After reviewing their EP I asked Brittany Jean if they would mind answering a few questions for Believe In A Dream about their music. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Those being interviewed may refer to themselves in third person…
When did each of you fall in love with music?
Brittany, can think of several pivotal moments and inspirational people that have contributed to her love for music over the years. It is very hard to pinpoint the earliest moment, but her mind always goes back to memories of her father from when she was 4 and 5 years old. He was a poet, a dreamer, a peace-lover—he listened to music, mostly the jazz greats, with such reverence and passion. Brittany can only assume that is where her desperate, spiritual hunger for music comes from. Between the ages of about 7-10, she can recall writing her first lyrics in small journals during masses at church (ha, whoops!). At ages 10-13, Brittany began writing songs and performing acapella with her older sister…but it wasn’t until freshman year of high school that she picked up her sister’s guitar by chance, taught herself some chords, and truly became the singer/songwriter she is today.
Will fell in love with music listening to the Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel when he was 3 or 4 while he played with his G.I. Joes and X-Men. Thanks to his brother, he was listening non-stop to Guns N’ Roses while he was still in Kindergarten. It’s always been a huge part of his life and is in his blood… actually his great uncle was the jazz clarinet player Larry Shields.
Brian’s relationship with music came together pretty slowly. His obsession probably wasn’t all that obvious to him (or anyone else) until his later teen years, when the cumulative effect of listening to great records and going to great shows took hold. Once he realized how that felt, he couldn’t imagine giving it up.
How did you all meet?
Brittany and Will met in college right after Will transferred to Brittany’s school (University of Mary Washington). Will and Brian have known each other since about 5th grade, and have been playing music together since they were 17. Brittany and Brian first met briefly at Will’s house while recording some solo acoustic work back in 2006, but never really met again until the summer of 2010 when the band randomly came together to open for Hanson and Rooney after winning a contest (this is also how the band was “born”.)
What is your mission in music?
Our mission as musicians is definitely about reaching people in the way that we have all felt inspired by music ourselves. As Brittany has said before, “Music is like a diary open to the world and it is a terrifyingly beautiful, magical, and powerful thing….I feel as though that my mission has been to bring my message of hope from the dark places I started to the dark places and cages other “starlings” may still be stuck in.”
Congrats on the new EP release, what is your next goal?
We need to keep playing and get it out there. We are so proud of this record and want to ensure as many people hear it as possible. Of course, we never stop playing and writing.
How long does it usually take for you to compose a song?
It really depends. Every song is a little different. There is one song that we have been performing for the past year and we STILL don’t feel like it is actually complete. Other songs, such as “Paris Stairs” seemed to come together within one or two hours. The great thing about our band is that we are always progressing and don’t hesitate to keep changing things to fit our style.
What is the process to put an EP together?
We realized we had a really good group of songs that perfectly captured us at a moment in time and spoke to a cohesive vision… that’s when we knew it was time to get an EP together. We started working on the EP about a year ago; we demoed all of the songs ourselves in our personal studio (except for “How is the Weather?,” which was a later addition). After listening to the demos, and continuing to work the songs live, we got them into great shape. Then it was a couple months looking for the right producer. Our friend Kevin de Souza pointed us to Jarrett Nicolay as a potential producer… when we listened to his work, we were sold. We were incredibly excited when he agreed to work with us.
After that, we recorded with Jarrett at Pick Up Productions in Maryland. The power went out right before our first day… the next day we were so committed to it that we were driving around downed power lines and fallen trees to get there. That day, Will recorded all the drums by the studio door without any air conditioning. After that, Brittany recorded her acoustic guitar, and we pieced everything together from there. Our friend Kevin (mentioned earlier) came in to track bass… Will and Kevin go back a long way, and he’s one of the greatest musicians we know—we were really lucky to have him play bass on the EP. Once we finished recording, we traded thoughts back and forth with Jarrett until the mixes were done.
Since your music has picked up how have your lives changed? Any difference?
Since our music has picked up, we have learned to juggle several lives all at once. We are great at multitasking (no matter what anyone else says) and our time management skills have surely benefited. Brittany and Will’s spouses have probably changed just as much- (whether they like it or not- which we hope they DO like it) they have become our number one fans, photographers, videographers, merch table reps, roadies, and so on. We are lucky!
Brittany I know you are/were a teacher for some time? Are you still teaching? What about you guys, do you have other jobs along with playing music?
Brittany is still a full-time elementary school teacher, going on her 4th year. It is an incredibly demanding job, but also very rewarding. With that said, it’s no secret that her true passion lies with music and she hopes (possibly foolishly) to make that her full-time job (preferably soon :)! The other day Brittany Jean got its first Facebook “like” from a school parent…..seems that the secret may be out…my child’s teacher = rock star!?!?! 🙂
Brian and Will both have (more than) full-time jobs.
Is it difficult to do both?
It is definitely difficult to do both. Demanding full-time jobs, such as ours, tend to suck a lot of energy and time out of you! However, our commitment to our music is very important to us, and no matter how tired or stressed we get, playing music helps us!
Do you all have fun together outside of music or do you only come together to play for gigs?
We have a lot of fun together! We don’t think we’d be able to relate so openly with each other at practice if we weren’t all such close friends.
What do you do for fun?
Will is an audio/visual artist, is married, and has a puppy… so he keeps pretty busy. He and Brian are both pretty obsessed with DC sports. Actually, he and Brittany can each entertain themselves for hours, because they both think they’re a lot funnier than they probably are..
Brian is unfamiliar with this “fun” concept.
Brittany is currently laughing her face off from reading Will and Brian’s answers….clearly our band is something she does for fun (no matter what Brian says, haha). Other than that, Brittany keeps herself extremely busy by participating in any and all sports humanly possible including swimming, running, tap dancing, three soccer teams, bicycling, kayaking, and surfing (her favorite)! She is also a cat lady….but a married one! Her life = never a dull moment, always moving!
Do you have any funny stories with your music or with each other?
As Will mentioned earlier, we all think we are funnier than we really are and tend to go into laughing fits during practice for no particular reason. If Brittany starts laughing, it all goes downhill from there…some of the funniest moments are when she tries to put her “game face” on to start singing some deep, heartfelt song – you can hear the quiver in her voice as she tries desperately to hang on before exploding with laughter….the rest of the band usually follows.
What musicians inspire you?
We could all go on and on about all of the musicians who inspire us….
In order to keep it simple, Brittany came with her own personal top 7 (because she couldn’t narrow it down to 5 or 6), in no particular order: Joe Pug, Ben Kweller, Rhett Miller, Radiohead, Hanson, Led Zeppelin, and Johnny Cash. Brittany asks that anyone reading this interview withhold judgment and check out these artists if you have not already!
What is your favorite song of all time and why?
Hard question: Brittany’s favorite song of all time changes on a daily basis depending on what is going on in life at the time. However, one song that she always comes back to is Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On”….but the list could go on and on!
What are your thoughts on mainstream artists today?
There’s some great production and writing in pop music these days if you know where to look for it… of course, there’s a lot that’s not so great, also.
Any advice you’d like to give to fans or those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Don’t let things get in the way. You have to just do it. There’s always an excuse to not be playing music. But it takes enthusiasm and commitment, and you need to keep that commitment up even in those moments you aren’t feeling it. Really, a lot of the most spectacular expressions of emotion come out of those moments.
Official site: brittanyjeanmusic.com
Album on itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/let-it-go-ep/id563044289
Brittany Jean: Keep up to date at BrittanyjeanMusic.com