Call & Response: Brasstronaut

Brasstronaut are a Vancouver-based jazz indie quartet from Vancouver who I really liked when I saw them at the Drake last October. Their trumpet player Bryan Davies kicked ass and I had nice little chat with lead singer/keyboardist Edo Van Breemen.

The band are in the midst of a North American tour and are close to releasing what will surely be a well-received debut album. They play Dave Bookman's free Nu Music Nite Tuesday at the Horseshoe. I caught up with Edo on their current tour, the new direction they're taking their mellow sound to and falafel cravings.

blogTO: How has your current tour been so far? Are these the first US dates for Brasstronaut? Have you played there before with The Clips?

Edo Van Breemen: I've never played here before, not with the Clips either. The shows have been hit & miss. Jamestown, NY and NYC were great, but Philly and Pittsburgh were sparsely attended. We have no real press here yet, but audience response has been pretty positive. It's tough when you're driving 6-10 hours to get somewhere and no one shows up, but then the next night, people do, and it's ok again. We're excited to get back across the border for T.O.

This is a pretty big tour you're on but I have to admit I haven't seen your name pop up that much since we last spoke at the Drake in October. Have I been missing some crazy online support for you guys or are you just focusing on building a buzz with live dates?

We've been living at the Banff Centre on a 3 month creative residency where a new album has been recorded. Aside from shows in Alberta, we haven't been very active, but there has been considerable media attention on the new "Requiem" video, which you can view at It was posted on some big US and UK sites, so we hope our album release in October will feed off this momentum.

Are you playing with different bands on all these dates? Any new bands out there that we should check out?

In the US we've been playing with some interesting bands: The Grates for example from the UK were awesome...kind of Deerhoof meets London punk, played with them at Piano's in NY. Lots of different bands in Canada.

When we spoke at the Drake you talked about how you were learning "how to play this band a little louder now". Has your live sound continued to get "louder"?

We're using the rhythm section as more of a driving force in the newer songs. I've also been using an extra synth, and sometimes a Kaos Pad. The new record has lots of extra instrumentation, and even guitars, mandolins, etc. in places. We're kinda tired of being just a mellow "jazz-indie" next year, should be a much more dynamic sound.

I can see your band developing lots of off-the-cuff jams on stage. Has that happened with all these live shows? Are any new songs being created out of any live jamming?

Not really on-stage, because we have relatively fixed song frameworks that we'll improvise within, but not fundamentally alter. Jamming as a band during rehearsals has gotten much more interesting, and some new songs have come out of that. We're trying to record these, and extract the best bits.

You mentioned the nachos at Sneaky Dee's last time. Do you know any places near the Horseshoe for this trip or do you need food suggestions?

That falafel place. I dunno what its called, NY Falafel?? I want one of those!

The Edge 102.1 presents: DAVE BOOKMAN'S NU MUSIC NITE
w/ Brasstronaut (9:15pm), The Vestaloynes, Slow Down Molasses, Silence The Fury
Tuesday, March 31
The Horseshoe Tavern
370 Queen Street West
Doors 8pm

Call & Response is a series of Q&A's with bands from or playing in Toronto. Photo: Indoor Recess.

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