Daniel Brandt, Jan Brauer and Paul Frick – Brandt Brauer Frick – have made a name for themselves with their unorthodox style and outstanding live performances. For their new album “Joy” the trio has brought the Canadian singer and songwriter Beaver Sheppard on board to produce an entire vocal-focused LP. On the Thursday, November 10 Gretchen presents the Album Release *LIVE*. We take this opportunity to ask some questions about the latest release, producing, playing live, success and much more.
Jamie: Already in early 2016 we have heard Beaver Sheppard on your EP “Holy Night” / “Poor Magic”, now he’s on the entire Album. Please tell us about how you guys met and what made you want to produce this album with him?
B.B.F.: We met Beaver in 2013 in Montreal through a good friend. He instantly intrigued us as a person while hanging out, someone with a unique and almost constant output of ideas and associations. When we found out about all the things he does, whether it’s singing, writing, story-telling, painting or cooking, we wanted to try and make music with him. A few months later we got booked for a special event series in Switzerland and they asked if we could bring a singer. So we thought of him, and used the opportunity to record with him for weeks. As we loved it, we invited him to Berlin more times and it became this album.
Jamie: Are there more projects with him planned for the near future, will it be Brandt Brauer Frick Sheppard from now on?
B.B.F.: For now, it’s for this album, but we’ll definitely do more things together, too early to think in which way.
Jamie: You guys are known for producing electronic music “slightly” different than others by recording classical acoustic instruments and then use them as samples. Is it always the same procedure or do you change your approach from time to time?
B.B.F.: We change it often. Using our recordings as samples may describe how we often worked back in the days, but the more we went on we often left full takes the way we recorded them in the first place. Or edited them just a bit. Actually it’s rather fluid: where does sampling start and what’s still just editing? Almost any recording, even by orchestras, has many little cuts nowadays. We became more confident as a live band, so we often try to record more like a traditional band together in a room.
Jamie: Is it true that all of you have a classical music education? If so: Who is doing which instruments?
B.B.F.: All of us play instruments since being kids, Daniel also played in orchestras. Paul is the only one who studied music, composition precisely. Press often stating that we are all classical” musicians is rather wrong, either not researched or trying to fit a band into a catchy story. The three of us play piano, synths and also like to get sounds out of all types of things or instruments we can’t properly play. Daniel plays all the drums. And then we also invite guest musicians from our ensemble, on ‘Joy’ it’s mainly Florian Juncker on trombone, Matthias Engler on percussion, Mari Sawada on violin and Boram Lie on cello.
Jamie: At Gretchen you guys will play as the original trio, but you also play live shows with a whole ensemble here and there. How intense is it to work with so many musicians for your live shows? Do you have to be very strict?
B.B.F.: It’s of course an effort to bring everybody together, but then it’s mostly very rewarding, because all these people have great skills, each in a different way. When it comes to improvisation and spontaneous things, it’s easier when you’re less people though. With the ensemble most things have to be more fixed, at least in our music. At Gretchen we’ll perform not only with Beaver but also with the great Josa Peit and Owen Roberts on background vocals.
Jamie: Any weird rituals before going on stage?
B.B.F.: Yes, but you wouldn’t wanna know!
Jamie: It seems like since you have teamed up in 2008 you have been driving on the road to success. Have you been self confident enough to expect that and also did this have any effect on your private life?
B.B.F.: Hm. Even though we were a bit megalomaniac from the start, nothing felt expected when it came. Playing gigs throughout the whole year, like we did most of the time, makes you change a lot as a person, sucks a lot of energy too. And how could it not affect your private life! It sometimes felt like no human is built to live like this, and then again parts of it were just amazing and dreamlike. I guess each of us had to adapt and shift perspectives in his own way to be able to deal with it.
Jamie: Does Daniel, Jan and Paul spend time together outside the studio and besides the live gigs, or do you separate work from personal life?
B.B.F.: Yes we do spend time together! And we also share our studio, which each one uses for his own purposes too.
Jamie: Next to the producing, club gigs and touring you have another project at the moment, a musical theatre called “Gianni” at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. What exactly made you want to do this and do you think that there is a huge difference between the people that are coming to your shows and those that are coming to see the musical?
B.B.F.: The director Martin Butler approached us about four years ago with the idea to tell the story of Gianni Versace and especially of his murderer as a greek tragedy in form of a Vogueing ball. About fashion, celebrity culture as a religion, wealth and the horrors behind it. We really liked the idea, and also to face the challenge of something we had never done before. When we played those shows at Deutsche Oper, the audience changed a lot from evening to evening. There were definitely some people who expected more of a traditional opera, and others who came to see us specifically. Actually the more shows we played, the younger the audience seemed to become.
Jamie: Thanks for taking the time, we are looking forward to your show at Gretchen. Any last words?
B.B.F.: That’s likewise, we’re really looking forward to play at Gretchen again, see you there!