Eclectic German rhythm / classical / techno outfit Brandt Brauer Frick will release their second album, Mr. Machine, on the 25th of October, and they are currently getting ready to come over to the States for a series of gigs as a three-piece. Before that though, I wanted to pose some questions to the classically trained one of the trio, Paul Frick, to find out more about their musical history and what went on behind the scenes in making Mr. Machine, among other things. Read on…
PW: Your band’s name is obviously your surnames put together, without commas or other punctuation. Put together, It’s a very rhythmic-sounding phrase. Was this intentional? (That is, did you want something intentionally related to the sound you make?) Did you have names prior to this or had you been thinking about other names for your new band? If yes, what were they?
Paul Frick (Brandt Brauer Frick): Well, I’m glad you like the sound of it! It’s a mere coincidence that our surnames kind of fit together. I think it was Daniel who said we should use our surnames, a bit like an old German avant garde Jazz band. We’ve put the names alphabetically and our band name is what came out… In the beginning I thought it sounded weird, but now it almost feels as if these names had always been together…
PW: Much has been made about the disparity between Daniel Brandt and Jan Brauer‘s jazz outfit and your classical / modern music university background. How did you manage to run into / find each other?
PF: Jan and Daniel were producing Jazz infused club music under the name Scott, and I had just released my first house music record, which I did while studying composition. We discovered each others music on Myspace and met in Berlin to exchange some records. Only then we became aware of each others broader influences. So it was actually club music that brought us together, with its inherent potential to absorb all types of different styles.
PW: And what brought you together? Were there musical loves that you had in common, or was it something entirely non-music related that led to the creation of Brandt Brauer Frick?
PF: Listening to each others music, it was not surprising when we found out we were all into jazzy house music like Theo Parrish or Matthew Herbert. Steve Reich and oldschool loop techno were also among the common musical loves.
Actually, the creation of our band was at first completely music related. But obviously we didn’t dislike each other either, haha…
PW: Are you now based in Berlin (or another German city) / all live in the same city? Tell me about your environment and how it contributes to the Brandt Brauer Frick sound (or if not).
PF: Yes! Jan and Daniel have finally moved to Berlin, which makes it all a lot easier. All of the music we have made until now, except the Mr. Machine album, has been imagined and recorded by us in Daniel’s garage in Wiesbaden (near Frankfurt), and the sound of that garage has become quite typical for us. And the vibe of it too, as it’s a perfect place to forget the outside world and just freak out. And the sound of Daniel’s old piano has become typical as well: it’s totally out of tune, so we used it mainly as a percussion instrument, knocking, scratching, kicking and so on… Mr. Machine is the first music we recorded in Berlin, not in our own new studio, which we still need to renovate next week, but in the Jazzanova / Exit Studios, which was great! But we had imagined and written the music in the garage.
We are actually very curious what impact our new studio in Berlin will have on our music. Once it’s renovated…
PW: To someone who has never heard your music before, what three words would you use to describe it?
PF: I would say it’s deep and emotional body music, mostly with sounds from materials like wood, metal, skin, hair…
PW: The Brandt Brauer Frick sound, to me, seems to be all about rhythm – embracing it and how different types of rhythm, usually disparate and very contrasting, can be blended together to form a cohesive sound. How did your band’s sound and vision evolve to where it is today?
PF: It’s probably too early for us to state how our music has evolved. We have made “Bop” on the second day we ever made music together, and now there’s still a version of it on Mr. Machine… I think our initial sound was a mix between intuition, chemistry, some knowledge and mainly trying to escape from boredom.
PW: But you must have started somewhere. Were you all driving your mothers crazy by banging on pots and pans as children?
PF: I used to drive our neighbours crazy, playing the piano at 7 AM before going to school. Something similar must have happened to Jan and Daniel, I guess…
PW: Who and/or what do you consider your biggest artistic inspiration(s)?
PF: Life as a whole.
PW: How is your new album, Mr. Machine, different from You Make Me Real? What was the most exciting aspect(s) of writing and recording the new album?
PF: Mainly Mr. Machine is played by 10 musicians, “You Make Me Real” only by the three of us. On You Make Me Real, we cut a lot of things in a rather mechanical way, whereas “Mr. Machine” is much less edited, it has a more human breath to it.
While playing with our ensemble and also while recording, we were amazed by how the other musicians added their own perspectives on what we had written. They often played things in a way we had not even thought of, added interesting sounds, etc.
It’s a fantastic experience to see your own ideas grow, being ping-pong-ed back at you by great musicians.
Another cool thing about recording the album was the fact that we didn’t have to care about microphones, postions etc., cause our sound engineer Rashad Becker was taking care of everything, with the help of Axel Reinemer from Jazzanova.
Until then, in our garage, we had always recorded in a rather fast and dirty way.
PW: I’ve read about this new 10-piece ensemble you will be bringing to America. How difficult has it been to adjust your live performance, expanding from the three of you to ten strong?
PF: It has been an insane work, writing all the scores, casting musicians, rehearsing, logistics, organisation, all these things…
But some things also became much easier, because sharing the stage with 7 other great musicians brought tons of good ideas and vibes rather automatically. And being on tour with up to 18 people, including musicians, sound crew, tour manager, light, babysitter, friends etc. is an amazing experience!
PW: Was Mr. Machine conceived with this big group of performers on tour in mind, or did that come afterward?
PF: Yes, it was conceived after playing the first 10-piece show and then it was recorded with all of them.
PW: How did you choose which instruments would be included? And what instruments will be included on this tour (if you’re allowed to let us in on this secret now)?
PF: We had brainstormed about it from time to time, during about 2 years. And after the first ensemble rehearsal last august, we stayed with the instrumentation we had chosen at that point, cause it showed to work really well: violin, cello, trombone, tuba, harp, 3 percussionists/drummers, Moog synthesizer, piano.
But on our U.S. tour in autumn it will be just the three of us. A U.S. Ensemble tour is planned for next year.
PW: Being German, do you feel that bringing your sound to an American audience presents a special challenge? Why or why not?
PF: No, it’s just the usual challenge of moving human beings!
PW: So I was introduced to your music by the promotional video for “Bop,” with a set that looks like what a band appearance on a American late night tv show like Jay Leno or David Letterman that’s called “Minimal Parade.” There are Japanese characters running across the bottom, yet there is a German announcer and a lovely Vanna White-type hostess (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanna_White). Pretty unusual! Please explain the concept.
PF: Daniel directed the “Bop” video (together with Julian Schleef) and he had the idea for it too. One aspect was to kind of simulate the Ensemble idea that we had in mind but still weren’t able to put into practice. About the rest, you better ask Daniel directly.
PW: You’re taking your tour to places far and wide across America. Are there any places in particular you are most looking forward to visiting and playing in?
Mr. Machine, the second album from Brandt Brauer Frick, will be released in the U.S. on October 25 on !K7 Records. BBF’s North American tour begins on October 24 in Minneapolis.
Oct 24 – Cedar Cultural Center / Minneapolis
Oct 27 – Glasslands / Brooklyn
Oct 28 – Red Palace / Washington, DC
Oct 29-30 – Moogfest / Asheville, NC
Oct 30 – 529 / Atlanta
Oct 31 – Back Booth / Orlando
Nov 01 – Club Down Under @ FSU / Tallahassee
Nov 03 – Prophet Bar / Dallas
Nov 04-06 – Fun Fun Fun Fest / Austin
Nov 11 – Rickshaw Stop / San Francisco
Nov 12 – Luckman Fine Arts Complex / Los Angeles
Brandt Brauer Frick: website | myspace | Brandt Brauer Frick to Release New Album “Mr. Machine”, Announce American Fall Tour