May 2003
interview by Ian C Stewart

Homepop denizen Scott Brookman has been making music so long he doesn't quite recall what made him want to start in the first place! Im too old to remember that, he confesses. I began discussing and promoting music on the Internet before Windows was even invented. Thats how old I am. Almost everything Ive ever done with music is connected to the Internet in some way.

As a multi-decade veteran of home-recording, Brookman's craft is painstaking. His songs are written with great difficulty. Its very hard to write a good pop song. Those who can definitely deserve our respect. It is both maddening in a way that is hard to describe and personally rewarding. You feel elated when its happening and once you are done a black depression will descend. I have written complete songs in one sitting. I have written two songs on a bicycle. A set of lyrics in a car. Another set in a hammock. Ive done some musically-sophisticated pieces under the influence of too much very cheap port. And sometimes, that rare, intensely-focused, utterly sober thinking emerges. The kind of thing when you feel as though you could write three films, ten songs, a book or two and theyd be fantastic - all before lunch. Mostly, they come with an incredible force of willpower. Somewhere in between marrying accidents in playing to the better improvised bits with good, common sense musical decisions, a song emerges. This is a hard way to live. I dont recommend it.

Regarding the source of inspiration, it is his strong feeling that the notion of influence has been corrupted somehow. People say they are influenced by another, then you hear their CD and the music has not been influenced by anything of the sort. Is that all part of the lame irony or something? I dont get that. When I say Im influenced by the Beatles, Todd Rundgren, Carole King, Brian Wilson, Ray Davies, light jazz, bossa nova and all generally tuneful music from all eras, then that IS what youll hear if you listen to my music. Im told by other musicians that I have some special quality of my own, that the songs are instantly identifiable as mine, but still the influences are obvious.

His own tastes lean toward new music from Brazil and Japan. Any neo-bossa nova/electronica/Shibuya pop stuff. Id be very interested in a disc by Bebel Gilberto or whatever Konishi-san does in the post-Pizzicato Five world. I like High Llamas and Stereolab. That kind of stuff. Mostly, my new discoveries are of reissues, especially of British stuff from the 1960s. Im blown away Jackie Trent. What a fantastic vocalist. Most artists who claim to be influenced by the 1960s giants sound nothing like them, because they cant write real songs. You can only dress up bad writing so much. A bad song is still bad in the end. As I approach 40, Im very encouraged by the elder folks who still perform live and still release new material. I find the old assumption that rock and pop performers should retire early insulting. Would a jazz musician have to do that? A painter? A novelist?

Scott Brookman's big picture view on the world of music circa 2003 is that the only thing thats really worse now is that major pop artists, the ones who chart, are no longer singing songs that have any good quality at all. They are talented, good singers and all that, but they are singing complete crap. Im talking about the music. I dont give a toss about the words really.

But hasn't it always been this way? That was not entirely true even up into the 1980s. Alternative killed the notion of trying to write a musically sophisticated song - something that sounds better than a rough draft. Hiphop killed rhythmic diversity. There are plenty of people making great, tuneful, or otherwise-interesting music in all sorts of categories, but these are non-entities in terms of the major labels. As belief in the dominance of major labels over music erodes - due to many factors - this may not really matter in the long run. I honestly think there are so many more sophisticated listeners today and I dont they are responding to the music artists of the mega-corporate world make any longer. That has to be good.

As for the immediate future, Im currently collaborating with Jon Huck of Fur Ones. I did some backing vocals for him and now were trying to write a few numbers together. Id like to work more with Fumiyuki Sato in Tokyo. Hes a very talented youngster. I could certainly stand to do a project of some kind with Roland and Julia Wolff of Riviera. Also very talented folks. Id like to do some live recordings with local musicians. There are always oodles of songs of mine laying around in various stages of existence. I also really need a new label and a dedicated professional engineer to mix for me. I hate mixing.

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