Q: What inspires you to write the music you write? What made you want to play the instrument you play?
A:Inspiration for music comes from everyday life. There’s so much happening in our lives now, and at such a fast pace, that there are limitless avenues of inspiration for an artist. Moving to Canada brought a shift in how I write, mainly because of the vast scale of the county and the amazing scenery in our “backyard”! Anyone looking for inspiration needs to only take a drive an hour west of Calgary and see the Canadian Rockies…
Inspiration to play the bass was triggered by hearing Marcus Miller on the Miles Davis “Tutu” album. The range of the bass was so different to where I’d been working up to that point in my musical life as a child singer and violinist. There is something so cool about the way you can control an electric bass and bring out so many sounds and harmonic elements.
Q: Please tell us about the other artists you are working with.
A: Current collaborations include Anyplace, Anytime with R.L Walker, and Free Your Soul with Coldjack. Outside of my bass work in the contemporary jazz world, I have recently collaborated with with Calgary prog-rock/metal band Heyoka’s Mirror as they write and record material for their debut album.
Q: How does music affect the world around you?
A: Music plays an important part in all that I do. Since the release of Time On My Hands, I’ve had great opportunities to introduce the creative side of my life to my business environment and drive some positive conversations and discussion around the value of creativity and artistic thinking in the business world.
During this testing time as the world deals with the COVID-19 global pandemic, I have received so many emails and messages from people who are finding comfort in my music.
Q: If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
A: The financial return on an artist’s time. The web has made some amazing options available to artists, however industry globalization and the consumer “monthly subscription” approach to music as a commodity has significantly damaged the revenue to the artist.
Q: What is the best way to stay updated on current news; gigs, releases, etc.
A: I run my own web space at www.brendanrothwell.com and keep that as current as possible with news, reviews, show dates, etc. There’s also a contact page on the site so folks can connect directly over email, join the mailing list, or send me feedback on the tunes they hear!
The radio interviews I’ve taken part in have been a great way to share the music and discussion. Here’s the podcast of a recent interview for Jazz on Ice where we walked the Sentiment album track by track: https://soundcloud.com/user-796855614/jazz-and-soul-on-ice-featuring-brendan-rothwell
Q: Perhaps you can walk us through the success you’ve had with your 2nd album?
A: Sentiment is the follow-up to my debut album Time On My Hands which was well-received by the industry, DJs, Producers, and radio audiences. It has been deliberately made to develop my presence in the contemporary/smooth jazz genre, while further establishing my musical fingerprint and re-enforcing my brand. Sentiment demonstrates this intentional step-up in the development of my sound, with an emotionally-driven thread across the 11 tracks of the album, and a strong sense of continuity throughout. The melodic tracks have a smooth, textured edge that provide a strong hook for radio audiences. As a completely solo recording, l had the opportunity to use my multi-instrumental skills: the layered keyboards and live piano shape the contemporary feel of this album, supporting the bass in its role as the lead instrument.
Specific results that Sentiment has achieved in 2019:
I’m so proud of having built this album over 6 months during 2018, and being able to present it to my growing audience. My sincere thanks to you all for continuing to hear my musical voice.
Q: Tell us the brief history of your musical career.
A: Music started for me at a very young age. Piano was the first instrument I studied, along with violin, and singing. The move away from the classical side of music and into the areas of rock and jazz began mid-teens, with the electric bass my go-to instrument from age 16 onwards. My writing remains predominantly bass focused.
While I’ve worked alongside other artists as they put together their own recordings, it’s only the last few years that I decided to record some of my own tunes and put out an album under my own name.
My first album - Time On My Hands - is a collection of musical events that took place over several years. The decision to bring this material together and release it to the world was made jointly with my wife, Lisa. The initial goal was to successfully release the work, coordinate its promotion, and set a level and standard with this debut material that I can then build on and personally commit to developing over time. It's also a great opportunity for me to showcase my playing, writing, and production skills to other musicians in the smooth jazz genre. New collaboration projects are knocking on the door!
Following the success of my debut recording and using what I had learned through that, I developed a specifically radio-friendly sound and released Sentiment (Independent, 2019). The first single Keep On Keepin’ On chased the success of the first album, landing top positions on several global charts and I am the first independent artist to reach the #1 spot across all three smoothjazz.com charts in June 2019. With 11 tracks of bass-focused contemporary jazz, this album displays a unique and genuine identity that has remained on the global charts for more than a year. On this entirely solo recording my goal was to once again optimize the tone, scale and musicality of the bass, developing meaning, feeling and depth by bringing it to the foreground as a lead instrument.
Q: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
A: I have to go back some time here! Trevor King (the drumming legend that is "LTK") was significantly influential back in my home town. Trevor taught me at a young age about the importance of knowing how to show up and present myself in musical circles, how to commit to a goal, and how to learn from valuable constructive criticism.
Over the several years of playing music together, he showed me the values of "active listening", both musically and socially. Trevor was, and remains, a valuable mentor and influence in my life. Musical influences (in no particular order) include Level 42, The Cure, Prince, David Sanborn, Quincy Jones, Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten, Wayman Tisdale.
Over the last couple of years, the renowned bassist Nathan East has become a strong ally as I develop my sound, presence and brand in today’s music industry.
Non-musical influences? I have learned so much from people I’ve worked with in my career outside the music world, and have been able to translate some of those business ideas into the creative world to positive effect.
Q: What album has had the greatest impact on your life as a musician?
A: Tutu by Miles Davis was a turning point for me: specifically the bass work of Marcus Miller. I heard that album and from that moment on, the electric bass became my musical voice.
Q: What's new in the recording of your music? How has your music changed over the years?
A: I started out when tape was still the go-to recording medium. Learning how to edit/splice manually was a real art! As computers started to make their way into studios, midi and digital sampling became more usual and arguably drove how a lot of music developed at that critical time through the 80s into the 90s.
Bass has been my predominant instrument through all that time, so I’ve learned to adapt to the electronic influences and work with them as much as possible in my own music.
Working on the tracks that became Time On My Hands was the first time I had the opportunity to collaborate with remote musicians over the web.
The Sentiment album demonstrates my writing, playing and production capabilities.
Q: Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
A: I enjoy cooking, and regularly cook at home. Gordon Ramsay is an
inspiration on many levels!