(Artist Spotlight and Interview) Braeyden Jae

It’s been a busy year for SLC-based musician and sound artist Braeyden Jae; along with setting up a new tape label (Heavy Mess) and finishing six wishes, a new Softest album for Inner Islands, the netlabel-community-mainstay ambient powerhouse just put out his first ever vinyl release, the furrowed and emotive Fog Mirror, for Cincinatti’s Whited Sepulchre RecordsI was a pretty big fan of Jae’s 2014 release Music for Rain: Volume One, so when I had the chance to dive into these new records I was kinda excited, to say the least. However, for some reason, I felt as though this was one case in which the music needed to speak for itself. And so later on, I took the opportunity to have a little Q&A with Braeyden via email– here’s what he had to share with me:

What were your earliest musical influences?

The first cassette tape I ever purchased was Boyz II Men II. I think I was eight years old. They were my first favorite band, I’d listen to that tape all the time. That same day my little sister got TLC’s Crazy Sexy Cool. That was also a really big album for me.

Neither of my parents listened to music much in the house so I relied on whatever I could find from the radio. Most music was exciting to me as a kid. It was all new ya know? I remember getting really obsessed with the song “Da Da Da” by Trio. I first heard it featured in a Volkswagen Jetta commercial when I was in sixth grade. I called the local radio station over and over to play it, and dubbed it to a cassette tape so I could listen to it more.

By junior high I was finally figuring out how to not rely on the radio for music. I was getting into punk, stuff like Operation Ivy  and Bad Brains and was pretty obsessed with Asian Man Records. I saw Black Eyes when I was 16 and that really fucked me up. Sent my taste in a more adventurous direction I guess. Soon after that I started getting into jazz. I moved back to Washington from Utah during my senior year of high school and was kind of a hermit. I’d ride my bike to library and check out stacks of CD’s. John Coltrane’s Ascension ended up being my first jazz record. I remember just smiling the entire album, It was like nothing I had ever heard. I picked up Sun Ra’s Space is the Place that day too. Both those records were pretty big for me as a late teen. By that time I was also listening to a lot of Eluvium, which was my first real taste of ambient music, for sure a big influence on my work as braeyden jae.

What kind of narrative or feeling did you want to convey on Fog Mirror? On Six Wishes?

I initially conceived fog mirror as an actual object. Like there was this mirror called the fog mirror. I was thinking about what that could mean and what it’s function would be and that eventually that broadened to something more abstract. I guess those two words next to each other spark a lot of imagery for me. Fog often being associated with concealment or mystery while a mirror brings contemplation and reflection. But than you can flip those things, like the obscuring of fog can lead to new insights or an inner reflection, while the vanity (not that vanity is without value) of one’s reflection in the mirror can keep you at the surface. I guess that’s not exactly it, to be honest I don’t fully know. Art is hard. You get ideas and you reach for them, but never really arrive at them. Then you make more art. Over and over.

Six Wishes is much less complicated to me. I don’t work on softest as much, because it’s a zone I’m generally not in the right head space to make sincerely. But one day several months ago I was feeling particularly soft and recorded for 24 hours straight pretty much, probably only took a break for food like once, and didn’t sleep much. Really anything I do as softest is just trying to get to that soft place in myself and making a soundtrack for it. Ya know, real gentle stuff.

 

What kind of personal/artistic distinction, if any, is there between your output as softest and your output under your given name?

braeyden jae is my main project, I see it as something that can grow with me, something that can change. I intend to cover a lot of ground with the project. There are things that I do in softest that can cross over into braeyden jae, but not the other way around. softest is something very specific to me, but I guess I touched on that in the last question.

I’ve noticed that you often make your own artwork on releases. How do you know Andrew Alba and what led to the collaboration for this release?

I’ve known Andrew for fifteen years now, we are close friends. Collaborating with him comes naturally, I don’t give him a lot of direction when asking him to do album art. I feel like he gets what I’m trying to do, and always comes up with something very suiting. He’s been in a really great zone with his painting the past few months, really excited to see whats next from him.

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Who are your favorite contemporary musicians?

Padna, Seth Graham, Black Spirituals, Sister Grotto, Matana Roberts, Christian Michael Filardo to name a few. But there’s a lot of great stuff being made all the time, it’s hard to make time to digest it all.

What’s the most memorable show you ever played?

I was in a really obnoxious band in high school called Bomber Bomber. We had eight members, no guitar. Mostly a bunch of synths and too many people screaming. We played a house show to college kids in Seattle and just ate shit. Like nobody was feeling it, just a bunch of people I was already super intimidated by blankly staring at us. We were all so self conscious that we cut the set short. I don’t know, I guess failing like that when you are younger leaves an impression. Honestly performing isn’t my favorite thing to do. I’d much rather be cozied up in my room recording.

What’s the best bit of advice anyone ever gave you?

Nothing’s coming to mind. Is that bad?

 

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