|Photo by Paul Vargas|
No release of the past year has struck a more powerful emotional chord with us than highandfragile’s debut outing, an EP called I Was Not Well. The four track digital version was put out by the artist, Oakland’s Breannyn deLongis, in the closing days of 2016. She followed up with a very limited cassette edition including a bonus track this past June. The EP features drums by Adam Jennings and production and backing vocals from Kristina Esfandiari of San Francisco’s King Woman.
Some might chatacterize I Was Not Well as dark or negative. There is plenty of angst here, and not every moment of the EP is easy to listen to. For us, however, the sound of Breannyn bravely making art out of a woundedness and vulnerability that we connect with is glorious and, in its own way, uplifting. There have been days when we’ve listened to I Was Not Well over and over, finding each passage through this set of songs thrilling and somehow different from the others.
Rare is music so whole and powerful that it doesn’t so much stimulate this or that feeling as it magnifies the underlying capacity to feel altogether. Hearing music of this kind, we feel anything and everything; we get the sense we are experiencing the full spectrum of emotion, joy and sadness and anger and more, all at once. While feeling so fully can be overwhelming, it is also healing and relieving.
For us, highandfragile is this rare kind of music. We therefore feel especially privileged to present the following depthful interview, one of the most emotionally candid ones we’ve ever presented. Our gratitude goes out to Breannyn for the care and dedication that putting this piece together has required. We eagerly anticipate the upcoming releases that Breannyn describes at the close of the interview.
|Photo by Mary Manning|
From our perspective it’s as if you’ve suddenly materialized with a powerful, singular sound and artistic voice already developed—but we realize that’s probably not very accurate. Could you fill us in a bit on your musical past and development?
I have been fighting being a "musician" for so long. My dad did sound for a touring grunge band when I was a baby so I wound up growing up around a bunch of band dudes with ripped jeans, long hair and drinking problems. I grew up watching them all lose their families, minds and whatever semblance of a life they had. By the time I could make "life decisions" I knew I loved music and words but I also knew that I desired the stability that I hadn’t witnessed as a child and concluded that being a musician did not coincide with my stable real world aspirations.
I was endlessly frustrated because I couldn’t focus long enough to sit and type or write out a story. I could tell you a great story, but I didn’t have the patience to write it down for you. Adding a rhythmic and droning aspect like guitar helped coax the words out of me in a more natural and soothing way. At some point I couldn’t deny how important making music and art had become in my everyday life. I had to get over my fear of the future not working out because without being able to make music there was no possibility for a healthy future for me. Music and art slowly took over every part of my life and without them it’s hard to function. It’s a very hard process to explain but it has been lifelong.