CHELSEA CUTLER AND JEREMY ZUCKER
Following the release of their album “brent”, artists Jeremy Zucker and Chelsea Cutler return with brent II, the second chapter of their vulnerable and touching joint musical journey.
—By Marie-Ève Venne
Continuing their early collaborative debut, the duo reminds us why they were so successful the first time. Their new EP encapsulates the pair’s musical evolution over the past two years. Where brent carried motifs of insecurity, fear and regret, “brent“ features songs about bliss and hope.
The five-track project finds the friends and collaborators once again crafting emotional and relatable material relying largely on their own vocals and songwriting skills, with few frills. It makes for perfect listening during these complicated times.
When I heard that you guys were coming back with a follow up to “brent”, I automatically pictured both of you hanging out and working at the cabin. Did you physically go back there?
Chelsea: No, we didn’t go back to the original studio in Connecticut. But we went to a different sort of fancier studio in upstate New York. But it was on a farm. So, it wasn’t that different regarding the setting.
When you recorded the first “brent”, you made a conscious choice of isolating yourself from the outside world to work on it. But this, time with everything going on over the last year, the feeling of isolation was already there. Your state of mind must have been pretty different.
Chelsea: It’s a really good question. I think for us, it was pretty refreshing to be with each other again, and to be with people, albeit a very small group. I think I found it very refreshing and it also allowed me to be reminded of how much I love making music with people.
Jeremy: Yes, it was one of the first time for me to like really leave lockdown since the whole thing started. So, it was a very nice break to be able to get out there.
When did you make the decision to come back with a follow up album? Was there a specific moment that you can remember?
Chelsea: I feel like there never was a moment, it was always kind of an unspoken agreement that we were just going to do it again. I don’t honestly ever remember us having a formal conversation about it. I feel like it was never. It was like, alright, where are we going to do this one? What dates are we blocking out for it?
Jeremy: Yeah, I think the pandemic put everything on pause and made it happen sooner than it normally would have.
I’m thinking of this documentary that you guys put out there for the first album. In this, we can hear you Chelsea saying that it’s really hard to draft creativity from a place where you are day after day. But then, this pandemic happened. How was your creativity level when you started working on the album?
Chelsea: Yeah, I think at first, it was really difficult, particularly because we were putting a lot of pressure on ourselves. And I think, for me, pressure doesn’t generally yield like the most creative results. And I think when we kind of loosened up a little bit and just enjoyed being with each other, our creativity flowed a lot more but you’re right, it is really difficult to feel creative, when not a lot is happening around you. And when the world is really stagnant.
Were you worried that the magic that happened during the creation of the first “brent” wouldn’t happen again?
Chelsea: I definitely nervous. But I also know that Jeremy and I together, like I don’t know, we just can’t make a bad song.
Jeremy: Like going into it. Every time we had worked together, we stumbled across something beautiful, and there was no reason to doubt that it wouldn’t happen again. So, like leading up to it, I was really really looking forward to it. I was like, we’re gonna make something so amazing, so beautiful. We just have to try really hard to make it the best that we can be.
When you listen to “brent II”, most songs are hopeful with a happy melody. Well, all except one, but we’ll come back to this one later. Was it a conscious choice to come up with an album that would feel like a warm blanket for others?
Jeremy: It’s just the kind of music that we naturally make more together. There are elements to both of our music that are very individually and are very beautiful. Like, we exist definitely in different sort of sub genres. But we meet in the middle in terms of production and simplicity in terms of writing. And we come together like those parts from music shine. And then we…Chelsea says this all the time, like we make music that we wouldn’t normally be making on our own because we’re with each other. And we have a lot of overlap in our music tastes. I listen to a lot of weird shit. And some of the stuff that Chelsea listens to I don’t love. And she also doesn’t like some stuff that I listened to. But like where we overlap is sort of like this folk, singer songwriter, very wholesome genre. And that’s that sort of lane that we take when we write together.
So, you leave your ego ad the door. And did you also guys produce everything again this time, from A to Z?
Chelsea: Yeah, Jeremy really did a tremendous job. He did all the engineering and production. Anything that I did was just live instrumentation, really, for the most part. Um, but I think it’s really important to kind of give Jeremy a shout out there, he really crushed the production.
It’s amazing! And would you be open to let an outsider come into this project and help with this project if you ever felt like the need was there?
Jeremy: I mean, if I did that, it would be in a way that I can oversee. And now I mean, we did bring like another producer on for Emily. But just to like beef up what I had already done. To help me with drums. But I think that’s all we did in terms of bringing other people and the rest was just me and Chelsea.
I mentioned earlier that there’s song on the album that seems a little less hopeful and honestly, it kind of broke me the first time I listened to it. It’s this beautiful song Brooklyn Boy that you sing Jeremy. It’s so peak lockdown!
Jeremy: Yeah, it’s a pandemic song. And I wrote it in such solitude. And that’s really the emotion of the song. It’s like, I’m so physically alone. I haven’t left my house in months. And, you know, a lot of the song is daydreams. And it’s kind of frustrating with me that my only way to break out of my shell is by daydreaming. So yeah, it’s definitely like a relatable song in these times.
“I wrote it in such solitude. And that’s really the emotion of the song. It’s like, I’m so physically alone. I haven’t left my house in months.”
But at the same time, it’s like you are trying to reassure us.
Jeremy: This is the overall feeling. And like, like I said, I was talking to my friends. We also have fans, and I feel like our community has been really out there and basically begging for a follow up to feel connected, especially during these weird times. So, this album is also, and mostly, for them.