Wei Zheng (Cellina)

Music 26 (Monday)

Honor Program

Musician Interview

I saw Mr. Brody again.  This time, Mr. Brody cut his hair, compared to last time his long hair on the performance. The only thing he did not change was his smile, which relieved me a lot. I feel so happy that I have a chance to interview Joshua Brody, an amazing musician.  In my eyes, Mr. Brody is a modest, enthusiastic, and terrific musician. Mr. Brody was born in New York City. When he was five or six years old, Mr. Brody started to learn piano for six years, then he went to the Berkeley College of Music in Boston for one year, which is the most part of his musical education. Mr. Brody told me that he was not interested in learning play piano at all when he was young. He said: ³After six years of hating it, begging my parents‹³Please, I donıt like this (thing).  Let me go!²‹finally, after six years, they let me stop taking lessons.² However, at the same time, Mr. Brody found ³Rock Nı Roll², which he had interest later, and continued playing piano until now.  Music has already become central part of Mr. Brodyıs life and career. 

To me, musician is a very beautiful and ideal profession, but it is also risky, because I think musician needs inspiration to write music, and also needs different kinds of experiences to write music.  I feel that musician not only needs professional musical knowledge, but also needs a sensitive heart to inspire himself to write music.  From Mr. Brodyıs conversation, I found that his original plan was not to become a musician. ³My plan was to get into science or mathematics.  And I very quickly learned in college that I could not make it.  I could never become good enough in those things to make a living.² Then Mr. Brody joined a band with his friends, and started to make money, which was such a simple experience.  Mr. Brody followed his heart to choose favorite thing as his own career, and ³music² becomes perfect for him.

Before interviewing him, Mr. Brody gave me a chance to see him play.  In that show, which was about two Shakespeare short plays, Mr. Brodyıs talented piano improvisation impressed so much.  Hence, I cannot wait to ask him about improvising question during this interview.  Towards to Mr. Brodyıs answer, he told me there were many different kinds of improvisation.  Mr. Brody said that he just followed his feeling to this play, and kept asking himself ³Does the scene need music?  Is there something that music can do to add to what the actors are doing or to amplify what they are doing or to support what they are doing²?   I still remembered that Mr. Brody closed his eyes while playing piano in the performance last time, and sometimes, there were no lights at all to cooperate the playıs needs, so I think Mr. Brody just used his feeling to play.  Like he said, ³If it needs music, if thereıs something missing, itıs almost as if my fingers are on automatic.²

When I asked Mr. Brody that what was his favorite style, he told me that he liked ³the one that is appropriate for the moment that he was playing².  He also told me that he liked pop music very much, but he still liked to play many different kinds of music. ³I listened to a lot of pop music when I was growing upŠ. I am not a real jazz player, not a real country player, but I played lots of different styles.² From his words, I can tell that Mr. Brody is a musician who likes challenging different kinds of music, and tasting different areas of music.  Because Mr. Brody has such broad musical tastes, he can comprehend those musical ideas to deepen his musical awareness, which is the difference between a musician and ordinary people, I think.

Right now, more and more musicians come out every year, so the competition among musicians can be stronger and stronger, so I come up another question about how Mr. Brody adjusting his pressure from outsides.  Mr. Brody told me his philosophy, which was JUST SAY ³YES².  Mr. Brody just says ³YES² when he met each difficulty, even sometimes, the difficulties seem so hard to conquer, but Mr. Brody insisted to say ³YES². From interview, he gave me a very interesting example. ³When someone does something on stage and says, ŒHey! Letıs flap our arms and fly to the moon!ı instead of saying, ³We canıt flap our arms and fly to the moon!² Mr. Brody just tried to accept every challenge and impressed more and more people, including his coworkers and audience, which made him so popular in public eyes.  From SF Bay Guardianıs review, ³J. Raoul Brodyıs expectedly witty one-man-orchestra score (he also essays various ³dramatic² parts to deadpan effect) also make significant contributions².  Therefore, his philosophy encourages Mr. Brody to become a better and better musician that keep himself never being forgotten.

Musician, one of the main functions is composing, so I do not hesitate to ask Mr. Brody his composition information.  Mr. Brody mostly composed for the theatre.  Instead of sitting down and going to write music, Mr. Brody usually try to read the script first, then write music suitably for that script.  He also has written two short operas, and two hundred songs, but his biggest part of vocabulary is pop music.  The conversation with him, which reminds me a picture that in Mr. Brodyıs website.  There are lots of CDs sitting around in his music studio, and also different kinds of instruments.  Mr. Brody with a big smile was standing in the middle of those musical devices.  I can imagine the picture that how Mr. Brody wrote music and tired time to time to practice sounds. 

One of the biggest issues that musician cares is their audience, so I am so curious about what kinds of ideal audience for Mr. Brody.  Also, I want to compare what kinds of myself to be an audience for Mr. Brody.  ³An audience with a sense of humor. And an audience that does not have a fixed idea of what to expect when they come in and will be disappointed if they donıt get that specific.² Mr. Brodyıs answer let me connect his previous answer about improvisation.  Due to his flexibility to any kinds of music, his ideal audience also can accept any changes and any styles of music to accommodate his different musical improvisation at that time.  I think that only changeable musical preference can satisfy more and more audienceıs appreciation requests, which is also one of the main reasons that so many people like going to see Mr. Brodyıs performance. 

After that, I believe a musician chooses his favorite style must have his favorite musicians to get his interest and influence him.  Thatıs why I ask about his favorite musicians.  From his answer, Mr. Brody prefers Beatles, Rolling Stone, ³those kinds of people who can get him excited and also with a sense of humor².  Mr. Brody felt so exciting when he introduced me to other musicians he likes, like Frank Zappa, an English group called the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, and PDQ Bach, although I did not know them. ³Very, very funny, so I would say that listening to people like that‹Frank Zappa, the Bonzo, and PDQ Bach, and other people like that‹had the biggest influence on me.²  Mr. Brody said.  At that time, I felt Mr. Brody favorite musicians who have strong musical ability, and the most important thing is that those musicians do not restrict themselves to one area of music style.  They have flexible and funny personality to add into their music, which let their audience feel the same way as they feel.  I think Mr. Brody is the same person who likes freedom to do his own kinds of music, which is the way he is doing now.

³Have you released any music CD yet?² My question about musical record, which presents a musicianı products on their musical career.  Mr. Brody told me he just finished a CD of a show with his friend, Meryl, whose name is ³Broke².  When I asked where I could buy it, Mr. Brody told me that just for selling in his show.  My last question towards his goals for the future, Mr. Brody answered it very briefly, which is ³keep doing it <music> and do more things and different things. Just say ŒYesı².  I can feel Mr. Brodyıs clear goal in his future and his optimistic attitude towards his music, his career and his life.

After interviewing, I still got a very happy talk with Mr. Brody.  He was very nice and patient to answer me some questions, although I can tell he was very busy.  Through this interview, I found that I have known a terrific interview, Mr. Brody, and his philosophy towards his life.  Also I try to say ³Yes² to myself, too. Only having steady and optimistic attitudes, then your life will be changed and luck will come to your side.  Thank you, Mr. Brody.