Leaving Nashville wasn’t easy for Brigitte DeMeyer. Several years earlier, when she made the decision to relocate back to her hometown of San Francisco, she felt like she was leaving one family—her musical one—for her biological one. DeMeyer reveals the story of this journey, and all its ups and downs, on Seeker (BDM Records) out March 26, opening the book on “Salt of the Earth,” a lighter ode to her much-loved Nashville community.
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Produced by The Wood Brothers multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix—who also appeared along with Oliver and Chris Wood on DeMeyer’s 2017 collaboration with Will Kimbrough, Mockingbird Soul—along with engineer and Grammy winning producer Trina Shoemaker (Sheryl Crow, Dixie Chicks), over a two-year period, Seeker reflects one of the most transformative periods in DeMeyer’s life. After many years of commuting back and forth to Nashville and eventually settling there with her family, building roots and solidifying her musical community, she had to make the difficult decision to move back to San Franscisco for her son.
“Having to suddenly leave Nashville and my long nurtured community of kindred spirits for the urgent sake of my son’s well being kicked my ass,” says DeMeyer, who suffered another blow as she was moving back to San Francisco when she lost her cousin and his daughter in a rogue wave accident in Hawaii. “It was extremely challenging, especially after it took me so long to find a thing I didn’t know existed for me, this feeling of belonging. I’d never really grown roots anywhere, or wanted to, until I got there [Nashville].”
Moving west and rebuilding her life again California is the root of Seeker. In Nashville, DeMeyer says she found people and a place in the music community that made her feel like she was home, and connected to her deeper spirit.
“Over time, things were happening that were detrimental to my young son’s spirit and growth that I hadn’t anticipated,” says DeMeyer. “I had to leave my chosen family, for my own beloved family at home. While I would do it all over again, it was a major jolt.”
In its lighter, bluesy grooves, “Salt of the Earth” is about looking for what she considered her salt of the earth—connection in a new place. “I just felt like I found my people,” shares DeMeyer. “We all have this common denominator, this language that we speak, so the longer I lived there, the more deeply my roots got grounded there. When I moved, I felt like it was disappearing, but it wasn’t at all.”
DeMeyer adds “The good news is, real connection stays that way. I have learned my community is true blue to me no matter where I am.”
Along with Rix, the two produced demos by sharing files remotely at first. DeMeyer sent Rix a page of lyrics, and he filled in the rest. “I didn’t have really a melody or anything written, just some ideas,” says DeMeyer. “Then he sent back the music for it, so our process began like that. I would send him lyrics, sometimes poetry, or a melody idea, and he would send it back finished. Other times, I would have no music at all, and he would send it back with music.”
Working with Rix, she didn’t want to have a deadline, so everything on Seeker would come together naturally. “I decided that I’m not going to put pressure on myself,” says DeMeyer. “I just want it to be organic, and the chemistry was easy with him.”
Recording bits and pieces while he was on tour with The Wood Brothers, DeMeyer eventually started going to Nashville to record a batch of songs at a time.
“I would go and record three songs, then come home,” says DeMeyer. “It was recorded in chunks, and in between that life happens, and you come back with a different vibe, so it was a really refreshing way to do it since we had this time off in between.”
If Seeker is DeMeyer’s partial goodbye to Nashville, “Salt of the Earth” is her coming home. Members of DeMeyer’s musical family, including her best friend and godmother to her son, Alfreda McCrary of McCrary Sisters on backing and harmony vocals, along with Chris Wood on upright and electric bass and Oliver Wood on electric guitar and vocals, with additional contributions from Viktor Krauss and session players, bassist Ted Pecchio and guitarists Kris Donegan and JP Ruggieri, are all featured on the track.
“Part of the reason why I chose that particular song as a first single is because all the people that I missed so much are playing on it,” says DeMeyer. “You can hear the joy and that kind of laid back groove and all that stuff that makes my music come alive, because of the energy and the mojo between the people.”
Happy again in San Francisco, Nashville will always be DeMeyer’s other home. Now, she also finds herself approaching music more confidently, and writing from experience.
“I feel like I’m playing a lot more with my own songwriting process, as opposed to depending on another musician to give me musical ideas,” says DeMeyer. “You begin to have a sense of self that’s different from when you were younger. You approach a song from a an of wisdom.”
Shooting videos around Seeker and proud of this chapter in her story, everything is right in DeMeyer’s world now.
“Often, art comes from struggle,” she says. “You write what you know about. I’m certainly not the first to find this out. I’m thankful for what has come my way, whichever way it landed. In hindsight, it always turns in to something I can draw from creatively. And, my friends have stayed my friends no matter the distance. I was so afraid of losing that soul connection with likeminded people. The true ones have stayed true. We have found a way to make it work.”