Brandy Zdan: The Inspiration and Supergroup Behind Sophomore Album Secretear

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Nashville-based artist Brandy Zdan will release her sophomore album Secretear – a Spanish word for a confidential conversation or secret – on May 11 on Tallest Man Records. Joining Zdan on the album are Aaron Haynes (The Texas Gentlemen) on drums, Tom Blankenship (My Morning Jacket) on bass, and Carl Broemel on pedal steel and guitar.

Cover Photo by Alysse Gafkjan

Originally from Canada where she was performing with the gothic folk/roots duo Twilight Hotel, Zdan moved to Austin where she joined the all-female band, The Trishas, playing lead guitar and utility player (lap steel, accordion).

Now in Nashville and pursuing a solo career, Zdan has taken the time for self-discovery and written what she refers to as a collection of “unconventional” love songs that rock. For Secretear, she writes of past relationships which can be heard in songs “Get To You” and “The Ones” and of present relationships with her husband in “I Want Your Trouble” and “Be The One”). As for strengthening her love for herself, stay tuned for “Secret Tears” and “I Will.”

In a recent press release regarding the album, Zdan opens up about being able to make an album with the people she loves most. “It’s hard to find people who get it and don’t hold you back,” she says. “They let you shine through it.”


For Zdan, getting to the other side was the most satisfying part of the whole process. “These songs made me work harder than I’ve ever had to before,” she divulges. “We were doing so many takes to get the right feel. These songs have a lot of energy, and you want that energy to come across.” During the first week of tracking, the singer-songwriter blew out her voice and rubbed her fingers raw playing guitar. “I went through creative exhaustion and back again,” she admits. “The songs made me give everything I had, and I think that’s how it should be. You can’t be safe; you’ve gotta take creative chances and go where it’s gonna take you, then reassess later.”

Zdan recently took the time to fill us in on her inspiration behind the new album and her passion and obsession for her music.

The official music video for your single “I Want Your Trouble” was just released with a very cool MTV era inspired vibe. Tell us about the inspiration behind the video and the single.

The song was inspired by a text message from my husband. We were in the courting stages and he would send me killer one sentence texts that I would turn into songs. He’s my secret weapon. The song is really about not giving a f**k and just diving into something no matter the outcome. Sometimes you just gotta do that. No great gain without great risk!

I wanted to get a real live performance vibe incorporating bright colors and lighting and projections. It’s tough but fun and really gives people an idea of who I am. Alysse Gafkjen, the director, also did the photos for the album. She’s an amazing artist and nailed it. We shot this in a marathon five hours one afternoon. My neck hurt from all the hair flips.

Now the single is from your sophomore album Secretear which is due out in May which you co-produced with Teddy Morgan. Can you share with our readers what they can expect to hear on the album and the writing and recording process?

Sonically, there are many nods to late ‘70s rock n roll, Blondie, The Cars, etc., but also a sonic layering of guitar inspired by my favorite, Daniel Lanois, as you can hear in “Navigator” and “Night Rider.” It’s a rock record but it’s more, it’s a record of songs, if you know what I mean, and some go together and some don’t. I think diversity is an asset and I like the ebb and flow of the songs on this one.

This album is kind of a non-typical love song album. There’s a lot of messages/reminders within the songs to myself, especially in the song “Secret Tears.” It’s an album about love and self-love and generally just coming to terms with who you are which we all have to do.

Accompanying you on the new album is your husband Aaron Haynes (The Texas Gentlemen) on drums, Tom Blankenship (My Morning Jacket) on bass, and Carl Broemel on pedal steel and guitar. How did this collaboration form?

The mark of a great producer is who they bring in to play ‘cause they know they will do what’s right for the song. Teddy brought in Carl and Tom and I brought in Aaron. We luckily formed a kind of supergroup band on this record without even intending to. I love all of these musicians dearly and they are all at the top of their game.

I read somewhere that you put so much into this album that you blew out your voice and ran your fingers raw the first week of recording. You’re obviously very passionate about this project. What do you want people to take away from this album?

To do this crazy thing called music and make a career out of it, one must be passionate and be obsessed. If someone says otherwise they are lying. Yes, this is my art, and yes, I’m passionate. You can do all the prep in the world leading up to recording, but you never know how the songs will come out or how they will come out of you. I play flat round 12s on my tele and when you do 25 or more takes of a song with all bar chords, your hand just starts to not work.

These songs also did not lend themselves to recording the guitar and vocals at the same time which I prefer to do. Gotta be ready and willing to change up the approach as you go. That’s one of the exciting and challenging parts of recording.

I hope the energy and sonic vision come across to the listeners as well as the different kind of love songs that exist within the record.

Speaking of raw fingers, I understand you used quite a few guitars on the recording of this new album. Can you give us the rundown?

To my surprise, I ended up only using my main go-to Gamble Guitar Works tele for all the main guitar tracking. While we had almost every kind at our literal fingertips, it always came back to the tele through the Princeton Reverb which is my main classic “go to” rock guitar sound. Teddy used a couple other guitars, a strat on “Night Rider” and an Epiphone Wildcat for the crazy fuzzed solo in “I Will.”

Just finishing up a few shows this month, will there be a tour supporting the release of Secretear?

There will be much touring and I look forward to hitting up the USA and soon overseas in the UK and Europe!

Check out more on Brandy Zdan and her music HERE.


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