Spencer Brown Talks Touring, Second Album, And His Diverse Sound
After releasing his latest album, “Stream Of Conciousness”, Spencer Brown has recently been on tour promoting the album. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with the San Francisco resident at the end of his crazy week, which consisted of recovering from being ill while trying to perform at his shows. We talked about touring, the album, his diverse musical sound, and more.
Welcome back to Minneapolis! You played here at Rev the last time you were in Minneapolis. You’ve mentioned you love the intimacy of the venue. Is there anything else that stands out when you play in Rev, or Minneapolis in general, that makes it so special?
“The people that come here are truly passionate about music, which I think is something that is really magical when you get a crowd full of people who truly love what they’re coming to do. You don’t really find people who randomly turn up and really don’t know what they’re getting into. It’s just a crowd full of love and good vibes!”
You were a bit under the weather earlier this week. With all the craziness on the news lately surrounding illness, including the cancellation of festivals, are you as an artist paying close attention to these things since you travel so much and rely on these shows as part of how you make a living?
“I’m just now recovering from whatever I had last week. This is my seventh show in nine days. It’s been really hectic, but it’s been really, really fun you know? I just have to take care of myself. I drink a ton of water, I get sleep as much as possible, book late flights, book late checkouts, etc.. Don’t party. Don’t hang out after the show. Just eat and go to bed.
For fans and meet-and-greets; I always love doing meet-and-greets. Meeting fans, taking pictures, doing signatures, but for the past couple weeks I unfortunately have not been doing any of that. Not because I don’t love the fans. I’m just such a germaphobe that I want to make sure I’m a hundred percent. Make sure this Corona craze tones down a little. The flu is really intense right now. I can’t really do so many of the handshakes and the hugs and stuff, but I do love the fans at the end of the day. It’s just not the time to be handling people right now.”
You’re here promoting the new album! How has the tour been so far?
“The tour has been absolutely unbelievable! I’m seeing such passion in the crowds and in the fans. When I start playing an album track, everyone loses it! It’s so cool to see in action that my music has resonated with people to the point where they love what they’re hearing. That’s the goal of an artist. I’m really grateful I can bring happiness to others with the art that I’ve made.”
You’ve mentioned your intentions with “Stream Of Consciousness” to be a continuous journey from beginning to end. Walk me through it. I’m dropping the fresh vinyl down, then the album starts. Where are you taking me?
“It’s a journey that starts a little bit deeper, a little more chill, then pushes and pulls you a little techy here and there, and very happy here and there. It takes you through all the emotions of my life over the past two years since my last album “Illusion Of Perfection”, and some before. Taking you through all the life experiences I’ve gone through the past couple years and trying to convey the emotion of my life into an hour or so. You can take what you want from there and apply it to your own experiences.”
“Womaa” is the first extended release from the album. Are there plans in the works for more extended releases?
“Yeah! We’re doing two EPs. The first one comes really soon. One is six tracks, one is five tracks. The rest of the tracks from the album will be on there.
We just wanted to push “Womaa” out first. There’s a very special remix that’s going to be coming out for that too, but I can’t announce that yet. It’s someone who is massive that’s remixing it. He actually reached out to me. He loved the song when I played it before him at a show. He was like, “What is this song?!” I told him ‘It’s a track that I made, it’s unreleased,’ and he was like “I’m making a remix!” So I sent him the stems and he did it. I’m really excited for it!”
Unfortunately, you can’t always tour with your friends, whether it’s Above & Beyond for ABGT, or lately Qrion. You’ve admitted that touring can be lonely sometimes. When you’re touring solo, what do you do to stay social?
“Honestly I like to pick up the phone and call my family or call my friends. I just spend a lot of time on the phone. If I’m alone in the city, I’ll call my mom and talk to her for an hour. I’ll call my dad. I’ll call my best friends. I’ll call friends I haven’t talked to in a while. If I’m feeling a little lonely, calling usually does it for me. Otherwise, I’m usually just hanging out in the hotel room making music or exploring the city.
Sometimes there are cities where I haven’t checked it out too much and I’ll just wander from my hotel and not really know what to expect. I find that very inspirational. Just walk and discover stuff, there’s something fun about that.”
Speaking of your parents, they recently attended one of your shows! What’s the support been like from them?
“Oh yeah, they’ve been to like 30 shows! They’ve been really chill. They were like, “Finish Duke, get your degree, and then do whatever you want to do.” I studied Engineering and was thinking about dropping out halfway and doing music full-time. They were like, “We won’t support that, but we will support you if you finish school.” I finished school and they said, “Great! Do music! We support you.” They come to my shows and it’s been a great time.
When I finished graduation I was like, ‘Maybe I should get an engineering job and work on music on the side, or maybe I should work on music full-time.’ Then I thought, ‘Wait, if I don’t work on music full-time, I’m probably not going to make this a serious career.’ So I just lived with my family for nine months and got music happening, and my parents supported it.”
One of my favorite moments of yours is when you were spotted in the crowd with other Anjunafam feeling the vibes of the ABGT 350 Warm-Up Set! Do you get a chance to attend shows as much as you’d like?
“Oh for sure! When I’m not heavily touring, I go to a lot of shows. I love super deep progressive like Guy J and Patrice Bäumel. I also love hard techno like Chris Liebing. I like all sorts of things on the spectrum.
A couple months ago, about 15 of my friends and I went to Coasta Rica for BPM. I wasn’t playing, but we just went for five days, partied, and had an amazing time. We saw a bunch of great music.
I definitely do try to go to a lot of shows when I’m not touring so heavily for inspiration. I learn a lot on the dance floor. I also just love dance music! I’ve been passionate with dance music since I was 12 or 13. No matter how much time I take away from it, I’m always craving it, whether it’s playing or going to a show.”
So you’re a bit of a techno fan? How has that inspired your sound?
“I never really tried to make the super hard techno, but I do make it for fun. I make some techno tracks for my sets because I need them in my sets to have a bit of a darker period, like “Windows 95 on Acid” and “Star Allies”. I don’t really like to make the super hard techno, I just really like to appreciate it and enjoy it. It’s fun to make, but I wouldn’t release a lot of it. Say I’m in New York at 5:30 in the morning and there’s a few stragglers on the dance floor, and they want hard stuff, I’ll save it for them haha!”
Over the years, you’ve worked with everyone from Armin Van Buuren to Deadmau5, and producing sounds to complement each artist. Is the key to success staying open about your sound?
“To be honest, it’s actually the opposite. I just make music all the time, and the labels want the music. I never even really tried to release on Anjuna, it all just happened very organically. They heard some of my music and wanted to sign it. Same with Mau5trap. I wasn’t making the songs like, ‘I want to release on Mau5trap.’ I just made the song and thought, ‘I think Deadmau5 would be into this, but I don’t really know.’ Then, we got in contact and they really liked it, and signed it.
It’s kind of like; make whatever is missing in my record collection. I like to play mostly my own music. Probably 90-95% my own music. I make tracks that I really want to play. Then, it fits a certain label. The more euphoric, higher energy stuff is Anjunabeats material. The deeper, more progressive stuff is Anjunadeep. The ‘techier’ stuff I release on Mau5trap. There are a few other labels we’re also looking at because there’s some ‘housier’ stuff I’ve made lately and might release on a house label. We’ll see. I make music for the fun of making music.”
Finally, what do you have in the works for the future?
“The EPs are coming up. We also have a ton of releases planned. I can’t say too much yet, but it’s diverse. There’s harder, techier stuff; deep, chill stuff; all the different parts of my sound are going to get some love for sure!
That’s something I’m really grateful for. When the fans come to the shows, they know they’re going to get a little deep and progressive in the beginning, and some higher energy stuff at the end. Maybe some techno in the middle or some trancier stuff. I’m very grateful that people are so open minded for all that stuff. Again, I’m making what I like to make, and it’s cool that people enjoy that!”
I’d like to thank Spencer Brown for taking the time to sit down and chat, especially after a hectic week, as well as Rev Ultra Lounge and SIM Shows for bringing Spencer in and helping put on a fantastic show.
Title photo by Brez Media.