Editor's Note: Ben Tatlow isn't just someone who wants to write about Christian ambient music; he's actively make it as part of the duo ambient bands Salt of the Sound and Narrow Skies. He has a fantastic, holistic perspective on the genre, and we're delighted to learn more about it through this exclusive column. And hey, go check out his band's new album, Meditations Vol. 3.
Earlier in the year, we introduced the emerging genre of Christian Ambient music (you can read more here and here), and we're now featuring some of the Christian musicians and artists who are creating this meditative, reflective music. Last month Jonathan Ogden of Rivers & Robots spoke to us about the inspiration behind the band's creative worship music, and today we're excited to chat with Derek Mount. Derek is a guitarist (formerly of Family Force 5), composer and songwriter who, amongst other things, writes stunning cinematic ambient music under the name Brique a Braq.
How would you describe the music of Brique a Braq to someone who has never heard it before?
Brique a Braq is modern, minimal brain fuel. A cinematic soundtrack for your dreams.
Tell us a bit about what you're currently working on?
2018 is one beautiful creative experiment. I have been scoring film-related projects for the past several years. After leaving Family Force 5 in 2017, I decided to crank up the intensity, writing and producing versatile music that would serve stories, movies, television shows, and video games. Man Night Music is the name of my record label, and it houses three creative outlets: Brique a Braq, Club Danger, and Juno Kids.
Brique a Braq is a solo compositional project. The music is usually instrumental, including artsy piano vignettes, epic orchestral cues, and ironically ambient covers of my favorite new wave songs. It tends to find a home in commercials or documentaries and streams well in playlists for concentrating, focusing, and relaxing.
Club Danger is a soon-to-be-released alt/rock duo with one of my best friends, producer/songwriter Riley Friesen (FF5, Jen Ledger, Stephen Christian). It consists of fuzzy guitars, hooky melodies, and tight production. One of our songs is currently in a promo for Lethal Weapon (the television show), and I hope to hear it during montages of home runs and blocked shots!
Juno Kids is an IDM/Synthwave project with another one of my best friends, Philip Zach (Silver Pages, Arrows and Sound, former Remedy Drive). We made our entire debut album with one analog synthesizer, and it sounds like all the characters in TRON are playing video games in the future. We would love for Juno Kids to score the next Blade Runner sequel!
Finally, sometimes I get hired to make custom pieces for films. Riley and I just created an '80's-metal-inspired theme song for the evil villain in a cartoon. The guitarmonies are ridiculous, and we both did our best impression of Ronnie James Dio for the vocals!
What inspires you as an artist? And how does that link to your Christian faith?
I release a new Brique a Braq song every month, so chronic inspiration is critical. I find that my albums are more cohesive when there are parameters around the process, so I usually create a self-imposed set of rules for each project.
I just released a single called "Le sable doré," which is part of an EP called Les visions. None of the songs on the record are allowed to have more than ten tracks, a regulation that drastically shaped the sound of the record and forced each part to be written and recorded with intentionality.
Most mornings, I wake up at 5:30, watch a stirring movie scene with the audio muted and write something inspired by the clip. This has turned out to be a very effective and therapeutic process. In fact, French films inspired the entire Cirque Noir album. This morning, I composed a song while watching the beach scene in Her, and the experience was extremely compelling. The best part is un-muting the scene and revealing the piece that was actually used in the film.
I'm also very excited about the first Brique a Braq song to feature vocals. "I Feel it Calling Me (feat. De Joie)" is a collaboration with one of the most talented vocalists I've ever met. We met at the Film+Music Conference, and the creative process for that piece was completely different; involving file swapping, phone calls, and Google Docs.
As a child, I read an interview with Eddie Van Halen, and I remember him saying he felt like he didn't write his songs. Instead, he felt like there was a celestial being gifting these melodies to him, and it was his responsibility to capture the message, record it, and let the world hear it.
The act of being creative is one of the most faithful and fulfilling behaviors a person can undertake. Isaiah, Revelation, Hebrews, and the world around us point to the idea that God is constantly creating and making all things new. Whenever humans have a chance to participate in this activity, it can change the world...or at least somebody's world.
Do you feel the music you write as Brique a Braq fits within the Christian Music scene?
Madeline L'Engle has a beautiful line from her book Walking on Water. A student asked her if she would recommend that the girl become an author or a "Christian" author. Here is her response:
"I told her that if she is truly and deeply a Christian, what she writes is going to be Christian, whether she mentions Jesus or not. And if she is not, in the most profound sense, Christian, then what she writes is not going to be Christian, no matter how many times she invokes the name of the Lord."
What does Christian ambient music mean to you?
In all sincerity, I have never heard of that genre prior to you mentioning it. I love and respect all of the artists that appear to be in the scene (especially Antarctic Wastelands). In general, I believe that almost all ambient music feels profoundly spiritual to me. For instance, last week, I attended a Ludovico Einaudi concert, and it was deeply stirring. He played for two hours and forty minutes, and I felt truly connected with God throughout the experience, yet he only said three words in the entire show: "Thank you, Atlanta." I don't know if that qualifies as Christian ambient music, but I am always encouraged to encounter musicians that use their skills to create art that points us toward the immeasurable and the holy.
Whether I'm listening to Ólafur Arnalds, Chad Lawson, Max Richter, Goldmund, Hammock, Sigur Rós, or Salt of the Sound (particularly on the amazing "Pray as you Go" app), it helps me grow in my faith, and it means the world to me when people tell me that Brique a Braq plays that role for them from time to time.
Huge thanks to Derek for sitting down with us and sharing about the heart behind his diverse musical portfolio, and delving deeper into the cinematic ambient world of Brique a Braq. You can hear Brique a Braq music on all music streaming and download platforms, including on this Spotify playlist, and you can also listen to a wider selection of Derek's music here.
Finally, as always, we have our own playlist of Christian Ambient music that includes music from a wide selection of Christian ambient artists, many of whom we have already chatted to in this column and others whom we will be discussing music and faith with over the coming months.
Wishing you peace and love wherever you are today!
Ben Tatlow is an ambient music producer and one-half of Salt Of The Sound. Alongside his wife Anita, they write music for times of prayer and reflection: their new EP In Prayer is out now and was described by NewReleaseToday as leading the listener "into a place of meditation and rest." They also curate a weekly email-based devotional series, entitled Monday Morning Meditations.
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