Q&A with guitarist Brandon Teskey, fuses elements of Blues, Fusion, Alternative Rock, Psychedelia, and Jazz

"Though by no means the most popular music, blues and jazz has continued to stand the tests of time and evolve in amazing ways, I believe it will continue to do so. For my own part, my hope is that my music touches people and gives them something that moves them and is lasting in their minds. I hope they listen to it not in passing but with depth, to take in all the passion, nuance and tones of what is played."

Brandon Teskey: Screaming Into The Void

Brandon Teskey is a blues guitarist, known most notably as the guitar player and songwriter of the blues rock band, Until the Sun. His music includes and often fuses elements of Blues, Fusion, Alternative Rock, Psychedelia, and Jazz. Brandon’s second solo album titled “Screaming Into The Void’ (2021) is an eclectic array of blues, rock, fusion, jazz, psychedelic, and alternative music that spans throughout an album with surprising twists and turns. Discontent with tired formulas, or being confined to a single genre, Brandon Teskey finds creative freedom in an album that breaks all the rules and lets the truth of the music speak for itself. Brandon Teskey was born and raised in Southern California. At age 11 he began playing guitar and was exposed to Blues music shortly thereafter and became consumed with the playing of Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Albert King, Robert Johnson, Albert Collins, and T-Bone Walker, as well as Rock artists like Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and Eric Johnson. Along with his obsession with guitar playing also came the obsession of songwriting and almost as soon as he had picked up the instrument, he began coming up with chord progressions and penning lyrics.                                   (Photo: Brandon Teskey)

By the time Brandon was 15 years old, he had joined an established blues band with some members forty years his senior and by the time he was 16, he had played the prominent San Juan Capistrano venue, The Coach House, where he had seen many of his idols play as a kid. Brandon further developed his playing, becoming intrigued with the technical and harmonic sophistication of players like Scott Henderson, Robben Ford, and John Scofield and began studying the works of Jazz musicians like Charlie Parker, Wes Montgomery, Django Reinhardt, and Joe Pass. Brandon moved to Arizona to attend Arizona State University in the summer of 2003, studying Music and Philosophy. While attending ASU, he met Bruce Jensen where they formed their first Rock band, playing gigs all across the Phoenix valley. In 2011 Brandon and Bruce formed bluesy hard rock band ‘Corium’. The band released an EP and opened for many national performers across Arizona. In 2017, Brandon released “The Chime”, a solo rock instrumental album which combined influences of Rock, Delta Blues, Electronic Rock, and Jazz. The same year Brandon, along with other bandmates, formed ‘Until the Sun’, which allowed Brandon to return to his Blues-Rock roots and opened new doors of creativity in his song writing and playing. In 2019 Until the Sun released their debut album, “Blackheart”, followed by their 2021 album, “Drowning in Blue”.

Interview by Michael Limnios           Special Thanks: Billy James (Glass Onyon PR)

How has the Blues, Jazz and Rock music influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Blues is really the cornerstone of my musical foundation and the style that shaped who I am as a player. Harmonically, blues a simple style at its core, but a style that allows you do a lot within the confines of a simple foundation. Blues is the truest American style of music, and it gave birth to almost all other American styles of music like Jazz and Rock. It is a style filled with passion and honesty. Rock is an expansion of blues, and for me, taking what’s best about the blues and expanding that into a wider spectrum and a more modern feel. Jazz takes blues to a more complex and harmonically rich world that requires playing over changes in most cases. Jazz definitely expanded my world, and I tried to take a lot of the musical theory and harmonic sophistication of jazz players and incorporate that in the foundation of blues rock.

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

The sound on my new album, Screaming Into The Void, is definitely a mixture of the three main styles that influenced me most, Blues, Rock and Jazz. It is a departure of how I play in my Blues Rock band, Until The Sun. I would say the blues foundation still comes through the strongest in all I do, but there is a great deal of fusion and jazz in some of the instrumental songs on this album. Others are just straight blues or rock songs, like the Freddie King cover ‘Side Tracked’. In many of the lyrical songs, what inspires me, could be things going on in my life, or in my past, or the lives of other’s. I might be telling a story, or describe an emotional feeling. For example, the acoustic rock song on this album, ‘To Not Go Blind’, I wrote the day my daughter was born about not just my instant love for her, but the fear of not being able to retain that level of joy indefinitely without things unraveling into tragedy. For many of the instrumental and jazz or fusion based songs on this album, I was trying to come up with songs that were musically pleasing and pushed me as a musician out of my comfort zone and beyond my ability and forced me to rise to the occasion.

"It would be to make what is most popular not so dumbed down musically and lyrically. It seems like 19th century lullabies and children’s songs had greater musical depth than a lot of what I hear in the most popular music. This isn’t always the case, and there’s a lot of new and popular stuff out there that is very musically and emotionally rich, but it doesn’t seem as common." (Photo: Brandon Teskey)

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

To never stop growing. Be honest as an artist and continue to improve every day in some way. To surround yourself with players who are excellent, who push you to be better.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

An interesting memory I had was a show with my Blues Rock band, Until The Sun, at the Whisky a Go Go, where I broke the headstock off on my vintage 1969 Les Paul Custom. Luckily, I also had my Stratocaster and was able to play the show, though somewhat catatonic from the shock of my favorite guitar being broken.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

What concerns me the most is the disposable outlook our culture has on anything new, and this is especially true with music. Since most people just have a Spotify or Apple music subscription or listen to music on You Tube, everyone has every song ever released at their fingertips. This is absolutely awesome in a way because everything is accessible, but the other side of that is we’ve inundated people, and they don’t psychologically invest in an album the way they did when you had to go out and buy the CD or buy the record and plug it in. Before when you bought an album, you owned that album. Playing it meant you usually listened to more than one song on the album, and in most cases, the first time you played it you would listen to most, if not all of it, or at least part of every song in order and enjoy it as a completed piece of art which pushed musicians to create extraordinary albums. Now there’s little investment, and it seems like this makes for a more superficial listening experience. Much of this has also demonetized new musicians. It’s difficult to imagine albums like Dark Side of the Moon, Kind of Blue or Electric Ladyland come to fruition with what seems to be the current prevailing mindset.

"Blues is really the cornerstone of my musical foundation and the style that shaped who I am as a player. Harmonically, blues a simple style at its core, but a style that allows you do a lot within the confines of a simple foundation. Blues is the truest American style of music, and it gave birth to almost all other American styles of music like Jazz and Rock." (Photo: Brandon Teskey)

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

It would be to make what is most popular not so dumbed down musically and lyrically. It seems like 19th century lullabies and children’s songs had greater musical depth than a lot of what I hear in the most popular music. This isn’t always the case, and there’s a lot of new and popular stuff out there that is very musically and emotionally rich, but it doesn’t seem as common.

What is the impact of Blues & Jazz on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want the music to affect people?

Though by no means the most popular music, blues and jazz has continued to stand the tests of time and evolve in amazing ways, I believe it will continue to do so. For my own part, my hope is that my music touches people and gives them something that moves them and is lasting in their minds. I hope they listen to it not in passing but with depth, to take in all the passion, nuance and tones of what is played.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

1968. I’d want to catch a Jimi Hendrix show and bury a bunch of vintage guitars and amps so I can dig them up in the future. Haha...

(Photo: Brandon Teskey)

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