By Brian Grimmett
Issuing forth blissful yet melancholic sounds aimed at capturing the complexities of the human experience, Brianna Tam is an intriguing artist who has made a name for herself with a successful track record in composition and soundtrack work. With extensive experience in classical as well as live looping electric cello work, she has synthesized a unique style that pulls on the heart as much as the mind. The constant exploration of meaning, expression, and communication via the medium of music has created a rich tapestry, fully showcasing the fusion of creativity and skill that form the heart of her style.
“I started cello at eight-years old and pursued the classical route; however, I also had a strong desire to engage with everything from heavy metal to pop, as well as soundtrack music,” reveals Tam. “I loved arranging music, and I had a keen interest in composition, but didn’t feel qualified/knowledgeable enough yet.”
“Later, I got into a prestigious classical music college (a “conservatory”), and was depressed by the competitiveness and narrow-mindedness – people seemed to have forgotten their initial purpose, which was presumably their love for music. I dropped out my second year, and moved to North Carolina in search of a more meaningful path. I loved music when I felt enveloped in it, and I wanted to be able to literally create worlds on my own, but didn’t know how.”
It was this search for originality and meaning that eventually led her to the discovery which would significantly impact her artistic direction. “Coming across a loop station was a game changer,” she explains. “With this, I found I could play all of the parts to a piece, and build it up as much as I wanted to. Using that, and my electric cello, I began learning how to build my own worlds using music. This freedom also opened the gateways for my desire to compose.”
“Music is the language in which I express myself and communicate with others,” states the composer. “It’s my way of telling stories and building worlds. It makes me feel whole in a way that nothing else has been able to match: Story-telling, cinematic, inspiring, evocative, engulfing, authentic are some of the many elements I seek in my compositions. I only use the cello, but use it to its fullest extent; thus resulting in works that sound like a full ensemble.”.
The tumultuous pacing of life ended up being a large influence on the development and sound of her upcoming track. “Bioluminescence was a term used in a conversation I had in November 2021,” notes Tam. “This conversation alone sent me on a journey towards facing myself, and finally embracing life. This includes everything from incredibly beautiful to astonishingly painful moments. 2022 has definitely been the most challenging, but also amazing year of my life.”
This phrase opened a wormhole of an adventure for the artist, leading to a deep journey into the meanings and answers she has always sought. “When I titled the piece Bioluminescence, I mostly gave it that name as an ode to that conversation, but I didn’t think much of the meaning of the word. Through my soul-searching, I realized that nothing in the outside world was going to fulfill me completely, and I had to turn inwards for happiness. That’s when it dawned on me that the term bioluminescence is used to describe creatures that produce light from within, particularly in darkness, and that’s exactly what the universe was trying to teach me.”
Opening with intensely lush orchestration, Bioluminescence wastes no time in quickly building an epic world of sound. The tension which slowly builds as the song progresses carries you along like a relaxing river; meanwhile, the intricate melodic work takes you on an expansive trip through the song’s landscape, evoking a sense of traveling from the greatest heights to the farthest depths of the soul. As the song seems to fade in the mid section, there is no preparation for the gradual climb to the overwhelming end section that leaves you breathless. There is no denying the emotive power held in this song, or the manner in which it leaves a lasting impression.
All in all, the entire experience has been especially life affirming for Brianna:
“I’m a big believer that we must visualize and feel the state of our wishes fulfilled in order to set the mind on the right path to realize them,” observes the cellist. “Music speaks more to me than visuals, and so Bioluminescence is my depiction of what perfect happiness and wholeness feels like to me. It helps keep me on track and remind me of where I want to end up. In short, my favorite aspect is that Bioluminescence uplifts me and always brings me back on to the right path, no matter how lost I am. We are the cause, and the world is the effect, not the other way around. We must bring our reality and happiness to us from within, rather than chasing and searching for it elsewhere.”
Available for streaming now on all of your favorite platforms, this is an exquisite journey into the heart and mind you do not want to miss!