Nuts + Berries
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Nuts + Berries


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""One of the gutsiest performers around...""

This project has all the hallmarks of something conceived alone in someone's bedroom. And on stage, Brad Turner solo with his laptop is hardly the stuff of which rock-and-roll legends are made. But anyone with the nerve to get on stage in the first place knows it takes guts to get up in front of people even with just an acoustic guitar. That fact makes Turner, who performs under the name Nuts & Berries (and who will be at the Larimer Lounge on Wednesday, December 17) one of the gutsiest performers around. And yet guts are rarely enough to make a songwriter worthwhile. Fortunately, Turner's lush, delicate yet powerful electro-pop songs strike a fresh chord in the crowded realm of singer-songwriters. His spare voice is surprisingly melodious and affecting, and comparing him to anyone else seems inappropriate. Nonetheless, fans of Gary Numan and Laurie Anderson will appreciate his techno-organic soundscaping. - Westword, Denver, Dec 2008

""a dizzying array of electronic sounds ... which complement his vocals...""

Brad Turner, the man behind Nuts and Berries, closed out the night with his laptop. While there’s elements of electro-pop in his sound, that description doesn’t do the guy and his fascinating music justice. Turners songs were rich and diverse and recalled the quieter side of Depeche Mode and Erasure, if not in sound, definitely in structure. Over the course of his set, Turner employed a dizzying array of electronic sounds that provide percussive layers of texture, which complement his vocals. Turner can sing. He doesn’t fake it or try to make inept singing interesting; last night he was solid and so was his set.

-- Tom Murphy

Random Detail: A lot of people seemed to show up for the Nuts and Berries set. - Westword, Denver, Aug. 2008

"Nuts + Berries: Changing the way we hear rock/pop"

It's hard to believe that a classic music album not only went platinum (sold over 500,000 copies) but was on Billboard's Top 40 for 17 weeks and in the Top 200 for more than a year. Switched On Bach was released in 1968 and unlike the pianos and violins that instantly pop into your mind when you think of classical music, this album was a collection of Johann Sebastian Bach's pieces performed by Walter Carlos using Moog synthesizer. That's right, it was Bach electrified.

And that's exactly what Brad Turner, the sole member of Nuts + Berries, is doing; he's electronically reinterpreting rock/pop. Now don't confuse Turner for a DJ. This CU Boulder alum has a double major in Music and Journalism as well as a certificate in Electronic Music. He's delved deep into the original experiments with tape (when tape was a new invention), avant garde music from the 1920s , and some of the more contemporary electronic albums that have hugely influenced the genre and technology. This vast knowledge that Turner has attained in his musical field is clearly evident on the Nuts + Berries' self-titled EP (available on iTunes and Amazon).

While Turner does play bass guitar in a more traditional band setting with The Bedsit Infamy, he explains how the software (Ableton Live) he uses becomes a part of the two-way creative process: "The weird thing about the software is not only can I mess with it, push and pull the sounds, but when I do that it's almost like having a collaborator. It's almost what you would want if you were in a band with a good musician. You would want them to do strange things with the songs or interesting thing and make it sound cooler." Turner throws his own vocals into the mix adding a human element to his electronic symphony

Turner's composing process takes on multiple dimensions as what he creates with the computer magically transforms into something beyond what he originally intended for the song, "There are things I would think of when I was writing the basic song, like the chords and the melody, but then I'll flip some knobs on the computer and it'll change the song completely, in ways you don't anticipate."

To hear Turner talk about his work, his endless passion and unyielding fascination bring life to this half-human, half-robot musical lovechild, "I love it. It's a very strange way to do things. It's everything I would want out of a band."

Catch the man and his laptop this Thursday, February 12 at the Larimer Lounge or Thursday, March 19 at Meadowlark.

--Alli Sands, Denver Indie Rock Examiner -, Denver, February 2009

"'Unique fun sounds that will entertain fans for hours'"

Our next super spotlight comes from the musical concept known as Nuts + Berries. Singer/Songwriter Brad Turner, Nuts + Berries, has enlisted his trusty laptop to create unique fun sounds that will entertain fans for hours. Brad comes clean about his music and his unique vision in this ultra cool spotlight.

Isaac: How do you sum up 2008 for Nuts + Berries?

Nuts + Berries: I think I accomplished a lot. In a few months, Nuts + Berries went from a pipe dream to an act that played shows and recorded an EP and had its own logo. In January 2008, I hadn't done anything with my own songs in years. I had written pieces of maybe 10 songs on the guitar and the computer and had no real plans to do anything with them.

But I stumbled onto some software called Ableton Live, which is pretty popular, and began playing with it. I learned how to grab individual sounds on a track and make them go crazy, which meant I could use the computer as an instrument live. As I played with it more, I found I could tell the computer to improvise some of the parts -- to play a drum fill at random. This was like collaborating with another musician. I love the idea of that. I'd played in bands with some great musicians and I'd made some rather mechanical music on the computer. This was the perfect hybrid. I thought it was the most exciting music I'd ever made. I spent night after night programming songs and writing lyrics. And I played my first show in July. By the end of the year, I had recorded my debut EP with my friend Billy Armijo.

Isaac: What do you feel was your biggest accomplishment for 2008?

Nuts + Berries: Simply playing that first show felt like a huge step. I had programmed five or six songs when I started looking for shows. I recorded a few demos in a friend's basement, slapped them on my MySpace page and started contacting clubs. I figured even if I got a show booked quickly, I'd still have a month or so to rehearse and flesh out the set list. That's not what happened. James Irvine, who does the booking for the Larimer Lounge here in Denver, responded a day after I requested a show and said he had a singer-songwriter night with an empty slot coming up in eight days and he needed someone to fill it. I took it. Then I spent most of the next week programming furiously, because I needed 10 or 11 songs to do the set. I was so nervous on the night of the show I thought I was going to vomit. But I got on stage and it went pretty well. It was very subdued -- I sat on a chair and set the laptop on a barstool and barely looked up from the screen the whole set because I was still getting used to performing the songs and it took a lot of concentration. But the music went over well, and it gave me a little confidence. And, by pure luck, a writer from Westword, which is Denver's alternative weekly, was at the show. He said some nice things about me. That show could have been a train wreck but it was a great experience.

Isaac: Elaborate on the concept behind Nuts + Berries.

Nuts + Berries: I had been fascinated with Joanna Newsom, who plays this unique folk music on a harp, and Kraftwerk, who more or less invented techno and electropop. I thought there were some common threads there -- they both write infectious melodies, they both sound very cool but not overly polished, and they both seem to create these sort of sonic worlds because their music has a lot of sounds you don't hear every day and their lyrics use a lot of imagery.

I was listening to these two artists as I was starting to program my songs, and they seemed like perfect guideposts. I try to write music that has a strong melody and lyrics that give the listener a sense of place. And I pair that with these rhythmic electronic sounds to try and create this space a listener can crawl into. And I'm singing about my world in Colorado: blizzards, giant malls, ski slopes, forest fires, construction zones on the Interstate.

At the same time, it's really important for me to be able to put on a great live show, because I don't want to put music on a CD and never perform it for anyone. That's what I really love about this. I'm playing loud, melodic songs in clubs that cater to punk and indie music. I'm singing my ass off so it sounds really human and aggressive. The shows are truly live. I'm not just pressing play on iTunes. I'm climbing railings and running around the audience, then racing back to the laptop to tinker with the beats. I get people who come up to me after shows and say, "I can tell you were doing something with your computer up there, but I'm not sure what." And I think that's pretty cool. If someone says that to me, they probably haven't seen anything quite like Nuts + Berries before. The way I explain it is; I'm a little more like a conductor than a traditional musician. The songs are pre-programmed but I'm telling the computer how to twist and crush the sounds. I'm steering the music while I sing over it.

I like using the name "Nuts + Berries" because I want to emphasize that this music is organic. It's not mechanical or cold. Nuts + Berries is also a reference to what I think the rest of the world thinks of Colorado. People think this state is a bunch of mountain man ski bums living in the forest with our animal friends. John Denver made Colorado sound like something out of a fairy tale. It's more complicated than that. There are a lot of beautiful areas here but there are plenty of dull subdivisions and fast food restaurants to go around.

Isaac: Describe the music scene in Boulder County, Colorado.

Nuts + Nuts + Berries: I don't really play shows in Boulder County. It's a lot of funk, reggae and jam bands at the local clubs. I like that stuff but the clubs don't really give me the time of day. The community and college radio stations have been no help at all.

I play most of my shows in Denver, which has a nice, eclectic club scene. When I played a show at the Meadowlark Bar in Denver in March, the lineup was a country duo, followed by an indie dancepunk band, followed by me singing and playing a laptop, followed by a swing band. I like playing clubs like that because it's an anything-goes atmosphere. Denver has its share of lousy bars but there are a lot of cool clubs.

I just played my favorite show ever at the Oriental Theater in Denver. It seats something like 600 people but it was a Thursday night and they just wanted 75 people or so to show up and frequent the bar. The soundman had no CDs so I got to do an impromptu DJ set before the show. For the Nuts + Berries performance, I set up the laptop on the floor of the theater and left the stage to the rock bands on the bill. I was able to dart through the crowd and get people fired up during my set. The interaction felt incredible. I don't know if I'd ever play a set on a stage again. A stage puts you on a pedestal and makes people look at you. I like having to work hard during a set. Being on the floor with the audience forces you to grab their attention.

Isaac: Elaborate a little about whom were your biggest influences in the music industry and why?

Nuts + Berries: My influences are all over the map. I think if there's one that meant the most to me, it's the Talking Heads. I think their songs, taken as a body of work, are as strong as the Beatles and Motown catalogs. Talking Heads made really exciting pop music, and when they had honed their basic sound they went on to work with cool rhythms and synths and country music and African music. Their music can sound slightly demented and very funny, often in the same track. They take ordinary topics and turn them on their ear. Compared to them, most bands' lyrics sound like clichés.

Talking Heads had a basic sound that was entirely their own and they stretched it into as many shapes as they could. And they stopped while they were more or less on top. There are no bad Talking Heads albums. Plus, I like the other things they did to augment the music. They made really unusual videos and strange album art. They made the best concert movie ever, "Stop Making Sense." David Byrne went on to start a music label and do film scoring. That's the kind of variety and career longevity most musicians only dream of.

Any time I feel bored with my music collection I can put on a Talking Heads song and be blown away. They're fascinating on a cerebral level and really moving and fun on a gut level. You can hear echoes of "The Big Country" and "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)" in most Nuts + Berries songs. Not coincidentally, the phrase "nuts and berries" turns up in at least two Talking Heads songs.

Isaac: Let's talk about what you feel you will bring to the music industry?

Nuts + Berries: I don't really think about bringing anything to the music industry at large, because the industry people looking after Kelly Clarkson or Taylor Swift or Coldplay will never in a million years have much interest in a guy singing over a laptop about snowstorms and shopping malls. I'd love to get a fat recording budget and do a big tour but I'm realistic about it. Nuts + Berries is a homespun thing through and through. Almost every aspect of it is done on someone's home computer.

That said; I like to do this because I think computer music is really liberating. You can create any sound you can dream of and build a song out of it. Any sound you can digitize can be warped into something musical. It helps to be a musician but it's certainly not a requirement. Acts like Nuts + Berries, in which someone sings over a laptop sequencer during live shows, are springing up here and there. Animal Collective and Dan Deacon do music in that vein, to name two obvious examples. I think software that allows for such weird live performances is empowering, because not everyone is cut out to make pop music on a guitar or a drum set. If I had a few more pieces of equipment, I could create a band of people with no musical training who just twist knobs and help me steer the music at live shows. I'd love to try that some time.

Isaac: If you had an opportunity to work with one artist or group, who would it be and why?

Nuts + Berries: Probably James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem and DFA Records. I think just about everything DFA Records puts out, especially LCD Soundsystem, is top notch. The songs on DFA records have excellent grooves but they also hit hard. That's not always an easy balance to maintain. And the songs are always a lot of fun. The record they put out last year by Hercules and Love Affair, which was a bunch of songs about mythology set to disco music, was one of the most unusual albums you'll ever hear. It sounds ridiculous when I describe it but it was a really uplifting CD. And Yacht was one of the acts that made me want to do music on the laptop. I saw Yacht open for Vampire Weekend last spring while Vampire Weekend was taking off, and Yacht stole the show. The LCD/DFA idea of having cool grooves while still being a little raw is a big inspiration to me.

Isaac: How would you describe your music to others?

Nuts + Berries: I've been called an electrotroubadour. I've been called laptop punk. It's electronic pop music but it's raw and surprisingly organic. I'm trying to make music that sounds human even though it's built out of low-grade samples and cheap synth sounds. In a weird way, I think the sound quality adds to the humanity of the music. It's like when you hear an old record by Robert Johnson or Hank Williams. Those old records sound extremely rickety because of the primitive equipment used to create them, but the low fidelity adds something really special to the music. I'm trying to find fun and unpredictable ways to duet with a machine.

Isaac: What is your definition for Electronic Music?

Nuts + Berries: Electronic music is such a part of our lives that we take it for granted and try to label different kinds of electronic music as being more authentic than others. An electric guitar is considered more authentic or musical than a drum machine, but you plug both of them in. A jazz CD is considered more organic-sounding than a techno CD, even though they're both ones and zeroes in your CD player. Any of these distinctions break down if you think about it.

As far as electronic music as a genre, I'm woefully ignorant in a lot of respects. I don't know what makes one artist electronic music and makes another fall into another, more traditional category. I don't know house from jungle from IDM. I consider Bjork electronic music but I think a lot of people would call her pop. I think Kraftwerk made some of the greatest electronic music ever, and there weren't really those labels back then. Stevie Wonder used mountains of synthesizers on his albums at about the same time but he was considered R&B or soul music. Daft Punk is probably considered electronica but there are so many live aspects to what they're doing that the word "electronica" seems to undersell the human element of their performances. Their live album is as good as any live album you've ever heard from a rock band.

Isaac: What type of feedback have your received from your debut EP, Orange Leaves, released in February 2009?

Nuts + Berries: From what I can gather, I did what I set out to do. The album is mastered to sound loud, so the beats thump the floor in your house when you play it and the weird nuances in the synth sounds come across. It also has a certain live feel to it, like you're in the room while I'm performing. I used West West Side Music, which mastered albums by Sufjan Stevens and LCD Soundsystem, because I love the organic sound of those albums and I wanted something similar for Nuts + Berries. They hit it out of the park.

I think I'm very lucky in that this music lends itself to a DIY approach. I can create and mix the instrumental sounds on the laptop, and then e-mail the backing tracks to my friend Billy Armijo, who I play with in the indie pop band the Bedsit Infamy. We've released an EP and an LP as Bedsit Infamy (the LP was also mastered by West West Side), and we're now doing our own label called CrazyQuilt Records. Billy is very good in the studio, and he was able to make the vocal sessions for the EP feel spontaneous and fun. That added a lot of warmth to the songs.

People who know me tell me that the songs on the EP sound like me, which is nice. The EP has a song about going back to your hometown and wondering if everyone there was always this messed up, a song about how it's too bad Hallmark doesn't make cards that tell someone to get lost or to grow up, an absurdly dark song about trying to dress well when it doesn't come naturally to you, and a ballad about walking around town in a snowstorm. My friends tell me my best lyrics are the ones where they can't tell whether I'm joking or I'm pissed off. I think I captured that vibe.

Billy heard the final mastered version and looked at the orange cover art his wife Sara designed and he sort of said, "Now I see what you're doing." A debut EP is basically a letter to the world saying this is what you are capable of. I've got better songs up my sleeve but I think I captured the building blocks of Nuts + Berries on the EP.

On a side note, I've gotten comments about how cool it is that I've been able to use emerging music services like Tunecore and Dropcards to distribute my music on my own. I can't quite afford to press proper CDs but I've got my stuff on Amazon and iTunes and it's out there. I'm working to do a physical release, but I got the songs released and I funded it myself. It's really satisfying to see the cover art with Sara Armijo's leaf patterns pop up on my screen when I visit the iTunes store. I buy EPs and singles off iTunes to check out new artists from time to time, and then buy their physical CD when they get around to making an album. I hope people are checking my music out in the same way.

Isaac: Where can fans locate you at online?

Nuts + Berries: I have a MySpace site, I also keep a blog at And I have a fan page on Facebook. The EP is on iTunes and Amazon and a lot of other online music retailers. I also turn up at the Bedsit Infamy's MySpace page from time to time:

Isaac: What can fans expect from Nuts + Berries in 2009?

Nuts + Berries: Better shows and hopefully an LP. I'm singing better during the shows. I'm interacting with the audience. I know how to build intensity over a 45-minute set and I'm a lot more comfortable onstage. Also, I've got 12 or 14 new songs written and I'm getting ready to record them. And these songs are really different than the stuff on the EP. I think I've honed the Nuts + Berries sound quite a bit in the last six months.

Isaac: Time for some shout outs to your family, friends, and fans?

Nuts + Berries: Hello to my wife Kim, who is very encouraging and tolerates me when I'm up at 2 in the morning testing out new beats down the hall from our bedroom. A lot of our conversations end up as fodder for Nuts + Berries lyrics.

Hello to Billy Armijo and Ian Scholfield, my bandmates in the Bedsit Infamy. They're fine musicians, smart guys and loyal Nuts + Berries supporters. I love playing the bass with Bedsit and can't wait for people to hear our new songs. Billy gets a double shout-out for being such a wizard in the recording studio.

Hello to Sara Armijo, who created the cover of the Nuts + Berries EP and designs the fliers. Sara and I had a brief conversation about how a Nuts + Berries cover should look sporty and fun, like a sneaker box or a cereal box, and she took it and did something very distinctive with it. She's also been to every Nuts + Berries show, and I'm the only other person who can say that.

Hello to Matt Christian of Hideaway Folk Family, who helped me figure out how to take Nuts + Berries from a vague idea for some quirky songs to a live act with its own sound.

And hello to my parents, who were always very supportive when I was playing music as I was growing up. I think they probably prefer the rock bands I played in as a teenager to the Nuts + Berries sound, but they've been enthusiastic nonetheless.

Isaac: Final words from Nuts + Berries?

Nuts + Berries: I'm having a great time making music under the Nuts + Berries moniker. Even if I never find a manager to promote me or a record label to distribute me, I'll be able to use online music services to sell and distribute my tracks and book live shows on Sonicbids. This is an exciting time for smaller music acts. I couldn't have done Nuts + Berries 10 years ago because the software technology didn't really exist. But I also couldn't have self-released my music in any format 10 years ago because it would have been cost-prohibitive. Nuts + Berries may never become my day job, but there isn't much stopping me from releasing one album. Or 10 albums, for that matter.

-- Isaac Davis Jr.
Juniors Cave
May 2009 - Isaac Davis Jr., Juniors Cave


Nuts + Berries (Orange Leaves EP) - Four-song EP released February 2009.



Nuts + Berries is singer-songwriter Brad Turner and his trusty laptop. Melding the analog grooves of Kraftwerk and Laurie Anderson with lyrics and melodies inspired by Morrissey and Hank Williams, Turner builds digital soundscapes out of the snowstorms, department stores and obnoxious townies that litter his world. Beats crackle, synth basses bounce, and organic computer harmonies wash over the listener while Turner's baritone cuts through the mix. It's equal parts avant-garde and three-minute pop tunes. That Turner's able to perform the songs live during Nuts + Berries' electrifying club shows (which find him crunching beats on the computer keyboard, running into the audience and hanging from the rafters while singing -- sometimes during a single song) makes the music all the more impressive.

"One of the gutsiest performers around. ... Turner's lush, delicate yet powerful electro-pop songs strike a fresh chord in the crowded realm of singer-songwriters. His spare voice is surprisingly melodious and affecting, and comparing him to anyone else seems inappropriate." (Tom Murphy, Denver Westword)

Based in Boulder County, Colorado.

Sounds similar to: Kraftwerk, Hot Chip, Depeche Mode, Bjork, Dan Deacon, Animal Collective