brightener is led by Will Sturgeon, a musician based in Southern California. We were able to chat with him in Los Angeles over a cup of tea.
How did you come up with the name Brightener?
So I used to put out music under the name ‘Will Sturgeon’ up until Brightener, because that’s my given name. So as ‘Will Sturgeon’ I put out a bunch of Youtube videos and I put out an EP. And you know, it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful. So some people around the world heard about it, which was cool. In 2009 when I put the EP out, I remember [a fan from Germany] wrote on my Facebook page, “Hey, really like your music. Me and my friends call you the brightener, because your music brightens up our day!” I was like, that’s pretty cool!
So that stayed in my mind until I didn’t want to be a singer-songwriter. I wanted my music to transcend the idea of coming from a person, even though my music is very personal.
I didn’t want to have the weird complex where if people started to really like my music, they’d be like “Oh man, I love Will Sturgeon!” when they don’t actually know who I am, or anything about me or my personality, and that to me wouldn’t be great to keep my ego in check.
Tell us what your process was like in creating your brand for Brightener and the Make Real Friends EP.
Branding is a hard thing. It’s supposed to represent the music. People see the images while they listen to the music, and that subtly affects them. My Brightener branding has come specifically from one person’s eye: my friend, Sasha Young. She’s a photographer and we happen to live in the same city, so we do photoshoots very once in a while She has a great eye, and a great eye for color. She took this photoshoot about a year ago, like right before I put out my EP. There was a picture of me that I really liked and I thought it was a good idea to have my face as part of the initial branding so that people could understand who they’re connecting to.
If you could collaborate with any musician in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Default answer: Paul McCartney. He was just so great and influenced everyone’s music, as well as my own.
But I would love to write a song with Robin Pecknold, who’s the singer of Fleet Foxes.
There’s also a kid, Louis Cole, who I know personally and haven’t collaborated with. I could probably make that happen but I’m just too intimated. So if you’re ever reading this Louis, consider this an offer. I’ll hit you up
How is your album going to be different than your EP?
My next album was more or less written before my EP was. All but 3 out of ten of the songs were written before I even started recording my EP last year. It’s been a long time coming; I just never had the resources or energy to present them in their best fashion. I’m excited to put it out. This is going to have a much more mellow vibe, more down-tempo songs. It’s going to be much prettier than rock-y, although there will be some songs that rock.
Who are you listening to right now?
I just went to Coachella, and I think Disclosure is really good. I also saw a lot of other electronic acts there, and am kind of getting into the white boy dancing vibe.
Bu otherwise, Courtney Barnett is an amazing songwriter, great lyrics;
Bombay Bicycle Club.
So mostly people I saw at Coachella…and myself.
Oh and my buddy John Gudenzi, from the Miracals just released two songs, and they’re really great.
So what’s next?
I’ve mentioned I’m working on an album, full-on for about five months. I’m really excited for it to be almost out of my hands. I’m going to run a crowd funding campaign to help fund it. I’m trying to make it as legitimate and beautiful as I think it deserves to be, but that costs money.
I’m going on a small tour in May to play a bunch of living room shows with this girl Julia Nunes, which will be fun.
Then I’m going to try to move back to LA, and see what happens with this record. I may want to shop it around to some labels, see what they can do to help spread it.
But it all really depends on the momentum that it gets and if people like it.
So I hope you, the reader, enjoy it.