"Went from Yanni to Sheena Easton and back to Yanni in a few years, that was a shock in musical styles but a welcome change."
"[Yanni] Gave us musicians a great deal of freedom to expand the music"
|IJ: What was the first music you
BJ: My older brother is a
musician/teacher. Probably him playing at home.
BJ: In the 7th grade a group from school took a trip to see Buddy Rich perform at Orchestral Hall in Minneapolis. One moment in the show, his sax player stood up for a solo. I was sitting in the front row. Blew me away. I never heard such music.
IJ: What was your first instrument? What other instruments do you play?
BJ: My first instrument was the piano. Played
the trombone through high school and at college for a few years. Also played sax and
guitar in some of my earlier bands but left them to concentrate on just the
BJ: A few years at Moorhead State in ND.
IJ: What styles of music have you played? What is your favorite?
BJ: I started out in a wedding dance band so we had to play EVERYTHING. Was a great experience. Went from Yanni to Sheena Easton and back to Yanni in a few years, that was a shock in musical styles but a welcome change. Contemporary instrumental fits my style of playing the best.
IJ: How did you get hooked up Yanni?
BJ: We both had a mutual friend. I recorded a demo tape of some of some original material. It happened to be what Yanni was looking for at the time. He hired me over the phone without ever meeting.
IJ: What role did you have in his band?
BJ: Covered a lot of the keyboard parts that Yanni could not for lack of hands in the shows. Did have to adjust some parts that did not work well in a live situation. Also worked extensively on programming sounds for all keyboardists. Helped layer with the orchestra to really create a thick sound.
IJ: What is he like as a musician?
BJ: Very focused on recreating the sounds and music that was originally written for the live show. Has a great ear for sounds and an eye for production. Improvisation is not his forte but makes up for it in other areas.
IJ: What is he like to work with?
BJ: Gave us musicians a great deal of freedom to expand the music as well. If you listen to the original recordings he did and what we ended up with in our LIVE recordings you can really hear the musicians input.
IJ: How did you get hooked up with Sheena Easton?
BJ: Was recommended by a former road manager.
Was included in a try out with 4 others. Rehearsed with the band, they then cut it
down to two of us, then rehearsed with Sheena for the final cut.
"I did one (solo CD on a major label) .. didn't like the lack of control over the end product ..."
"Basically, I write from a two person standpoint. First, I let the song take hold and I put down the idea as a raw emotional statement. Then I let it breathe and come back, approaching from more of an objective point of view."
|IJ: What keyboards do you use, and
what do you like about particular ones?
Have used a Korg SG1D piano for years. Love the action and sound but might be
trading it in for a Roland RD700. A bit lighter to carry and offers a few more
different sounds on board. Rack units include a JV1080 (great for string layers),
EMU E5000 sampler (easy to use and has a great library), Yamaha TG77 (some nice ethereal
textures), Alesis D4, Protues 2, and occasionally I use my Korg M1.
BJ: Did my first CD in between tours with Yanni. Invited most of the Yanni band over to my studio and cut some great tracks. (Hear The Massses) I have been on my own for about 5 years with five solo CDs. (Solo journey - Christmas Around The World - One deep Breath - Rapture)
IJ: Were they all recorded in Minnesota?
BJ: Hear The Masses was recorded in my home studio in LA, CA. Mixed here in MN. Rapture was recorded at a number of different studios here in MN and at Captian and Tennile's studio in LA. Mixed in Nashville. All the others were recorded and mixed at my home studio in MN.
IJ: Do you consider yourself to be an independent artist, or are you signed to one of the major labels?
BJ: Independent now. I did one CD (Rapture) on Narada/Virgin a few years ago. It was a great experience music wise. Brought in a fifty piece orchestra, conducted and wrote all the scores, music I'm very proud of. Didn't like the lack of control over the end product so asked to be released from the contract. The other four CDs have been released on my own label Robbins Island Music.
IJ: I've noticed that your CDs are for sale mainly in independent stores. Do have a distribution deal with your new CD?
BJ: Nothing formal. Some reps work with me and stock in alternative stores, as well as heavy web presence and people who sign up for my fan list. I've had relationships in the past with Best Buy and Sam Goody but they are so slow that I stopped dealing with them. They would stock 4-5 cds at a time in their stores, my fans would buy them up, and it would take them another 2 months to put more CDs up. Got tired of sending fans to the store only to tell me they were out.
IJ: Tell me about your songwriting process. How do you compose? Where do your ideas come from?
BJ: Basically, I write from a two person standpoint. First, I let the song take hold and I put down the idea as a raw emotional statement. Then I let it breathe and come back, approaching from more of an objective point of view. This allows me to rediscover the true meaning I intended in the beginning, shedding new light on how I can best represent that to the listener. Musically I try to connect a common bridge between such exhilarating feelings as performing at the Acropolis, to the emotions each and everyone of us feel everyday. In the end, a good melody will always stand the test of time.
IJ: For your type of music do you believe a solid melody is of prime importance?
BJ: Not necessarily. Other artists do a great job without strong melodies. They concentrate on feel and moods and do a great job. I prefer to concentrate on the melody first. I'ts important for MY style.
IJ: You have a new CD coming out. How would you describe it?
BJ: I created a number of moods. Ethereal in nature but strengthened with strong singable melodies and some rhythms and vocal chants.
The CD has this on the back:
"All the information you need is available to you to have a successful career in music, if your paying attention, and not closed off to anything. Remember PERSEVERANCE is king!"
"First and foremost, if you want to be successful live were you want to live"
|IJ: Will you be touring or giving live
performances to promote the CD?
BJ: I always give my loyal fans the first chance to buy and hear the music first before the industry does. I put on a few concerts this past December and introduced the CD then. This summer I will be giving some outdoor concerts as well. Check out my LIVE link at http:www.bradleyjoseph.com for constant updates on were I will be performing.
IJ: What lessons have you learned in your career that would be helpful to independent artists trying to make it in the music biz?
BJ: To keep your eyes and ears open all the time. All the information you need is available to you to have a successful career in music, if your paying attention, and not closed off to anything. Remember PERSEVERANCE is king!
IJ: I assume, based on your experiences, you would recommend newer artists no seek attention of the big labels and focus on indie labels? Or, is there a benefit to working with the bigger labels that makes it worth the hassle?
BJ: It really depends on your need and personality. Some artists want to just be involved in the music. As an independent, business is a prime concern and can take over you if not controlled. Some artists do not like that added problems and dont have the personality to work with both. I suggest to read and study both courses. Pick one that suits your needs and wants.
IJ: You are originally from Minnesota, but have lived in L.A. and have travelled around the world. What brings you back to Minnesota?
BJ: The first thing business people say is "First and foremost, if you want to be successful live were you want to live". When I decided to become a solo artist I wanted to be comfortable in my environment and so I moved here.
IJ: How is life in Minnesota different from that of LA or other places you've lived?
BJ: Family is the big difference for me. I grew up here and they are important to me. The attitude about things is a bit more honest in MN then in LA. Sometimes it can be difficult in that the "MN nice" can slow you down. People are trying to be "to" nice and dont tell you exactly how it is. I feel like "just tell me how you feel" and then we can move on to the next thing.
IJ: What type of music do you listen to yourself? Any favorite artists?
BJ: I love soundtracks. I do listen to all current artists in all genes but enjoy movie music. No one in particular.
IJ: Have you had a chance to listen to any of the independent musicians on mp3.com or any of the other Online Music Delivery services? If so, any that stand out in your mind?
BJ: I have been amazed at some of the success some artists have had at MP3. Some with over a million downloads to their credit. Great to see different avenues for exposure. Hopefully this methods will become more mainstream in time.
IJ: Can you name a favorite author or two?
BJ: Not off hand
IJ: How about a favorite movie or two?
BJ: Jeremiah Johnson. Forest Gump.
IJ: What interests do you have outside the world of music?
BJ: Just became an avid golfer. Anything outdoors.
IJ: What's next on your agenda musically?
BJ: Right now I'm still involved with ONE DEEP BREATH. I want people to get a chance to hear it. I'm really proud of the music on it. Also putting together my calendar for the year as far as LIVE performances go. And always looking ahead to my next CD and the direction I want to go next.
-interview by Fred Wheeler