After spending 7 years outside of the Coachella Valley up in Los Angeles, Will Sturgeon has returned and he just finished recording his much anticipated first full length album “hummingbird” for his solo project, Brightener. You can catch Will and Brightener at the Mary Pickford Theatre this Friday for the Coachella Valley Art Scene weekly event, Fridays at the Pick.
Brightener has an uplifting low-fi sound that just screams Southern California. Songs such as “Bahamas” and “Echoes” definitely have that vibe. All in all, Sturgeon’s songwriting skills are top notch and his sound is pretty good too.
During a recent phone interview, Sturgeon discussed where he got the idea to form Brightener.
“Brightener is mostly a solo project,” Sturgeon said. “I’ve been a songwriter for about 10 years at this point, and the idea came to do a solo project about 4 years ago. It didn’t really come to fruition until 2013 when I released an EP called Make Real Friends. I do and play everything myself, and I record it all myself in my room and mix it, so I’m generally doing the whole thing. That’s what constitutes Brightener – me doing all the recordings. When I play live, I have my sister and her boyfriend playing with me, and her boyfriend was my old bandmate and they met playing music with me. He moved from Los Angeles to the desert about a month ago, which is really great, I’m super excited for them, and it’s great for me because they’re both really good musicians.”
When it comes to what his music is about, Sturgeon has an interesting approach of choosing to be a loner as inspiration for songs.
“I’m alone a lot, kind of by choice because I’m trying to be a professional songwriter, and I think being alone might be a misguided approach to doing that, but I do it a lot. I’m in my head a lot, so I just kind of write about introspective things. Plus I like girls, so I also write about that. I just write about my feelings, mainly. In other words, I’m just a guy with a guitar, writing about feelings.”
Being a songwriter at times also poses a challenge that can either be encouraging or discouraging, at least to Sturgeon.
“It kind of always feels like starting over and starting new. I think through osmosis, I’ve picked up a lot of skills. For a while, I was always trying to write a better song than the last song I wrote. Then I was like, ‘Maybe I should just write songs.’ I always have music going on in my head, but I like it. I liked building Legos as a child, and some aspects of songwriting remind of building something out of nothing. It’s just really cool to write a song that didn’t exist unless you put the time into seeing it into fruition.”
As far as influences go, Sturgeon has some good ones.
“I like a lot of music and I don’t particularly care about genre. I just really like great songwriting, and I suppose that might be a subjective thing, but I love the Beatles, who are obviously a huge influences. I also really like bands like Fleet Foxes and I really love Tame Impala although my sound is not really like that, but Tame Impala is one dude who does it all and records it himself. I like Kevin Parker, to me, he’s the man. I just love good songwriting, whether it’s in mainstream pop or just a person with a really unique perspective.”
Brightener is still a somewhat new project, and Sturgeon hasn’t spent a lot of time familiarizing himself with the local music scene, but he said that he’s definitely up for getting more involved and talked about what he likes so far.
“I honestly don’t know the local music scene here. The times I’ve lived here as an adult, I’ve kind of hibernated away. I’m not really involved, but now that I’m finished recording this album after a year and a half, I’m really excited to start exploring it and see what it has to offer. The coolest thing I’ve done in the desert so far is the Coachella Valley Art Scene’s 111 Festival. That was really cool and I think just the existence of the Coachella Valley Art Scene excites me and intrigues me. I’m looking forward to getting into the music scene and seeing what opportunities there are.”
Brightener’s new full length album “hummingbird” does not have a release date but expect it to drop some time later this summer! Until than you can get Wills Make Real Friends EP on itunes.