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The Brendan Eder Ensemble makes chamber music for rock clubs

Brendan Eder (center, with drum sticks) fronts the Brendan Eder Ensemble.
Brendan Eder (center, with drum sticks) fronts the Brendan Eder Ensemble.
David Romo

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Brendan Eder is a drummer, composer and a Los Angeles native. Through his group, the Brendan Eder Ensemble, he makes instrumental music with drums, bass, saxophones, clarinets, bassoons and more.

It's a combination of classical instrumentation and pop composition you'd see in artists like Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Maher Shalal Hash Baz, and Arthur Russell. Here's the video to "Vamp," the single off Eder's new record:


The ensemble's self-titled debut is out now. Eder talked with Off-Ramp about the band's creative process.

On composing music for the ensemble

I typically compose on a melodica. Maybe just a simple riff repeating, and then imagining another voice on top and just jotting it down. Or sometimes I'll use voice notes on my phone. You kind of use a linear approach to writing music as opposed to having a form or anything in mind. So the piece doesn't really repeat itself it just kind of flows into different movements freely. 

Lately I've been experimenting more with sampling. A lot of the music that inspires me is sample-based music. So I've been sampling music like classical or jazz or whatever and finding little samples I like, and then transcribing that to paper and then spitting it back into the ensemble and refining it and building off of someone else's idea. 

On bringing composed songs to life


It's really rewarding after you spend a ton of time notating, writing music, when you hear it actually performed by musicians. It's pretty amazing. It also can be shocking and not work, and sometimes you gotta just move on. There was a lot of work that went into the music of the ensemble before it existed — probably 3 or 4 months of writing music before I heard it performed by anyone.

It was great to hear people's reactions, too. I remember the bassoonist was like "Oh, I never felt cooler playing bassoon!" And I was like "I'm on to something here." 

On performing live with woodwinds

I really enjoy playing at rock venues. It's a little challenging sometimes to get good sounds. Lately we've been having pretty good luck, got a bassoon pickup installed in the regular bassoonist's bocal piece. I feel probably more connected to the indie kind of local music scene than the classical music scene, or jazz. 

The Brendan Eder Ensemble is performing live at the Hi-Hat in Highland Park on Friday, April 22. Check out the event page for more info.