"I've been listening to this song for almost a decade. It's depressing how fast the time flows."
—Enzo Ponce Cano
It's hard to believe that it's been ten years since we released Beginnings & Endings, our debut album. Though it was, by all formal measures, a brief and bright (lol) flash in the pan, it had an outsized impact on us, and around us. Even today it still somehow holds people's attention, and it grew itself an incredibly dedicated fanbase of people—people who reach out to tell us what it meant to them, how much they loved it, how depressing it was (see above). One guy told us it was his favourite record to do LSD to. Every single message meant the world.
Brightly started out in the living room of my brother's place in Sandringham, in Melbourne, around 2010 or 2011. I was sleeping in the spare room, on the verge of dropping out of doing a masters in computer science. I'd started thinking about studying sound production, and I'd just bought Ableton and a Novation Launchpad. I booked a gig at The Brunswick Hotel and showed up with a laptop and an aux cable, and sang two songs while the sound person looked on, visibly disappointed with the mix. One song was called Seven Years, and the other eventually became Tokyo (originally recorded with a surreal, terrible faux-American accent, an inexplicably weird creative decision on my part which led to re-recording a lot of vocals early on). Nic came and watched, for some reason saw something in it, and introduced me to Josh and Ony (Andrei, our producer extraordinaire). And that was it.
Beginnings & Endings was the start of a ton of creative projects. The Beginnings & Endings Project encouraged sharing the album to get it free, and Tweetflight was Twitter-karaoke for the lead single (which is still the only truly original great idea I've ever had). It opened a ton of doors for us, introduced us to Ceres, Japanese Wallpaper, Tim Shiel, Gotye, some of our earliest and biggest supporters. Renee Anderson sang on Fox, Simon Lam sang on Tea, Marcus Franco played sax across the album. People like Tim Lucas and John Barton helped build all the little projects, Glen Maddern basically masterminded all of them. Will Dayble stepped in to help promote it in ways we couldn't have imagined, like through The Pirate Bay. Samara Clifford took incredible photos of us, and got on board with every ridiculous thought we ever had. James Seymour and We The People supported us at the launch, and after. The album introduced us to a million bands, artists, DJ's, producers, sound people, radio hosts, bar staff and agents across the Melbourne music scene. It got us a publishing contract. It felt unreal. It still does.
Aside: I am 100% aware that I will have missed so many people from the list above, so it is by no means definitive or exhaustive. Thank you to everyone single person who was a part of it.
As the anniversary approached, I started collating all the reviews, features, interviews and media, tripping down memory lane. I was an archivist possessed. It felt important, like saving a little piece of ourselves. I trawled through our history, reliving it, disecting it, and collected it here—so much of that time already feels like a distant memory.
Looking back I think we were optimstic and excited, and maybe a little different, at a time when music press was celebrated for being cynical and jaded. Vice Magazine had made hating things cool, and on reflection, I was deeply naive about how to navigate that side of the business (which is, for better or worse, necessary). I worried too much about what music press thought, and we'd pore over reviews, giving them too much energy. I still remember when Beat Magazine described Preflight Nerves as "An odd mix of glitch and folk pop sung in a very pronounced Australian accent. The vocals are strong and vaguely queer, with a tremulous, melodramatic edge that is heightened by the flickering, warping instrumental samples. Interesting. Certainly pretty original." To this day, I still don't really know if they liked it. (And in 2012, callng something queer in the mainstream press had a significantly different connotation than it does now.)
With that said, I think the thing I'm proudest of is the way this record, and Brightly generally, brought people together. All these wildly imaginative creative weirdos, coming up with silly ideas and collaborating to make them a reality. It's one of the times in my life where I've felt like a group of people were truly greater than the sum of their parts.
To everyone who took the time to listen, share, review, and participate, thank you. It was an incredible thing to have made, and I'm so grateful we got to make it.
So here we are, ten years on. To celebrate this milestone, I'm releasing all of Brightly's music for free. You can grab it on Bandcamp, or you can get all the original WAV files, if you'd prefer something more lossless.
You can also find all the music on all the streaming services.
I've also gone through and released all of the code behind our interactive music videos, open source. I've tried, where possible, to make them work on modern devices, and to make it easier to fork them and create your own. You can learn more about each individual project here.
I am, if possible, more proud of Beginnings & Endings now than I was then, and it's the people who love it that make that possible. Brightly went on to make another two albums and an EP, and it's by no means over, but for now that is its legacy. Thank you again for being a part of it.