We’re so excited for this one! We just wrote about the Make New Friends EP from brightener and he was kind enough to take questions via e-mail. Find out more info on brightener (here). Also look for a guest mix from Brightener on June 17!
TGE: Why the name Brightener?
B: The idea came from a long-lost Facebook post that I can’t find anymore. A German fan wrote on my wall years ago, saying that she and her friends loved my music and that it brightened their day, so they called me brightener. That stuck with me until I figured I should have a moniker for myself, and that always felt the best to me.
TGE: Besides yourself who else is typically in the band or joins you on tour and recordings?
B: That’s a tough question, because this is really the first official release I’ve put out as brightener. I’ve only played a few shows as brightener, and I’ve had different people playing with me every show. I have a really great community of musicians to draw from in Los Angeles, and my goal this year is to play with as many amazing musicians as I can. I spent a lot of time in college playing with the same people and I’m ready to try new things!
And I write and play everything on the recordings.
TGE: Before your post college haze what plans did you have for after college? Was being selected as a band camp artist of the week part of said plans?
B: I had a part-time job at a dildo factory right after college, but I decided to ditch that career path and move to Brooklyn with my best friend/cowriter in my other band, The Miracals. However, that fell through right before we were going to leave and we ended up living at our homes on either side of the country. I did not have any plans to be on the front page, but ya know, it’s better than the dildo factory I guess.
TGE: One of our writers is in a “post college haze” and asks if would you offer any advice as to how to get started on the real world. How essential is owning a Frisbee?
B: Hahaha. Tough question, I think everyone has their own path. I quickly realized as soon as I got into the real world that connections with people are the best way to get going in life. That being said, I immediately went and spent six months in a town where I didn’t know anyone, so take that for what you will.
That’s where the frisbee came in though, I honestly didn’t know how much fun that would be and the friends I would make there. “Echoes” was SO CLOSE to being titles “Ultimate” cuz i started writing it one night after ultimate frisbee. We have one on this tour I’m on now and it actually makes my whole day, tossing it at gas stations for five minutes.
TGE: Make “Real Friends” is one of our favorite songs from the EP. I think everyone has at one point in their life or another has done a total overhaul on their friends list. What was going through your mind when you were writing that song?
B: Thank you! That’s the last song I wrote for this EP, right after I moved back to LA. A huge relationship for me in college with my best friend/girlfriend had ended and my other best bud was a coast away, so there I was in a city with only a few real friends. I live alone in LA in what is basically a solitary bedroom, so all of those ideas spawned from that situation.
Of course, I was mostly feeling sorry for myself and actually have a bunch of really great people in my life. So I would show them the drafts of this song and be like “what do you think?!?” and they would say they liked it, but that they were also my real friends… That was funny of me, that the people I wanted to show this song to the most were probably the people most offended by it.
TGE: What are some of your favorite 90s memories and what do you miss the most about that beloved time (Nick and Disney Channel Original programming are acceptable answers)?
B: Definitely Saturday morning cartoons, couldn’t beat that.
TGE: We’re big fans of your handmade EP’s. It’s a cool idea, but are you regretting it yet because the number of arts and crafts projects you have to make?
B:Haha! Well they’ve been selling more than I expected, so that’s been a little overwhelming but wonderful. But I’ve pretty much figured out my system and it’s really gratifying to build a physical representation of these songs I felt like I “built” on my laptop, so I’ve been enjoying myself.
TGE: What’s next for Brightener? Are you planning a full length?
B: Trying to figure that out now. The task of touring to build a fanbase but also having a fanbase to be able to tour is quite daunting and hard to figure out where to start. I’m also supporting myself by going on tour as my friend Julia Nunes’ guitar player (tour dates here! http://www.junumusic.com/shows.html) so that takes up some time, but I’m planning some LA shows for when I get back (July 12 in Santa Monica!), and thinking about another, more acoustic-y EP that I have the material for already. A full length doesn’t feel right yet, I’m more in EP mode currently.
TGE: How would you describe the music of Brightener to someone who’s never listened?
B: Ugh I dunno. I’m too close to it. I’d say this EP is a mix of The Strokes, Vampire Weekend, and Tame Impala, though I may be being a little too generous to myself.