5 Questions: Brian Deck

Brian_Deck Brian Deck

“Brian Deck is a music producer living and working in Chicago. In their early twenties, Brian and college friend Brad Wood built Idful Music Corp, an under-equipped recording studio in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Together, they recorded seminal records for Liz Phair, Red Red Meat, Shrimpboat, Tar, Sea and Cake, Tortoise and other Chicago luminaries of the 1990’s.

Brian’s unique music aesthetic can be heard both as a player and engineer producer on The Moon and Antarctica by Modest Mouse, Shephard’s Dog by Iron and Wine, Somewhere Under Wonderland by Counting Crows, Animal by Margot and the Nuclear So & So’s and All My Friends are Funeral Singers by Califone.

When not making music he cooks, runs, dads, and tries to keep his old house from crumbling.”


1. What’s been keeping you up at night?

Plenty of things. First of all, I’m building a new recording studio. This is a foolish thing to do in 2017 but I have good reason for doing it. None of the existing chicago studios do exactly what I need them to do sonically or logistically. And I need to get out of the house more. And I need the ability to produce music in ways that feed modern music consumption, not just making albums. I love albums and making albums is what I wanted to do coming up. But listeners don’t embrace the LP so much these days and we need to engage listeners. My new spot will enable new ways of doing that.

And then, what the devil is going on in this country? Last November I was stunned, I hadn’t thought Trump could be elected. I had friends who told me it was going to happen but I didn’t think that it could. I have struggled to know what I can do that is worth doing in this past year. I have struggled to remain hopeful in any way for societal health and vigor here and world wide. It’s hard not to feel like we are slipping into a new dark age. I believe in education because curious enlightened people don’t give authoritarian liars dominion over themselves… but, Betsy DeVos. I believe in taking money 100% out of politics with short publicly funded campaigns… but Citizens United… poor justice Ginsburg deserves to retire but she won’t as long as that fuckstick of a president is in the Oval Office.

And it’s not just America, I’m so disappointed that my kids have to live with a similar kind of Cold War dread that I endured when I was young. Nationalism rampant across Europe and our halfwit president picking dangerous playground fights with North Korea, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, NATO, UN, FBI, Mexico… it might be a shorter list to name the folks he hasn’t picked a fight with.

Fucking hell. It’s a cruel paradox that thinking about this shit is exhausting but it also prevents me from sleeping. My most recent thought is that anything I can possibly do is utterly in effective and so I should prioritize self preservation by stopping looking at all media. This was prompted by that clip from My Dinner With Andre that has been making the rounds of social media. So I deleted FB but I still read the NYT every morning.

Fucking hell. It’s a cruel paradox that thinking about this shit is exhausting but it also prevents me from sleeping.

Kogen-Miller Studios
| Photo credit: Steve Silverman

2. What’s the coolest thing you have seen or heard lately?

I went to Edgar Miller’s Glasner Studio to hear an Elliot Bergman performance. I arrived late and missed Elliot but just being in an Edgar Miller space is very inspiring for me. He was a chicago based designer, architect, painter, sculptor, and theorist from the 1920’s until the early ‘90’s. His spaces are dense with hand wrought iconography in glass, wood, plaster, metal. He was also quite good at manipulating space so that he could get dramatic effect in modest space or he could handle larger public spaces. He was not as celebrated as he should have been and we are lucky that some of his work is still around. A true local treasure.

I also saw Herbie Hancock with Terrace Williams. Damn.

3. What’s the most exciting thing you are working on now?

I’m mixing the new record for Mutual Benefit. Listening to them is supposed to be like looking at an incredibly intricate Byzantine cathedral in a dense fog. But you need to be able to discern the delicate beauty. Almost.

4. If you could add anyone alive or dead to your team who would it be?

Hmmm, well on the one hand I really didn’t take much time at the beginning of my career to learn about the craft of engineering from too many people. I’ve been making it up as I go. I’d love to see how it’s done by one of the masters I’ve admired. I love the Dickens out of Nigel Godrich’s work. I’d take him!

On the other hand, I most admire artists. John Lennon, Miles Davis, Elton John and Stevie Wonder are all regulars on my stereo.

But who would best augment me in my endeavors? Help me achieve all that I’d like to achieve? I married her.

5. When the movie of your life is made, what will it be called?

Collateral Fromage