Posted On 15 Jun 2018
Meet the father & daughter songwriting duo Brent and Genesee Nelson! They were Emmy nominated for their indie-folk song, “Sun Still Shines” featured in the daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives.
Brent has created a huge volume of music for Days and he is using live musicians when their contemporaries are not. Additionally, Brent works with his daughter, Genesee, on original songs for the show. The music for Days of Our Lives is constantly evolving not only to meet the demands of the story, but also to compete with primetime dramas.
Brent Nelson has been co-writing the score for ‘Days’ for the past 25 years. He is also co-writing the score and original songs for ‘Ladies of the Lake’ (Amazon). Brent has won three Emmy awards for his ‘Days’ score, been nominated 12 times, and along with his co-writing partner Ken, was nominated for two ISA awards for the music to ‘Ladies of the Lake.’ ‘Ladies of the Lake’ is also being recognized at the daytime Emmy awards with a nomination for Best Digital Daytime Drama. Brent and Ken’s music for the two shows spans all genres – from classical to strip lounge – to meet the needs of all of the characters, storylines, and emotional arcs. Additionally, they have created a large catalogue of original songs – many in connection with Brent’s daughter – that have been used on both projects. Three songs have been nominated for the Emmy award for Best Original Song.
Learn more about Brent and Genesee Nelson in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So how has 2018 been treating you all so far? What is one musical goal that you have had for this year?
DB: Thank you for inviting us! 2018 is an exciting year so far. ‘Days of our Lives’ is going strong; we’ve had our first orchestral recording session of the year (28 Strings +). We’re coming off of a great story with Marci Miller (Abigail Horton) playing a character experiencing DID (multiple personalities) which gave us some sensational and provocative scenes to score, very much the kind of work to keep in mind for next year’s Emmy Awards. In addition to that we have the second season of ‘Ladies of the Lake’ coming to Amazon Prime on June 19th. ‘Ladies’ is shot on location and feels very much like a movie at times. The orchestral cues Ken Corday and I have written for the series create an emotional and dramatic space that feels genuinely cinematic. The goal for this year is to continue developing the craft along these lines. It’s very exciting!!
GN: Thank you for inviting me! For 2018 I’m continuing to write the songs for Olivia Keegan’s character ‘Claire’ on “Days of our Lives’ with a new song coming to air in late August. I’m back in Los Angeles writing songs full time, developing material to showcase.
Let’s talk about your track, “Sun Still Shines.” What was the inspiration for it? Did you already have it written when Days Of Our Lives approached you and asked for a song?
GN: It’s about the bittersweet moment of letting someone go, it’s hopeful but desolate. I had been working on it previously but the lyrics didn’t feel right… I read the scene where Claire had to say goodbye to her lover and that’s when the story began to unfold.
What has it been like working on the music for such a well-known soap opera? Has it been a challenge to create music that goes along with the stories unfolding on each episode of it? Brent, how has the music of the show developed over the time that you have working on it?
DB: One of the best surprises about writing for ‘Days’ is the variety of stories and characters. I’m very prolific so what might seem like a challenge is a true blessing for scoring and for songwriting. The music is constantly evolving on ‘Days” partially because we write so much and also from my love of experimenting and trying new things. We have areas in our library of pure synth music and areas of pure orchestral scoring (and everything in-between). We also incorporate enormous amounts of BIG Percussion (real) for those punchy moments.
GN: It allows me to write personal songs that come from the heart and reflect a range of general human emotions…from the elation of a first love to the depths of a heartbreak. Each song is like a diary entry.
What does it feel like being recognized by the Emmys for your Days of Our Lives music?
DB: It’s wonderful to be recognized for your work by your peers. There’s a bit of serendipity to it and it’s a terrific feeling to win.
GN: A great honor, but it’s all just the beginning.
Do either of you have plans to release your own music as a duo anytime soon?
DB: I could see us putting out a soundtrack album for ‘Days of our Lives’ and including some of the original songs from the show in the near future.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere? Do you have any upcoming shows that you would like to tell our readers about?
DB: All of our work is done in the studio. The final ‘performance’ is generally when the show airs.
GN: The studio musicians are talented artists as well, and hearing how they interpret the song builds a beautiful final touch to the track. Hearing it all unfold in the studio is that magical moment.
How do you think being a musician gives you all the most joy in life today?
GN: Music is my blood and I tried to hide it for a long time and worked an arduous fashion design job in New York City. It’s a big dream to be able to move away from that and see the bigger picture on a personal level.
Who would you love to work with in the future? Who are some of your favorite artists right now? What do you think would be a dream collaboration for this group?
GN: Justin Bieber and his guitarist Dan Kanter. They created a special album together where they stripped down all of his pop songs and re-recorded them purely acoustic. Making an entirely acoustic album for my generation is a feat, and I commend his manager Scooter Braun for not only shining light on musical and vocal talent in the pop industry, but for understanding the teenage heart. I listen to a wide range of music, but I have a real passion for folk and old country blues singers. The dream would have been to work with Elvis when he was recording his first record at Sun Studio.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
GN: Songs are dynamic in that each person listening can relate it to their life in a different way. That’s the relationship I’m looking for. I hope that people can connect.