Smooth Artist Interviews

Brendan Rothwell
Brendan Rothwell
Brendan Rothwell
Brendan Rothwell
Brendan Rothwell
Brendan Rothwell
Brendan Rothwell
Brendan Rothwell
Brendan Rothwell
Brendan Rothwell
Brendan Rothwell

What are you most proud of at this point in your life and career?

In life?… Building the life that we have here in Canada! Lisa and I moved from the UK to Canada around 16 years ago, seeing the many options that this part of the world could offer us. We have both seen very positive career development in that time, and are grateful for the opportunities that have been sent our way.
 
In music?… Building my network, my brand, my recording catalogue and most importantly my audience. It’s only 5 years since the launch of my first album and I was so thankful for the immediate and positive response I got from the world of radio. Those “early adopters” continue to spin my music and support the new creations that I release. My musical network has grown so quickly the last couple of years thanks to some recording collaboration opportunities, the Jazz Weekender festival and social interactions online and in-person. We’ve had monthly FaceTime calls with musician friends and their partners across north America all the way through the pandemic, and have no plans for that to stop now! 

Of your touring and gigs so far in your career, do any stand out as being particularly memorable or defining moments?

My early days of gigging and “learning the craft” are particularly memorable. I worked with Trevor King (aka LTK) an “old school” jazz drummer in my home town of York (UK). We’d play any and all gigs, mainly because it was so enjoyable and also because I had so much to learn! Everything from active listening, to learning the jazz standards, to how to show up and define your “look” for a show. Great days, and much was learned! 
 
More recently, I was given an amazing opportunity to host the afternoon jam sessions at the Jazz Weekender festival in Carmel, CA (via smoothjazz.com). This was in February 2020, the 2nd year that the festival was held and about a month before COVID-19 became a global reality. So many amazing artists and wonderful audiences gathered together at one of the most beautiful venues I’ve played. I guess this was both memorable and “defining” as my Sentiment album was about a year old at this point and I was becoming more known to the jazz audience and some of the more established artists. I realized the value of what I was creating from the audience’s perspective. Hopefully we can do this again soon…

On a scale of 1-10, how much do you enjoy composing music?

Is 11 only allowed as an answer in the heavy metal world?! I love composing music, and find it gives me a real sense of balance for everything else that’s going on in life. A couple of years ago I was asked a related question and I think the answer to that is relevant here: My wish is that listening to my recordings will help the audience understand the emotional connection that I have with music. It is the most influential, subtle and natural form of communication that I know.

What aspect of the creative process, from concept to market, do you personally find to be the most rewarding?

I’ve always had “regular” business interests outside of music, and I love the challenge of problem-solving in a larger corporate environment. There are many established ways of approaching problems: I enjoy taking a more varied route and bringing a creative methodology to generate the solution.

If you were asked (and we are asking now!) for your advice as to what the smooth jazz format could do to ensure its relevance and growth, what would your suggestion(s) be?

I think there are two aspects to this that are worth considering. On the creative front, the format’s relevance and growth will be determined primarily by the new artists that enter this arena. There are some established artists with equally established careers and recording catalogues who rightly take the spotlight: the newer players look to them for guidance and advice and I’m pleased to say that my experience has been positive.
 
On the perspective of growth, the format still has a way to go as it tries to bring itself into the current times of digital processing and information sharing. “Behind the scenes” in the world of Performing Rights, royalties collections and metadata, so much could be expedited if digital processing was correctly applied. The payments side will, by definition, always have some lag time based on the cadence of collection post-performance or post-airplay however the efficiency of administration of the many databases involved could be much improved. If the administration of music was brought up to date, there would likely be much opportunity for improved publicity and subsequent audience growth. There are many viewpoints and opinions regarding the digital music streaming platforms, however it’s tough to deny the massive user/audience growth those environments have seen in the last few years: #digitalalltheway!!

What would be the most important piece of advice you would impart to a young musician starting out in the jazz/smooth jazz arena?

Listen to and respect the people who discover you and show support for your work: never forget them! Learn to recognize those folks, as they may well be foundational to your long-term success. Identify the "early adopters" and build on those relationships. In the music industry, those contacts can develop into and become long-term allies. If you're serious about your musical career, make sure you get a grounding in mainstream business skills as early as you can.