Vancouver’s own indie sextet is back and with a newly finished album, Mean Sun. With this sophomore record, band member Edo Van Breemen (piano, vocals) admits to finding a better sense of confidence in the whole album-making process – and it shows. Mean Sun is themed with serene soundscapes packed into ten tracks. Each track is also accompanied by a set of methodically chosen parts for instruments like the bass, trumpet, clarinet and piano. The results? An immensely enjoyable, tranquil listening experience.
Edo Van Breemen chats with Pop Counter//Culture about Mean Sun, giving us all the behind the scenes info on what this latest album represents. Breemen also tells us his very own dirty little torrent secret and shares some musings on the semantics of fundraising.
Has the Brasstronaut sound been refined or redefined on this new album, Mean Sun?
It represents a development. Having written this record with all six members and in a different studio situation after having toured for a couple years in both North America and Europe, I think we’re just a little more confident when we write music, what to keep and throw away. So we understand what works and what doesn’t.
Are there elements that are crossed over or evolved from previous albums into this record?
Yeah, definitely the kind of big, kind of textural sound that we have. The influences, we’re still influenced by the same things, but I think we’re just more aware of the range of what sort of sounds can come from the band. Rather than being a band where you can hear all the different instruments and they’re all showcased, we’re not really all about that. We’re kind of more about the sum of the parts.
What did Producer, Colin Stewart bring to the table in terms helping the band reach its recording goals?
Colin provided a great environment for all of us because we could just record all together as a band in one big room, but he also works with a lot of rock bands. With a producer like him, we come from a similar technical background so it was nice to be able to work with somebody who understands digital recording software the way that I do. I feel like we could really get exactly what we wanted once we figured out within the song what we were going for. He didn’t try to redefine whatever we were trying to do naturally. He works in line with our system of leaving a lot to chance.
So from what you ended up with on Mean Sun, was it very different from what you started out with?
The interesting thing is we didn’t really start out with anything more going into the studio than rough ideas and arrangements for songs. We didn’t really fully write the album before we went into the studio besides two songs. We kind of jammed out everything in the month of July and part of August and then we started going into the studio to work in the middle of August. We didn’t really know what we were going to get until we actually went in there and put things down. It was a very mysterious process for everyone.
The song “Mixtape” ends the album off on a melancholy note. Was that an intentional way to end the album?
I don’t know. Maybe it was sort of like, we wanted to leave and the end of the song is pretty washed out and prolonged so I felt like it would be a good way to end the record.
Prior to the Canadian release of the album, people were allowed to stream it free online. Considering the state of what digital media is today, was the decision to allow free streaming a pretty easy one to make?
Yeah, I basically consider releasing a record no longer protecting it so that you can sell more copies when it actually comes out because the bottom line is that people could get the record three weeks [before the release] if they wanted. I actually confess I seeded my own record to torrents because the way the world is looking, they don’t want to pay for something digitally. If they don’t want to pay, it’s still publicity for you. If the record reaches more people that affects them in a way that they want to see the show, that’s good I suppose.
You guys recently took to Indiegogo to raise funds for Mean Sun. Do you feel that the Internet positively fosters grassroots marketing and encourages an entrepreneurial spirit amongst bands today?
It does. It’s weird because that wasn’t exactly an easy decision for us to make. There’s a lot of stigma and people who see it as a tacky option for bands because you’re kind of asking people for donations. But the thing is, it’s about the semantics of the platform. It’s not really a donation when you’re pre-purchasing the record. Other bands will ask for straight up donations to help with going on tour and things like that. For us, it was really an option that makes a lot of sense. We understand that we have our own audience and we have a pretty big email list and Facebook group. We just thought let’s see how many records we could sell ahead of the release to cover the cost inherent to releasing a record without a major label.
What’s next beyond your Canadian tour?
We’re going to start working on a new record, writing new songs. I’d like to do another single, a more upbeat track. We’ll just release things as we feel like it and I guess work on a new record to be recording early next year…I feel like it’s important to just keep the momentum going. For me writing songs is more interesting than being a jukebox and playing them over and over. I mean I like playing live, but there’s certainly…you eventually feel like you’re on repeat.