D. Anson Brody pretty much lives and breathes creative energy. His plan, such as it was, to make and perform music on his own terms grew out of a few ballsy left turns that uncovered some exciting paths. Unfortunately, they also took him to some sketchy destinations.
A native of Fort Bend, Indiana, Brody was classically trained in bass as a child and is a virtuoso at pretty much anything with strings. He gave up a promising orchestral career for folk music, hitting the road and sharing stages with acts as diverse as Guy Forsyth and Days of the New. Known for a style built on percussive, dynamic rhythms and inventive tunings and melodies, Brody has always trusted his muse – at least until he became ill.
Now in his 30s, Brody said that his musical journey began as a choice to commit himself to music no matter what.
“I got in the car and left everything else behind,” he said. “I started driving all over the country playing my songs with gusto but no real plan. … It was unbridled optimism.”
That trip lasted two years until his car crapped out, after which he joined a coast-to-coast walking tour that started in Malibu, California.
“I had to bail by the time the group got to Kansas because I was completely broke,” he said.
After the walking tour, he spent some time crashing with friends in Fort Worth. He started playing more money gigs, which kept him afloat, but they were ultimately unsatisfying – he booked fewer of them. By then he had acquired a replacement car, and he took to living in his ride once more. But that car eventually failed him, too.
“I needed a base camp to make repairs, so I got it limping to a warehouse that I knew would be empty,” he said.
Because he isn’t proud of what amounts to breaking-and-entering, Brody won’t say where in Fort Worth the warehouse is, but he ended up squatting there for about two months in the winter of 2014, during which he plumbed the depths of despair, he said. For Brody, creativity was the be-all-end-all, and if he didn’t feel creative, he was left with nothing.
“I became so addicted to the manic bouts of creativity because they were all I had left,” he said. “But every time, those episodes crashed down hard into the reality I was living in.”
Then he caught pneumonia. For three days, he lay in the warehouse, eventually coming to terms with the reality that he was going to die. But on the fourth day, he snapped out of his funk. Though he wouldn’t elaborate how, he said he got some horse antibiotics and overcame his respiratory infection. With help from his family and friends, he was able to get back on his feet, as well as find new avenues for creative work.
Prior to his stint at the warehouse, Brody had experienced a bad breakup, and he blamed his relationship’s end on being consumed by his love for music. But after surviving that episode and the dark night of the soul in the warehouse, his friend, area photographer and sound engineer Cal Quinn, showed him the ropes of engineering live sound, as well as introducing him to photography. Since then, both of those have provided him with the financial stability necessary for him to reacquaint himself with his music, and that’s how he came to record an album.
Recorded and mixed in 2016 by Joe Burton at Red House Musik in Fort Worth and mastered by Matt Whatley at Combover Mastering (also in Fort Worth), his self-titled debut is a collection of freak-folk, alternately tuned ruminations of Brody’s life as a musician, along with the limerence he’s experienced with both romantic love and creativity itself.
Artistically, Brody sees himself as an outlier, and his inventive strumming techniques and knack for customizing and building his own stringed instruments set him apart from your average guy with a guitar. That outsider nature translates to his photography as well.
“ ‘Alien but not alienating’ is definitely a theme that runs through all of my work,” he said.
D. Anson Brody album release
8pm Thu w/The Reed Brothers at Magnolia Motor Lounge, 3005 Morton St, FW. $10. 817-332-3344.