Music in a time of Global Crisis #4 – Jeff Brown

This next instalment of Music in a time of Global Crisis brings the conversation to Jeff Brown. The Seattle-based musician creates long-form ambient and drone soundscapes, combining guitar with drifting effects and lo-fi textures. Jeff has contributed to a number of RTR compilations and is set to release an album, ‘Forgive the Trespass’ (RTR027), on the label when everything is up and running again. The album consists of two long-form pieces recorded with a 12-string guitar via volume pedal, lengthy delay, and reverb unit straight to tape without overdubs or breaks in recording.

In this feature, Jeff talks about turning to recording due to live music events being on hold, shares some classic ambient and drone music recommendations, gives an optimistic outlook for 2021, and the importance of artists during these testing times.

Jeff Brown performing live

How have the widespread lockdowns in response to the Covid-19 crisis affected your music making?

Well live performance is out of the question indefinitely so that changes things, having new people hear my work and the joy of creating spontaneously in front of audience is on hold. Studio work is mostly unchanged, I still upload monthly for my Bandcamp subscribers. I have been seeking more releases with labels and have found a home for one of my projects so that is time well spent.

Cover artwork for Jeff Brown – ‘Forgive the Trespass ‘ (RTR027), photo by Chris Walton

What music, new or old, have you been listening to lately, and have your listening habits changed as a result of the current situation?

I write reviews of music so a portion of my weekly playlist is decided for me but besides that, yes, I would say my habits have changed. I am listening to music that makes me feel better, some of it would seem out of place but sad music can have a positive effect. Robert Fripp (the earlier ‘Frippertronics’ work and the more modern ‘Soundscapes’); Bill Nelson is so varied with genres (brand new and classics) and always exciting; Caress, a project of Tara Jane from LA that is like a gorgeously dark cold wave dream, various film scores, choral work and obscure metal from the 80s, it’s all so different but like comfort food.

Consequence of Sound reported the worst week of album sales since the 1960s (28th March 2020). Do you think the coronavirus outbreak will have a lasting negative effect on the music industry?

I can see the number of people paying for music going down a bit, for various reasons; lack of disposable funds or they got out of the habit of paying for stuff. On the other hand, going back to my comfort food analogy, people may jump right back in when things begin to normalize.

With more musicians live streaming from their homes than ever before, do you think this trend will continue once things improve?

The sheer number will go down but yes, I think a decent number of musicians have found a new creative outlet. If we look ahead to 2021, I think there will be a significant increase from say 2019 and I would attribute it to people being at home right now and trying out new things.

What do you think we as music makers can be doing to create positivity right now?

People have different reasons for having music in their lives, for some it’s just a background feature, for others it’s an escape and for some it’s a motivator when they are feeling down or need inspiration while exercising, etc. I think it’s always an important role for artists to foster positivity and that can mean many things to many people. For myself as a maker and a listener I see an honest effort/intention as being qualities most needed; I don’t want to be a time waste to somebody nor do I want that feeling when listening to someone else right now. My goal is to provide something meaningful and not go through the motions and then ask for some money. 


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