New Influences and The Northern Lights: A Conversation with The Brinks

The Brinks © 2017
The Brinks © 2017

LA-based duo The Brinks have been quiet since 2015 when their hit single “Temporary Love” infiltrated the music industry. Since then, Brooklyn producer Matt Friedman and Australian songwriter Scott Mellis have been fine tuning their sophomore album. Before we dig into their upcoming release, let’s illuminate their under-praised debut Temporary Love.

These genre-bending gurus pull several musical strings at once to create not one sound, but many. Temporary Love captivates the listener from the beginning deep-bass line of “Temporary Love” until the crackly end of the wild, fluorescent, and spacey “Limit of a Deadline.” We get a tropical escape in “Hide Your Love,” a story of a hazy Saturday matinee in “Stoned,” and an electro-acoustic balled with “Heart Shared.” It feels like a carnival where you don’t have to settle for only one thrilling ride — you get the floating feeling of a Ferris wheel and the riveting stomach drop of a roller-coaster.

Listen: “Honey” – The Brinks

This summer the pair dropped the synth-y, powerful “Honey” and any devotee of The Brinks could tell we were in for new vibrations and fresh stories. The liquid and drippy vocals of “Honey” at first reminded me of “Gooey” by Glass Animals, but the intensity of tsunami synths and under the sea bubble pops gave it a gripping edge.

Atwood Magazine was able to catch up with The Brinks a few weeks ago before they head full-throttle into album release preparation. We chatted about the past successes, future direction, and laughed with each other a lot.


Atwood Magazine: Hi, how are you guys today?

Scott Mellis: Sensational.

Matt Friedman: Yeah we’re great.

So y’all are working on new music, that's really exciting. Has that been the bulk of your summer plans?

Scott: Yeah that’s been the bulk of it — getting everything together and getting creative around it all. Yeah, pretty much [laughs].

While describing your music, you’ve said before, 'We tried not to do the same thing twice. There is a sound but there also isn't a sound.' It’s true though, your debut album has a lot of variety - some 80’s dance influences in 'Limit of the Deadline,' the alternative rock rhythm of 'Temporary Love,' the tropical drum beats of 'Hide Your Love.' Are y’all pursuing the same in-direction for the future? Trying to zone in on one sound?

Matt: Definitely, I think that’s exactly right. With our new music, we wanted to play with all different ideas and not stick to one thing, but in the end  we wanted to cull it down to a body of work that there is a connection and it makes sense when you listen to it all together. Also each song should be its own little adventure, so to speak.

Watch: Hide Your Love – “The Brinks”

I really liked all the variety y'all had. I thought it showed your talent and where you pulled different influences from. Sometimes it's hard to really love an artist when they're just one sound that totally drives their music.

Matt: That’s actually an interesting thing because I’ve thought about that a lot where I think there’s a lot of artists whose first album you flip through and every song sounds almost exactly the same. Sometimes I think that can be very detrimental and boring, but other times it helps solidify who this band is. It gives us a unique challenge where we try and have each song sound a little different, but I think both have their pluses and minuses.

Definitely, there needs to be a fluidity to your sound but you also need to stand out. It's a tough music world that we're living in right now, but y'all are doing your thing and you're doing it well.

Matt: [chuckles] Thanks.

Scott: Thank you!

Many of your lyrics from Temporary Love mention ocean imagery and nature metaphors. I think it makes sense because you now live in LA now where it's very outdoor-centric and, Scott, you're from Australia. It’s also very evocative and fitting. Do you notice yourself pulling inspiration from nature or where you think you pull your inspiration the most from?

Scott: Especially with the song “Temporary Love,” a lot of the imagery and verses are very personal to me — and evocative to me. The words remind me of places I’ve been, things that I’ve seen, and then I visualize it throughout the song. Then the chorus I wanted to make it more relatable. So I think especially with that song the verses are more my part and I wanted the chorus to be for everyone.

Do you do most of the songwriting, Scott, or is it more of a team effort?

Scott: I normally come with the lyrics and melody of a song and then Matt takes it to the next level.

The imagery you utilize in your lyrics isn't around that often and as someone who writes it's really beautiful to listen to and visualize. In reference to your upcoming releases, you’ve mentioned before, 'We also have visions of how we want to present them, touring and the visual elements.' I think adding visual elements could only enhance the already entrancing music you make. Any ideas on what you’re going to do?

Matt: Well, we can’t reveal too much, but we are working on a music video for “Honey,” which should be out soon. Although we are musicians first, we are always looking to collaborate with other artists and create an experience that’s more than music. We want the art to really be pushed and to make a music video you haven’t seen a million times.

Each song should be its own little adventure, so to speak.

I love how y’all pull the best aspects of multiple genres together to create an almost undefinable 'sound.' Are y’all pulling from any new influences for the upcoming releases? Any soul? Punk? I’d love to hear more of your singer/songwriter origins included.

Matt: I’d say we’re pulling from a lot of the same places, it’s just different. I think the production gotten stronger too and sonically it’s elevated a bit. It’s also a little more synth-y; “Honey” being the synthiest. I don’t know, I’m sorry, I’m terrible at describing music haha.

Haha trust me, I know it's hard to describe music!

Scott: Well, like Matt was saying, the last stuff was amazing, but the new LP is even more amazing.

Haha! It's even more amazing.

Scott: [laughs] No, but really, I just remember I heard Noel Gallagher say that in an interview once. We’re basically like the Gallagher brothers. But really I feel like both EPs if you put them together make sense, it’s just a more broad serving platter of musical tastes.

That was a great metaphor right there! And now for three fun questions. What was the first album you had fully memorized?

Matt: Fully memorized? Ahhh probably Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band when I was in nursery school or kindergarten. It was just an imagination explosion and it was so visual. To me as a little kid, The Beatles just made so much sense because you could just picture a world with it. What about you, Scott? Metallica?

Scott: [laughs] Well honestly, I’ve been thinking about it and I can’t remember. Too many albums as a child.

Very cool. If y’all could have a session anywhere in the world with the proper equipment and everything, where would you want to go to be inspired?

Scott: Oh, I know this one. There’s a house in the Caribbean and it’s call the moon hole house. It’s shaped like the moon and it’s all glass on a cliff. It takes probably three flights on smaller propeller planes to get there. So I’m gonna say there because that’s pretty rad.

Matt: Mine would be somewhere by like the Ice Hotel, but not there because it’s touristy. Go somewhere you can see the Northern Lights and have a bunch of huskies pulling you on a cart. We can go somewhere with all the equipment and be surrounded by huskies and elk, get them all involved on the track. We’ll play a guitar solo on our ride in, just recorded it all out there.

That would be pretty epic.

Scott: I’m actually gonna change my answer and say in the Northern Lights. You know, in space.

Matt: Don’t ruin my vision with a better vision like “in space”!

In the Northern Lights? I guess I didn't restrict y'all to Earth. But Matt if you want that to happen, go to Finland - my friend trained huskies there.

Matt: You got a guy?

Yeah, we'll set you all up for a Northern Light recording session! Anyways, our last (two-part) question is who’s an artist or band you’ve loved your whole life and why? Who’s a new artist inspiring you?

Matt: I would say The Rolling Stones. Their old blues-influenced music that was grimy and raw. I was getting all of those records as a kid and still loved it into college. I’ve been listening to the Andy Shauf record The Party a lot. It’s very mellow but one of the only new albums I’ve been digging front to back.

Scott: An artist I’ve loved for a long time is Prince. Absolutely Prince, I remember singing and listening to Diamonds and Pearls on cassette tape when I was really young. For an artist now I would say Blood Orange.

Well those are all my questions for today. Thank you for being such wonderful interviewees!

Scott: Well, thank you for being such a wonderful interviewer.

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 Temporary Love - The Brinks
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Temporary Love – The Brinks

Temporary Love - The Brinks
Temporary Love – The Brinks

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