A Chat with Powerful Newcomer Brian Glavine on his Process, Tracks, and Goals
Making music takes courage. There’s the act of picking up an instrument, itself a commitment of time and energy to learning a new skill, but it can be so much more than that. For some people, music is a way of life, an abiding love, and a dream that takes years to fulfill. These are the brave ones, and Brian Glavine can count himself among their number. I had the chance to chat with GLVN about the launch of his first single, Never Ending Encore, his plans, and his impression of the EDM scene. Along the way, I heard about his journey of patience, creativity, and personal realizations. GLVN isn’t just here to be another DJ, he’s also a singer/songwriter who’s spent over a decade building his catalogue. With his tracks ready to drop, he’s bringing a fresh vision of what he wants the EDM experience to look like for his fast-growing fan base.
Writing Groups, Production, and Key Decisions for GLVN
“I didn’t see myself in EDM, originally” he admits. “I recorded some songs when I first moved to Toronto, totally different genres and everything. Before that, I was in a rock trio back in Newfoundland. I released stuff on Soundcloud, but I never really pushed or invested at that point.” Still new and trying to make connections in the industry, the turning point for Brian came after returning from his time working in Jamaica, when he was introduced to Jingle Club, a songwriters’ group in Toronto. It was there that he met his producer, Michael Steinslien. “He was able to help me bring my songs up to a whole other level. I knew after the first few sessions that I’d be able to put these out in the near future.” After biding his time for years, Brian was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and felt he had something he could launch with.
Even then, he wasn’t sure about releasing music under his own name. “I was thinking of trying to sell the songs, or get placements with other singers, wondering if it would be better to be out front or working in the background.” Brian struggled with the choice, wanting recognition for his work, but also looking to make the move that would best secure his future in the music business. It was a months-long process. He had other singers come in and audition with his tracks. Eventually, he came to the realization that, both for the quality of music and to simplify his own process, he should be the one to move the project forward. “I felt I had to just start putting music out there and seeing what kind of response I could get. I have confidence in it, but you don’t really know until you actually do it.” It was time to start making connections, and to put a brand together.
Instrumental EDM and Inspiration from GLVN’s First Festivals
From there, we started talking about his next steps, and what he wanted to achieve. “Right now, I’m in the middle of crafting a really comprehensive live show. The goal is to bring in a lot of the effects a DJ would go to, there’s going to be a lot of that same energy, but I’m also going to be playing guitar live, singing live. Further down the road, I’d like to get a few more band members up there with me, maybe a live drummer.” Brian described his vision as comparable to a rave, but with live musicians onstage, bringing a different feel to the performance and interaction with his audience. “There’s not too many artists doing that, but it’s something I think we’ll be seeing more of in the years to come.”
Acknowledging that it’s always better to be the one setting trends than following them, I asked Brian how he was finding the EDM scene at large. “I wouldn’t have guessed I’d end up playing EDM. I grew up listening to classic rock. I liked catchy Top 40 stuff, and appreciated how they marketed it. Then I moved to Toronto for the first time, around 2014, and I went to a couple of the big events, Digital Dreams and Veld.” It was a different energy than Brian was used to from slightly more laid-back rock shows. “I hadn’t been to a concert where tens of thousands of people were dancing together. It was something I’d never experienced before, there was a crazy amount of energy.” He was intrigued, and began to think about adapting his own music to suit the genre. In 2015, Brian found himself in Miami for ULTRA. The more he immersed himself in the scene, the more he loved it, and came to appreciate the things that good EDM production could do for his songs. “The effect on the crowd, seeing over one hundred thousand people coming together, it really helped me figure it out.”
Adapting Songwriting to EDM
Given that he’d chosen to transition to EDM relatively recently, I wanted to know how much of Brian’s songwriting for GLVN was new, and how much he’d been able to adapt from work he’d completed previously. His answer was thoughtful, giving me a peek at the level of expertise he brings to his craft. “There’s a lot of similarities. Being adaptable in songwriting means you can go to a pop song that’s really well put together, and it can be a country song or an EDM song or whatever. You see people do it on YouTube with covers in all types of genres.” When Brian began his pivot to EDM, he didn’t believe he had to change everything about his writing process. “I just had to get better. I can use what I was doing, the production is going to be the big shift. The EDM songs are going to be shorter. Compacting it was the big thing. Being as effective as possible in the shortest amount of time and having the dynamic of the production to really push it forward.”
I said I thought that sounded more challenging. Brian agreed. “It’s hard, no doubt. When you’re going really tight, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, and you only have about ten to twenty seconds to say something. You can’t wait, you have to get into the message.”
Live Stage/Main Stage and GLVN as an Experience
With these aspects of adapting his body of work and developing new tracks specifically for EDM in mind, I asked Brian what impact he wanted to have. It was an easy question for him to answer. “At the main stages at a lot of the festivals, it’s pretty much all DJ’s. Sometimes they bring a live singer out with them every now and then. A lot of the shows I’ve been at have just been DJ, DJ, DJ. Then there’s the live stage, usually separate.” Brian wants to see a transition. “I’d love the headliners at the main stage to be partly live-performance EDM. There’s a lot of big performers playing the live stages, no doubt, but the main stage is where the top acts go and for me it’s about getting there.” It’s the dream of most every performance artist, to be centre stage to a massive crowd. Brian seems to have chosen a hard path, in a genre that prefers DJ’s to live performance. “There’s some of these hybrid-EDM acts, but usually they play their own concerts, but I’ve never been at a rave where the last couple acts were anything but DJ’s. It’d be interesting to see how that goes.”
Scaling it down, I wanted to hear a bit more about the individual fan. Why is a GLVN show special? What’s it going to look like for them? “I think there’s going to be a dynamic in the actual songs, compared to a lot of the main stage DJ’s.” He offers his opinion that most DJ’s operate on a consistent high-energy level, with few breaks or changes in flow. “I’m looking at what I do as more of a shift in the actual rhythm of the event” says Brian, comparing his concert style to some of his favourite rock acts. “I want to bring in a dynamic shift while keeping up the pace, bringing in different subject matter and production style. Having a lot of versatility on stage. I think it’ll be exciting for people.” It’s a bold choice. I’ve been to quite a few live shows, and the changes Brian describes can change the vibe in any kind of space, but they can also risk losing the energy of the crowd. While it may seem low-key, curating a set to a crowd is a crucial skill for any performance. I’m looking forward to seeing how Brian manages.
After the Encore
As he gets ready to take his next steps, GLVN has released Never Ending Encore and plans to follow up with a dozen other finished and polished tracks. “The response has been great. I’ve had people contacting me I haven’t heard from in years, starting up conversations again. It’s opened up the door to lead to some collaborations.” It’s still just the beginning of his real journey into the professional EDM scene. As we started wrapping up, I asked if there was anyone he wanted to thank for helping to get him where he is now. “Definitely my producer, Michael. It would have been way more of a struggle without him and I wouldn’t have everything accomplished, especially with the quality of production we have. Now we just have to build for the future.”