Brendan Scott Friel Releases New Album
Story by Michael Seguin
Photography by Travis Latam
If Brendan Scott Friel has one thing he is eternally grateful for, it’s this: That he found his “thing” very early.
“I started playing music when I was eight years old, when I got a guitar for Christmas,” Brendan recalls. “I pretty quickly went, ‘Oh yeah. This makes sense to me.’ I had tried sports, but I wasn’t very athletic. It was nice to find something that I saw myself doing, and that seemed to come easier to me than it did to my peers.”
Brendan credits the extra dimensions of music with sparking his interest in storytelling.
“I always liked writing stories,” Brendan explains. “I wanted to be an author when I was very young. But with music, there was this extra colour that I got to paint with. I was able to tell stories with this added element of melody and harmony that enhances the narrative. I thought that was an interesting and tactile way of telling new ideas.”
Throughout his childhood, Brendan continued to hone his talents. Then, in high school, as with all budding teenage musicians, he joined a band: The Brilliancy.
“After high school, we ended up going on tour,” Brendan states. “We travelled across Canada and the United States.”
After a couple years of performing, The Brilliancy dissolved. Faced with another crossroads in his life, Brendan slung his guitar over his shoulder and decided to embark on a solo career.
“The biggest difference between playing alone and playing with a band is the small dictatorship I get to run,” Brendan laughs. “As a solo musician, I could hear a song on my way to a gig and think, ‘I’m going to play that song tonight.’ And I didn’t have to run that by anybody or teach the song to anyone. It was low pressure! I could just change the setlist on stage. I enjoy having no checks and balances.”
Brendan has experimented with a wide variety of sounds over the years. He describes his current sound as indie folk. Although even that classification, he admits, is a tentative one.
“I love artists that don’t become defined by their genre and don’t play into their own genre tropes,” Brendan explains. “Stuff like, ‘Well, I’m folk, I better have a banjo here.’ I like the idea of taking elements that I love from folk and introducing new sounds. For instance, on my debut record, I’ve added synths. So, I guess I’d be considered more neo folk.”
Brendan’s philosophy is that good art always grants permission.
“If you do something great, it allows people to continue doing that,” Brendan states. “Every great artist that I love did something that was very jarring to hear at the time, and maybe even a little bit polarizing. But then, it allowed more people to follow that path.”
All this musical development has led Brendan here, to the release of new debut album: Summer Moon.
To get the album produced, Brendan took a leap of faith: he cold called Donovan Woods’s producer, James Bunton.
“I just sent him some demos,” Brendan states. “I had no real plans in mind. I was just, you know, shooting for the stars and hoping for the best.”
To Brendan’s surprise, the stars were in his favor.
“I got a response,” Brendan recalls. “He said my music sounded interesting and that he wanted to chat.”
After a couple phone calls, James and Brendan decided to work on a record together.
Unfortunately, they started recording in March 2020—right before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Unbeknownst to me, my plans to go to Toronto and start recording all got sidetracked,” Brendan states. “So, it very much changed the way this record came out. We had to do a lot of recording over Zoom. Thursdays I would send over what I was working on. Sundays we had a chat about it. And we did that every single week until September, when I finally got to go up and start recording.”
Despite these hurdles, Brendan maintains an optimistic attitude about the process.
“Because it took longer, I ended up writing three more songs that I wouldn’t have previously,” Brendan admits. “That’s the silver lining there.”
Brendan was partly able to release his album due to a grant from the City of Windsor’s Arts, Culture and Heritage Fund (ACHF).
“I’m relatively new to the process of grant writing!” Brendan explains. “Luckily, I found out that the ACHF is there to help young artists. The money they gave me helped with the creation of the livestream concert and production of the album itself. It was really nice to have that backing from the City.”
Summer Moon was released this March. And although Brendan has a difficult time choosing his favourite track, there is one song that he is particularly drawn to.
“Right now, I really, really like the closing track: ‘Run’” Brendan states. “That might also be because it’s the final track that I wrote for the album. I think it’s some of the strongest writing I’ve ever done.”
Summer Moon deals with the struggle between two dualities—something Brendan has firsthand experience with over the past several years. And “Run” ties together the final lingering threads of the message.
“You need those lows in order to appreciate the highs,” Brendan explains. “That’s what Summer Moon is all about. So, the whole record kind of bounces from low to high. It’s all about trying to find that peace. And “Run” is all about saying that you won’t find that peace. That the journey is all about the people you are with. That there’s always going to be more to do, and that’s a wonderful thing.”
Despite being a solo artist, Brendan credits several people with helping launch
“I need to thank my family and friends, of course, and my wife Alicia,” Brendan states. “We got married three years ago. But this was her first time living with me while I was producing an album. And that was an experience for her! I become very reclusive and moody. It’s a lot for anyone to be around. But she was just so supportive and so amazing throughout the whole process.”
More information about Brendan Scott Friel and Summer Moon can be found at: brendanscottfriel.com.