Edie Brickell’s latest project happened gradually, and then suddenly.
The Grammy-winning Oak Cliff native is preparing for the Sept. 8 release of the self-titled debut of Heavy MakeUp, an improvisational trio formed with brass player CJ Camerieri and trumpeter Trever Hagen.
What began during the pandemic as the exchange of minute-long snippets via email blossomed into the 2022 track “More & More” for Camerieri and Hagen’s side project CARM, and, eventually, three days of collaboration in New York distilled down into Heavy MakeUp’s 11 atmospheric, kinetic, trip hop-accented tracks.
“This was just so fresh and different, and I wanted to do something fresh and different,” Brickell told KXT recently.
Heavy MakeUp reinforces Brickell’s inclination to follow her muse wherever it leads — from the New Bohemians to Broadway and beyond, hers is an eclectic, fascinating career and one she happily discussed in a recent conversation, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity, below.
Do you have internal criteria for getting into collaborative situations?
Edie Brickell: “It’s mostly about the people. If the people, the players, have a good feeling, they’re good people, then I’d like to make music with them. And you know, most musicians are just that — they’re easygoing people and fun to work with. … What I like to do is just really listen and pay attention to the vibe that musicians are bringing, and then sync to it. … I love to play with music with people, and the way that we used to do it when we were kids — we would just get together and jam. It wasn’t about a career. … The beauty of that youthful experience where nobody was doing it for money. They were doing it for the expression, to have fun, and maybe, if you’re lucky, get gigs.”
Have you spent any time pondering why that sparks you creatively, since it’s something you continue to be drawn to?
Brickell: “I finally figured it out — it’s about finding the easiest way to be in the present moment. I’ve always been very interested in religion, and philosophy and ‘Why are we here?’ since I was a kid. … You read the teachings, which all guide you towards living in the present moment. Music has always been my present moment, a healing celebration of being alive.”
Something that struck me about this record was the fact that these songs are very concise — because I think, rightly or wrongly, when people hear “improvisation,” they tend to think of material that’s long or complicated or dense.
Brickell: “That is all thanks to my collaborators. … I was singing into this trumpet microphone, just so I could be heard in the room when we were playing. They took these jams, and they edited them. … They curated the album, because there were three days of jamming. We jammed for about three hours of each day.”
What are you hoping people take away from Heavy MakeUp?
Brickell: “I hope they think it’s fresh and feels good and has a nice mix of playfulness and soulfulness, which has always appealed to me. I’m often looking for new music, and new sounds. … I just want something new and fresh. So I’m hoping that our band will offer that, while not being so out [there] that you can’t easily sing along or enjoy what the band is doing. I think it hits a sweet spot.”
Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on X (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.