Michael Brondstetter is a multi-talented artist that stopped by to say “Howdy!” to our readers. He’s the kind of artist we could go on and on and on and on about, but instead we decided to ask him a few questions and tell y’all about himself. E’nuff said…
NFZ: Please introduce yourself and tell us about your music.
MB: I’m Michael Brondstetter. I’m originally from Michigan, born in Ann Arbor, living in several states prior to my parent’s separation and my mother bringing us to Los Angeles California where I live and grew up and graduated from Westchester High School. I attended El Camino JC in Torrance for about a year and a half and transferred to Grossmont JC in El Cajon. In San Diego I met and married my wife Pam and was married up until she died in February of 2016. Father of 3 daughters, a son and I have 9 grandchildren.
My music is a study in all things that I’ve seen, heard, dreamed, and encountered in my life. From an early song, I wrote about a man I met while on a tour with my Cub Scouts troop of the Cadillac assembly plant while living in Detroit to the song I’ve got on Iron Mountain or have in production for my next CD. They’re all pieces, like a painting of some element of what I’ve been through. As my song “The River Flows” is about a storyteller, which is what I consider myself to be.
What better way to remove yourself from the rigors of school, job, or one’s family problems but to immerse oneself in musical emotions mixed with words that allows us to visit our dreams, or face fears head on. The best part is that I believe I’m just starting. I’m a full-time performer and writer. I’ve many miles ahead of me, Lord willing. Iron Mountain is just the first of I hope many musical projects to come.
NFZ: How and why did you get into music?
MB: I’m not sure I did “get into music”. I believe music was always in me, or part of me. I’ve always been interested in music. For as long as I can remember I’ve had songs, melodies, lyrical lines or verses rolling around in my head. So, I guess I was born with it in me. My father was dead set against me ever going into music, saying it was impractical. I’ve always been attracted to sounds and fascinated with word play for as long as I can remember. Even while I was active in sports while growing up, I always wanted to be part of an orchestra, in band, or being a bigger part of the choir or choral groups in school. I really only started to consider getting into music as an artist after my parents separated, though not getting actively involved in pursuing being an artist until high school.
NFZ: Your CD, “Iron Mountain”, has been getting a lot of attention lately. What was the genesis that led to the making of it and why that title?
MB: As a songwriter, I write many songs. I’ve worked in writing Hip Hop and Rap beats collectively with other artist even. Anything that will let me utilize what music I’ve got rolling around in my head. “Iron Mountain” started out with a friend suggesting I contact a producer Named Dove (Kirk) Arnold. After talking to him and finding out that we had worked together when I was with another band called The Bluescaster.
“Iron Mountain” started out by me submitting a multitude of songs and of those he selected 4 that he liked best. Four being the number of songs I could afford to get produced. He liked “Dark Cloud Blues”, “Friends”, “Tear It Apart”, and “Love Is The Key”. When I do a project with a producer, I believe he/she is an integral part of the music, just another member of the group. So, I let Dove skew the style and select the musicians and left him with the final arrangement. That is how it came to be.
We decided to have the flavor of a Southern Swamp mixed with the flavor of a San Diego sunset sprinkled with a helping of Southwest desert for good effect, which is apparent on all the tracks that he produced. Using the wonderful musicians that help create this was also extremely crucial. It was there skill and talent that really help bring out these great tracks.
As for the title, well, Iron Mountain is a land mark hiking trail near here in San Diego County and I passed it on my way up to the studio every time we were getting together for a session. It just spoke to me as I passed, that’s what the EP name should be.
NFZ: How long did it take you to record it and which song was either the most difficult to write or record and why?
MB: It took about a year to complete. Mostly because of my work schedule and the schedules of the musicians who played on the tracks. Everyone came in and laid their parts down and Dove put them together into these tracks. We did go back in forth on the final mix to try and get the feel that was intended. This was my first real studio work done using studio musicians and letting them do their interpretation of my songs. It was a great learning experience for me. One where I had to step outside my comfort zone and trust the producer and musicians I hadn’t worked with much before.
All the songs were written a while before I’d got involved with Dove and this recording project. I already had recordings of all the songs and had even submitted some to Taxi or San Diego Songwriters Guild. I just wasn’t getting the reaction I wanted from my own recordings that I thought I should. So, I searched for a better production to find out if that would make a difference. It did in fact.
The one song that wasn’t part of the original mix of songs was “Ghost In The Walls”. I had just written it prior to “Iron Mountain” being finished and was getting ready to submit it for mastering and printing. I decided that I wanted to have one song on this CD that would represent what I as an artist would sound like if a venue booked me and there wasn’t enough money to hire the musicians who played on the tracks. So, I went up to Doves studio again and I laid that song down live. One take with just me and my guitar. The interesting part of that song is it’s one of the most loved songs on the EP. I’ve gotten such wonderful support for doing my songs bare boned and straight forward.
NFZ: Do you enjoy performing live?
MB: I absolutely enjoy performing live. I haven’t had a ton of experience in doing larger venues, but enjoy all the opportunities I’ve received so far. I’m just now cranking up my personal appearance schedule so we’ll find out more about the different venues and cities as we go. I can always find wonderful, interesting people and places as I go. It has and will be a blast.
NFZ: What’s your favorite place to play live at and why?
MB: As I said earlier I’ve not had a ton of experience in larger venues, so most of the places I play are fairly small. These are wonderful because I get to know the fans better. We visit or have a drink, a laugh, tell a story, etc… It’s all part of the journey and makes the travel and being away from home a little better. And it adds to my family of friends that I make as I travel this road.
NFZ: Living or dead which artist would you most like to collaborate with and how come?
MB: That’s a great question. The key work here is collaborating; I’d have to think I’d have something to bring to the table. If it were Stevie Wonder or Bob Dylan or any number of wonderful artists I’m not sure I’d have a significant impact on the effort. Because we’re talking present. All these amazing talents are established. I enjoy being with folks who’re developing and need my vocals, musicianship, lyrical ideas. That’s not easy to get involved in. I’m working on that now. I’ve been on my own as a singer songwriter most my life. Artistic collaboration wasn’t readily possible. I’ve taken step to involve myself in NSAI and Songwriters Guild. But up to this point, most of those have just been solo efforts, or submissions
NFZ: How do you feel about the current state of the music business and what would you change about it?
MB: The music business is and always was tough to crack and figure out, unfortunately now more so than ever. I know songwriters in Nashville and artists with a catalog that can’t make a living off of royalties that are spun in the thousands because royalties on the streaming services are so darn low. I mean a 1/1000 of a cent is totally ridiculous. Streaming services are the main source of how music is listened to and because there are so few, the multitude of royalties that used to come in from hundreds of stations is reduced to a few.
What was the royalty paid to Kevin Kadish, co-writer of “All About the Bass” for a million and a half plays on Spotify? A mere $1500.00! I understand that that’s not all he received, but for indie artists that do well on streaming services, which includes YouTube as well, it doesn’t amount to hardly anything. It’s very hard to crack commercial radio and other sources of revenue, or get the kind of access to the three trillion-dollar industry. I understand there are a lot of Indie artists, but there has to be a better reward for artist who write a great and successful song.
NFZ: What don’t your fans know about you that would probably surprise them?
MB: I run across this a lot because I’m an older artist. People’s perception is that I’m established and worldly professional. The truth is I’m just starting off on my career. Because of being a husband, dad and raising a family, working full time for many years, this is really the beginning of my music career. I’ve been doing the best I can while employed in other occupations, but this is my job now.
I’m just now being able to focus full time on music and trying to make a living at it. I’m to some extent the same as the kid or young artist just beginning their career. When one is occupied elsewhere with livelihood and responsibilities it really cuts down on one’s ability to do a good and proficient job. Now I can put a lot more focus and attention to music and the business of making it a really living.
NFZ: What have been the peaks and valleys of your life and your musical career?
MB: The peaks in my life are mostly related to my personal life at this time. While I’ve met a few famous artists in my day, and that was wonderful and exciting, I think of peaks as important events. My marriage to Pam being a peak along with sharing our life together, having and raising all my children, seeing and being around all my grandchildren. As for valleys, well there have been many but my wife, Pam’s death was pretty low.
Musically being able to be a full-time performer now is a peak. While struggling to make a living doing it, it’s still very satisfying to be able to focus just on what I truly love to do. Not being successful at making a living at it would definitely be a low. I work every day to be able to not have that happen.
NFZ: Do you have a new release in the works and if so when will it be out?
MB: Yes. I’ve been working with Dove (Kirk) Arnold and Jeff Berkley’s helping me produce several songs for an upcoming CD. I’ve got some great tracks and want to start finalizing them and releasing them, but “Iron Mountain” is the key to the next release being successful. It’s got to open some people’s eyes and ears and get a lot of support before I can start to get the next CD out. I believe that that is beginning to happen and were getting close to getting the attention we need to make the single release for the new CD a success.
NFZ: Here’s your opportunity to offer a shameless plug for yourself. So go for it!
I’d like to thank Bruce Elrod and Cashboxmagazine.com for his/their support and help in getting the word out about “Iron Mountain”. Having three songs off “Iron Mountain” reach #1 on at least one of the single charts has been awesome.
Huge shout out to Karvin Johnson at KES Distribution for the hard work they’ve done in getting “Iron Mountain” to where it is today. While still a long way to go to reach profitability, it’s so much closer to achieving that goal now than ever before.
My website is www.brondmusic.com and I’d love for everyone to go on and check it out. Also, please sign up on the mailing list for us to keep in touch with you about upcoming event, shows and offers. The new site is just getting started and I’d love to add as many interested friends to reach out to and be part of the Michael Brondstetter experience. I’m always happy to hear from you and you can reach me through my website at firstname.lastname@example.org.