Photo Credit: Devenche Devine
How long have you been making music together?
Bernadette: We’ve been playing music together for about ten years, but making music as Bern & the Brights about eight years.
How did Bern & the Brights form?
Bernadette: Bern & the Brights really started in 2008 as a moniker that I planned to use for my musical output---whether that was solo or in a group; I expected the musicians to come in and out, but that I’d be the hub of the wheel, keeping an anchor. We played for a while with a fairly consistent group of musicians, but things changed over time. And so did our music direction, moving away from purely guitar-focused rock to something more atmospheric and electronic. Over the years, Catherine and I really worked closely as a team on every aspect of the band; her original songs came into the fold. Over time, the project organically shaped into the duo/partnership that we are today.
What are some of your musical influences?
Bernadette: Tegan & Sara, New Order, Jesus & Mary Chain, The Smiths, Phantogram, Small Black, Washed Out, Tune-Yards, Jeff Buckley, Wild Beasts, to name a few.
What is your writing/music making process like?
Bernadette: There are a few processes. There are songs that emerge when each of us writes alone. There are songs that come spontaneously from jams at rehearsals. And then there are songs that are really built while recording something, built through production—starting with a groove or loop---and we will work together to build out various aspects until it’s done---lyrics, arrangement, structure, editing, etc.
Do you have one car or shower jam that you love to belt out? (Even if it's embarrassing)
Bernadette: There is one song that I seem to play often very loud in my car and sing to, and that song is Cat Power’s “Ruin.” “Bitchin’, complainin’, when some people ain’t got shit to eat…” I don’t know. I really like that song. I wish I could say it’s Beyonce or something, but I’m dreadfully serious and no fun.
Can you choose one or two songs you’ve written that are your favorites, and tell me about them?
Bernadette: Hmm. Probably “Heart Wide Open.” There is a directness that I touched in that song but also a softness. It’s hard to explain, but there’s a mode one slips into (I think a lot of songwriters will say this) in which you go somewhere else for a bit, or you open so wide that music comes through or you can hear music in your soul and retrieve it. It takes quiet and clarity to access that, and I find that songs that come from that deep place usually have some emotional quality that trumps other songs. It’s completely intangible. Another song I have like that is called “Love Ablaze,” but I’ve yet to produce a recording I am happy with for that song. We’ll see.
Catherine isn’t here as I’m answering these Qs, but I’ll take the opportunity to rave about a couple of her songs that I think are amazing---“Lost in the Sea,” which we released in 2011. The melody and build are beautiful. “I Believe Anything You Say to Me.” I always ask her to sing this one in our current live set, and the room goes quiet and I forget my guitar parts, because I’m busy listening to her vocal and allowing it to slay me.
If you could collaborate with any artist dead or alive, who would you work with?
Bernadette: Brian Eno. I have always dreamed of working with Brian Eno on a record.
Check out Bern & the Brights live near you;
4/1 - Old Mogul Theater, Montclair
5/13 - The Woodland, Maplewood
Read our review of their new album! Here