“The aversion towards short forms comes from the unwillingness of a composer to be arrogant, serious, and pessimistic”

An interview with Bryan Deister

We recently reviewed Bryan Deister’s debut release, a double album entitled Spines of the Heart. In a follow-up interview, he discussed his preference for shorter tracks, the influence of other musicians and his classical training, and how he approaches writing new music.

Album cover
Album cover for Spines of the Heart. Image credit: Bryan Deister

Spines of the Heart contains 24 tracks, many of which are of short duration. Deister explained that this was a conscious decision on his part. “In general, I prefer shorter forms.  The short form offers little room for soil,” he said. “It is not only in an album that it is useful but in a solitary piece. Also within a piece itself to not clutter it about to much that it becomes a carnival, unless desired so, and to clutter it enough that it feels like the roaring tide or the gentle breeze.  The aversion towards short forms comes from the unwillingness of a composer to be arrogant, serious, and pessimistic.  I’m simply too German to not be all three.”

Deister mentioned Radiohead’s Thom Yorke as having influenced him in the development of his falsetto voice, which is on display throughout the album. But he stressed that drawing on the work of others was something of a balancing act. “I try not to be too influenced by other musicians whilst at the same time listen with all my intellect and soul upon their grace,” he commented.

Spines of the Heart incorporates a diverse range of musical styles, from Yorke and Radiohead to jazz and classical music. Deister recalled the impact of learning Chopin’s Etudes and Beethoven’s sonatas, noting, “the classical music I have absorbed has been nothing but beneficial.” But he acknowledged that it wasn’t always that way. His first piano teacher had a classical background, and it was only later that he was exposed to other musical styles. “But I wasn’t a good classical musician, in the sense that I never cared and didn’t take the music sincerely,” Deister commented.

Asked about future plans, Deister points out that he is “constantly” working on new material. “in the past week I have written five songs,” he says. But on the other hand, “I don’t wish to abandon Spines of the Heart.”

He then moves on to talk about the creative process, revealing that ideas for new pieces often come at unexpected moments. ““Yesterday I dreamed a song,” he informs me. “Awoken by damned Apollo I scurried to the piano to find what song it was with such a familiar melody.  I still have no idea if it is original or not, but it is things like this which rule my world.”

You can keep up to date with Bryan at his website and on Facebook.