Redbrick meets... Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Redbrick meets… Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox

Daniella Bassett sat down with pianist, composer, and arranger, Scott Bradlee, the mastermind behind Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox.

Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox is a YouTube sensation. With the resurgence of vintage, and the growing popularity for analogue sounds, PMJ has amassed over 315 million YouTube views and 1.5 million subscribers since its establishment in 2009.

PMJ’s UK/European tour “has been the biggest one... yet”, spanning over two months with 75 dates. Scott Bradlee’s idea that “started as something in [his] basement” has grown into a “totally mind-boggling” worldwide sensation. After deciding that there just simply wasn’t enough jazz, mowtown and soul on the radio, Scott Bradlee set out on his mission of “creating something brand new, but using much older styles” in order to “see these kinds of [vintage ‘record’] sounds in pop culture”.

Through the use of YouTube, a platform that Bradlee says has “really changed the way that people are releasing music now, and how people are engaging their audience” that is capable of getting ideas out into the world with “an unheard of amount of speed”, the world fell in love with the analogue-style sounds of the Postmodern Jukebox.

With record sales better than ever, and a ‘cassette comeback’ lurking on the horizons, I was keen to know what Bradlee thought of this analogue comeback in an incredibly digitally orientated society. Bradlee admits that “there is good and bad about both analogue and digital sound” and that whilst digital sound is “much easier to record...and edit”, he is all in favour of embracing analogue technology: “There’s a certain warmth and thee nostalgic feelings that you get when you listen to an analogue recording. It’s like a physical thing instead of just a file that you download”.

But being a dazzling rotating cast of talent dealing with popular songs has its difficulties too. Many critics consider the production of covers as a less original, and less credible form of musical artistry, but Bradlee insists that “a big part of this project is breaking those boxes” that contain musical talent to that of the ‘singer-songwriter’ genre. Bradlee reveals that “the most common thing that we hear is when people write: ‘Oh, I didn’t realise that that was a good song’, underneath in the comments” and notes that “it kind of makes people question, what are the elements of a good song? Is it the actual production of it? The notes in it? The lyrics?...a cover might not be original, but in other ways, a cover might be more original.”

a cover might not be original, but in other ways, a cover might be more original.

Finally, as a little bit of fun, I asked Scott Bradlee, if I had a time machine, and he could go back and hear one artist from the past live in concert, who would it be, and why? Naturally, he responded: “I’d love to just go back to New Orleans in the 20s. It was such a melting pot of sound and all these different cultural things. It was truly postmodern, you know? They were taking modern sounds which were like Jazz and Ragtime and Blues and everything, and combining it with some French music and European tradition, so you really had the ultimate melting pot of music in New Orleans.”


To see the full interview transcription, click here.

Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox are here in Birmingham on the 18th March 2016, so don’t miss out on seeing the 21st century’s very own melting pot of music, and get your tickets here!



Redbrick Music Editor Second Year English Literature Student, YouTuber and Author of 'The Kitchen Sink' (blog) (@treepaperbook)


15th March 2016 at 8:09 am