Since they were five, Brown knew music was his calling. He was struck by the orchestral and choral overdubs in Beatles songs that combined to create what he calls “an epic sound.”
“I had a lot of music concepts in my head that I wanted to get out into the world,” he says “Growing up, I took guitar and piano lessons, but it was hard to create those epic sounds I loved with an acoustic guitar. Later, I learned that musicians were creating epic sounds with samplers and synthesizers – it turns out you can incorporate orchestral and choral music if you get really good at sampling and sequencing.
One of the attractions to electronic music is that there are few barriers to entry. With a laptop, software and the patience to learn, musicians can record an album by themselves at home.
“I love that electronic music is so DIY,” he says. “You don’t have to wait for anyone to give you a budget or permission to make music. I used to be in a band and there were constant obstacles: The van broke down, the drummer didn’t show up or there were conflicting artistic visions among the band members.”
In addition to more creativity and independence, there are economic factors driving the genre’s popularity. It’s becoming less profitable for a band to tour, so Brown is starting to see mainstream musicians adapting and experimenting with electronic music.
“There’s a shift happening right now where traditional musicians are crossing over to electronic music,”he says. “Take Jackie Venson, she’s an amazing blues guitarist, but has realized that having a band all the time doesn’t make bank. By shifting her way of thinking, she has created ‘Jackie the Robot’ a mostly electronic Jackie, which is gaining her new fans.”
In contrast to Europe, many people in the U.S. have not considered electronic music to be a pure form of musicianship – until recently. It used to be “other.” Brown says he’s been impressed with Austin’s burgeoning electronic music scene.
“The number of Austin venues that book electronic music is on par with Seattle Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Mexico City,” he says. “You need a good sound system to have a good show. In Austin, we have great venues with great sound systems, including the Parish, Empire Control Room, Vulcan and the Mohawk. The Austin scene is growing rapidly.”
Asked how he stays on the cutting edge of the electronic music scene, Brown says he has long-term relationships and collaborations with record labels, thanks to his store Exploded Records, and he has a massive music library. “You can get super nerdy about this.”
To learn more about Soundfounder’s Exploded Drawing event, check out this “Texas Monthly” article.