We live in an age of too much information. Remember a time when music was more about the music than the conversation surrounding it? Engagement came first, simply as a byproduct of the inability to have such ubiquitous conversation in real time. Now the word 'viral' looms on the edge of being literal—our cultural flowchart is infected with shock value. But I implore, before you Google Marissa Bregman
and discover the more insignificant details of her personal life, take a second to mind-Google her music and internally search for your own key words. I found a few of mine—percussive, precocious, and sensory... enough to keep me interested without knowing the personal details.
After a few listens, I was mostly interested in conception and construction. Those key word elements find themselves, according to Bregman, who was cordial enough to go into detail about her songwriting process. "I think it's a vibe that comes first, a feeling, a certain mood. Then it's a matter of sitting at the piano or guitar and playing some chords that work within that vibe. Then finally I start to sort of form sounds, which become the words." The vibe, another element of engagement sorely missed in today's more gimmicky artists.
The vibe is specific to Bregman's early interests—Disney tunes, TV theme songs, and other childhood favorites weave a tapestry of nostalgia and as one friend put it "jaunty, with a wistful sadness" (a perfect description).
Bregman likes to let things happen organically, which is another staple of being an artist at heart. "I think the songs are complete before I start thinking about sound too much." The finished constructions come out sounding like carefully orchestrated nuances, but the reality is a much more freeform, spur-of-the-moment ambient seasoning. A recreation of everyday aesthetics we take for granted.
"I just try to capture what I hear when I walk around the city singing the songs in my head" she told us. "I'm not hearing drums, per se, I'm hearing car horns honking, subways grinding, heels clicking and stomping, voices chattering. I'll bring crazy things to the studio just to bang on, or shake. Like corn chip bags, or those tubes they use to send things in at the post office. I get bored just hearing a regular drum".
In many ways, being tired of banging the same old drum resonates with us. It digs a little deeper than Bregman's intentions, mainly due to the rhetorical value of beating a dead drum (or horse), mainly, the drab terrain of music infecting our ear-space. It's the same old song, with limited personality, auto-tuned and compressed. It's the hyped beast, churning blog-views with its unconventional subject matter or comical one-trick name. The relateability of both obscured— one by painful simplicity, and the other, a fantasy too far-fetched to be sympathetic.
Bregman isn't concerned with the chatter, only with creating first and seeing what reacts later, an instant bolster for relating to her music. It feels authentic because it isn't trying. "I don't think you could worry about who's relating to what. I'm always surprised how I'll write a song about one thing, and someone will come up to me and tell me how they relate to it in a totally different way than I intended. You do want to keep it simple, I guess. But the simplest emotions are really quite complicated, and complicated writing is sometimes really just a cover-up when you have nothing to say."
Bregman has plenty to say, as evidenced by her forthcoming album (due out in mid-August). If you can't wait to hear the whole thing, first single "Starlight" impacted back in March and is available now via iTunes
. You can also get a little insight into the artist via the usual channels, her Facebook