Anamorphosis of Day
As long as I can remember, I've been making noise. Whether it's recording various local musicians in my recording studio, producing my own ambient electronic music, or composing scores for local theater companies, I love to create music and sound. Although I have no real formal training in the arts, I've excelled at the technical aspects of production and have found my home in use of digital technologies. In my youth, I experimented with four-track recorders and quickly discovered that I had an affinity for production and composition. Because I'm also a musician who can play many instruments, I intuitively understand how to capture, layer and mix sound. I've recorded punk bands, jazz bands, classical pianists, acoustic guitarists, live rock and roll bands, and produced works by dance and hip-hop DJ's. I've spent the last few years honing my skills for ambient electronic music and collaborating with the best musicians to help me realize my vision He's got the techno-beat By TONY GREEN © St. Petersburg Times published June 9, 2002 Most people align their daily activities by the tick of the clock. Electronic musician Brett Spivey schedules his work day around the chirping of insects. 'I am really into nature sounds,' said the 32-year-old Seminole resident. 'So I am working on this composition that captures the sounds of different times of day -- outside my door at 11:58 a.m., 12:05 p.m., 3 a.m., 1 a.m. The early-morning hours are the best, though, because you have the birds and crickets and cicadas, and that sounds just fantastic.' Spivey comes across as just another guy who has reached work-at-home nirvana, not the latest member of electronica's ambient music community. That's a status he achieved early this year courtesy of a deal with California-based Tone Casualties Records. The label is headed by Gabor Csupo, best known to mainstream audiences as the co-creator of cartoons such as Duckman and Rugrats. Former Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh, who does the music for Rugrats, is another artist on the label. Spivey's moody, pulsating compositions fit right in with the label's progressive aim. 'We are a label that is dedicated to experimental music,' said Tone Casualties label head Tommy Kealty. 'So we look for music that is innovative, which is one reason we lean heavily toward electronic music. And Brett's music is definitely that; it has a cinematic quality that we like.' Hearing Spivey talk about his love for punk bands such as Fugazi and rockers such as Rush, it's hard to imagine the road that led him to electronic music. It becomes clearer once you delve into his background. What else would someone who spent his teen years listening to Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk and Run-DMC be doing with himself at age 31? A native of Lakeland, he was a self-described 'outsider' at Lincoln Middle School. Thanks to a diverse student population, he was exposed to everything from technopop to hip-hop. Originally a rock bassist, he traces his love for sampling and electronics to a late '80s encounter with a friend who had a sampling keyboard. 'He had copped the loop from Zeppelin's When the Levee Breaks,' Spivey said. 'The Beastie Boys had done that already, but still I was blown away. Hearing it on a record is one thing, but seeing someone do it live was a completely different thing. Immediately, I was like, 'This is the future.' ' He pursued his passion with a vengeance after moving to Pinellas County in 1992, where he figured he'd be in a better position to advance his music career. He balanced his love for studio sound manipulation with membership in a string of rock bands. One, Space Age President, used sampling and high-tech gear as part of it's live act, allowing Spivey to cater to both ends of his aesthetic spectrum. 'That lasted from around 1995 to '97,' he said, noting that the band broke up just months after he and his wife Jennifer returned from their honeymoon. 'Soon after that, I decided to get serious about building my own studio. So I saved up from my job and started outfitting my garage.' He finished his studio, Saucer Productions, in 1999 and turned it into a performance and recording space for his and other local bands. (His soundproofing is top-notch; you can hardly hear him working inside his vine-decorated house.) Then two things happened. First, he tired of the personality clashes and power struggles that go with band membership. Then, in 2000, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer and went through a year of treatment. 'Those experiences were so draining that I decided that, 'You know, I'm not going to get into any more bands, I'm just going to focus on my writing.' ' A number of label contacts from his band days made that decision easier, especially since he had mastered home technology well enough to start cutting his demos. He was producing some 'dark, ambient-type stuff,' he said, reflecting his early tastes for Pink Floyd and Brian Eno. His efforts paid off in 2001, when Tone Casualties responded to a five-song EP he sent them. After several months and a lot of extra tracks (Spivey gave them nearly five albums' worth of music as a selling point), and a trip to the label's California headquarters, Tone Casualties finally sent him a contract in February. He figures the advance will cover some new equipment. Now Spivey is putting the finishing touches on his debut album and thinking about taking his show on the road, utilizing both electronics and live musicians. He doesn't yet have a release date or title for the disc, which is aimed at the experimental market. Anamorphosis of Day Review Focus Magazine Issue 187 Published November 6, 2002 For those of you who missed Tony Green's essay on this aspiring musician in the Times back in June, Brett Spivey is an electronic artist who released an intriguing 5-song EP on California's Tone Casualties label earlier this spring. Reviews linked it's dark ambience to selected works by Brian Eno, although they also enjoyed it's expressive, cinematic quality. Those expansive soundscapes carry over into his new disc, a much more positive-sounding work based on sound samples taken at various times during dawn, dusk and sunset. And not just some New Age pap with a bunch of chirping crickets- the ingenuity here is it's simplicity. Spivey has collected and looped several off beat noises and wholistic, natural sounds, added his own keyboard and big screen arrangements, then spruced the sound headphone- happy effects for a unique feel. By putting a backwards spin on Jerry Owtlaw's flurry- fingered guitar work on the opener 'The Awakening of Amorphophallus,' the album surges with a hallucinogenic edge and never allows the trip to come down. While combining children's laughter, droning synthesizers and metal- manic guitar probably dent the chart makers, Although Pink Floyd- Heads might delight in Spivey's sonic eargasms and mind's- eye flights. Sonic Survivor By Kiran Aditham © Blue Divide Published June 3, 2002 Having numerous miserable band experiences would leave most anyone jaded with the politics that go with a group experience. That's most probably why Largo, Fl native Brett Spivey chose to downsize and re-establish himself elsewhere. Once as Saucerman, now under his own name. Spivey has concocted a multitude of experimental electronic cuts ranging from DJ Shadow-like haze to full- on digital dementia ala AFX. 'Right now, I've got a 16- track Roland digital, a couple of Alesis monitors and a few computer programs to chop my beats up,' he explains. 'A few are looped. I'm working with Reaktor, then Sound Forge to do my mastering. Plus, when I do a lot of my loops, I use a calculator and cut them up mathematically, to get a lot of precise, robotic timing. It might seem a bit technically overboard to some, but then again, in Spivey's world, nothing's completely ordinary. Spivey claims it was merely shopping that began his relationship with indie label Tone Casualties, home to such abstract innovators as Controlled Bleeding. 'I bought the new Wipeouters album, and I saw they put their contact info on the back, so I thought that might work', he recalls. Tone took much interest in Spivey's work. 'They said it was close to what they did and to keep them in mind for the future. So to me, that meant send more music'. 4 EP's and over 50 tunes later, Tone finally took the bait and Spivey more than accepted. For a guy that over a year ago was battling testicular cancer, the jovial fellow seems undaunted in his quest. 'I beat cancers ass. (Laughs) After that, my gut told me to quit sitting on my music. This is what I want to do with my life'. Spivey's debut will be released this summer on Tone Casualties.