Interview: Brandon Chase Howe

Today we’re joined by Brandon Chase Howe. Brandon is a phenomenal up and coming composer who is currently studying music composition at University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. He’s mostly a contemporary composer and he’s interested in composing music for films. He’s a dedicated and passionate artist with an incredibly bright future ahead of him, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Senior photo

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a composer currently studying at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. My music is best described as the product of contemporary compositional techniques tempered with more-traditional approaches to aesthetic values. I am also extremely interested in writing for film, and I had the fantastic opportunity to compose an original score for UWM alum Nicholas Early’s short film, queue: Memory, in the Spring of 2017.

What inspires you?

I am deeply inspired by the work of Claude Debussy, my absolute favorite composer. His control over timbral color (timbre being the distinctive quality of a given sound) is unparalleled, and the complexity of his music’s structure is utterly jaw-dropping. Pieces such as Mouvement from his Images series, Canope from his Préludes for piano, and the beloved orchestral work Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune are three of his finest achievements, in my opinion. I am also inspired by the Finnish-French composer Kaija Saariaho, a true master of irregular meter and spectralism (a genre involving computer analysis of timbres and emphasis on the harmonic series). She is able to seamlessly integrate contemporary methods with the beauty of Classical- and Romantic-period music. A few of my favorite pieces from her repertoire include Pétales for cello with live electronic processing, Six jardins japonais for percussion and electronics, and Nymphéa Reflection for string orchestra.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

What got me interested in composition was actually the film music of Clint Mansell, who wrote the score for The Fountain. That particular score made me appreciate film music for the first time, but it wasn’t until years later, when I heard Hans Zimmer’s score for Interstellar, that I realized I wanted to become a composer myself. I’m happy to say that once I began studying music, I was able to enjoy it on a much deeper level than before, and that newfound appreciation convinced me I had picked the right path.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I think the most recognizable aspects of my music at this point are the lack of rigid tonal and rhythmic structures, as well as the heavy emphasis on timbre. The piece I’ve featured here is a decent example of these aspects within my work.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Natural talent doesn’t stand a chance against dedicated effort. I’ve never actually met someone who was “gifted,” and it turns out those who are apparently “naturals” actually just worked hard (and intelligently!) until they became masters of their fields. Don’t let anyone convince you that you aren’t naturally talented enough to follow your dreams – study and practice are all it takes!

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a heteroromantic asexual!

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Fortunately, I’ve never been the victim of prejudice, but I did meet one person who was convinced that I needed to try sex in order to dislike it. I simply chose to ignore it and avoid the person because, after all, why surround yourself with people who try to invalidate your identity?

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

The one misconception I have encountered is the idea that it’s anything close to HSDD (Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder). Nothing could be further from the truth! Asexuality is not a disorder of any kind because it causes no distress, unlike conditions such as HSDD.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

I implore you to avoid the toxic people who invalidate your identity and show no compassion, no matter how close you may be to them. You deserve to be surrounded by those who lift your spirit and celebrate who you are! Once you are given the love you need, you will come to understand that you are not broken.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

You can find me on SoundCloud at https://soundcloud.com/brandonchasehowe. (There will be more content in the future!) I have also opted to share a piece of music for solo cello with you all! You can find it here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1rdfhFq8KlAQwpzQTY4qU8mSsHGLUwVsN/view?usp=sharing.

Thank you, Brandon, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

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