Jacob Interviews…Brian Larsen

Brian Larsen will release his second studio album in 2012. Photo property of Brian Larsen

Since he was 11-years-old, 25-year-old singer-songwriter Brian Larsen has been growing as a recording artist since his days with his band: Twilight’s Moon.  Now Larsen continues to prepare to release his second solo studio album in three years,  jacobelyacharjournalist.com had the opportunity to sit down with him to discuss his career, preparations for his latest album and who is on his collaboration list.

Jacob Elyachar: Brian, you started out in the music industry when you were 11 years old? Why that early?

Brian Larsen: Well, I’ve been interested in music since before I could walk or talk, so I think it was all part of a natural progression for me. My family says that I would sit and watch MTV endlessly… all day, every day. By the time I was three or four, my parents had purchased a toy guitar and microphone set for me, and I would pretend that the coffee table was a stage and would “perform” for anyone who would listen.

That evolved to piano lessons starting around age five or so, and I started writing really rudimentary songs by the time I was eight… from there, it made sense to start recording what I was writing, and that eventually led to my decision to gather a collection of my songs and release it as an album. Make no mistake, my first few albums were definitely the work of a child, but I’m really glad that I had the focus and drive to actually release those early albums and to promote them… I took myself seriously from a young age, and I think that allowed me to always want to improve my performing, my recording setup, my songwriting skill, and the production value of my music.

JE: Who are some of your strongest musical influences?

BL: My musical influences are all across the board. As a child, I was raised on classic rock, so my parents were always playing The Beatles, ELO, Fleetwood Mac, Queen, and tons of others. By the time I was a teenager, I developed an interest in classical and world music, so my more Avant-garde influences are as far-reaching as Philip Glass, Ravi Shankar, Yoko Ono, etc.  I think I can find inspiration in any kind of music, and even from life itself. There is musical and artistic value in everything we see and do, and hopefully I’ve never lost sight of how inspiring it is to be alive.

JE: What was your experience like with your band, Twilight’s Moon?

 BL:  Twilight’s Moon was how I got started in the music business, and it has been and always will be a very important part of my musical growth. I’ve never sat down and counted, but I guess I released about 100 songs across 8 albums with Twilight’s Moon, spanning the period from 1997 to 2007. After “In The Meantime” was released in 2007, I decided that I wanted to release music using my name rather than Twilight’s Moon… I really wanted to open a new chapter in my career, and I think releasing my “Breaking” album under my own name was a vital part of that transition.  I still own the rights to the Twilight’s Moon name, and I’m toying with the idea of naming my touring band Twilight’s Moon, so it’d be kind of a compromise, you know… “Brian Larsen and Twilight’s Moon.” We’ll see.

 JE: What it is like to be a member of the Recording Academy and what is like to be in attendance at the Grammys?

BL: It’s an incredible honor to be a voting member of the Recording Academy, and I absolutely love going to the Grammy Awards every year… it’s great to get to hang out with old friends and to meet new ones. It was also a great honor to be offered membership in the Academy’s Producers and Engineers Wing a few years ago… I really try to stay as active as I can with the recording community.

JE:  Could you describe the story behind “Stay or Break” from your 2009 album “Breaking?” 

BL: “Stay or Break” was a song I wrote as sort of an open letter to myself about a very long-term relationship I was in at the time.  I acknowledged that I wasn’t going to be the one to end the relationship (“Stay, I know you will”), but having to accept that there were going to be severe consequences to staying (“…but you’ll break”).

The verses further acknowledge how that situation was really me not doing what was in my best interests (“I tried to keep you from yourself… Now the candle burns at both ends / so I’m burning on / and I’m burning down / But I’m living now”). Ultimately, things unfolded in a difficult and painful manner, just as I had feared.

JE:  What inspires you as a songwriter?

BL: It may sound silly, but I really do think that everything about life and being alive inspires me. In particular, though, I’m inspired by my relationships, both romantic relationships and friendships. A lot of my songs are a form of catharsis for me, so I tend to write about the struggles and challenges of those relationships.

I feel very fortunate that so many people feel that they can relate to the themes found in my songs, though… I really do believe that my songs are open for interpretation, so if it means something different to someone else than it did when I wrote it, I’m totally fine with that.

JE: Could you describe what your new album is going to sound like?

BL: My new album, “Building,” is definitely the best thing I’ve ever done. The songs are more or less about trying to “build” oneself up after a traumatic event (a serious breakup, death of a loved one, etc.). The songs are energetic and passionate and cover a tremendous amount of ground, sonically speaking. I’ve got some really powerful rock songs in there, a few really sweet pop songs, and a few ballads, and a few unique songs. There are definitely some twists and turns on this album, and despite how different some of the songs sound from each other, they work together really, really well… there’s something very cohesive about this album.

Like most of my previous albums, I produced these recordings, but a good friend of mine, multi-platinum producer and mixer Michael James mixed the album. Michael is unbelievably talented, and he really helped me to take my songs to a totally different level. I’m playing all the instruments on every song except for the drums on several songs, for which I brought in my incredibly talented touring drummer, Lydia Lewis, and I was really fortunate to record her drum parts at the legendary Inner Ear Studios with Don Zientara, who is another amazingly talented producer and engineer.

Everyone who worked on the album expressed having a real passion for these songs, and that has been fantastic… it’s one of the greatest feelings in the world to have people whom you admire and respect verbalize how much they like your work.

JE:  If you had the option to collaborate with other artists or producers, who is on the top of your wish list?

BL: Well, I’ve always wanted to work with Dave Stewart, and I did have the opportunity to collaborate with him very briefly last year, but I’d really like to get together with Dave and work on a couple of songs sometime next year when our schedules are in sync.

I’d love to work with Jeff Lynne, who is one of the most amazing musicians and producers ever to walk the face of this planet. Would also love to work with Kate Pierson of the B-52’s (which I’m working on doing sometime in 2012) and Belinda Carlisle, who’s a buddy of mine and is an unbelievably talented woman. I’m hoping to turn my next album into a collaborative one… we’ll see.

I really think I’m entering an incredibly prolific phase in my career… I feel so alive and so inspired, and I really want to keep this momentum up. I’m in the process of moving permanently to Los Angeles, so there’s going to be a real paradigm shift for the better. I’m really, really looking forward to everything that I’ve got going on, and I couldn’t be more excited about “Building.”

Brian’s latest CD: “Building” will be released worldwide on April 17, 2012 but fans will be able to listen to his CD exclusively on his website starting on March 20, 2012.  To learn more about Brian and listen to his music, visit his Website: http://www.twilightsmoon.com/

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