Brijean Is Latest Signee to Ghostly International, Discusses New Tunes

For over 20 years, Brooklyn’s Ghostly International has brought us some of the most innovative minds in modern beat composition, from Tycho to Dabrye to Com Truise and then some.

Brijean – the Oakland-based duo of Brijean Murphy and Doug Stuart -is the latest signing to Ghostly, who in late July released the pair’s latest single “Moody.” In a hair over two minutes, Brijean reintroduce themselves to you with a groove that splits the difference between Santana at their most hypnotic and the vastly underrated beat science of Ghostly co-founder Matthew Dear (with a little Moodymann soul added to the mix). Working alongside Murphy’s percussion mentor Pepe Jacobo, its impossible to consider how “Moody” was recorded in a residential living room with the windows open

“We wrote this tune at the tail end of a month-long writing session,” Murphy tells American Songwriter. “We started with the drums and percussion from a living room session with Pepe Jacobo. Sitting with the rhythms for a while, I heard a vocal melody. I tried not to overthink the lyrics or melody, and went with the first idea. I took a  stream of consciousness approach and drew from memories and imaginations of a day to myself in a city.”

Counterbalancing the highly distinctive rhythms Murphy has honed from her years as an in-demand percussionist for such hot indie acts as U.S. Girls and Toro Y Moi is the multi-faceted dexterity of Stuart, a University of Michigan graduate who studied jazz under the late piano great Geri Allen.

“I recorded Brijean and her mentor, Pepe Jacobo, jamming on some different rhythms and tempos without any  “songs” in mind,” Stuart explains to American Songwriter regarding his key role in the new track’s creation. “Later in the same day, Brijean and I were sifting through the jams, and we were drawn to  the drum and conga feel that came to be the backbone of ‘Moody’. It wasn’t recorded to a click so it took  some finessing to get it to sit just right, but after I cut the main loop, the rest of the instrumentation for the  song came together within a couple hours. I added rhodes chords, a synth bass, and a handful of other synth  lines and textures (all from the Korg Minilogue), and a sampled kick drum and snare to give it a little extra  punch and depth. All the while Brijean was starting to sing the melody and write the lyrics. By the end of  the night we had the whole thing recorded, and we added some finishing touches the next day.”     

Given the couple’s impressive sonic pedigree–Murphy is a second generation percussionist whose father is the engineering great Patrick Murphy while Stuart has played with such established acts as Bells Atlas and Luke Temple–there is good reason to get excited for the follow-up to Brijean’s 2019 debut Walkie Talkie, which the duo have been working on during these quarantined times.

“We hope to keep making music and art,” Murphy said about the future ambitions of Brijean heading into 2021. “To continue to play and grow and collaborate.”


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