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INTERVIEW: Brent Butler

Hi Brent, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Thank you! I’ve never been better. I’m super excited to share my debut solo EP with the world. It’s been a long time coming – I’ve put so much of myself into it and I think there’s something for everyone in the music! 

Can you talk to us more about your new project L I L A C?

L I L A C is an autobiography – a relentless, unapologetic, brutally honest, introspective self portrait. I’ve been making music in various forms since I was 13 (playing drums in punk bands, busking in subways, battle rapping, etc.), but this is the first time I’ve put out a complete body of work as a solo artist. There is a lot more of me to share, and a lot of work to do, but this project covers a ton of ground – heartbreak to addiction… triumph to disillusionment. Every song on L I L A C is different from the one before it and I’m proud of that. A lot of artists, including ones I love, will create a sonic box around them and say, “this is my lane” and continue offering endless variations on that one core idea. But audiences are intelligent. People want depth and authenticity, not comfort zone, cookie cutter, assembly line malarkey. I love a wide variety of music and artists, with enormous influences ranging from Bowie to T.I., to the Sex Pistols to Lupe Fiasco. I think you’ll hear pieces of all of that in L I L A C, while – hopefully – feeling the common thread that ties it all together. 

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this project?

A couple years ago my best friend, Deascent, and I released a project together called THE COLD PRESS, which to this day we’re super proud of. The entire thing was done in my tiny Brooklyn bedroom. It started off as an idea to do a Watch The Throne style mixtape – two rappers trading bars. But what resulted was a 7-song mini opera (we dubbed it a ‘hip hopera’) – with a story that continued from one song to the next. I was tweaking tracks literally into the night before the release. In the following weeks we went from two recording artists that respected each other and sometimes performed together, to an inseparable duo. There was no distribution, PR, or marketing plan. We bled for the project and hit upload on the last drop. Immediately, we were playing show after show and even formed a full live band to add to the theatrics of the live performances. Many of the songs landed on the soundtrack of The Dunning Man, an indie feature length film, and soon Deascent and I were traveling around the U.S. and abroad for film festival premieres. An amazing experience to say the least. But Deascent and I both knew we had to press pause on the show circuit at some point and go separately back into the lab and tell our stories. 

Any plans to release a video for any of the songs?

As of now, the video for “IDNY” (I Don’t Need You) is in post production. Ideally there will be a visual for every song on the EP. People will understand why when they listen through it. 

How was the recording and writing process?

It sucked! Haha. Imagine: you spend a sleepless half year creating a concept EP like THE COLD PRESS, then tour with a band for about a year and a half straight, while simultaneously music supervising an indie, feature-length film, and then you wake up one day like, “who am I?” It was a grueling process of self rediscovery and growth. All things considered though… it was one of the most beautiful, rewarding cycles of life I’ve ever been though. I’m incredibly grateful and wouldn’t trade a single moment of it for the world (though again, it suuuuuuuuuucked). 

How did your upbringing influence your music?

My dad was a big influence on my music taste growing up. My parents were divorced since virtually the day I was born… like “oh, okay this is our son… nevermind.” So I only saw my dad on weekends and such. But he is an amazing man. When I was about 4 years old he was blasting Green Day, Weezer, Everclear, Aerosmith, Bowie, and The Beatles in the car driving back to wherever my mom was living at the time. A few years later Eminem blew up and my dad was bumping that all the time. And Kid Rock! Not like current day BS, Trump-country Kid Rock, but like ‘Devil Without a Cause’ Kid Rock. Meanwhile I was at home watching music videos on The Box. Remember that channel? I loved Tupac, Nirvana, Biggie, No Doubt… I spent all my days watching music videos. My childhood was a lot like Beavis and Butthead. Very little parental supervision, but a lot of sedentary music video consumption and bad ideas. My mom was into country. I was not. But I know more Dixie Chicks lyrics than most rappers… In the end I just wanted to be a rockstar, whether that be Billie Joe Armstrong or Jay-Z. 

Does this mean we can expect more new material from you – how’s that coming along?

I legitimately have probably over 100 song ideas cooking up and partially finished. The road to completing L I L A C was a long and arduous one which required me to reconnect with that vibration of creation. Once I reconnected though, it was a flood. I’m releasing L I L A C because it’s a complete thought that deserves to go out on it’s own. That said, I have soooooooo many songs begging to be completed everyday that I’m wildly excited about. 

If so, any tentative release date or title in mind for the next project?

I like allowing projects to name themselves as they come together. L I L A C was originally going to be called Selective Memory, but life happened, antics ensued, and here we are. The work of a songwriter, or an artist in general – in my opinion and experience – is less about playing God and deciding things, and more about uncovering something that’s already there, that’s always been there, and is calling to you. The names and release dates will figure themselves out. That said, I’m so excited about the songs I’m working on now that I hope I can follow up L I L A C before 2019. Also, I recently wrote down the phrase. “Outer space and Alcohol”… maybe that will be something, haha. 

Any plans for upcoming shows?

As I’m writing this I was supposed to be performing in Brooklyn but I’m in South Jersey in the hospital with my dad keeping him company as he sleeps. I love performing more than anything and I’m not one to bail on shows, but I think you could understand. I plan to do some shows this summer and fall on the east and west coast with some dates in Europe – mainly Berlin, Madrid, London. Prague, and Stockholm. The main focus right now is recording more music and working on visuals for L I L A C

What else is happening next in Brent Butler‘s world?

Ummmmm well I’m hosting artist interviews for popdust.com on our series “Popdust Presents.” I’m also going to be acting in a few upcoming things – more details to come. Other than that it’s all about L I L A C and music!

“selective memory” is premiering on Pure Grain Audio and all digital platforms on Friday May 4th! 

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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