An Interview With The Orchestral Indie Duo THE BRILLIANCE On Forthcoming Music, Biggest Inspirations and More!
Get to know the orchestral indie-pop duo, The Brilliance! On January 10th, 2020, they will be releasing their sophomore album, “Suite No. 2: World Keeps Spinning: An Antidote to Modern Anxiety.” Ahead of that released, they have put out the track, “Facebook” along with an accompanying music video- Watch “Facebook”
The Brilliance’s acoustic-electric, symphonic-pop songs invite you to step outside yourself; to see the world through the eyes of the other, the stranger, and those you may consider your enemy. The band is comprised of songwriter David Gungor and composer John Arndt, who crafted the new “suite” in collaboration with Biola University Orchestra and Chorus.
Recently featured on Spotify’s New Music Friday, Chill Hits as well as several other Spotify editorial playlists, The Brilliance gets 600k+ Spotify listeners per month — and their first album, The Dreamer Suite has already amassed millions of streams on both Spotify and Apple Music, as an independent release. The Brilliance are creating what they call “art that inspires empathy”, releasing their songs in a series of “suites” – songs and pieces united by a theme – that invite others to listen with them.
The first suite, released in November 2018, was the Dreamer Suite, based around the stories of DACA Dreamers – children of undocumented immigrants who, by a change in legislation, are facing an uncertain future. The Brilliance partnered with World Relief in their initiative to raise awareness for the DACA dreamers. Additionally, they have performed for the MET’s Charity Water Gala, and globally at festivals in New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Israel and Palestine.
Their second suite, World Keeps Spinning: An Antidote to Modern Anxiety, asks the question, “Is this the end of the world?” So many are asking the question every day, believing it to be the end of the world, each for different reasons and in different ways. But hasn’t every generation asked that question? And how do we engage with others in the midst of these fears and concerns? The World Keeps Spinning Suite invites the listener into these questions, and to listen to the voices of one another in the midst of it.
World Keeps Spinning is a concept album that explores the root causes of modern anxiety and searches for ways to cope in the face of existential dread. Featuring full orchestra and choir, the album has a sprawling, eclectic sound, with wide-ranging sonic influences from Bach and Stravinsky to Jon Brion and The Beatles. The Brilliance take the listener on a beautiful, all-encompassing emotional journey toward the discovery of our need for each other.
Learn more about The Brilliance in the following All Access interview-
Thanks for your time! So what does a typical day look like for this band?
It is always different. John and David are based in different cities and both work on Brilliance as well as many other creative endeavors.
Now that we are at the end of the year, how would you say that 2019 has treated this duo?
We had a really wonderful year and we are grateful for it.
What are some goals that you have for this year and how close are you to reaching them?
We wanted to continue to release music and grow our audience and patreon and we are so grateful that 2019 we were able to do that.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this band together?
Not really a moment. This project morphed into something over the years that we are really grateful for.
Has anything surprised you about this musical journey so far?
We are so grateful for things like spotify that have allowed our music to go all over the world in places that totally surprise us. We love being able to travel to places like Australia and New Zealand and play shows.
How did you come up with your name?
An idea from David’s brother Rob.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the sound and how you both carry yourselves in this band?
Not really influenced by hometown at all. But our friendship and families have always been close and through many things. So has a strong foundation.
Why would you say that you two work so well together?
I really think that we want to create with a sense of honesty. And I think we both support each other.
Where is one of you weak where the other is strong and vice-versa?
Yeah we compliment each other in many ways. I think John is great at diving into something and seeing a large picture for a tune. I think I really love to set challenges and dream big for what type of projects we can try and do.
Let’s talk about your single, “World Keeps Spinning.” What was the inspiration for this track? How do you think it gets people excited for your upcoming sophomore album, “Suite. 2: World Keeps Spinning: An Antidote to Modern Anxiety”?
The single is an appeal to be less extreme in our certainty and more extreme in our love and acceptance.
“Can we ever learn to love each other? We’re all we’ve ever had!”
The ending is sort of a battle between the Bach (the history of intelligent life on earth) and Stravinsky (The relentlessly Spinning World)…
In the end.. The World Keeps Spinning 🙂
Audio References: The Beatles Sgt Pepper, and perhaps Bill Conti “Going the Distance” from Rocky 1 lol
How would you say that this collection is a concept album exactly?
This album was largely crafted as a collaboration with a University Orchestra and Chorus. John was commissioned by Biola University to write music for a concert, and turned it into a week-long collaborative recording project with the students, a concept he hopes to develop further in the future.
While our sound/stylistic influences are varied, we are using the word “Suites” to denote a Classical level of scale and intention.
There are two classical masterpieces that are referenced multiple times in the album: Bach Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor (Tracks 1 and 11) represents the plans, anxieties, genius, hubris of Humanity. Stravinsky Firebird Suite (Tracks 10 and 11) represents the vast scale of The Universe (10) and The Spinning Earth (11)
Did anything surprise you about the process of putting this album together?
No big suprises, just lots of love.
What was the overall process like for you two?
Really great. Fun to work on and really meaningful.
How did it differ from your debut album?
Overall it is longer and dives into themes of anxiety that John and I have both struggled with.
How do you think your sound has grown over the years? We focus more and more on themes that will try and bring empathy to people.
This was our most cinematic piece of work yet.
What about your songwriting process? How has that changed?
I don’t feel it really has changed. We really wrestle with lyrics and try to create melodies that move us.
Where do you think you are both happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
Recording new music is probably our favorite.
What has been a favorite show of yours to date?
In 2019, we played a very fun and special show in Paris.
What do you think makes an ideal performance for this band?
Great collaboration with other musicians.
Do you have any upcoming tour dates to wrap up the year with?
Not until 2020 when we will have release shows in NYC and L.A.
How do you think being musicians and in this band gives you all the most joy in life today?
Creating music with friends
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how your own music is reflecting this time period? If you don’t think it is, why is that?
Our last album was based around DACA dreamers and immigration. This album explores the idea of despair and anxiety, so definitely addresses a larger political climate.
Where would you love to hear your music being played? A TV show, a movie, in your favorite store, etc…?
We love when people connect to the music anywhere. And obviously love other art like film and TV. So would be grateful for any collaborations.
What do you hope is the message of your music?
Music that inspires empathy.
What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
To learn to see humanity.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about your music?
We hope that they enjoy and hopefully will lead them to a question that they can engage.