Portamento is the indie pop project of San Bernardino musician Brent Murphy. I sat down with him to talk about his creative process, his upcoming single “That Night,” and what he’s looking forward to most in 2020.
When did you start making music?
Probably around three. I kinda always knew that music is what I want to do. I wasn’t really athletic because of breathing problems. I started playing instruments when I was 8 and started writing music when I was 12. Ever since then I’ve just kept writing music.
Who or what inspires you to make music?
Honestly, the people who go to shows are who inspire me to keep making music. Before I was just making music off of people I listen to and stuff. I remember one of the first house shows I played, someone came up to me after the set. No one knew who I was, I had only played like one show before that, and a guy came up to me and told me he had the worst week of his life and that if it wasn’t for my music that he wouldn’t have even come to the show.
What is your songwriting process like?
I play 5 instruments and I write and record everything myself. When I first started writing, I would write and record all of the music first and then I would just come up with lyrics on the spot or write down like three lines and record it that way. Lately, I’ll just sit in my room with a guitar or keyboard and I go based off of the lyrics now. It used to be very basic lyrically, so I’m trying to expand and actually think of what I’m writing than coming up with something on the fly.
Is Portamento more of a solo project or do you consider it to be a full band?
When I play live, there’s three of us. It’s me playing guitar, my friend Johnny playing bass and Brian playing drums. But it’s always been a solo project since I first started writing under the name Portamento. After this release, it’ll officially be a duo. Me and my friend Johnny will be writing together and recording together. But for the most part it’s just been me.
Are you nervous to add someone to the band?
As far as Johnny being another part of the actual band, writing and recording with me and stuff, I’m a little nervous just because it’s always been me for the past 5 years. But at the end of the day, we work well together. We’re also starting a record label together so that’ll help too. He’s already been helping record some of the stuff I’ve been putting out so I know how he works and he knows how I work.
Why did you choose the name Portamento?
One of my favorite bands is The Drums and they have an album called Portamento. I didn’t even know that word existed until listening to that album. I looked up what it meant and it means “from one swift note to another.” So my freshman year I thought “whoa, that kinda just describes everything I’m trying to go for. The name was going to be called The Flood because I loved the Neighbourhood, but I decided that Portamento was the way to go.
Can you describe your upcoming single “That Night” in one word?
Depressing. Well, depressing for me I guess, other people really like it. I wrote it for my ex and she just broke up with me. It was going to be a year this month, which is why I was going to release it this month as an anniversary present. So now it’s just being released to get out.
What artists have you been listening to lately?
I have to get my phone out for this one, there’s so many. I’ve been listening to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye, like a lot. The Neighbourhood just dropped a new song. I’ve been listening to Harry Styles. HUNNY is one of my favorite bands so I’m always listening to them. The 1975, they’re the best. I think that’s it.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
I would love to play with HUNNY. As far as recording collab, maybe with Hate Drugs, would be pretty cool. I’d like to play shows with a lot of people. Sola Luna is pretty cool too, they’re one of my faves right now. Or Eli from Daise.
If Portamento was a cover band, what artist would you cover and what would you call the band?
Oh man. Maybe something random like Pale Waves, except the guy-version of Pale Waves. I don’t even know what I’d call it because I’m already pale and I couldn’t change the name.
If you were a Drums cover band you wouldn’t even have to change your name.
That is very true. I should have thought of that. Maybe HUNNY but I’d call it Honey.
What are you looking forward to most in the coming year for Portamento?
Releasing more music. I released a single at the beginning of this year and now I’m releasing this one at the end of the year, so probably just releasing more frequently. I really want to tour, I’d love to tour with Hate Drugs. Looking forward to playing more shows and getting more exposure.
Anything else you want to add?
Since I’m really sad over my breakup, remember that you’ll be okay eventually. Maybe not right now, but eventually.