Hey! Thanks for taking the time to chat! This is John Arndt..technically 1/2 of The Brilliance. I write, orchestrate, produce, and occasionally sing. David Gungor (the other half) lives in New York City with his wife Kate and four children. Life has been good! I just moved into an apartment in Paris this week and nearly have my studio set up.. waiting on voltage converters! Going to have a productive spring..no doubt!
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Must Admit”?
It’s a song about the universal nature of loss. How part of being a living breathing person is coming to grips with the inevitable change, decay, and death of all things. Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
A number of events in my life experience gave me that same feeling. A few examples most related to this song—The shock of 9/11, an absolutely excruciating breakup of mine, and finally the sound of Parisians singing outside Notre Dame as it was in flames..decided to open the tune with them.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
Not yet…If anyone out there has the skills and a cool idea, hit us up!
The single comes off your new album Suite No. 2: World Keeps Spinning – what’s the story behind the title?
It’s an exploration of the root causes of modern anxiety, despair, and extremism. No matter how big your idea is, no matter how big your mission is, no matter how big your pain is, things are gonna keep moving on without you.. So don’t forget to lose sight of the one thing we absolutely know we have: each other, here and now.
Was this always meant to be a conceptual record?
Yes. It began with what is now the final track of the album “World Keeps Spinning”. It has this insane mashup of Bach and Stravinsky at the end. Last year, we received a commission from Biola University to write a new piece for full Orchestra and Choir and decided it was time to complete the concept! Having 50+ musicians at your disposal really opens up your options!! How was the recording and writing process?
It developed in stages over a number of years. First, with our friends Chad Copelin, Jarod Evans and James McCalister at Blackwatch Studio in Norman, OK. Later, at the incomparable Sonic Ranch with Tyler Chester, Mckenzie Smith, and Brennan Smiley. Finally, a week-long series of rehearsals and sessions with the Orchestra and Chorus of Biola University. Would you call this a departure from the previous installment?
Absolutely yes.. It is our most expansive album sonically and conceptually. It really travels all over the place!
How has Stravinsky and The Beatles influenced your writing?
Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was absolutely a touchstone for this project. The scope and unpredictability and pure joy are legendary. As an arranger, I always love inner voices and interesting counter lines. I have recently found that if my orchestrations reference an already existing melody or idea, it adds layers of potential meaning to a track. It has a multiplying effect. Stravinsky’s Firebird represents the power of Earth, the Universe, reality at large. The Bach (the labored strings of Release Me, and World Keeps Spinning) to me represents the dreams/anxieties of humankind. What aspect of anxiety did you get to explore on this record?
I think we hit it from a number of angles…Physical pain…Wishing to return to the past. How do we know what’s real? Everything comes to an end, and in the face of that, how can we free ourselves from feelings of despair and isolation?
What made you want to tackle this particular theme?
Both David and I have dealt with anxiety and depression in different ways. I wrote Release Me, the opening track, while experiencing chest pain for days as the result of a terrible personal conflict with someone I loved deeply. It was the first time I had ever felt physical pain as it related to emotional stress. “This pain in my chest, I can’t give it back, til I don’t exist, til there’s nothing left…”
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
David took part in a John Hopkins University study on psilocybine that deeply influence the writing.. He’s also been studying philosophers like Paul Tillich, Jean Paul Sartre, and Kierkegaard.
Any plans to hit the road?
We’ve got a few shows this spring in the midwest, Pennsylvania, and LA.. Swinging through France and the UK in May and returning to Australia in August.
What else is happening next in The Brilliance’s world?
We are entering a season of writing again.. Spring in Paris is as good a place as any to make something new.