Possibly the best thing about living in Portland is the fact that, assuming you have the time and money, you can go out and see incredible live music literally every night of the week. We are fortunate to live in such a dynamic environment, and we must be appreciative of the artists and musicians that make our scene thrive.
Possibly the best thing about living in Portland is the fact that, assuming you have the time and money, you can go out and see incredible live music literally every night of the week. We are fortunate to live in such a dynamic environment, and we must be appreciative of the artists and musicians that make our scene thrive. This week, the Vanguard sat down with local multi-instrumentalist Chris Brooker, the charismatic front-man for the up-and-coming band Ianfidelity. Often singing, playing guitar, and comp-trolling heady samples through a drum machine all at once, Ianfidelity has been generating a lot of positive energy in Portland recently. Brooker is a man of wise words, and here he helps us shed some light on what it’s like to be an independent musician in our city.
First of all, who are you and where are you from? Well, my name is Christopher Ian Brooker and I’m from the womb, among other places. But I also come from a place with 100-degree humid summer nights, Waffle Houses and rednecks that think Bud Light is “good tastin’ beer.” Some call it Georgia.
So many styles are represented in your music. How would you describe your sound to newcomers? Well, imagine you have this beautiful old jazz record, let’s say some Thelonious Monk, and then one day you cheat on it with a drum machine. Then, this random guy walks in and discovers you doing this but he is too busy smoking a cigarette and listening to Led Zeppelin II through his Walkman to even give a shit. That’s sort of what it sounds like. Wait, add a monkey banging on a cymbals in the corner. There we go. Perfecto.
How was the transition from the Atlanta music scene to playing in Portland? The Atlanta music scene is really big but not as forgiving as the Portland scene. It is also not nearly as experimental. The weird part is that now that I live out here, I have dove deeper into the Atlanta scene. Bands like the Black Lips and Dark Meat–from Athens technically–are really fun and are starting to push the scene more there.
What has been your best show so far? The Holocene show was so amazing! There were a lot of people and they were all getting down and dancing. I think I brought the crunk bug with me that night.
The art installation from Anna Raguni was killer with all of the wire-wrapped flowers and there was a giant bioluminescent jellyfish on-stage. Christopher Allen was awesome too, and put the whole thing together with his Digital Organics crew. They both worked together to construct the jellyfish and the flowers with almost a mile of wire. It was seriously an incredibly intense night both visually and aurally.
What is the best way for younger–or newer–musicians to try and get their start here? Go out and really promote yourself, but not in an in-your-face kind of way. Just meet people, make friends, and then book shows. The main thing to focus on is having something to back it up though. Make sure you have solid material and can perform it solidly, whether it’s with a band, or by yourself, or whatever. How did you come up with the name Ianfidelity, and what does it mean? Well, my middle name is Ian. That part’s easy. But I also get in trouble with cross-pollination of different genres in my music. I don’t really believe in genres, thus making me an infidel of sorts. This all sort of came to me one night.
What would you say is the driving force behind the seemingly massive influx of modern musicians that move to Portland? A lot of people move here because Portland is really laid back, has a huge music scene and is very forgiving, like I said before. The only drawback is that you can’t throw a guitar pick without hitting a musician and it’s pretty hard to get paid well for gigs, because there is a line of people behind you who are willing to play for relatively nothing.
Is it better to play solo or with other musicians? Oh shit, that’s a hard one. Depends on what I’m doing. Some days, all I want to do is play solo, because I know exactly what I want. Other days I’m crazy and want the input of others. Working with other people is always fun because you have no idea what they might do, and that is really exciting. Do you have any thoughts about what might be in store for the future of the music industry in terms of making music for an honest living? We are on the crest of a new wave of the way people see the music industry. The power has been taken out of the corporate hands and is being put back in the hands of the artist. The Internet is truly a revolution and I fully endorse it. Bands like Radiohead and NIN aren’t the first to do what they do, but definitely the first to open these options to the eyes of the masses. I think it’s the best thing that could possibly happen to music right now. That’s why I chose to release my album for free through www.ianfidelity.com in somewhat of the same manner.
Are there any artists or musicians in town that you feel we should be checking out? Yes, check out Paper/Upper/Cuts and Kickball–super awesome. Also, the Dopple Gang, they’re local to Atlanta and I’m producing their first album. If you could be any kind of cephalopod, octopus, squid, or cuttlefish, what would you be? I’d be a Peripitus, also known as the velvet worm. It’s a small creature that looks somewhere between a centipede, a worm, and a caterpillar. It captures its prey by spitting sticky goo out of its antennae, like Spider-man. They are, by far, the coolest of the cephalopods. Are there any record labels courting you right now or do you think its best to put out music independently? Well, today is your lucky day. I’m planning on releasing an EP within the next month here. It’s going to be an all live-looping, straight to 4-track tape that will be dope. I’m definitely going to put it up on my website for free just like my last album.