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Interview: Jonathan Bree Speaks Out About His Album 'Sleepwalking' + NZ Tour

Interview: Jonathan Bree Speaks Out About His Album 'Sleepwalking' + NZ Tour

Interview by Kermath / Tuesday 11th September, 2018 11:43AM

Currently playing throughout Europe with his mysterious masked band, Auckland songwriter Jonathan Bree spoke with writer, film maker and frequent collaborator Kermath ahead of his homecoming tour of Aotearoa this November. Bree's latest collection of sophisticated pop Sleepwalking was preceded by an artful run of videos and iconic live appearances, his dreamlike clip for recent single 'You're So Cool' prompted TimeOut New York to declare the artist is "100% the boldest and weirdest music video director working today." Bree is infamous for his enigmatic interview style, read on for the duo's refreshingly to-the-point conversation about the new record, international tour life and more...

Where are you right now?

A beautiful town called Schaffhausen, in Switzerland.

What's outside the nearest window to you?

We are driving away from the Rheinfall, Europe's biggest waterfall. The band just went for a swim.

Who else is with you on the tour?

We have a Czech tour manager and driver called Lukas and then there's five other New Zealanders. Party of seven... five of which work or have worked in Auckland record stores...lots of nerdy music conversations in this van.

'You're So Cool' came out as a single before the rest of the album and has done phenomenally well, the last I checked it was reaching five million on YouTube. What the fuck do you think happened?

I sold the remaining percentage of my soul.

Some of the other tracks have videos too - most that we've worked on together - what's a comment that's stuck out to you?

The master of misery.

What's the general vibe you're getting from the Internet about the album?

... what's the general vibe?... it's Mabo.

Compared to the last albums, what do you think makes this one different?

A viral music video and an excellent booking agent.

Why do you think the Europe and Eastern countries are so obsessed with Jonathan Bree and the Sleepwalking album?

Exceptional taste.

One of my favourite tracks on the album is 'Fuck It' (rated explicit on iTunes). Have you had trouble playing this track in shows overseas?

South Korea will revoke our visas and ban us if we perform it. Seems a little silly but whatever.

How many shows are you covering while you're overseas?

Hmm... 10?

What's your favourite thing on the tour that you've done so far?

Go to Studio 2 at Abbey Road and record in the same room as my heroes.

Where are you most excited to go on this tour?

Too many equally cool countries I've never been to... Romania, Greece, South Korea.

How have you managed to play through the veil of a morph suit?

Some basics can be challenging... like general balance... but in other ways it's a positive. You get into your zone. No matter where you play or who you play to, you're safe inside.

What's the strangest instrument on the album?

Hmm... Cimbalom?

The album's vinyl is beautiful, it's printed in electric blue - what's the main idea behind making vinyl for the album in a digital age?

It's the format I grew up with... it makes it real to me I suppose.

You've got a few NZ shows lined up when you're back, what's the vibe with them?

Mabo. We’re playing in full costume at Hollywood on Nov 2 and Leigh Sawmill on Nov 3, then San Fran in Wellington on Nov 9 and Blue Smoke in Christchurch Nov 16. It’s going to be pretty special, come and see.

What's next for Masky and Jonathan Bree?

A couple of feature films, the Colonel has signed me up to make ten in the next year. Okay well to be honest I'll probably be touring for I bit next year as well. There's a lot of countries we didn't get to in Europe this time around and so I'll be back here May, June... hopefully South America... maybe North America.

Fuck what else do I ask? What obvious shit have I missed?

We'll be making some vids this southern summer yeah. Look forward to masking up down under.

Undertheradar proudly presents Jonathan Bree playing this November at Auckland's Hollywood Cinema, Wellington's San Fran and Christchurch's Blue Smoke. For tickets and more info head along over here.

'Sleepwalking' is out now via Lil' Chief Records.


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Jonathan Bree - Sleepwalking Over NZ Tour
Fri 2nd Nov 7:30pm
Hollywood Cinema, Auckland
Jonathan Bree - Sleepwalking Over NZ Tour - CANCELLED
Sat 3rd Nov 6:30pm
Leigh Sawmill, Auckland
Jonathan Bree - Sleepwalking Over NZ Tour
Fri 9th Nov 8:00pm
San Fran, Wellington
Jonathan Bree - Sleepwalking Over NZ Tour - Cancelled
Fri 16th Nov 7:00pm
Cassels Blue Smoke, Christchurch