Analogue Music | Brijean


By Matt Conner

The last few years have proven difficult for all of us, but it held a particular grief for the members of Brijean.

From the postponement of musical dreams to the passing of parents to the general uncertainty of a global pandemic, Brijean Murphy and Doug Stewart have wrestled with a myriad of confusing emotions and disheartening circumstances—to say the least—since they first wrote and recorded the songs for their debut as Brijean entitled Feelings.

Despite the industry-wide shutdown and no touring mechanism through which they could support the album, the duo pressed on via their label, Ghostly International, to release a captivating album that showcased a spacious pop palette. Feelings released to critical acclaim, but instead of waiting to properly take the songs on the road, the duo leaned into their creative chemistry to process the world around them. Hot on the heels of Feelings, then, fans now have another exciting offering in Angelo.

We recently sat down with both members of Brijean to hear their story of the last couple of years and how they managed to move through their grief.

Analogue: I want to go back to Feelings before talking about the new release because you were pushing into a new album as a new band just when everything shuts down. Did you think about waiting? How was that process?

Doug Stewart: We’d finished Feelings before the pandemic had set in.

Brijean Murphy: Probably 90 percent of it.

"We’re not necessarily trying to take our minds off of it but move through it." -Brijean Murphy

Doug: Yeah, everything aside from mastering pretty much. We did end up writing another song for it once we were a month into lockdown. It was like, ‘Oh, we can reopen this.’ [Laughs] We’d just signed with Ghostly [International] and I think everybody was holding their breath a little bit, just figuring out what a release would look like if this pandemic continued to wage on, which it did.

At a certain point, Ghostly was pushing for us to start releasing and we were feeling it, too, because it felt like the music was still really fresh to us. It was also coming at a time where, sure, we can’t tour it which is the thing you want to do, but people were also checking out a lot of new music because they had time. That was really important in people’s lives because it was something to get them outside of themselves a bit.

So that was the story for Feelings. We came to a consensus to put it out whether or not we would be able to get people to experience it live. It felt important for people to have art.

Analogue: You followed up Feelings so quickly here with another EP.

Brijean: We like making music and working on it and then we had all of this time together because of the pandemic because we weren’t touring in different bands apart from each other. We supported each other in other pillars of our lives, so it just felt natural to make music and art. It was also good and cathartic to focus our energy and bodies into it. It was just how it went down.

Analogue: What I’m reading about the new songs is that they’re rooted in grief, or this period of songwriting was, but the songs themselves can belie those feelings. Was that purposeful?

Doug: There are definitely a couple of songs on the EP that are mellower compared to what we’ve done. At least to us, they sound like they’re coming from this place of introspection and grieving, but the flip side to that is that it just felt good to work on music that wasn’t necessary wallowing and more moving through it. I think we both respond to grief in different ways but we find a lot of comfort in moving our bodies, whether that be exercise or dancing or playing music. It feels good to channel that grief in a way that’s not as obvious or downtrodden as it may feel to go through losing a loved one.

Analogue: That makes sense as a distraction, although that’s not the right word.

Doug: Yeah maybe not a distraction.

Brijean: A coping mechanism.

Doug: Yeah, a coping mechanism. We’re not necessarily trying to take our minds off of it but move through it.

Brijean: Plus it’s a natural expression for us. In and out of grief, this is our go-to. We’re musicians, so we make music.

Doug: Yeah it’s natural. We feel compelled to do it no matter how we’re feeling, so especially in those times of heavy feelings, we’re called to it.

Analogue: Did the songs come naturally in such a heavy season? Speaking for myself, the heaviness could actually keep me from wanting to move at times.

Doug: It was definitely day-to-day. Some days it was hard to work on stuff or there was no motivation to do so but there was also no guilt for not doing so. But it usually felt rewarding to try to make something. There’s just something about making something from nothing that feels satisfying, even if you look back and realize you don’t love it. The process of digging and finding something usually feels good in the moment.

Analogue: Given how prolific this whole period seems to be, it makes me curious if this is normal for you. Do you create on a very consistent basis together? Are there stops and starts?

Doug: I think a bit of both, honestly. We’re always working on something, but Feelings definitely had a clear ending point around April 2020. We had those songs done and they were mastered and in the label’s hands. And I think the starting point for Angelo is a little fuzzier. But at some point in the last year, we’d been listening back to the music we’d been making and we realized there was a short album in here that felt right. We’d just settled into a new place in L.A. and we were planting roots for the first time in a couple of years, so we decided to round up the songs that felt like an album and finish them to delineate—to create a new starting point in our lives. It felt like we needed to do this to tie up loose ends or something so we could start the next chapter.

Brijean: Definitely. Just like finishing any body of work, taking in the seasonality and defining it as a start and ending and shifting with what’s next or what’s new.

VISIT: Brijean

*Photo: Nathan Castie