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Brute Heart

8 Mar

If you were at the packed Poliça show in the Mainroom on Valentine’s Day, hopefully you showed up early enough for the openers Brute Heart. The trio of Crystal Myslajek, Jackie Beckey and Crystal Brinkman filled the room with pulsating, other-worldly and architectural sound, the drums and bass providing sinewy intertwined rhythms punctuated by the plucked and hummed viola, all wrapped up in vocal harmonies that channeled church and nature. It was an impressive, engaging display and one that has not gone unnoticed – City Pages included their last full-length, Lonely Hunter in their best records of 2011. Brute Heart has a 7″ release this week, putting out “Fever” b/w “In Limbo” on M’Lady’s Records at the Kitty Cat Klub on Saturday night. Before the event, CakeIn15 caught up with the band’s collective voice via e-mail to talk about what sets them apart, labels and the need for more venues that aren’t bars.

CakeIn15: Your instrumentation definitely sets you apart – it’s not every band that has a viola, bass and drums – what are the challenges of your collaborative or working process?

Brute Heart: We find a lot of freedom in our instrumentation. There is a lot of space to work with when there are no chords being strummed/keyed constantly. That said, without a solid chordal foundation there can also be challenges to writing melody lines and keeping track of rhythms. Our sound is defined by that space, though.

C15: You’ve put out two full records, self-releasing Brass Beads in 2009 and then Lonely Hunter in 2011 on Soft Abuse. The 7″ for “Fever” b/w “In Limbo” in on M’lady’s records – how are you hooking up with your labels and what’s the biggest advantage/benefit for you in having label support? I’m curious about this mostly relative to the ardent DIY work ethic here.

BH: Self-releasing Brass Beads was a really fun experience for us. It’s also, as most musicians know, a lot of work. The Soft Abuse label founder Chris Berry was a friend of a friend and approached us about wanting to put out a full-length for us. We were excited to have some help with a record, but also to have that help come in the form of a one-person, local friend. Soft Abuse allowed a wider audience to hear our music. Folks around the world bought our album because of an established distributor and a network of radio stations, something that takes so much time establish. When we first released Brass Beads in 2009, we immediately sent it to M’Lady’s Records. They were kind of a dream label for us. We felt a connection to the unique bands that they have been putting out. Turns out they liked what we were doing!

C15: Where do you see yourself going after the 7″? Is it a stepping-stone to future recordings and how does it differ or build on your past work?

BH: After the 7″ we would love to focus on writing. We want to put out another full length hopefully next year and would love to collaborate more on artistic and multi-media projects. Touring is always on our minds, too. Europe would be dreamy.

C15: For your past cover art, that looks like the work of Eric Carlson and Andrew Mazerol & Tynan Kerr there (and if it’s not, please correct me!) who are some great visual artists, and you’ve described your music in visual arts terms like “spatial parameters” and paintings. What is the relationship between art and music for you as a band? Who are some of your favorite artists?

BH: The Brass Beads and 7″ cover art were done by Andie Mazorol and Tynan Kerr, while Lonely Hunter was the work of Crystal Quinn (C15 note: Quinn was part of the Hardland/Heartland collective with Carlson). We had an EP that came out in 2008 that Jess Seamans did the art for as well. She has also helped us out with some amazing posters. Jackie has done her fair share of inserts and posters, too! We feel honored to have such visionary artists to work with, artists that reflects the mood and esthetic that we seek to express in our music. We value art tremendously and put a lot of time into thinking about our covers. Music for us is very much an artistic experience. We try and compose pieces that evoke emotion, illustrate scenes, and create dialogue. Much of our work is inspired by other artist’s work.

C15: You’ve done some touring, what are the best and worst things about it? If you were setting up your dream tour lineup, what bands would be on the bill and where would you play?

BH: The best thing about tour is getting to spend time together! Seeing new cities and getting to explre our huge country is really great, too. We have a lot of fun and generally travel well together. All three of us value water, good coffee, healthy eating and getting sleep. We usually have a cooler with salad fixings and tons of other produce in it. Coolers are a big space commitment, but it’s essential for us. The worst part about tour is how one’s body feels when you are packed and sitting in a vehicle for the majority of the day for weeks. Also booking a tour is also a challenge. Dream tour band line up would be too long to list here, there are so many dream bands on that list but we will mention a few here: White Magic, the Talking Heads, Brian Eno, tUnE-yArDs, Selda, The Roots…

C15: What is something that the Twin Cities needs more of, or could do more of to support its artists and musicians?

BH: The Twin Cities could use more venues that aren’t bars where music has to start late and end late. There are tons of people out there that would go out and see music like they see a play. Crystal B got to see Dark Dark Dark at Cafe de la Danse in Paris and the show was packed and started at 7:30 and ended at 10 with three bands. Getting more all ages that venues aren’t centered around consuming and partying. Don’t get us wrong, we all drink, but having a balance and more choices would be nice.

It would be awesome to see more cross collaboration between artistic modalities, too.

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