On October 11th, Winnipeg received a massive, surprise snow storm. The skies were overtaken with white flurries. The ground was increasingly disappearing underneath a fluffy blanket of snow. To celebrate, as well as mourn, this new fresh snowfall, people across the city made the pilgrimage to the Good Will to see Minneapolis-based Brent Penny (Pennington), to play his own version of lofi, sad boy pop.
As the beats began, Brent took the mic and graciously stood next to the speakers lining the front of the stage. He put a foot on the speaker, perching himself to be open to his audience and sang to our cold, red cheeked faces. It was ballad like in nature with dreamy synth beats. He spoke to the audience, it was very reminiscent of an RNB performance, with a slower and more personable connection with the audience. He sang sad but uplifting songs. They had modern and satirical lyrics, made to hit the top of the pops in another dimension. The MTV top forty hit of the broken hearted alien. He sang slow and heavy songs that were beautifully dead pan.
He also sang wonderful, simply poetic lyrics. “Now for songs about queer break up,” he announced and the crowd swayed to lyrics about being a sad boy and the unbelievably poignant yet relatable experience of being a turbulent airplane. He switched from styles and genres so quickly yet his performance remained coherent and connected. He used humor in his lyrics as well moving from experimental, ambient sounds to more almost folk-like songs to reveal short spurts of personal narratives and give us an idea of a life filled with love, learning and celebration. Afterwards, we chatted with the dream pop solo artist about some of his background, how we create beats and his main musical influences.
Brent Penny discussed his humble beginnings as a musician through being a kid singing in the Mormon Church. He cited the religious hymns as being a massive influence on him for his current music. They shaped his current ballad singing style. From working with Mormon music, he transitioned into being very into folk music, playing in the Awful Truth. From this early band, he began playing around with the parameters of music From this experience, he realized he wanted to create music under his own name, Brent Penny. He discusses the transition, “I realized that it was important for me to go by my own name to have me be the face of it… I was afraid to take ownership of my art for a long time and this project has been very liberating and helped me grow and develop.”
Brent discussed his major musical influences, including John Maus, Deerhunter, Stereolab and Robin. He also cited many of his friends as being great inspirations for him, including the Winnipeg based Living Hour. He said in the future he will plan to have other artists join his project, while right now he basks in the glory and pride of his project. The Brent Penny show was a really clever look at genre mixing within experimental music as well as a unique performance style that adds character and depth to the content and power of the music.
by Lily O’Donnell