Interview with MJ Brown of The Delta Fifths
Laying it Down Blues Style- Let the Record Play
Interview with MJ Brown of The Delta Fifths
by Song River
Some of the greatest blues music comes from the heart-felt souls of women. Recently, MJ Brown lead vox, and guitarist of, The Delta Fifths, sat down with me and shared where her passion comes from.
Song River: It's a pleasure to be able to talk to you today, MJ, and get to know another formidable powerhouse- female front of a band. There's something quite involved, and even notably sexy when a strong personality kicks it out in the realm of rock and rhythm.
MJ, I've always been intrigued as to how bands select their names, your band chose, The Delta Fifths. I am sure it isn't this complicated, but I am curious, as I read delta is a Greek word, and it is also used in coding applications.
MJ Brown: This is probably the most interesting take I've heard yet on the band's name. When I came up with the band name I was thinking about music historically. I have a ton of old blues LP's and "Delta Blues" is written on many of the covers. There's so much musical history from that part of the country - the delta. As we know before TV and the radio, people made their own entertainment. Gathering on the front porch for a musical performance was common. So the word "Delta" is about symbolization. I wanted our name to pay tribute to the heart-felt music played on the front porches of the past.
I'll probably disappoint you with how I came up with the "Fifths" as it has no deep meaning what-so-ever. A fifth is a measurement for alcohol. We are a rock band and in a rebellious, yet covert way I decided using a drinking reference was a good twist to the name.
Song: Your sound has been described as, "music played and shared on front porch steps across America." Today that can mean so many different things. As cultures now have rap, metal, pop, and hip-hop blaring from their front stoops... what does, "front porch steps across America," mean to you?
MJ: The Fifths sound is defiantly influenced by the music played on the front porches of the past; blues, folk, and country. Each of us have our own reasons for being in this band, but for me personally, playing music at the end of the day is what gives me peace. So, whether I'm on my own front porch, the studio, or playing a show, I'm at peace if I have my guitar in hand.
Song: The band is quite a mixture of various genres, many influences coming together, do those assorted determinants ever work their way into the mix of music produced?
MJ: I think what makes us unique is we have gritty blues-tone all the way to an alt-country finesse. Different versions, and mixes of these sounds are the backbone of the fifths.
Song: What brought you into the music scene? Did you just wake up one morning and decide you could sing so you called up a few friends and said, "Hey, lets start a band!"
MJ: I think I have slowly eased my way into the Phoenix music scene. A little secret about me is that I have major stage fright. Due to this, I spent many years on the sidelines. I'd go out and watch bands play, and wish that I was in a band, but I was too afraid to actually start one. When I was twenty-seven I finally decided to jump. My progression didn't happen over night and there have been struggles. My first lead guitarist was, RJ Naylor. RJ gave me confidence. He pushed me to believe in myself and I'm grateful for that. I look back at those days and I know I've come a long way. I'll always be very honored to be a part of the scene here.
Song: When you sing, MJ, or even write do you ever feel you are channeling a singer you've always admired?
MJ: When I sing, I focus on one thing- and that's being honest and sincere. When I write a song and then sing it to an audience I try to be vulnerable and genuine. Audiences are smart and can sense when you are being fake. I want those who listen or come to a show to feel a connection, and be apart of what The Delta Fifths are.
Song: As the principal song writer for the band, do you have a favorite time of day you like to write, or a place that helps you let the words flow?
MJ: Ha! Most of my best stuff comes out at night and over a bottle of red wine.
As far as my musical space, it's in my home, next to my vinyl records, and turn table.
Song: How many songs in the last three years would you say you've written? Are there any that you've set aside, because they were just too hard to finish or the complete thoughts wouldn't come?
MJ: Honestly, I can't say how many songs I've written in three years. I know I've written a lot. Yes, there are some songs that are not finished, but that's because that magical moment where the music and words become one hasn't happen yet. The title track off the EP, Let the Record Play I wrote in about three minutes... it just flowed out of me. Adam Klawonn and I wrote Coochie Smith together in a matter of minutes as well. Songs that come effortlessly always seem to be the strongest.
Song: Did you write lyrics growing up? Were there any authors or writers that inspired you to become a song writer? Who were some of your favorites?
MJ: Oh yeah, I have a teenage angst lyric steno-pad. Lets hope no one ever finds it!! As far as authors, I love James Joyce, Hemingway, E.E Cummings, Poe, the classics. I don't think I can say they inspired me to write songs, but they definitely inspired me to dig deep from within.
Song: Would you consider yourself to be a modern day blues singer?
MJ: Ha no! I just sing and hope it comes out good and this is the truth! I'm not joking!!
Song: How have you seen music progress over the last few years? Are you liking it or still waiting?
MJ: I am a fan of all types of music. I think music is constantly changing. Do I like everything that's out there?, no, but I respect it and I regard the artists who create it. As musicians and song writers we all have the option to support one another, and that's what's so promising about the Phoenix scene here. Not long ago we played the Monte Vista in Flagstaff and a local jazz band, the Phoenician Four made the trip to support us. So overall, yeah I like what I see!
As far as the future, I'll always be waiting for another song to blow me away.
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/thedeltafifths