Brad Fielder is a from-the-ground-up sort of artist. From writing and recording his songs to packaging and distributing physical albums under his own imprint, Shive Records, Fielder takes care of most everything on his own — which makes his long transition to solo artist (after stints with bands like The Separation, Metered Spirits and Anvil Salute) a fitting evolution.
Q: You play solo as Brad Fielder but are also the band leader and sole songwriter in $69GUITAR! Do you divide your songs between those two acts?
Brad Fielder: I perform all original material as a solo act. Every now and then — rarely — I will throw in a cover song as time filler. There are some songs that I play both solo and with the band. The songs played with the band are generally more in the country/honky-tonk/rock spectrum, more suited for an ensemble of players. Songs in the solo set tend to be written from a more personal perspective: nostalgic stories, observational narratives and songs with a message to the listener.
Q: Am I correct in saying just over the last couple of years, you’ve hit playing around here much harder as a solo act? What changed?
Fielder: I was a struggling solo artist when I made the move from Enid to Norman. I was lucky to meet some musicians a few years older than me who knew the scene here, and they took me under their wing. I spent the next 10 years learning how to really play my instruments, write songs and play in bands. I did continue to write and record solo material all throughout those tenures in various bands but generally didn’t perform any of those songs, save contributing songs to the bands that seemed to fit the repertoire. It was always a compromise to contribute songs to the bands I was playing in because I wasn’t the band leader, and the songs would never come across quite as I had envisioned them. Once The Separation came to a halt, I decided I’d have to go back to doing it myself. I no longer had the burden of scheduling around four other people’s availability, and the songs would come out exactly as I wanted them to. This was important to me; I had developed as a songwriter and started taking it much more seriously.
Q: You try to write one or two songs per week. Why is it important to you to push that?
Fielder: I’ll start three or four songs a week, just as a few lines with a melody, and maybe I’ll finish one or two in that time. I really try not to push the songwriting process ... that makes for bad songs.
I try to keep working on and crafting a song until it is fit to record and perform. In what I guess you could call my formative years as a songwriter and musician, I would write and record anything, just for the sake of doing so. Practice makes perfect, right? That’s not to say in any way that I have perfected anything about songwriting. I see that as a lifelong process (that) will never end.
Q: Tell me about Shive Records, how it works.
Fielder: I am Shive Records (formerly LoFi S---). The first set of songs I recorded and made multiple tape copies of in 1997 was called “LoFi S---.” From there, I decided that I would be my own record label, going on to record and produce music for my friends as well. As I’ve matured and felt the need to be taken seriously, I switched the name from LoFi S--- to Shive, New Orleans slang for cool/sharp/suave, etc. ... How it works is, I do it: producing and recording the music, posting it online, putting together artwork and physical packaging by hand ... all that. That’s all there is to it.
— Becky Carman, for The Oklahoman