On The Verge: decker.
photo by P.J. Szabo
Whether or not one can verify, let alone channel, the mythological vortices of energy emanating from the red rock of Sedona, Ariz., no one can deny the influence of the entrancing topography on decker.
In the decade-plus since the Denver-born Brandon Decker arrived in Sedona, the singer-songwriter and guitarist has been inspired, issuing over a half-dozen releases—first on his Mescal Porch imprint, and the last two, including his most recent, Born to Wake Up, through Royal Potato Family. Up until this most recent record, the prolific output of decker.’s self-described psychedelic desert folk frequently offered a darker reflection of its creator’s personal life and the corresponding challenges facing an independent artist in 21st-century America.
This time around, there is a conspicuous optimism, fueled by rearing his young son in this transformative and therapeutic time in his personal oasis. The result is an album brimming with a sense of renewal. “We were born to find our peace,” says Decker, explaining the album’s title, as a conclusion of the Dylan-esque track “Awake.”
“Human existence, especially in Western culture, is so full of disconnect and fracture,” Decker says. “There is a healing journey that some of us go on.”
Listening to Decker talk of the record’s creative conception is to hear suggestively transcendental snippets such as “being on the land” and administering “plant medicine.” His immersion in the environment—writing and cutting demos during the day, then nighttime recording sessions under the desert sky—produced a set of songs that, without paradox, unfurl a sense of endless space and intimate self-awareness. Reverb and echo elevate traditional instrumentation, evoking an epic scale without self-indulgent orchestration.
“I really feel like it was a pouring through me,” Decker says. “There was a lightness that I haven’t felt when I was creating music before.” He’s traded in his iPhone for a flip model—“making my life so much more inconvenient, and so much better,”—and will be relocating to California’s Bay Area in the middle of his U.S. tour in support of the new album. He’s eager to explore more of the Golden State’s natural gifts, like the Redwoods and the Pacific, to expand his creative palette but, in actuality or in ash, Decker says, Sedona will be home. “I feel as though I am this land.”
This article originally appears in the December 2018 issue of Relix. For more features, interviews, album reviews and more, subscribe here.