© 2010 Shalaco Sching

Con Brio

Members of Con Brio: XANDRA CORPORA Vocals, Guitar, Bass  MICAH DUBREUIL Organ, Rhodes, Piano, Melodica  NATE FOWLE Tenor Saxophone  JONATHAN KIRCHNER Bass, Trumpet  ANDREW LAUBACHER Drums, Percussion

With a jazzy, bluesy, funk fresh sound backing up one of the Bay Area’s best female vocalists Con Brio is one of my favorite emerging San Francisco bands. I recently got a chance to sit down with them in their studio, hear them play a few songs and talk to them about their music, their upcoming album and a few things that were on their mind.

Here are a few tracks for you to listen to while you read.

Not At All (Rehearsal)
© All Rights Reserved | Used With Permission
Shit, Damn, Motherfucker (Rehearsal)
© All Rights Reserved | Used With Permission
Sinner (Rehearsal)
© All Rights Reserved | Used With Permission

What does Con Brio mean?
It’s an old classical Italian term. Allegro Con Brio means “Quick With Vigor”

How did you start singing?
Xandra: I don’t have any formal training. I was in chorus in middle school, for a semester, and that is pretty much the extent of that. I didn’t really start singing until I started playing guitar. I started playing guitar before I really started writing songs, then I finally got up and sang at 16th and Mission. At 16th and Mission there is an open mic street performance night that happens Thursday nights. One night I finally went and I was so petrified and scared, because there are a lot of amazing people down there… So I blindfolded myself and went up into the circle and sang the song blindfolded, so I wouldn’t have to look at anyone. Just an a cappella song, just to get up and do it, and that was my introduction.

I still to this day keep my my eyes closed when I sing. I don’t know if it is a nervousness thing or just trying to be in my own world, a purely audio world that doesn’t have any distractions.

Andrew: There’s a lot of distractions when you’re playing a show, too. I mean you’re up on stage playing and performing, but there’s just a whole bunch of people out in front of you enjoying themselves and having a good time and staring at you. You can be playing and honestly you see the couple three rows back arguing, or you see the people partying to the right, the dude who is way too drunk up front. Or sometimes some bars don’t turn off the TV and you see Who Wants To Be a Millionaire and you are like, “I KNOW THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION!” That shit’ll happen and so closing your eyes is a way to be like, “Okay no more distractions, I just gotta listen.”

Micah: It can be kinda awkward. You’re supposed to connect with the crowd, but if you start making eye contact with people it breaks the fourth wall. “Ah, um… I’m looking at you, and you’re looking at me… and here we are.” And they’re like, “Yo— you’re not a rockstar. You’re just some dude up there!” So closing your eyes eliminates the whole problem; I just look at my hands.

How did Con Brio form?
: I was playing solo before I met any of these guys, so I had a lot of material prior to Con Brio existing. I played a little bit, singing and playing acoustic guitar. I was at a point where I wanted to form a band and expand on that front so I put the message out and Jonathan responded…
: Craigslist!
: Which is insane to me. That’s insane that worked.
: Craigslist is pretty amazing.
Jonathan: Sold my car on Craigslist.

How long have you been playing together now?
Micah: We have been playing together for a year.

How did Con Brio find it’s sound?
Andrew: It evolved naturally, we started in various forms and the band got pieced together as it moved along. We all listen to different music, but we all share a musicality. The more you play together with anybody, the more you learn the dialogue of their instrument. You learn how to fill in the cracks of the other person and they do the same for you, and this cohesion happens.

Micah: There was a conscious effort in the beginning when we met up and started expanding the band, thinking about timbre a lot, specifically Kirch playing upright as opposed to electric bass, me playing the organ as opposed to some other electric keyboard. We were definitely conscious about… talked a lot about getting this rich sound to back up Xandra’s vocals.

We concentrated really specifically on importance of dynamics. It’s really easy not to do that. Rock tends not to have as much dynamic as soul or jazz. It’s level; it’ll kick your ass for like 3 minutes. And the way we listen to music on MP3’s or whatever, there’s not the same dynamics as we used to get on records or better sound systems. So people aren’t used to thinking about it as much.

How would you describe your music?
Nate: In general, the way that I describe it now is that it’s rock and roll with a lot of heavy influences from jazz and soul and funk. We called it soul music for a while, we called it blues, we called it funk, we called it jazz, but it doesn’t necessarily fall into any one of those categories for me. But I think at the same time we all have a lot of different influences and there are certainly elements of all those different types of music. But we can’t necessarily be pigeon-holed into any of those categories.

Could you describe your song writing process?
I usually come to them with a song that I have written on guitar that has lyrics and vocal parts to it and they arrange it for their instruments and sometimes if I need help on transitions or intros and outros and stuff they give input on that. For the most part, I usually write songs as if I was going to play them solo. That is just my writing process and then I bring them it to them and we build on it.

Where do you find inspiration?
: I always think that is a really weird question because I have never taken inspiration from just one place. I take it from music I listen to, from things that happened to me, from things that happened to people around me. And you know sometimes I completely fictionalize a fucking story and just write a song about something that has never happened. So I take it from all over.

So what’s next for Con Brio?
Micah: Complete world domination. 
Finish the album, get a bomb, go from there.
Andrew: World dictatorship
Xandra: Funktatorship.

Is it the lead singer who is mainly in charge in a Funktatorship?
You are miss-hearing it. Funktatership. It’s Funk-Tater-Ship. It’s a tater-ship made out of funk. That’s a common mistake; that’s alright.

So the Funk-Tater-Ship, is that like the flying ships in Super Mario Bros. 3?
Andrew: Yep exactly, the cannonballs shooting everywhere. And the princess is never there at the end of the level, it’s kinda bullshit. It’s always in another castle.
: Toad’s like, “Fooled you again Mario!”
Jonathan: We’re in talks with Ore-Ida about sponsorship.
Andrew: Is that a tater tot company?
Jonathan: It’s a major potato company.
Andrew: I’m sorry, I’m not hip to my tater-tot brands

Jonathan: Were working on our first album. It will be done soon… ish.…

Right, right… So this Funk-Tater-Ship… How will it change the world as we know it?
: Everything’s going to be a lot better.
Andrew: Well it’s run on veggie oil– it’s own veggie oil. So it’s the first self-sustaining vehicle. That in itself is pretty awesome. On top of the fact that we figure out how to make a boat out of tater tots. Cost effective, it is very cost effective.

But is it impermeable to water?
Andrew:That’s what is the most surprising about tater tots, yes. We didn’t think it would be.
Micah: You have to fry them up just right.

Andrew:You’ve gotta use Crisco oil. If you use that fancy vegetable oil it ain’t gonna happen.

Nathan: Crispy on the outside, warm on the inside, you know.

Andrew: And if you ever get shitwrecked, shipwrecked you can just eat your boat.

Wait, shitwrecked?
Is that what happens the day after a tater tot binge?
Andrew: Exactly, you know, cause that’s a lot of starch. Lotta starch involved in a tater tot. 
Things are bound to start coming out.
Micah: Another successful interview guys.
Andrew: Captain, we’ve shitwrecked!

2 Trackbacks

  1. [...] out the morning after.  Con Brio is going places and this debut album is just the beginning.  The Funktatership is [...]

  2. [...] jazzy, bluesy, funky fresh sound backing up one of the Bay Area’s best female vocalists…” -Shalaco [...]

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