Brandy Zdan is a Juno nominated singer-songwriter. She has been part of 2 groups: Twilight Hotel and The Trishas. She is now releasing her second solo album calledSecretear. The album was produced by the same producer who did her first album, Teddy Morgan. Secretear includes the single “I Want Your Trouble”
Secretear will be released May 11 on Tallest Man Records. Zdan is an independent artist who stands out. We’ve heard her name many times before we could do this interview. Zdan is dedicated and gifted when it comes to making music. For info visit https://www.facebook.com/brandyzdanmusic
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Secretear?
BZ: You can never predict what challenges will come up when you dive into the recording process, but it will always be something and it will be something you least expect. ForSecretear, the songs made me work for them. So hard.
We spent much time in pre-production shaping the vision, figuring out what is best for the songs, that was somewhat easy. That was all formed when we stepped into the studio. What I didn’t expect was to blow out my voice or not be able to form chords on my guitar from just overuse and exhaustion. And this is something that doesn’t happen when you’ve made records for years and know how to track vocals and guitar. About half the record demanded a different muscle and a different approach.
I think that’s the most rewarding thing about recording. You always learn something about yourself and about the recording process. Recording continues to fascinate me and always will. Trying to match the sounds that are in your head, and the path you take to get them down. I can’t wait to start producing records for others. Very soon, very soon.
FEMMUSIC: You worked with Teddy Morgan again on this album. What does he bring to project?
BZ: Teddy and I are like “sonic” brother and sister. Without having to say too much he knows what I mean or what I’m trying to get in a sound. We just have the same taste and the same sonic palette. That’s a really special thing. We have built a trust throughout these two albums as producer and artist.
He also brought in Carl and Tom to play, which as a producer is such an important task. To “cast” the band that best serves the songs.
FEMMUSIC: What was your goal in making this album?
BZ: The only goal I ever have with making records is to get down on tape the vision that exists in my head. I write songs with production, parts and sounds in mind. Sometimes that makes it hard to go with the flow of where the song wants to go but I try to listen.
The other goal really is just to try to write better songs, write honestly and not give a f*ck, keep the blinders on and follow where the muse is taking me.
FEMMUSIC: How do you approach your solo projects differently than working with a band (Trishas, Twilight Hotel)?
BZ: On one hand, it’s always about serving the songs, that never changes, BUT on my own, I’m the boss, I’m in charge of where this goes. I love that freedom. The freedom to just trust the vision and mystery of the process and not have to answer to anyone or have anyone steer the ship. I’m at the wheel.
I do love playing support roles as a sideman though. There is a joy in that, playing a part or a background vocal that lifts them up. It’s a certain set of skills I’m thankful to have.
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
BZ: I try to remain open to the muse all the time ‘cause you never know when she’ll show up. Sometimes melodies just come and you gotta be ready to take ‘em down.
That happens a lot for me. I have so many voice memos of song ideas. Once I accumulate a bunch I go back in and see where they go.
I tend to not write on guitar or on any instruments. It’s limiting to me. If I just write in my mind, I can orchestrate it all. But of course after I’ve got a chord structure I’ll take it to an instrument. I do love writing on the omnichord. That’s brought out some of my favorite tunes. Navigator, from the new album was written all that instrument.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
BZ: Tough question. How could you only pick one song? I think that’s an impossible one to answer. I could pick a Neil Young song, I could pick a Beatles song, even Joni Mitchell.
There have been songs at each stage of my life that have had influence but I honestly couldn’t pick one. Could I pick a record, Yes. The White Album.
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
BZ: Of course, but honestly the constant state of proving oneself is the annoying and exhausting part for me. Or the times when a man directs guitar gear talk at my husband (who’s a drummer) or at a male bandmate instead of me, it makes my blood boil.
It’s our job now to know more and/or be as good or better than the boys. We’ve got to.
But in all honesty, I have just as little patience for seeing a woman on stage who doesn’t have her guitar in tune or doesn’t have her shit together as anyone.
Man or woman, you just gotta be good. I don’t give a fuck what your gender is.
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
BZ: I would LOVE to work with Daniel Lanois. He’s my favorite.
I do hope to have a record produced by him one day.
I also would love to work with Blake Mills, Jonathan Wilson.
They are 2 other music producers I love and respect.
ALL of their solo albums just blow my mind and their production is out of this world.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
BZ: Oh man, I wish it was like sports!
You’re great, you get drafted. You suck, you get cut.