Set 15 | Broke String Burnett
Making the transition from working 9 to 5 to becoming a full-time musician is a bold move to make. Especially when considering that there’s a certain level of faith and trust you have to have in yourself, to believe that your talent will take you where you want to go. It’s so easy to slip into the schedule afforded by security - to put off, day after day, the desire to pursue your passions. After some time of being equally displeased with their day jobs, Brandon and Jessica decided early this year that they would both quit their jobs to pursue music together. “Sure, I can play shows by myself,” Brandon says, “but we’re a duo. That’s what we do. It doesn’t feel complete without Jessica singing. I don’t even like playing songs if it’s just me.” Jessica adds to this sentiment, “exactly, because how old am I going to be when I finally decide oh I should have done that a long time ago.” It’s no wonder Brandon and Jessica feel their music is incomplete when one or the other is missing – the two have been playing music together just shy of ten years. Though they met in high school, they didn’t begin a romantic relationship until after graduation. They began to frequent an open mic in Burleson under the name, The Phantom Sensation, a name that would stick with them until present day. Brandon describes the origin of the name, “The idea of the Phantom Sensation is itself an amputee that still feels like their limb is there. I like the symbolism in that how physical things connect to the subconscious and just your mind and what is supposed to be there.”
The Phantom Sensation eventually evolved into a full-band project quite separate from the music they create as a duo, which lends itself to the Southern Gothic, folk tradition. With Broke String Burnett, “it’s kind of like the whole thing that we were talking about before, where we just get to focus on us for a minute,” Jessica tells me. The style and emotion of the songs they write together embraces a dark, somber tone in which the lyrics are heavily steeped in story telling and folklore. This is adequately represented in the songs that they’ve chosen to include on their upcoming album tentatively titled, Blood Gold, which they are currently in the process of recording at Cloudland Recording Studio in Fort Worth. “We wanted it to all be concept stuff… pretty much every song is a different kind of morality question,” Brandon explains, “the morality of it all, the story is a tragedy.” The lyrical content of their songs derive from a variety of stories, myths, and folklore leading to the creation of songs like St. Anthony’s Fire, which conveys the experience of “dancing fever” or “dancing mania” a phenomenon said to be the result of long-term poisoning from Ergot, a fungus that grows on rye, and other related plants. In accounts of the occurrence from the Middle Ages through the 17th century during the Salem Witch Trials of colonial Massachusetts, there were reports of possessions and hallucinations, people falling under the spell of demons, dancing until they finally collapsed from exhaustion. Tales of dark times, such as these, are reflected in their songs giving them depth, drawing you in word by word, in a melancholy melody. Creating a dark atmosphere is precisely what Brandon and Jessica are trying to accomplish in the studio, leading them to make a conscious decision to eliminate love songs from their record. “We have a song called The Hangman that we wrote and that song I feel like really gets the feeling of what we’re doing with Blood Gold,” Jessica concludes. When they’re not in the studio, you can find Broke String Burnett at a variety of different venues in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Their next show will be at Even Stevens off 75 in Richardson on November 16th at 6pm.