Heading back to the states, we are teaming up with the multi-talented Brooke Josephson for the release of her colorful and experimental-ish new video for “Horrified.”
Actress/singer/songwriter Brooke Josephson is set to release her new EP, SEXY N’ DOMESTICATED this April. Produced by music industry executive/veteran producer Tony Berg (Michael Penn, Edie Brickell, Aimee Mann), SEXY N’ DOMESTICATED features such acclaimed musicians as drummer Matt Chamberlain (Tori Amos, Pearl Jam, Fiona Apple), keyboardist Patrick Warren (Bonnie Raitt, Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen), guitarist Joel Shearer (Annie Lennox, Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morrissette) and bassist Alan Hampton (Sufjan Stevens, Meshell N’Degeocello, Sara Bareilles). The EP was mixed by Grammy-winning engineer Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes, Weezer, John Legend).
Chock full of catchy pop tunes, and featuring her often tongue-in-cheek take on motherhood and marriage, SEXY N’ DOMESTICATED is inspired by Josephson’s experiences as a full-time mother trying to balance her personal and professional lives, as so many mothers do.
Josephson was raised in small town Warsaw, IN. As a young adult, Josephson followed her dream to New York City to become an actress and has appeared in such high-profile shows as ABC’s long-running soap opera, “All My Children,” FOX’s hit series, “Bones” as well as the major motion pictures, “Enchanted” (Disney) and “Life As We Know It” (Warner Brothers). Leaving the business to begin her family and raise her two children, Josephson soon returned to the creative arts earning a Master’s certificate in songwriting from the esteemed Berklee School Of Music. In 2013, she released her first EP, LIVE AND LET LIVE.
In addition to the premiere, Brooke sit with us to discuss the new single, video and more!
Hi Brooke, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Great. Thanks for premiering the music video for my upcoming single release, “Horrified.”
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Horrified”? Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
It’s been a bit surreal hearing the word “horrified” used frequently in the news over the past week as people process the tragic and avoidable loss of innocent lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. As a parent, my heart is grieving with those who lost loved ones in this horrific act of violence. The word “Horrified,” is pretty potent, and when expressed appropriately, especially in this moment, is not lost on me.
I actually wrote the song “Horrified” a few years ago to address the issue of cyber bullying, after encountering a parent who unloaded their opinions, in a mean-spirited group email directed towards shaming me. They wrote, in closing, that they were “horrified” by my volunteer work at our child’s school, since they didn’t like the color of napkins and table cloths I had chosen for an event, (among other things.) It was all pretty petty. So, I simply embraced the moment as a learning experience and chose to write an empowering song in response to hopefully help others keep the power of our words in perspective.
How was the filming process and experience behind the music video?
I reached out to my dear friend, Director, Michelle Bossy, whom I have known since we were waitresses living pay check to pay check, pounding the pavement in New York City fresh out of college during our twenties. I pitched her the idea of shooting the music video in NY and capturing both the performance aspect of filming the entire song from a rooftop overlooking the city, as well as embracing the childlike aspects of experiencing the innocence of a child in their bedroom, who is processing their own encounter with a bully, by singing along with the song, as a source of empowerment. Then filming my ability to hold onto that same innocence as an adult, who refuses to become jaded by still playing on the playground and scootering (which I was into as a teenager and do with my children now,) along the streets I schlepped. We also wanted to capture the influence of other artists self-expression, seen through the landscape of street art; starting with the Graffiti Hall of Fame in Harlem near where I lived for 6 years.
Michelle and I pooled our resources within a slim budget and took about three days to scout locations, prepped with cinematographer, Alex Chinnici, who gathered a crew, and we shot it in two days last April. It had been cold and rainy and the universe blew in some warm weather on the days we filmed. We even had the luck of a parking spot for the crew truck, waiting in front of each location, as if it was meant to be. We definitely made some fun memories besides the video itself. People would stop and ask where they could get my scooter since it shot sparks out the back and then wanted to grab a selfie with me in the wolf mask, which I wore not only in this video, but also in my previous single, “Crazy Called Normal.” It’s a play on perception and reality and how easy it is to hide behind a persona, or in the case of “Horrified,” it’s become too easy to write and send something hurtful, than address it face to face.
The single comes off your new album Sexy N’ Domesticated – what’s the story behind the title?
I’m a fan of Chrissie Hynde and I was reading an article in the Guardian about her solo album, Stockholm, where she shared that while she had taken time off from touring with The Pretenders, she received an EP from a punk band looking to get her feedback and it took her a few years to get around to responding, but once she did, they wrote her back, “Your records used to be great before you got domesticated.” And it really pissed me off. So, I decided to write a song in response to the double standard, that somehow a woman’s identity becomes irrelevant once she gets married or has children. Sexy N Domesticated is an anthem purposely written to easily speak/sing along with, that proudly validates and empowers modern-day women shapeshifting between wife, mom and work.
How was the recording and writing process?
After I self-released my first EP, Live and Let Live in 2013, fresh off of finishing the Berklee School of Music Masters Certificate in Songwriting Program, I was determined to learn how to produce music independently. So, I took additional courses on production, guitar, drums, bass, and built a home studio, which we wound up moving three times in the course of two years, (that was a bit of a trip.) I wound up recording all of the songs on this EP from my home studio using Logic. I always start with lyrics first. I’m a bit of a lone wolf, but had the great fortune of weekly writing sessions with my former Berklee professor, Shane Adams, who is an incredible sounding board as I flush out ideas. Once I felt solid about the lyrics, I’d either lay down the melody running in my head and build a chord progression around it, or if the melody wasn’t there yet, I’d play around and write a bass or guitar riff over a drum pattern that I felt mirrored the tone of the lyrics, and add the melody after.
What was it like to work with Tony Berg and how did that relationship develop?
Tony Berg is an intimidating encyclopedia of knowledge on top of being a veteran in the music business. I was incredibly fortunate to meet with him after he heard my first EP and get his feedback. I only knew how to play the piano at the time and I shared my desire to grow as an artist, so he gave me his “bible” of music to listen to that included Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Bowie, Donovan and Radiohead. He then introduced me to my guitar teacher, Shawn Fleming, who demystified the guitar and bass, while I took production courses on my own. I would meet with Tony, who became “my George Martin mentor,” as I grew and shared what I was working on. He would turn me onto new plugins or synths like the OP-1 and Organelle and we would geek out over gear. Then after I brought in the songs I recorded from home, (some had 60 tracks already laid down in the session,) he transferred them over to Pro Tools and we re-recorded the vocals at his studio, which is like a Disneyland for musicians, and tightened up anything that needed his touch.
How much did he influence the album?
We had a lengthy discussion about “the voice” on this EP, since it is so incredibly different than my first EP. I was speak singing more, and flirting with a broad range of genres, so the dilemma was how to maintain one voice throughout. I referenced Beck’s Odelay album, as my biggest influence on this EP. I grew up in church being under the influence of mostly Christian music, then a mix of musical theatre, nineties rock and hip hop while I was living in Harlem and I simply wanted to create a sonic snapshot of moments I had experienced over the past few years and didn’t want to water it down to fit one genre. So, Tony brought in live musicians to record on our existing sessions and enlisted Grammy Award winning mix engineer, Shawn Everett, to polish the sound that is, Sexy N Domesticated.
You brought a special group of musicians – how did they come on board?
Tony had a specific group of musicians in mind for the EP. We had to book individual recording sessions over the course of a 4 month window, since the musicians he wanted are in demand and it was pretty much next to impossible to schedule everyone at the same time.
What did they brought up to the table?
He brought Patrick Warren in to record the keys and some sick special effect plugins on the tracks, from flutes, to the “super hero effect,” as I called it, on Sexy N Domesticated. Then he booked Matt Chamberlain (Pearl Jam) who came in for a one day session and sat down at the drums, listened to the digital drums within the song once, and nail it on the first pass. I will never forget how mind blowing it was witnessing his jaw dropping talent in the studio. Then, Tony brought in Musician, Composer and Producer, Joel Shearer, who was invited to play on Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill to record guitar parts over the guitars I had recorded, and then Alan Hampton (Andrew Bird/Robert Glasper) came in and played bass.
How does acting influences your music and the other way around?
Acting is the art of taking a writer’s story and bringing their words to life. There is a journey within the story, the “Three acts”, as they say. I look at songwriting the same in many ways. There is the dilemma in the first verse, and hopefully by the bridge of the song, “the lesson”, or resolution is found. The chorus is just that, a chorus, a universal theme that many can relate to as a group. Sometimes the verse details don’t specifically relate to a listener, but the chorus should be something that could stand on it’s own and the listener own it as their own. I also love the ability to tell my own stories blending other’s stories within something I’ve experienced using different narratives in a song or with prosody, which is a big concept in the Berklee program.
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
My family. I see my son and daughter and hope to mirror to the how to be strong and true to yourself.
Any plans to hit the road?
Saturday May 19th I will be at the Peppermint Club in West Hollywood to kick off the EP release.
What else is happening next in Brooke Josephson’ world?
We just finished shooting the Sexy N Domesticated music video last week and I’m headed out now to watch the first cut and hopefully have it ready to release next month. I also produce my daughter’s weekly YouTube Channel, Shira’s Story Corner, that she created last year, while working as a Jr Ambassador at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, as a way to reach kids too sick to have visitors by reading books to them. www.shirasstorycorner.com