Cross-genre composer, Solo Goodspeed (Schizo-Brainiac)
When a musician manages the rare feat of successfully composing in two different genres, it’s hailed as a crossover success. Where many musicians have carved out entire careers comfortably composing in one or occasionally two genres, Solo Goodspeed (composing under the name Schizo-Brainiac) comes along and makes them all look like slackers. This is a guy who seamlessly switches from pop to jazz to rock to classical, sometimes all within a few measures, and still manages to prolifically produce cohesive and very listenable music, and people on SoundCloud are noticing. We caught up with Solo to ask him a few questions about how he does what he does.
Hello Solo! I’m sure this question is a tough one for a musician like yourself who spans so many genres. How do you try to describe your music to somebody who’s never heard it?
My music is a form of theater. I have a theatrical background, but I just happen to prefer composing to acting and writing plays. You could say it leans towards classical method in that it’s solidly structured with a good deal of variation and dynamic. I’d also call it very visual; it describes events, changes and develops a lot, contains some drama, and through all that artsiness manages to be entertaining on top of it. At least I try to make sure I’m entertained, because sometimes it just feels like a lot of work. What I hope people find when listening is a form of escape, because I’m a total escapist and that’s how I always approach listening. With the way things are in the world now, people need all the break from reality they can get. Whether it’s performed on stage or imagined in the mind, theater provides that break, and I write the accompaniment… whether there’s an actual show or not.
Your bio describes you as not just a music programmer, but a graphic artist and a video editor. How much of your time do you spend doing each of these things?
Graphics is my day gig — since it pays the bills, more time is spent doing that. Music is my main focus the rest of the time. I did a lot more video editing a few years back when I was active in theater, shooting the productions, editing and producing them to DVD. After that I worked with a dancing troupe, producing promotional videos for them, setting up their website, and creating musical arrangements for some of their performances. In the last two years I’ve moved more towards concentrating on original composition, though I still do some freelance projects for performers who would like to put visual demos together. Don’t ever ask me to do weddings.
It looks like the work you have up on Soundcloud is very much a solo project. Have you collaborated with other musicians before? Is that difficult for somebody who jumps so readily between musical styles?
If I did work with someone else musically at this stage, they would have to be VERY open minded and flexible, because I’m not interested in conventional projects. Going out performing is a big commitment, a lot of work, and the only thing that would make all that worthwhile would be if it were an act that really distinguished itself from anything else. My last songwriting partner (early 90s) was a woman from Holland who was comfortable in both rock and classical — one moment she was Pat Benatar, the next Edith Piaf, after that Maria Callas. That kind of flexibility allows for a lot of ideas, and to me is much more productive than settling on one formulaic SOUND. You can’t please everyone anyway, so you might as well deviate… the more extreme, the more people take notice.
Would you mind telling me about one of your favorite projects or sets that you’ve put out on SoundCloud?
If I could narrow it down to one track, that would probably be Delirium Trimmings, it’s gotten some gratifying responses in its time, and is reasonably representative of my higher energy stuff.
Delirium Trimmings by SchizoBrainiac
The set I would choose is Economical Stimulants (which contains Delirium Trimmings), a more palatable collection of original instrumentals and the first one everybody sees when they visit my profile. There are 8 sets total: the one I just mentioned, a Classical/Symphonic style set, an edgy experimental set, a small set of jazz fusion tracks, a New Age/Ambient set, a set of vocal originals, a set of cover songs, and a variety collection titled A Revised History Of The Future. That last one would be my second choice as a set.
A Revised History of the Future by SchizoBrainiac
You’ve described your music as being in the “Soundtrack” genre. Just for kicks, what kind of production do you imagine your music provides the soundtrack for?
I think the kind of soundtrack work I’d like to do the most would be for animation. That’s the visual form I feel the most connection to, because of how it expands and exaggerates reality. Surrealist anime like Paprika, Robot Carnival and Cat Soup would be a preferred direction to go in. Of course I’m also very interested in live theater, particularly interpretive dance/ballet. See…. I DO do some dance music! Some of the work I’ve posted on SoundCloud involves specific scenarios I have in mind for this. I’d also like to try doing a video album consisting of music and motion art integrated, with a mixture of human performance and absolute abstract imagery.
Do you upload most of your musical output to your Soundcloud page, or do you choose only some subset?
The music I’ve shared on SoundCloud consists of everything I’ve composed and arranged since October 2009, plus a couple of earlier pieces and a selection of covered songs for anyone interested in what I used to listen to, mostly for social purposes. I have quite a backlog of stuff that may never see the light of day anymore, though sometimes I steal bits from it to recycle into the new work. But no side projects at this time… everything I’ve created in the last almost year has been shared to SoundCloud, and all the stuff I haven’t finished yet will get added.
How has Soundcloud helped you? Do you engage much with the community, and are you able to use your Soundcloud page as a showcase for your music?
Beyond a doubt, SoundCloud has connected me with listeners I don’t believe I could have found otherwise. Since I don’t do mainstream, genre-specific music, and I don’t solicit it all that aggressively (that could change in the near future), and all the musicians I used to know have moved on to other things, I haven’t gotten anything in the way of helpful listener feedback in my immediate social circle. I’ve found more adventurous listeners on SoundCloud, as well as fellow musicians aiming higher than the dance floor, whose responses to my work have been so encouraging I honestly believe it has directly impacted my productivity. So in that sense, definitely helpful. There are a couple of musicians I correspond with regularly, and we have participated in each others’ projects, first time I’ve done anything like that online. I also moderate five groups consisting largely of artists I’ve personally invited for both quality and variance, which is a bit like doing A&R for a label…. except in this case, doing it for a preferred genre.
I do see SoundCloud as a potential showcase for my work, and in a way it’s helped me find a better focus with all the directions I go in, so I can define myself better to potential collaborators, sponsors, managers, whomever might assist in finding what real world potential the product may have. Right now my profile page provides a fairly comprehensive portfolio, organized into different albums for each classification my stuff falls into, starting with what I feel is the strongest, most accessible original work, some lofty artsy stuff, some truly twisted experimentation, and ending with a variety pack for those who feel they can go all directions in one sitting.
Many thanks to Solo for taking the time out to provide some insight and some wonderful music. If you haven’t done so already, it’s definitely worthwhile to follow him give his tracks a listen!