JANUARY – INTERVIEW WITH Brian Asselin
Deb: This year’s 18th Annual Indie Music Week Canada turned their 1st virtual attempt into an extremely successful 5 day online global conference. I had the pleasure to have spent a few moments asking questions in a breakout room with Brian Asselin during the Media Row sessions on November 12th, 2020, I found his sound and his background so fascinating that I simply wished to continue interviewing him post-Indie Week 2020, I got this chance, and I was honored to dig a little and explore his career a little more in-depth as you will read below, I am thrilled to share with his fans and our readers, the very true roots to the Ottawa talent, Brian Asselin who is a songwriter/saxophonist/educator. BRIAN: “I write music that can be found in the Pop with a cross-over to R&B/Soul. I have been hugely influenced by Motown as I used to play with The Funk Brothers out of Detroit. The world around me has always been my biggest muse when it comes to songwriting. I take situations in my life or the life of my friends and family and try my best to come up with the best soundtrack, I am currently working on a new Commotions album featuring Rebecca Noelle, and Jeff Rogers which should be out this spring – please sign up for my newsletter for more information.” Brian shared.
Brian: “Hi Deb. Thank you so much again for this amazing opportunity. It was such a pleasure meeting you during Indie Week.”
Brian’s songwriting career started back in 2010 after graduating from teachers college. After his stint at the University of Ottawa, he co-wrote a song with a fantastic musician and friend – Eric Disero. The song ‘You Have Made A Difference’ has been played and performed around the world and has been featured on Diane Sawyers Late Night News. Since then he has been very busy writing enough material to release on his first EP same-titled, You Have Made A Difference, which you can purchase through iTunes or this website. https://www.brianasselinmusic.com/store “The songs I tend to write are more or less in the pop music genre influenced by such great artists as James Taylor, Bruno Mars, Cee-Lo Green, and so many others. In 2013 I released a project entitled Delbert & The Commotions featuring Funk Brothers frontman Delbert Nelson. The album is a throwback to Motown and I am proud to say that two tunes from the album were placed on shows on HBO as well as ABC,” states Brian Asselin.
Deb: (Q) 1. What does success mean to you, as well, what is your secret to longevity?
Brian: “I know success means so many different things to people and I know the realities of the music industry. I feel as long as I can keep on creating content with The Commotions that is a success. We have been fortunate to have played some really amazing festivals over the last 3 years and I hope we can continue to do that once the world opens up again. I think the secret to longevity for us is keeping the band together and keeping my bandmates happy. The Commotions would not exist without them and I am lucky to call them my friends. My job in the band aside from writer/arranger/manager is making sure all members feel like they are detrimental to the project because each and every member is. At the end of the day I am so fortunate to share the stage with them.“
Deb: (Q) 2. Highlight aspects of your cultural background that makes your music unique?
Brian: “One of the best things I did from our first release, Let Me See Ya Dance, to our second release, Volume II, has brought in more songwriters. My co-writers I have on our last album as well as our newest single, New Suit, are amazing and bring another element to our music. For example, I grew up listening to Motown, Pop, and even Country. It wasn’t until I was in High School that I started listening to Jazz. Some of my co-writers come from more of an R&B and Blues background which adds a different and amazing sound to my writing.“
Deb: (Q) 3. What do your songs aims to say?
Brian: “I base most of my writing on my life or those of my friends. I started my songwriting career back in 2010 when I was attending a teacher’s college at The University of Ottawa. Our last project was to create a project that reflected our own teaching so I decided to write a song. What came out of that was a song called ‘You Have Made A Difference’ which now has over 3.7 million views on YouTube. From there I was hooked and I started to write more and more but based on circumstances in my life. When I write for The Commotions I still have that same mind frame but the songs always change after I bring in my co-writers and that’s always a good thing.‘
Deb: (Q) 4. Contrary to popular belief, making it is the art of music isn’t merely a game of luck, as it requires talent, strategy, dedication, and determination based on your vision and goals. Share with your fans your creative studio process, and share any awards or accolades you have received and how you are developing your career during Covid -19?
Brian: “Our last single, New Suit, which was released on Friday, November 6th was recorded during isolation. This of course proved to be a little more challenging especially with a large group such as The Commotions. I knew I couldn’t have the vocalists or horns in a room but I could record the rhythm section with masks if I had a space big enough. Thank you so much to TD Place who helped us out with a room so we could make New Suit a reality. From there all my horn players were able to record in their own homes and I brought my vocalists to Audio Valley Recording Studios to record with safety protocols in place. After that with the help of my engineer, Alex Mastronardi, we were able to piece the song together. Before our release, we started to reach out to our fans to let them know we had a song coming out and we haven’t stopped posting content on all our socials. Sometimes we would even have live chats with various members of the band to help raise everyone’s spirits. The world needs music now more than ever.”
Deb: (Q) 5. Some of the most historical and revered music has always played a deep role in the transformation of society. Some consider how their art relates to the current social-political landscape or how their music can address these themes. Does your music touch on social or political issues?
Brian: “I believe soul music is music for the people at large. I don’t think our music has any political references but at the same time, people will take different meanings of songs. I think as long as we can connect with our audience them we are making a difference in some way.”
Brian: Thank you so much again, Deb! You are amazing. Wishing you all the best, ~ Brian, Musical Director of The Commotions.
Deb: You beat me to the thank you sector my friend. Artist’s come and go and some make a strong enough impact that they engage for a lifetime. Artists like yourself and the 11 others I was honored to make acquaintance with at Indie Week 2020 are definitely going in the right direction. Your name will in the marquee lights as your melodies work their magic and seep deep into the brain. Your flavor is embroidered with complexity/tranquility, truly a unique sense of intrigue with your fleshes of melodies and arrangements that are your most compelling expressions to date. Keep up to speed with this fast-moving entity, for Brian is changing lives one song at a time. Drop by as he is currently working on a new Commotions album featuring Rebecca Noelle, and Jeff Rogers which should be out this spring of 2021 – please sign up for my newsletter for more information. This group is ready to command crowds with brassy beats and smooth ballad treats, all about bringing back the spirit of those super Soul sounds of the 70s and the Motown rhythms that once had them dancing in the streets. They’ve brought the funky groove to festivals, television, and two smokin’ studio albums, ready to drop a blazing hot third release in 2021. If The Commotions are spinning on your sound system or hitting a stage near you, that bygone beat is moving to the forefront of your feet and a party is about to erupt. You can bank on it! HOT OFF THE PRESS- A brand NEW release for them with their New Suit that came out on Nov. 8th, 2020, check it out here.