Today, I am with David Brewster for another Q&A Session.
He is a published writer of several books, a guitarist and an educator who’s been performing, recording and touring most of his adult life.
David has been touring across the States for two decades, shared the stage with big names and released four instrumental albums independently. He is also an honours graduate from Atlanta Institute of Music.
His latest album is called Cosmic Mind and it is a tribute to one of the greatest horror writers, HP Lovecraft.
Now, without further ado…
Lady Obscure: Hello David! First of all you are the proud owner of four instrumental albums. Why instrumental? What does it mean to you?
David Brewster: I’ve always loved instrumental music. I was around 5 years old when I discovered Star Wars, and my parents eventually bought me a copy of John Williams brilliant soundtrack from that movie. I would sit in my bedroom for hours playing with Star Wars toys and I’d have that soundtrack playing in the background.
I’d listen to it at night as I drifted off to sleep. I was addicted to listening to it. I couldn’t quite understand what that music did to me. I loved listening to it, and still do.
So that listening experience and building a respect from instrumental music when I was very young obviously influenced me later in life when I discovered the guitar, additional instrumental music, and began creating my own music.
DB: Once again, this can be traced back to my childhood. I had a copy of Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’ when I was a kid. This was around the same time as my Star Wars obsession, so if I wasn’t listening to the soundtrack from that movie, I’d listen to ‘Peter and the Wolf.’
The entire concept for that piece is revolutionary and very unique. It features a way of telling a story using instruments and instrumental music. There is a little narration in certain areas, but the individual instruments and instrumental sections of music told the story, and not the narrator.
That listening experience stuck with me, and by the time I started creating and recording my own flavor of music, I decided that creating instrumental music would be my primary focus, and I also decided that I wanted to try to tell a story with my music.
This is the main reason why my albums are themed tributes to some very important people. It’s very difficult to tell a story or convey an idea through instrumental music, but I enjoy the challenge and feel that I have improved using this concept with each album I produce and create.
LO: About your latest album, Cosmic Mind. Are you happy with it? What aspect of it do you think you nailed, and what parts do you think you could improve upon?
DB: Yes. I think ‘Cosmic Mind’ is my best effort yet, but there are certain areas/songs that could’ve been written/recorded/mixed differently.
I think every musician/artist steps away from their work or a recent creation and critique their own work harshly, attempting to find flaws and discover areas that could’ve been better or expressed differently.
I respect HP Lovecraft and his body of work. I feel that he was one of the most important horror/sci-fi minds of the 20th Century, and his work had a significant impact on Stephen King, Clive Barker, and many other important people in that area of writing and creativity.
I feel this is a fitting tribute, even though it is primarily guitar-driven instrumental music, without spoken word samples or excerpts of Lovecraft’s stories. To an average listener they might not even realize what this album is supposed to be. It’s not an audio book, it’s an instrumental music tribute that feeds on the intellectual, unusual, and warped beauty that is HP Lovecraft.
LO: How has the overall reception been?
DB: It has been well-received, and a number of people have contacted about this project with intense interest and acclaim. I was recently contacted by the HP Lovecraft Historical Society, as they wanted to review the album for their archives. I sent them the CD version a few weeks ago and I’m waiting to hear what they thought of my creation.
LO: Are you going to go touring, performing your solo material?
DB: I would love to, as nearly all of my performing and touring experience has involved me backing-up other artists or working with traditional rock and metal bands. I’ve never had the opportunity to perform my blend of instrumental music in front of a live audience, and finding different avenues and ways of making this happen is one of my career goals.
LO: What’s next? Album? Touring? Any international tours?
DB: Well, my next recording project is already taking shape and the 13-song demo version of the album is already written and recorded.
My next album is going to be an official tribute to world-famous artist HR Giger. I’ve been in touch with his management in NYC and I was approved to create this album.
The details are still being ironed out, but the music is written and I have the approval.
The music is relative to his dark flavor of mind-bending artwork, and this should be the best album I’ve created so far.
This project will be produced by Markus Johansson from the group Sylencer (Chicago, IL), and I’m hoping it will be released in late 2013 or early 2014.
LO: Which is more exciting? Being on the road or studio?
DB: That’s a tough one to answer. I love travelling and performing live, but I also love to be creative, record ideas, and shape new music. I’d have to say being in the studio.
It’s a lot more laid-back and comfortable, compared to bouncing around in a bus or a vehicle for long hauls around the country. Plus, you can only see the inside of a few truck stops before boredom sets in and you become anxious to get to the next gig.
LO: OK, so, how about the themes and concepts you focus on in your music? Can you tell me about them?
DB: I usually begin with some raw ideas. I don’t normally begin a new project with the completed project in mind, it’s normally a small collection of riffs and musical ideas, and once those begin to take shape and the demos are recorded, the overall mood or vibe of the music tends to dictate where the direction of the project will lead.
As far as the concept and writing for Cosmic Mind, I started writing/recording a batch of new music during the same time I was reading a large collection of HP Lovecraft stories. As I continued to write and record new songs and ideas, I continued reading Lovecraft.
Late one night I was listening to a selection of my ideas and demos while reading Lovecraft and the two seemed to go hand in hand. The light bulb came on that night, and from that moment forward the project became a themed tribute to Lovecraft.
LO: How do the ideas come about, and how do they influence the writing process?
DB: Well, most of my projects center on a theme. My first at-home recording project was called The Outer Sanctum (2009). At the time I was watching a lot of horror movies and reading horror fiction, so when a pile of music started stacking up in front of me, the choice to create a horror-themed music project made sense, so I went with it.
The next album was an online-only release called Terrestial Planet which is a tribute to the original Doom video game. At the time I was playing Doom again, the music surfaced, and they seemed to fit each other nicely.
In 2011, I released The Raven, which is an instrumental music project to the works of Edgar Allan Poe, and at the time that music was being recorded and arranged, I had recently finished a large volume of Poe’s work. The music fit the mood of his classic writing style, and the project formed around the two worlds colliding.
LO: So, on the musical side, who do you draw your inspiration from?
DB: I’m pretty random when it comes to music and my influences. Honestly, I love it all.
There are certain musicians and groups that I really like, such as Tool, Joe Satriani, Buckethead, Mastodon, Lamb of God, and good old Led Zeppelin. I also love classical, jazz, funk, and progressive rock/metal music, so one day you might hear me listening to Bach or Fernando Sor, the next day it might be The Beatles, Miles Davis, or Slayer.
LO: OK, when you’re writing your music, which is foremost in your thoughts? Catering to the audience or music for its own sake?
DB: First and foremost it’s the art of creating unique and interesting music that inspires me.
Being an individual and expressing yourself artistically is one of the greatest joys this world can bring to a human being. Taking an idea and making it into something that other people can not only relate to, but when your work inspires people, that should be everyone’s goal as an artist or performer.
Some people are musicians simply to make money or for fame or attention, but I’m not like that in the least.
Yes, it is nice to be rewarded for hard work or for accomplishing something musically relevant or important, but in the end my main desire and drive is creating something new, original, and balanced that people can relate to.
If the masses find my work and love it great, if not it’s okay. In the end, I’m really just interested in sharing music that I’ve created that pleases me. If other people like it great, if not, it’s okay and they can listen to something else.
LO: Lastly, when you look back your music career, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
DB: There are several things that I’ve accomplished as a musician that I’m proud of, and when I look back I’m amazed at some of the opportunities I’ve had and things that I’ve done as a musician.
So while I can’t answer this question with one definite answer, I can say that the smartest thing I ever did as a musician was build a strong education.
I was self-taught in the beginning, but then I became curious and I wanted to know why a certain chord sounded the way it did, or why a certain scale played over that chord created the sounds that they created when they were combined.
Once I started to get some answers to my questions, I noticed there was a massive mountain of information and material right around the corner. Around that time I decided to focus on music in college and I eventually graduated from AIM in Atlanta. Attending AIM was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made as a musician. Period.
LO: Thank you David!
More information about David Brewster can be found here…