What is the best thing that I love about my work?
I love various aspects of my work – the creative, the hedonistic and the social. Song-writing brings me great joy and watching an album develop into a piece of art. Organising the artwork, the photos, the videos to complement the music. I love the hedonism of performing on stage and being the centre of attention, and the pride of having performed well and connected to an audience. And I love the banter and creativity with my band members and crew.
What is my idea of perfect happiness?
Happiness is a difficult word to define. I would say my default setting is to be very contented with life. I am fortunate that I don’t suffer from depression and am not overly emotional, so I lack the intense highs and lows experienced by some of my peers. For this I am thankful. I think I’m leading the life that makes me as happy as I can be. Compliments on my music or my singing give me a sense of well-being, as does the act of creating and filling my life with projects.
What is my greatest fear?
The unpredictability of life. I don’t fear death, but I fear pain and infirmity. As you get older these things become a shadow with an ever-growing outline. Life can change overnight without warning.
What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?
With risk of sounding conceited, I don’t really deplore anything about myself. I have worked throughout my life to become someone I can like. I do of course have short-comings – I am very messy; I have been accused of being cold and a control freak. I am definitely impatient and expect very high standards from people I work with. But none I wouldn’t expect from myself.
Which living persons in my profession do i most admire?
I admire different people for different things – technical ability, innovation, song-writing, vocal timbre. I don’t always have to like what they do in order to appreciate their efficiency and talent. As this article centres on women I would mention people like Kate Bush, Bjork and even Lady Gaga who all meld music and art in effective and original ways. Adding a visual and stylistic aspect to music has always been important and generally underrated. I don’t personally know any of these women and would admire them more, or less, if I did.
What is my greatest extravagance?
I’m a pretty cheap date. I rarely drink; don’t need a sports car or designer clothes. I’m a bit of a recluse when I’m not touring, so I love to read and have more books than I have space for. I love doing logic puzzles. And otherwise I immerse myself in work. Being a musician these days is not just about writing and playing. It’s also about marketing, promotion and management and all this is very time consuming. I guess my biggest extravagance is touring which is inordinately expensive and always runs at a loss, especially when touring abroad. But it’s like a working holiday in many ways.
On what occasion would I lie?
Generally I try not to. But I’m quite good at omitting certain thoughts in order not to hurt someone’s feelings. I always try to find a true positive thing whilst perhaps not answering the whole question. But I have lied for professional reasons – for example if one member of the band has left late for a gig and hence has made us all run late, I will blame it on traffic so as not to look unreliable. And of course I would lie in order to save myself or others from danger or harm.
What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?
Ever increasing poor concert attendances are distressing. And this goes for most bands, especially rock bands. We have an aging following which is thinning out every year. But what I find most stressful concerns band dynamics. Musicians leave to do other things and new musicians don’t always work out for various reasons. On tour especially characters can clash and issues need sorting out. I’m happiest when I have a close knit team all pulling in the same direction.
When and where was I the happiest, in my work?
There’s no one time really. When I was signed to Sony in the 90s I was too young and inexperienced to fully appreciate the opportunities I was given and couldn’t imagine how much the industry would change in the forthcoming decades. Strangely I would say I’m happiest now. I have complete autonomy over what I do. I have a great team; I’ve really enjoyed working with Fish and have some more of that to look forward to and am currently working on a new album. And luckily I have some resources in order to no to compromise on the artwork to go with it.
If I could, what would I change about myself?
Give me magic wand and I’d change a huge amount of things. I’d be 6 foot tall and blonde. I’d be 25 years younger. I’d give myself another 2 octaves. I’d transplant my current brain and experience into my younger self and do things differently. But then there is no telling what would follow and whether that would turn me into a better person. Hell – let’s go for omnipotence and omniscience while we’re at it. But without the wand… I’m happy to be who I am.
What is my greatest achievement in work?
I truly have no idea. I guess that depends on how you define ‘achievement’. It could be being signed to Sony, or Virgin or London records. It could be the dance hit JJ Tribute in the mid-90s – a truly awful record which was very successful. Personally I’d like to think it’s the body of work I’ve produced over the last 2 decades, especially the last few albums with producer Lee Dunham, where we have discarded all genre constraints in order to carve our own niche in the industry.
Where would I most like to live?
I’m quite happy where I am in Buckinghamshire. It’s green, it’s quiet and it’s near to London and motorways. As a child I lived in Vienna where I was born – a city I appreciate far more now than I did then, but can’t imagine living in now. With the uncertainties of Brexit (I’m writing this before the ‘leave’ date) I was contemplating where I might move to should I get chucked out. On exploring various cities during our recent 2 month European tour, it was Berlin that made the biggest impression. I loved the vibe, the people and the architecture. If I had to relocate that’s probably where I’d go.
What is my most treasured possession?
My Guild acoustic guitar which has been with me for the last 30 years and is quite irreplaceable. It suits my playing style perfectly and has travelled with me through many ups and downs in life. I bought it in the late 80s from a shop in Denmark Street at a time when it was the destination for London music shops and you could spend hours hopping from one store to the next trying out guitars and finding treasures. I’d saved up for a new guitar and it was just beyond my intended budget, but I knew it was ‘the one’.
What is my most marked characteristic?
Physically my eyes perhaps. Characteristically I would say my independence and my confidence. Others may say something very different. Though I don’t get overly excited about things, I have great enthusiasm for life and a positive outlook which I hope comes across. I love work and working with other strong and independent characters. Closer relationships have not worked out for me – I think I’m just too hedonistic in that respect and seem to attract broken people who want to feed on my positivity like emotional vampires. I’m happiest in charge of my own destiny.
What is my most inspirational location, in my city?
Depends on my mood. And the weather. The local town is very pretty though I only go there when I have a specific errand. There’s a nice bridge. The best bits for me are the countryside. Across my road are fields and woods. There is a place with a huge vista and you can even see Windsor Castle in the distance. The Thames is a couple of miles away availing of some great walks. I walk and I think… and disappear in my own head..
What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city?
There’s a Thai restaurant which is a favourite of mine. But I rarely go out. I drink very rarely and hate being around drunken people I don’t know. I love to cook so going out near me is less likely than going out whilst on tour.
What books influenced my life and how?
Oh my. That’s a tricky one. I have read so much, mostly fiction, but to pinpoint something specific.. I remember crying profusely at the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a small child – an early introduction to the concept of grief. Studying English introduced me to all manner of literature and enhanced my ability of critical thinking. George Orwell remains especially poignant – ever more so in today’s climate. Ian Banks has made me marvel at the breadth of his imagination and his uncannily empathic characterisations. Many books are pure gratification, but some give a greater insight into other peoples’ worlds and promote greater understanding of other societies – like Monica Ali’s ‘Brick Lane’ for example. Each of these has a small but lasting influence.
Who are my favorite writers?
Ruth Rendell will be sorely missed. Her stand-alone crime novels are genius. Fantasy writers Patrick Rothfuss, Robin Hobb, Tadd Williams, George RR Martin, Brandon Sanderson and recently discovered NK Jemisin have all produced outstanding and original works. Pratchett, Grisham, Rankin, Cornwall, Reichs, Ben Elton and many more.
You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day?
Depends what mood I’m in on the day! I suspect it would be something like dark Side of the Moon – suitably onerous, grandiose, reflective and connected to my youth. Hopefully I won’t know what is about to happen and will just drop down dead unexpectedly without giving it much thought….
Who is my hero or heroine in fiction?
Don’t really do heroes.. But I guess it would be something like Tomb Raider. The embodiment of a beautiful and unrealistically competent woman.
Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?
Again – I don’t do heroes. I admire a lot of people for very different reasons. In general only ever in part. I find that where people excel in certain areas they are flawed in others. Having lived a fairly selfish life my biggest admiration goes to those who have lived their life caring for others. It seems a huge sacrifice. I have a close friend who is like that, though we tried to analyse whether her caring for others is something that makes her feel needed and is therefore still selfish. Hard to say.
Which movie would i recommend to see once in a lifetime?
Everyone should see the Lord of the Rings and the Matrix series for sheer cinematic grandeur and suspense. Schindlers List lest we forget the past. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. And a couple of personal favourites – Fargo and Brazil whose black humour is delicious.
What role plays art in my life and work?
Art is my work. Art is music, sculpture, painting and all things creative. Art can be a flower arrangement. Modern times have taught us that anything, even a pile of bricks, can be art if deliberately arranged for a meaning other than utilitarian purpose. A life without art must be a very empty one. Without it I would be an accountant.
Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?
I have a few great fans who travel to gigs, even abroad, and who are enormously valued. I’m not sure they would appreciate being named. Roger Beleffi, my Swiss sponsor, funded the Upside Down World album, part of Eclectica and also a video – an amazing contribution. I have to add that Switzerland has a scheme whereby investments made in art by private individuals can be deducted from tax. If more countries had this scheme, the arts would be in a different place and up and coming artists would stand a greater chance of success.
My partner in crime has to be Lee Dunham, my guitarist and producer. An unlikely meeting in 1999 has led to a 20 year working partnership neither of us could have predicted. He is currently working on our next album. It is impossible to imagine where my life would be if our paths hadn’t crossed.
Whom would I like to work with in 2019?
With my band needless to say. Fish has also asked me to sing on his forthcoming album which is a huge compliment. I sang on his EP last year and I can’t wait to do some more touring with him both as his backing vocalist and as support. I’m always up for recording sessions with established artists – each and everyone is a compliment. As a wish list I’d love to support Radiohead or Muse, neither of which is likely to happen. But you never know.
Which people in my profession would i love to meet in 2019?
I’m always nervous about meeting people whose music I like, in case I don’t like them. I learnt after my stint with the Violet hour in the 90s, the importance of working with people you get on with. It’s essential on tour especially. Luckily the last Fish tour, on which I spent 2 months on a bus with 11+ other people, was remarkably peaceful. This is something of a miracle.
What project, in 2019, am I looking forward to work on?
My new album! Actually I’m very excited as I’m really pleased with the songs we’ve written so far. We’re still playing around with arrangements and ideas before we commit on the recording. Lee has just upgraded his studio equipment and is busy getting to grips and experimenting with some of the new features. I think it might turn out a little less proggy and a bit more song orientated than the last 2 albums, but this could yet change. We shall have to wait and see…
Where can you see me or my work in 2019?
Best place to go is my website http://www.dorisbrendel.com. For anyone not familiar with my work you can get some free downloads on the home page. It has all the expected content – videos, albums, photos and gig lists. I’m also a keen though sporadic blogger, generally concentrating on the lighter side of life.
What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?
It’s the kind of catch phrase that makes me roll my eyes. Usually accompanied by soft focus roses, babies and puppy dogs. I do have passion for my work, but it’s not that all encompassing, do or die, baring my soul kind of passion. I’m far too pragmatic for that and rely on other peoples’ misery for inspiration. Conversely, I cannot imagine ever stopping being creative. Or retiring.
Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story?
I nominate singer Sam Brown. Until an unfortunate throat operation cut short her career, she was one of the best female singers and performers I have come across. She had a huge hit with ‘Stop’ and was a regular feature on Jools Holland. She now runs Ukulele clubs across the country. It’s hard to imagine how one copes with such an enforced change in life, and it would make an interesting read. If she wants to talk about it.
How can you contact me?