Original article here.
Oakland is the Bay Area capital of art and music. Knox Bronson, a local musician, has spent the last few weeks putting the finishing touches on his latest CD, The Seasons. If you’ve heard his music before, you know it’s eclectic. It’s very 60s. It can also be very contemporary. Regardless of what else it is or isn’t, it’s more often than not the story of his redemption. Here are excerpts from a chat with him:
OB: When is the CD coming out? And what’s the distribution looking like?
KB: I think probably the target date is Feb 14, Valentine’s Day. We’re going to do digital distribution – iTunes, Amazon and other places. I’ll send CDs to CD Baby and places like that. I expect to get them in local stores pretty quickly. The business is changing rapidly.. The business part is always a mystery to me. SMC Recordings, a hip hop label that has distribution with Fontana and Universal, does it for me.
OB: Where are you from, Knox? Are you from the Bay Area?
KB: I’m local. I graduated from Berkeley High school. My family’s been here a long time. I’ve been here my whole life pretty much.
OB: So when did you get into music?
KB: I’ve been a musician since I was .. I started when I was in 5th grade, studying the trumpet. When I was a teenager, I picked up the guitar. I taught myself how to play the guitar with Beatles song books. When I was in high school, I had a French teacher who introduced us to the Impressionists. That’s how I got into classical. I love the Beatles, David Bowie, Pink Floyd. In the 70s, I fell in love with electronic music.
OB: So did you have a career in music?
KB: In my early 20s, I would practice guitar for 8 hours a day, and then it was party time. If you’re partying like David Bowie..
OB: You got into alcohol and drugs?
KB: It got serious. It took over for almost 20 years. Then I got sober in 1990. I was so burnt out. I was about three years sober when I remembered I used to love to play music. I had a synthesizer that someone paid me for some work I’d done in the 80s. I had a Roland keyboard. I started making music again. I started buying gear. I had to learn about recording and arranging, and that’s all I did for years. I was working. But every spare moment, I was doing music. I always heard music in my head, but I always wanted other people to play it for me. I wanted Pink Floyd to put that album out. What happened since I started working on music again — I began starting to get the music again. I have to stress that I’m of the school of thought that we don’t really create the music. It already exists. If we’re lucky, we get to channel it. It’s about learning how to arrange and use the technology.
OB: Tell me about the CDs you’ve done..
KB: The first couple of CDs I did were pretty electronic, very beautiful. Those were– Flight of the Atom Bee and Deus Sex Machina. I then started working on vocal music. And then a few years ago, i started working on The Seasons. I was trying to come back and do a true fusion to combine electronic and classical music and not just overlay one on top of another. I’m very happy with the CD. Three pieces on the CD written at a very difficult time.
OB: Why was it difficult?
KB: I was down in LA, I didn’t have any money. I was staying at a friend’s house, things were very bleak. I’d had to give up my place up here. It was just a weird time. I wrote these pieces. When things get really intense, I write. That’s what I do. It’s my refuge. if you listen to the pieces, you’ll see the progression. There’s a part that gets very.. it’s like a bridge.. bridge out of the darkness into the light. I have a 4th piece — very pretty, dreamy piece. It’s an hour of music — 15 minutes each. It’s about romance.. about getting out of the darkness back into the light. That’s been my life. I spent many years in the dark world and then I got out. It’s been quite a journey. I’ve seen a lot and I try to put it all into my music. Everything I have goes into my music.
OB: What’s your day job?
KB: I’m a designer. I’ve done graphic design for many years. I do a lot of web stuff. I call myself a designer..
OB: How’d you get a Victoria Secrets’ model involved with your project?
KB: We met on MySpace. She sent me a letter saying she liked the music (myspace.com/sunpopblue) especially the excerpt from Winter Blue, which is on the CD. I kept looking at her pictures and I kept thinking I must somehow get her to be on my cover. I sent her my CD.. She really liked it. She mentioned she was building a website. I asked her — this is totally out of line, but would she pose for my cover if I built one of her websites. She said yes.
OB: Your press releases always mention the 60s and the 70s and the influence they had on you.
KB: Back then, there was more time, less economic pressure. There was more room for experimentation. It’s getting better again, but in some ways, DJs and club culture have thwarted.. there’s not a lot of song craft in that stuff. It’s about vibe, hook and melodies had fallen by the wayside, somewhat. But I think that it is turning around. The way they render music now is so compressed and loud that by the time you’re on the third song, you’re suffering from ear fatigue.
Then, artists had more time to develop. But back then, I don’t know how I would have done this. I would have needed an orchestra. Now, I get the choir in my Mac. And I feel music occupied a different place in people’s life. People really believed people could change the world.
OB: But they still believe that.. Look at the singers singing about political change.
KB: I like Eminem. My sons are 25 and 27. I think Eminem is their John Lennon. He’s a very bright guy.