Name: Butcher Brown
Members: Andrew Randazzo, Corey Fonville, Devonne Harris, Keith Askey, Marcus Tenney aka Tennishu, Morgan Burrs
Interviewee: Tennishu
Nationality: American
Occupation: Vocalist, trumpet player, saxophonist, composer, improviser
Recent Release: Butcher Brown's Triple Trey is out now via Concord Jazz.
Recommendations: For a book recommendation, I recommend The Code of an Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani. This book really helped me to understand and think in a more efficient way about the things that I am engaged in.
A piece of music that I recommend is “Jeux d’eau” by Maurice Ravel. I have always enjoyed this piece because to me, it has strong imagery that is directly associated with the title.

If you enjoyed this interview with Butcher Brown and would like to know more, visit their official website. The band is also on Instagram, Facebook, and twitter.

When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/ or sound that drew you to it?

I started playing music at the age of 11, composing when I was around 15 or 16 and I started really producing music around age 22.

What drew me to music was the sound of the records that I was listening to at a young age and the technical and musical prowess of the the musicians that were being recorded.

Miles Davis and Michael Jackson were the first musicians to peak my interest.

When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?

I see lots of images and scenes when I hear music that really speaks to me which, generally, influences my creativity heavily because I try to maintain that same standard in the things that I create.

How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?

For me, my development was a long and tedious trajectory that is still on an upward curve. In the past, my main interest was to be able to produce music in a self-contained manner with as much knowledge as I could get. This method can be challenging because it relies only on what I can do. Which means my plate is full most of the time.

As I began to understand the different parts of artistry though playing different instruments, playing different roles in different organizations, ect, I have really been able to solidify my voice as a music producer which, through trial and error, is more in line with my overall skill set and is what I am the most interested in.

Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.

Well, first off, I am a black male in America. That simple fact has influenced everything I do as a human, including my artistic profile, whether I want it to or not.

I have also been fortunate enough to be able to see lots of experiences from my eyes and the eyes of others while cultivating relationship with them.This has given me the confidence to work on new things and to not be afraid to fail, which I think is one of the most important qualities to have as a creator of anything.

As a listener, these experiences and attributes have helped me to really zero in on what I like and why it is appealing to me. My creation and production quality has increased steadily and significantly because of it.

What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?

One of the key ideas behind my approach is to let my ears have the final say over the finished product.

When I am performing, my main focus is to get the music up to a place where I myself would go pay to see it.

When I am recording, I try to focus on musical components that feel good and create an environment full of imagery.

How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?

I believe in music of the future. In my opinion, everything must evolve or it will die.

Sometimes the traditional grip on music and other forms of art can choke off innovation and scare away people who are creative in ways that have not been seen.

Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?

The most important tool during the course of my development has been staff paper.

I really enjoy sitting down to write out my ideas and work out my musical ambitions by hand because I give a birds-eye view of the music. That view allows me to be exponentially more effective in the studio and on the stage.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.

First thing I take care of in the morning is my health through eating high quality food and working out followed by reading books on anything from production to business to biographies of artists that have come before me in order to get my mind in the right place.

Once I have moved through my goals in regards to that, I will start to run exercises on the various instruments I play or I will sit down and write out some lyrics and see where it goes.

At the end of the day, I like to write down everything that I have done so that I have a clear understanding of my starting place for the next day.

Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?

My process for creation in any one of those arenas starts at however I am feeling at that particular moment and then I get organized from there.

I just sit down and write for a piece of music, I start with the setlist for a live performance and I start with the amount of tracks and the theme for an album.

Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?

For me, ideas move very fast so the bulk of my work is done privately. I really like to think about all of the different parts of whatever it is that I am doing and how they will come together in a way that I am comfortable presenting.

With this method comes a lot of mistakes and some missed opportunities but it allows me to really see who the whole process will play out from start to finish which is what I need to see in order to be effective as a producer.

How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?

My work related to the world by operating through a transient emotional system that is built on top of thousands of hours practice and skill set optimization.

I believe the role of music in society is to give people a mental resting place and to also communicate emotions more accurately than words can. This is essential for people to understand their own emotions and to effectively connect to other people without boundaries.

Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?

Art has contributed to my understanding of life questions in the most obvious ways. I can reference songs for any one of those occasions just like many other people.

I like to take those experiences and feelings I get from those songs and create variations of my own though my art.

How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?

Those two fields can reveal a lot about each other. Just simply knowing how sound works provides a sort of bridge of understanding in terms of how the ideas can get communicated.

Overall, the practice of music and art is a scientific endeavor in itself for me. Learning about the different instruments that I play as well as how they function together in the same or different situations is laboratory-like work that I had to consistently engage in over many years, hightlighting a strong science to music connection by itself.

Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?

I don’t feel like it is any different at all. I think making great coffee is the same as making great music is the same as making great quilts.

To me, is all about the quality of the skillset, the mental fortitude to invoke artistic license and the creative will to see it all the way to the end. Every creation has a beginning, a middle and an end.

Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?

Music is a language so in my mind, it is a bunch of random sounds that have been organized though many, many units of time.

The beautiful thing about language is that it is open to interpretation meaning anyone can take it in any way they want, intentionally and unintentionally.

I think that interpretation is created from whatever ratio that person has between their logical mind and their creative mind so at that point, thoughts and emotions are in the mix which can take things anywhere.