How One Musician Creates Beautiful Music From Broken Sounds
It’s not every day an artist says you probably won’t love their music the first time around. But Brielle Goheen is more than just an artist – she’s a composer, a writer, a musician, and a visionary.
By Stefani Soliman
Her latest project, Calcedon, grew out of the desire to play aloud the complex, sometimes discordant music she heard in her head. As a classically trained pianist, violinist, vocalist, and freelance musician by trade, Brielle was accustomed to playing others’ compositions. In 2015 she met Ian Koiter, a musician and producer, and as they talked about collaborating in the electronic genre, they realized the orchestrations they imagined could be brought to life. “There are so many possibilities,” says Brielle, “you can make the production so big, but at the same time you’re able to execute it with only a few people.”
As their music began to take shape, Brielle and Ian set to work making the best album they could, with all the sounds, shapes, and layers they could create. The name Calcedon, a faulted vein that runs through a gemstone, was inspired by the concept of kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold to make it stronger, more beautiful, and more valuable than before. “The music is a juxtaposition of beautiful elements and gritty, harsh elements,” explains Brielle. “Calcedon fit what the music was about – the interplay of light and dark, beauty and ugliness. “
Brielle continued this theme in the music video for her first single, Sparrow. The video, featuring Hamilton entrepreneur and lingerie designer Rosalie Loney, helps to visualize kintsugi. Directed by another local, David Schuurman, it illustrates both the literal pottery being repaired with gold, but also the protagonist as a statue repairing herself as a work of human kintsugi.
Continuing to bridge genres, Brielle commissioned Evan MacAlpine to create the album art for the debut, Echo In. A combination of Art Deco shapes and meaningful images, it is based on a sculpture by Francisco Salamone depicting the angel Michael looking both kind and stern, depending on the angle of the viewer. This cover further reflects Brielle’s intention for the album’s intricate and obscure sound. She says, “The album art is evocative of the sound of the music – layered and textured.”
The sound of Calcedon comes from Brielle’s appreciation of 20th century classical music – the love of new sounds and innovating, instead of simply using traditional sounds and structures. As she developed the record, she realized her favourite music is the kind she doesn’t always like initially, but as it plays more, each layer emerges. Shostakovich is one of Brielle’s favourite classical composers because of his complex, yet immediately intriguing compositions. Calcedon is not pop music that’s easily digestible – it’s music that requires the audience to listen several times, and with each replay, understand it and appreciate more. “I’m creating music that appeals to the classical and electronic music fans,” says Brielle. “They’re used to having to chew through their music, instead of having it melt in their mouth.”
Brielle expects a lot of people may not initially enjoy the boundaries pushed on album. Her advice? “Listen to the album in the order it’s recorded, as it’s arranged from most accessible to most complex. Listen until you can’t anymore, turn it off, and then try again later.”
That said, the album has more than a few fans. Her CD release show was sold out, and Sparrow was featured on CBC’s 3 New Ontario Songs You Need to Hear This Week. Before Calcedon had ever performed live, Brielle was also awarded grants from both the Ontario Arts Council (based on artistic value) and FACTOR (based on an album’s marketability).