Premiere: Listen to Brasstracks' Jazzy Single "Stay There" Feat. Xavier Omar
Today we’re premiering Brasstracks’ newest single, “Stay There” featuring R&B talent Xavier Omar. The track is melodic and catchy, with a groove that’ll have you dancing in your seat. Last we caught up with Brasstracks, the duo, consisting of Ivan Jackson (trumpet) and Conor Rayne (drums), had just released “Brownstones”. Now they are gearing up for the release of their forthcoming EP, For Those Who Know Pt. II. “Stay There feat. Xavier Omar” is the first single off of the EP.
If you haven’t heard about Ivan and Conor yet, it’s time. They earned a Grammy last year producing Chance the Rapper’s “No Problem feat. 2 Chainz & Lil Wayne”, and they’ve done production work for Anderson Paak and Khalid, to name a few. Their work is catchy, R&B-inspired, and easy to dance to, and given their backgrounds as classically-trained musicians, it’s not surprising they’re so versatile. The two grew up in New York and met at The Manhattan School of Music while both were studying jazz. Brasstracks was born as Ivan and Conor began exploring brass-infused covers and remixing dance tracks, and the duo eventually expanded into their current groovy, jazz-infused tunes, utilizing a full band for For Those Who Know Pt. II. Take a listen to the world premiere of “Stay There” below, and read on to find out from the guys how it fits into the arc of their next EP.
Can you tell me about the story behind your new track?
Ivan: It started with a chord progression and a simple melody, as it often does. I was trying to get away from the same old piano chords I play, and Conor was trying to change up his drum grooves. Something clicked. When we were happy with the instrumental, Xavier was the first person we thought of to send it to, and he ended up writing lyrics that we could all relate too. We loved it on first listen.
How do you hope the track will connect to fans?
Ivan: I feel like a lot of people go through this. Stay There is a song about moving on with your damn life. You were boo’d up and now you’re not, and things are great- but the past has to stay in the past for them to STAY great. We’ve all been there.
Conor: Life sometimes seems to be a constant push and pull into future tripping and thinking about the past. This song is a reminder to stay in the moment.
You’re gearing up to release your new EP, For Those Who Know Part 2, this summer. How does “Stay There” fit into the EP’s narrative?
Ivan: Sound-wise, it’s more upbeat, happier. The rest of the project is too.
Conor: I’ve found that the mood of the music we write is pretty influenced by the seasons. Spring and summer, when most of these songs were made, naturally paint everything with liveliness and renewal. “Stay There” fits perfectly within that frame.
How do you think you guys have grown as artists since your last release?
Conor: Releasing work into the world is a great way to mark growth. There isn’t much time in between the morning of the release and the morning you wake up and say, “Alright, what’s next?” Sometimes that thought happens in the same day. You don’t feel the same sense of development just sitting on ideas forever. So, that being said, directly after the release of Pt. I we both got in the studio and created. Then when April came around and it was time to perform the songs from Pt. I, we learned a lot about what worked and what felt good, and that intuitive awareness informed the arrangement of compositions for Pt. II. We’ve grown a lot in learning to follow intuition rather than thinking.
How do you think your relationship as individuals has changed this past year?
Ivan: It hasn’t changed THAT much, but it’s funny- we’ve known each other for so long, but I feel like we’re always learning more about each other. What we like and don’t like, our habits, our boundaries… I guess as we grow as humans, we’ve also learned how to also grow as friends, co-writers and business partners.
How has your sound changed?
Ivan: We just make what we want now. No trends, no gimmicks. There was a time when it wasn’t like that. Lots of compromises. We’re done with those days, so we can’t really tell you what to expect from us. It’s ever-changing.
Can you speak to the transition from jazz school to electronic production to creating new music as a band today?
Conor: Studying jazz, whether in school or out of school, instills important musical values. Our jazz years taught us how to listen deeply, how to practice technique AND sound, and how to study and respect the history of all music. Some people can continue thriving in that world but we personally hit a dead end. We could only play, “Stella By Starlight” so many times before we said, “Fuck it, we’re out of here.” Producing beats was something that always interested us, and we have learned so much in the past 5 years doing it. When you’re arranging a beat or a song, you step outside of your identity as an instrumentalist and view music from a third person perspective, providing the full picture. Then, when you return back to your instrument, your concern is serving the music rather than showing an audience you’ve practiced 3 hours that day.
What can we expect next from Brasstracks?
Ivan: Conor said this once in an interview. I steal his answer every chance I can get. Don’t expect anything. It’s more fun that way.
Images of Brasstracks courtesy of Justine Vanderpool.
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