Musician spotlight: Brittany Aquamarine
Brittany has collaborated and performed with many musicians, adding songwriting, instrumentation, lead and background vocals to various projects—including performing live with the band Grenadilla at Sirius XM Satellite Radio Studios in Washington DC and playing at the Clearwater and Mountain Jam Festivals in New York. One of Brittany’s solo piano songs, Exposure—recorded live—is the closing track on the North Bay Songwriters compilation benefit CD for KRCB FM. She has also been involved in the local music scene in Sonoma County as a sound engineer, a stage manager for the Railroad Square Music Festival and teaching guitar, piano and vocal lessons.
We asked Brittany our Five Questions:
Where does your inspiration come from?
The inspiration has always been tied to the development of the lyrics. These lyrics come from inward spaces, memories, dreams or strong expressions that feel like they’re ready to be expressed. Sometimes the words will arrive all at once without music, and sometimes they accompany the music. When the words come, they can form quickly. I grab my pen, or my recording device and will note or record these words, otherwise they can disappear. Though at other times, even though the lyrical inspiration can appear quickly, it can take a while for the original lyrics to evolve into a complete song. The words change over time and upon reflection of what is really trying to be expressed.
What would you like people to know about what it’s like to create your music?
I’d like people to know that my creation process depends on a few different factors. It ultimately depends on the vehicle of expression (piano, guitar, electronic loops) and the type of music I’m creating. With the solo piano and guitar songs I’ve created before these recent releases, the majority of the creation process involved me picking different chord shapes, not necessarily thinking of the specific chords I was playing, but just trying to figure out which sounds resonated with the feeling that I was trying to express. It’s similar to toning where people make a vocal sound that resonates with what they are feeling, maybe as a soothing sound, or a harmonic sound that can sit with that feeling. I play chords that “tone” with the feeling of the song that is being created. The vocals add another layer of tones that accompany the instrumental sounds. My latest song productions were created with electronic loops. I started with a loop that resonated with me then combined the instrumental loops that worked well with one another. I would then cut, paste and edit a multi-layered variety of looped tracks to create a place where the melody could sit.
What would you like people to take away from your songs?
I would like to think that the songs I create leave some type of connective experience with the listener. I know that the music I’ve personally connected with was because I’ve either liked the beats, thought the song was unique, or the words presented a powerful perspective on what I was experiencing. More specifically, maybe the takeaway from the particular themes of my songs provides the listener with a point of reflection or moment of presence.
What are some of your favorite things about and/or places in Sonoma County?
The Redwoods, the beach and the warmth of the sunshine. (Redwoods!) I’ve always loved trees that stay green in the winter. Having lived in the Midwest and east coast where most of the trees lose their leaves at that time of year, these types of green trees have always signified a sense of comfort and coziness. The beach has also been a place of refuge and recharge for me throughout my life here in Sonoma County. And of course, I love to sit in the warmth of the sunshine. It is so nice to be able to sit outside and feel the nurturing sun’s warmth.
How has music changed for you during the pandemic?
For many, many years, I have wanted to create a multi-layered production of my songs instead of the solo piano and guitar pieces that I had been performing. I had a lot of time to focus on the culmination of four songs during 2020 and the beginning of 2021. Although the creation process of these new songs was primarily a solo process, I connected virtually with some new people: a mixing engineer, Bill Palmer, and mastering engineer, Piper Payne, both of whom live out of state. Another virtual collaborator I worked with is a college friend, Jienan Yuan. We have worked together remotely a few times before, but it had been a few years, and it was nice to collaborate again. One other thing that changed was the presentation of music—there was a music video to accompany all of these new releases. Major contributors to these music videos were with Sonoma County locals: Ceni of Open Mic with Ceni at Hopmonk and Yareen Avni, a filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist.
Brittany’s website is: Aquamarine Rhythms.
Her music videos can be found here.
Brittany’s Facebook page.