Many around New Orleans know him as the funky Dino Brawl, but in the world of music composition, he’s known as Austin Thompson the composer making waves with the first-ever electronic percussion composition for music education. He already has two composition publications under his belt and was influenced to merge his two musical passions by creating a piece specific to electronic music.
We took a little time to talk with the multi-faceted musician on his new publication and his upcoming show River Beats presents Manic Focus (LIVE) + Marvel Years, & Daily Bread.
What influenced you to work on an EDM percussion piece?
“I have been wanting to do something like this for a while. In today’s world, you can do anything you want with percussion.
I have played everything from drums and keyboard instruments to even wine glasses and branches and leaves. Sample pads to trigger electronic sounds and patches in all music is more and more common these days and I think more percussion will begin to feature electronic elements.”
How is this piece different from your other percussion works?
“My other two published pieces are standard percussion ensemble pieces. They incorporate instruments that can be found in almost any band room. Hidden Village is designed for Middle School percussionist and Drifting in Time is designed for High Schoolers. Each of those pieces is used in education, but this new one has some added layers. The 6 parts can be played as solos or together as an ensemble piece. They can also be played in any combination depending on how many people you have. The electronic track adds enough layers to compliment any number of percussionists.
Each of those pieces is used in education, but this new one has some added layers. The 6 parts can be played as solos or together as an ensemble piece. They can also be played in any combination depending on how many people you have. The electronic track adds enough layers to compliment any number of percussionists.”
What is the process for creating a percussion piece?
“When you are writing a percussion piece there are a lot more limitations. The difficulty of the parts and the instruments you use affect the accessibility of your piece. I am also typically designing pieces for education or purely for artistic expression.”
How is it different from your creative process as Dino Brawl?
“Dino Brawl is a lot more about the audience. I am playing music I love but I also want them to have a good time with this.
My work as a composer is designed to challenge the audience or the performer, but my work as a producer and a DJ is to create an enjoyable environment for as many people as possible. This new work is still a challenge to the performer, but it is also a lot of fun.”
How does being a composer play into other aspects of your music?
“Everything I do in music allows me to look at music and life from different perspectives. I work as a teacher, a performer, a promoter, and a composer all within music. I’m grateful for all of those outlets because I get to use music to connect with a wide demographic of people and learn from all of them.”
What does it feel like to be putting out something that has never been done before?
“It’s extremely nerve-wracking. You have nothing to compare it to and you have no idea how it will be received.
My move towards electronic music from classical music was certainly laughed at by some, but I feel this combination of styles and elements is really exciting, The track is fun to play along to and listen to, but at the same time, it’s creating an incredible environment for students to push themselves and learn.”
You’ve incorporated a lot of live aspects into your Dino Brawl performances, why is that important to you? What do you feel it adds?
“It’s important to me because it keeps things fresh for me and the audience. In some ways, It can make me limited because I am choosing tracks the band knows or we have played before, but they are always adding something new to it.
I am also constantly using new members. I don’t think I have ever had the exact same lineup twice. I love that it allows for solos and huge harmonic sections from the trombone and the synth can add these massive bass patches. solos and harmonies as well.”
You’re set to play the upcoming Manic Focus show, are you planning anything special?
“I’m very excited to have my friends, John Mann and Nick Garrison playing with me. John plays synth and he is there for most of my shows, but Nick is on the road a lot and he’s not always in town. This is my core band and we always have amazing shows together. I lived with both of them for years so playing music together is second nature.
I am also excited because this lineup is a dream come true.
I’ve played a few shows with Daily Bread and it has been amazing watching him blow up. It is my second show with Manic but my first with the band and I am so stoked to finally see Marvel Years. I have loved his music for years. I also love working with River Beats. This will be our third show together.”
How would you describe the show in one word?
Catch Dino Brawl opening for River Beats presents Manic Focus (LIVE) with Special Guest Russ Liquid + Marvel Years + Daily Bread on April 27 at Republic NOLA. Snag your tickets here.