and MJ for coloring in my sound
• Matt at Amber Lit Audio for re-tracking many of my vocal takes
• Marci for singing in the dark
• Jane for singing amidst upturned mattresses and boxes of books
• Jeremy for the gift of an ancient pre-amp that refuses to die
• Chad for a digital interface and keen encouragement
• Dustin & Jess for lugging a Hammond M3 organ up my stairs
• Andy at Reed Recording Co. for the mastering
• plus many friends and family for their timely critical listening, curiosity, encouragement, and support.
Thank you for listening, for taking a little time to notice this record. It's been a couple years since it started taking shape, but I'm stoked to finally be able to share it with you!
Grand Rapids, Michigan
released January 1, 2015
Ben Scott-Brandt - songs, synths, samples, programming, organ, bass guitar, classical guitar, piano, tambourine, handclaps, vocals
Jonathan Brandt - synths, programming, vocal processing
Erica Lee Walker - vocals
Jane Stancil-Steele - vocals
Marci Stembol - vocals
MJ - electric guitar
all rights reserved