Jonathan Bree (NZ)
Jonathan Bree is a singer-songwriter and producer in New Zealand, best known for his work as a solo artist, as well as co-founding the indie pop group The Brunettes and Lil’ Chief Records. He frequently collaborates with label-mates as a musician, engineer, and record producer. Jonathan started playing music at the age of 9 when he wrote his first song “Rebecca” about a primary school crush.
By 12 he was playing drums with 20 year olds in an average goth band ‘The Plaster Saints’ whose claim to fame was releasing a song on a Flying Nun compilation in the 90s.
At 13 out of fear he was going to start wearing fishnets and piercing his privates he was sent to live with his Father in Australia. His Father was a spiritual guru living in Byron Bay, graciously helping his followers to starve themselves in order to raise their ‘vibrations’ so they could board the invisible motherships floating above them.
At 14 after failing to raise his vibrations and also feeling quite hungry he left home and took care of himself by selling drugs to local tourists to make his way through high school.
At age 19 he returned home to Auckland, New Zealand and started his first band The Brunettes. The Brunettes was basically a bunch of indie guys that liked Pavement and the Modern Lovers and the music reflected that. Within 6 months the band broke up but not before Jonathan met Heather Mansfield and convinced her to turn The Brunettes into a duet based recording project.
Jonathan wrote and produced 4 albums and 4 EPs for The Brunettes, driving himself mad over the course of their ten year career trying to achieve the sonic standards of his 1960’s heroes of 4 track recording, George Martin and Brian Wilson.
The Brunettes went on to sign to Sub Pop after opening for The Postal Service in 2003 before eventually breaking up 2010. They still however have a loyal and dedicated cult following, especially in New Zealand where their debut ‘Holding Hands Feeding Ducks’ is regarded as a classic.
Jonathan Bree released his first solo album ‘The Primrose Path’ in New Zealand in 2013. The album drew much critical praise and was a finalist in the ‘Taite Prize’ – a respected arts award named after the late journalist Dylan Taite.
Jonathan’s second album ‘A Little Night Music’ drew similar critical praise locally and saw Bree venturing into more free-form territory, further breaking away from more traditional pop formulas found in some of his best-known work with The Brunettes. This was partly due to new interest in classical music after inheriting some old ballet records of Tchaikovsky, and music of Bela Bartok.
Jonathan’s third album ‘Sleepwalking’ saw the emergence of the mysterious masked band who first appeared in his music video for ‘Weird Hardcore’(from second album ‘A Little Night Music’ but who suddenly caught everyone’s attention with Jonathan’s self-directed music video for ‘You’re So Cool’. Like his previous albums Sleepwalking has a heavy orchestrated element featuring real strings, celeste and soprano vocals.
Sleepwalking features a number of duets with other musicians notably Chelsea Nikkel (Princess Chelsea) and Clara Viñals (Renaldo & Clara) in Bree’s more Gainsbourg inspired pop songs. Jonathan successfully dips in and out of the avant-garde (You’re So Cool, Boombox Serenade, Plucking Petals) walking the line between pop music and well…. the just plain weird (Static, Sleepwalking).