Jon Brion (born December 11, 1963) is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, and composer. He performed with The Excerpts, The Bats, and The Grays before becoming an established producer and film score composer. Brion has produced music for artists like Fiona Apple, Kanye West, Aimee Mann, Brad Mehldau, of Montreal, Rufus Wainwright, Robyn Hitchcock, and Sky Ferreira. His film scores include Hard Eight (1996), Magnolia (1999), Punch-Drunk Love (2002), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and I Heart Huckabees (both 2004), Synecdoche, New York (2008), ParaNorman (2012), Lady Bird (2017), and Christopher Robin (2018). He released his debut solo album, Meaningless, in 2001.
Brion at The Sunset Tavern in Seattle, September 2004
|Born||December 11, 1963|
Glen Ridge, New Jersey, U.S.
|Genres||Pop, rock, jazz, hip hop|
|Occupation(s)||Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer|
|Instruments||Vocals, keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, trombone, cello, vibraphone, harmonica|
|Associated acts||The Grays, 'Til Tuesday, Jellyfish|
Brion was born in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. He comes from a musical family; his mother, LaRue, was an administrative assistant and singer, and his father, Keith Brion, was a band director at Yale. His brother and sister became a composer/arranger and a violinist, respectively. Brion had difficulties at Hamden High School and at the age of 17 left education, opting instead to play music professionally. From 1980–85 Jon was part of the band The Excerpts, along with Stephen Harris, Dean Falcone, Jim Balga, Bobby Butcher & Spike Priggen.
In the early 1980s, Brion and musician/producer Bill Murphy began a writing collaboration in New Haven, Connecticut. They eventually enlisted bassist Don "Riff" Fertman and together formed The Bats (not to be confused with the New Zealand group of the same name). The Bats released a single, "Popgun", and one album, How Pop Can You Get?, on Gustav Records in 1982. The recordings had much critical acclaim, but little commercial success, and the trio eventually disbanded.
In 1987, Brion moved to Boston, where he played solo gigs, formed the short-lived band World's Fair and became a member of the last touring version of Aimee Mann's new wave band 'Til Tuesday. He contributed guitar work to Jellyfish's 1993 album Spilt Milk, and in 1994, joined Dan McCarroll, Buddy Judge and ex-Jellyfish guitarist Jason Falkner in the short-lived pop band The Grays. He also played guitar on The Wallflowers' hit song "One Headlight", using a screwdriver that was sitting atop a nearby amp as a slide. Brion played numerous instruments on Sam Phillips' 1996 release Omnipop. Brion is featured as keyboardist and drummer on Marianne Faithfull's 2003 album, Kissin Time, and co-wrote a song, "City of Quartz", for her next work, 2005's Before the Poison.
After being recognized as an accomplished session player, Brion branched out into production on then-girlfriend Mann's 1993 solo debut, Whatever, and its follow-up, I'm With Stupid. He has also produced albums by Fiona Apple, Rufus Wainwright, Eleni Mandell, Rhett Miller, Robyn Hitchcock, Brad Mehldau and Evan Dando, and co-produced Kanye West's Late Registration in 2005.
In the fall of 2002, Brion began producing the album Extraordinary Machine with Fiona Apple, but she later brought in producers Mike Elizondo and Brian Kehew (a friend of Brion's) to complete the album. Brion's versions leaked onto the Internet, where the album gained a cult following long before its official release.
Brion worked and performed on some of the tracks for Sean Lennon's 2006 album Friendly Fire. Lennon said that working with him was "how I would imagine it's like to work with Prince. It's like having a weird alien prodigy in your room."
More recently, Brion has produced recordings by British pop performer Dido, Spoon, and Keane, as well as 2010's False Priest by Of Montreal. Brion also produced Best Coast's second album which was released in early 2012.
He is rumored to be working on his second solo full-length album at Abbey Road Studios.
Brion is an accomplished film composer, having started scoring by frequently working with director Paul Thomas Anderson, with whom he has a preferential working relationship. In addition to scoring many of his films, Brion contributed music to Boogie Nights and had a cameo in the film as a moustached guitar player.
Particularly in his film soundtracks, Brion is noted for his use of early analog sampling instruments, particularly the Chamberlin and Optigan, to create near-realistic emulations of certain instruments.
Brion was hired at the last minute to write the incidental music for The Break-Up. He has also scored and provided original music for I Heart Huckabees, Punch-Drunk Love, Step Brothers (with Chris Thile), ParaNorman, The Future, Synecdoche, New York, Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird and Disney's Christopher Robin (with Geoff Zanelli). He also did live composition for a musical commentary on the Step Brothers DVD.
He also composed the score to the Disney/Pixar short film, The Blue Umbrella, working alongside Sarah Jaffe.
Touring and live performancesEdit
Brion is renowned for his regular Friday-night gigs at the Los Angeles club Largo, which feature covers and original songs, a variety of instruments and occasional guest musicians and comedians. He works without a set list, instead using audience suggestions as a jumping-off point. His extraordinary use of layered loops and frequent adoption of a "jigsaw puzzle" approach to performing songs (starting often with drums, then adding piano, bass, guitar, and vocals in turn) have captivated the capacity crowds at Largo and earned Brion a strong following. Recent shows have featured spontaneous appearances with singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, Gillian Welch, vocalists Fiona Apple and Rickie Lee Jones, singing old jazz standards like "My Funny Valentine", with upright bassist Stephen Patt (ex-Chambers Brothers), percussionist Matt Chamberlain (Tori Amos), bassist Sebastian Steinberg (ex-Soul Coughing), and fiddler Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek).
In April 2006, recurring tendonitis in Brion's right hand forced him to cancel all of his upcoming Largo shows. As a temporary 'farewell', he played one show only using his left hand, even looping his songs as he normally does and playing the drums with one stick. He is now back to playing at Largo on a regular basis.
Recalling his approach to the Largo shows with Chicago Tribune music editor Lou Carlozo, Brion said: "I taught my hands to follow whatever was coming into my head—and wherever my consciousness would go, I had to push my hands to follow. And at some level, you just had to abandon any concern about how you’d look. Performing without a set list: That was special."
In March 2016, Brion performed his score for Punch-Drunk Love with Wordless Music Orchestra in both Los Angeles and New York City, at the Ace Hotel and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, respectively. Norah Jones provided guest vocals in New York and Joanna Newsom in Los Angeles.
In February 2018, Brion opened for John Mulaney as part of Mulaney's special, Kid Gorgeous. Brion performed during Mulaney's New York City leg of his tour, playing packed houses at Radio City Music Hall. Brion's appearance surprised audiences, but his versions of classic rock songs on Radio City's Mighty Wurlitzer pipe organ were welcome warmups for Mulaney.
- Meaningless (2001)
- The Bats – How Pop Can You Get? (1982)
- Hard Eight (with Michael Penn) (1996)
- Magnolia (1999)
- Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
- I Heart Huckabees (2004)
- The Break-Up (2006)
- Synecdoche, New York (2008)
- Step Brothers (2008)
- Glago's Guest (2008)
- The Other Guys (2010)
- Stone (2010) (Main Theme Composer)
- The Future (2011)
- ParaNorman (2012)
- This Is 40 (2012)
- The Blue Umbrella (2013)
- Delivery Man (2013)
- The Gambler (2014)
- Trainwreck (2015)
- John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid (2015)
- Curmudgeons (2016)
- Wilson (2017)
- Lady Bird (2017)
- Sink or Swim (2018)
- Christopher Robin (2018) (with Geoff Zanelli)
Production and guest appearancesEdit
|1989||Rei Momo||David Byrne||Harmonium on "I Know Sometimes a Man Is Wrong"|||
|1993||Broken Toy Shop||E||Background vocals on "Shine It All On"|
|Whatever||Aimee Mann||Co-producer, co-writer (three tracks), bass, guitar, drums, keyboards, synthesizers, piano, background vocals, and others|||
|Tuesdays Are Forever||D.D. Wood||Harmonium|||
|Spilt Milk||Jellyfish||Guitar on eight tracks|||
|In Thrall||Murray Attaway||Bass, guitar, mellotron, piano, vibraphone|||
|Here's to the Losers||Love Jones||Keyboards, synthesizers, electric organ, vibraphone|||
|1994||Love Spit Love||Love Spit Love||Keyboards, piano, string arrangements|||
|1995||Powerful Pain Relief||Love Jones||Keyboards, synthesizers, piano, organ|||
|I Don't Know Why I Act This Way||Jude Cole||Guitar, keyboards, harmonium, calliope|||
|For the Love of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson||Various artists||Producing, instrumentation for "One" by Aimee Mann|||
|I'm with Stupid||Aimee Mann||Producer, co-writer (five tracks), bass, guitars, drums and percussion, keyboards, cello, harmonica, background vocals|||
|1996||Come and Get It: A Tribute to Badfinger||Cherry Twister||Producer, instrumentation, background vocals|||
|Tidal||Fiona Apple||Guitar, keyboards, vibraphone, tack piano, marimba|||
|Braver Newer World||Jimmie Dale Gilmore||Guitar, bass, optigan|||
|This Can't Be Life||Wild Colonials||Guitar, Chamberlin, organ|||
|Sweet Relief II: Gravity of the Situation||Various artists||Optigan, vibraphone on "Guilty by Association" by Joe Henry & Madonna|||
|Susanna Hoffs||Susanna Hoffs||Guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion, drums|||
|Prettier Than You||Brian Stevens||Guitar, clavinet|||
|Phantom Blues||Taj Mahal||Guitar, Chamberlin|||
|Omnipop (It's Only a Flesh Wound Lambchop)||Sam Phillips||Guitar, bass, Chamberlin, drums, piano|||
|Beautiful Freak||Eels||Co-producer, guitar, keyboards, trombone, engineering, co-writer of "Not Ready Yet"|||
|Just Say Noël||Various artists||Co-producer on "Christmastime" by Aimee Man with Michael Penn|||
|1997||Shaken and Stirred: The David Arnold James Bond Project||David Arnold and various artists||Guitar, sitar, harmonium on "Nobody Does It Better" by Aimee Mann|||
|Megiddo||Lauren Hoffman||Keyboards, organs, vibraphone|||
|Little Head||John Hiatt||Keyboards, vibraphone|||
|Eighteen Over Me||Garrison Starr||Organ, vibraphone|||
|10 Cent Wing||Jonatha Brooke||Guitar|||
|1998||XO||Elliott Smith||Vibraphone and keyboards on two tracks|||
|Two Kinds of Laughter||Sara Hickman||Co-composer of "Coolness by Mistake"|||
|Songs From The Pipe||The Surfers||Guitar, keyboards, background vocals|||
|Sliding Doors soundtrack||Various artists||Producer, co-writer of "Amateur" by Aimee Man|||
|Pleasantville: Music from the Motion Picture||Various artists||Producing, instrumentation, mixing on "Across the Universe" and "Please Send Me Someone to Love by Fiona Apple|||
|Kool Trash||The Plimsouls||Piano, organ|||
|Jubilee||Grant Lee Buffalo||Piano, Chamberlin, vibraphone, harmonium, optigan, tack piano|||
|Got No Shadow||Mary Lou Lord||Harmonium, Chamberlin|||
|Electro-Shock Blues||Eels||Chamberlin and organ on "Climbing to the Moon"|||
|Burning the Daze||Marc Cohn||Harmonium, harmonica|||
|Wishbone||Eleni Mandell||Co-producer, guitar, keyboards, Mellotron, bass, backing vocals, organ, banjo, drums, slide guitar, vibraphone, celesta, talk box|||
|1999||Rufus Wainwright||Rufus Wainwright||Producer, additional engineering, vibraphone, marimba, keyboards, accordion, bass, guitar, organ, backing vocals, percussion, celesta, mandolin|||
|Word of Mouth Parade||Gus||Guitar, mandolin, keyboards|||
|When the Pawn...||Fiona Apple||Producer, guitars, bass, keyboards, vibraphone, drums, percussion, mixing|||
|On How Life Is||Macy Gray||Guitar, electric keyboards and synthesizers, piano, vibraphone|||
|Jewels for Sophia||Robyn Hitchcock||Co-producer, bass, drums and percussion, keyboards, organ, background vocals, engineer|||
|Fight Songs||Old 97's||Organ on "Murder (Or a Heart Attack)"|||
|Magnolia: Music from the Motion Picture||Aimee Mann||Co-producer, co-writer of "Build That Wall", composer of "Magnolia", guitar, keyboards, organ, percussion, glockenspiel, background vocals|||
|After the Party||The Menzingers||Guitar|||
|2000||Two Lips: The Lost Album||Dan Castellaneta||Guitars, saxophone|||
|Tonight and the Rest of My Life||Nina Gordon||Bass, guitars, keyboards, organ|||
|Teddy Thompson||Teddy Thompson||Guitar on two tracks|||
|From There to Here||John Oszajca||Guitar|||
|Figure 8||Elliott Smith||Background vocals on "Happiness"/"The Gondola Man"|||
|Breach||The Wallflowers||Additional musician|||
|Bachelor No. 2 or, the Last Remains of the Dodo||Aimee Mann||Co-producer, guitar, drums and percussion, keyboards, background vocals|||
|A Star for Bram||Robyn Hitchcock||Producer, bass, guitars, drums, keyboards, piano, background vocals|||
|2001||Trust No One||Dave Navarro||Intro voice and slide bass, "Mourning Son", guitars on "Very Little Daylight"|||
|Tweekend||The Crystal Method||Bass, guitars, drums, keyboards, engineering, mixing on "Over the Line"|||
|The Herethereafter||Miranda Lee Richards||Producer, bass, guitar, Chamberlin, bells, optigan, Marxophone, engineering|||
|Meaningless||Himself||Producer, lead vocals, bass, guitars, drums, keyboards|||
|2002||Up||Peter Gabriel||Mandolin and Chamberlin on "More Than This"|||
|The Last DJ||Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers||Orchestral arrangements, conductor|||
|The Instigator||Rhett Miller||Producer, bass, guitars, drums, piano, organ, vibraphone, background vocals, co-composer of "Things That Disappear"|||
|Robyn Sings||Robyn Hitchcock||Guitar|||
|Restless Night||Julianna Raye||Piano|||
|No Fear||Abra Moore||Bass, guitar, drums, keyboards|||
|Largo||Brad Mehldau||Producer, guitar, guitar synthesizer, prepared piano, Chamberlin, percussion, co-composer of "Dropjes"|||
|Kissin Time||Marianne Faithfull||Drums, keyboards, Chamberlin, celeste, harmonium|||
|Have You Fed the Fish?||Badly Drawn Boy||Bass, guitars, keyboards Chamberlin, orchestral arrangements, conductor|||
|Alice Peacock||Alice Peacock||Guitar, organ|||
|Punch-Drunk Love soundtrack||Himself||Producer, vocals, composer, instrumentation, mixing|||
|About a Boy soundtrack||Badly Drawn Boy||Bass, guitar, vibraphone, background vocals|||
|2003||To Whom It May Concern||Lisa Marie Presley||Guitar on "Lights Out"|||
|Thirteenth Step||A Perfect Circle||Instrumentation on "The Nurse Who Loved Me"|||
|Return to Planet Earth||Kim Fox||Guitars, ukulele, celeste|||
|Luxor||Robyn Hitchcock||Guest musician on "You Remind Me of You"|||
|Blondes Prefer the Gentlemen||The Gentlemen||Chamberlin, mellotron|||
|Baby I'm Bored||Evan Dando||Co-producer, co-writer (five tracks), instrumentation|||
|Amorama||Érica García||Guitar, keyboards, sampling|||
|2004||Virginia Creeper||Grant-Lee Phillips||Ukulele|||
|The Giant Pin||The Nels Cline Singers||Chamberlin, harmonium, celeste, sampling|||
|Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soundtrack||Himself||Producer, vocals, composer, instrumentation, mixing|||
|Mutual Admiration Society||Mutual Admiration Society||Co-writer (two tracks)|||
|I Heart Huckabees soundtrack||Himself||Producer, vocals, composer, instrumentation, mixing|||
|Legion of Boom||The Crystal Method||Guitar on "Realizer"|||
|From a Basement on the Hill||Elliott Smith||Additional recording|||
|Everyone Is Here||Finn Brothers||Co-producer, guitars, drums, Harmonium, organ, percussion, programming|||
|A Strange Mess of Flowers||Davíd Garza||Keyboards|||
|2005||Winter Pays for Summer||Glen Phillips||Guitar, toy piano|||
|Self Help Serenade||Marjorie Fair||Bass, drums, piano|||
|Late Registration||Kanye West||Co-executive producer, instrumentation, string and brass arrangement|||
|Fires||Nerina Pallot||Guitar, keyboards|||
|Fate Is the Hunter||Kate Earl||Organ|||
|Extraordinary Machine||Fiona Apple||Co-producer (two tracks), bass, marimba, orchestral arrangement|||
|Can'tneverdidnothin'||Nikka Costa||Organ on "I Gotta Know", synthesizer on "Happy in the Morning"|||
|Before the Poison||Marianne Faithfull||Co-writer of "City of Quartz"|||
|2006||Wait||The Polyphonic Spree||Producer|||
|The Believer||Rhett Miller||Co-writer of "I Believe She's Lying", bass, guitar, Chamberlain, piano,|||
|Late Orchestration||Kanye West||Producer|||
|Friendly Fire||Sean Lennon||Bass, guitars, drums, organ|||
|Blinders On||Sean Watkins||Piano|||
|2007||Graduation||Kanye West||Co-producer on "Drunk and Hot Girls", keyboards on "I Wonder", percussion on "Homecoming"|||
|Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga||Spoon||Production, bass, Chamberlin on "The Underdog"|||
|Fuzzbox||The Section Quartet||Producer of "Phenomena"|||
|2008||Tooth of Crime||T Bone Burnett||Chamberlin, baritone guitar|||
|Synecdoche, New York soundtrack||Himself||Producer, vocals, composer, instrumentation, mixing|||
|Safe Trip Home||Dido||Co-producer, co-writer (five tracks), bass, guitars, drums, keyboards, piano, celeste, cello, additional percussion, orchestral arrangements, conductor, mixing|||
|Perfect Symmetry||Keane||Co-producer on "You Haven't Told Me Anything"|||
|Let It Come to You||Taylor Eigsti||Co-writer of "Not Ready Yet"|||
|Big Bad World||Plain White T's||Chamberlin on "1, 2, 3, 4"|||
|2009||Sara Watkins||Sara Watkins||Writer of "Same Mistakes", guitars|||
|Rhett Miller||Rhett Miller||Bass, guitar|||
|Divided by Night||The Crystal Method||Synthesizer on "Divided by Night", marxophone on "Sine Language"|||
|Christina Courtin||Christina Courtin||Bass, guitars, Chamberlin, marxophone|||
|Balm in Gilead||Rickie Lee Jones||Bass, guitars|||
|An Eluardian Instance (Jon Brion Remix EP)||of Montreal & Himself||Producer, composer, instrumentation, mixing|||
|2010||Mean Old Man||Jerry Lee Lewis||Bass, guitars|||
|Intriguer||Crowded House||Guitar and vocal samples on "Twice if You're Lucky"|||
|Highway Rider||Brad Mehldau||Producer, mixing|||
|False Priest||of Montreal||Co-producer, drums, keyboards, synthesizers, mixing, engineering|||
|Dirty Baby||Nels Cline||Electric piano, background vocals|||
|Cho Dependent||Margaret Cho||Co-producer, co-writer, guitar, drums, piano, background vocals on "Enemies"|||
|Chickens in Love||Various artists||Performer on "So Sleepy" (The Gummy Bears)" by Fiona Apple featuring Brion and the Punch Brothers|||
|Antifogmatic||Punch Brothers||Producer, mixing, engineering|||
|2011||The Interpreter: Live at Largo||Rhett Miller||Guitar, drums, piano, background vocals|||
|Rave On Buddy Holly||Various artists||Production, vocals, guitars, percussion on "Everyday" with Fiona Apple|||
|Belle||Bic Runga||Guitar, synthesizer, floor tom|||
|Arthur: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack||Various artists||Producer of "Where Our Destination Lies" & "When the Sun Goes Down" by Benjamin Gibbard|||
|Christmas||Michael Bublé||Orchestral arrangements on "All I Want for Christmas Is You"|||
|2012||This Is 40 Soundtrack||Various artists||Producer, composer, instrumentation on "Theme 1 (Debbie and Oliver)"|||
|Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection||Katy Perry||Producer, instrumentation, "The One That Got Away" (Acoustic)|||
|The Only Place||Best Coast||Producer, bass, guitars, keyboards, percussion|||
|Rize of the Fenix||Tenacious D||Bass, synthesizers, and mellotron on "The Ballad of Hollywood Jack and the Rage Kage"|||
|Pines||A Fine Frenzy||Bass, guitar, keyboards, pump organ|||
|ParaNorman soundtrack||Himself||Producer, composer, instrumentation, conductor|||
|Ghost||Sky Ferreira||Co-producer and co-writer of "Ghost"|||
|2013||Tim McGraw & Friends||Tim McGraw||Featured musician on "Middle Age Crazy"|||
|The Great Gatsby: Music from Baz Luhrmann's Film||Various artists||Producer of "Crazy in Love" performed by Emeli Sandé and The Bryan Ferry Orchestra|||
|Girl Who Got Away||Dido||Co-producer, co-writer of "Lost", keyboards, orchestral arrangements, conductor, mixing|||
|Dreamchaser||Sarah Brightman||Guitar, piano, celeste, vibraphone|||
|Division Street||Harper Simon||Guitar, synthesizer|||
|Night Time, My Time B-Sides: Part I||Sky Ferreira||Producer and co-writer of "I'm on Top" and "Werewolf (I Like You)"|||
|2014||Rock & Roll Time||Jerry Lee Lewis||Guitar|||
|Heigh Ho||Blake Mills||Piano, tiple|||
|2016||Young in All the Wrong Ways||Sara Watkins||Bass, guitar, piano, celeste, mellotron|||
|Rainbow Ends||Emitt Rhodes||Guitar on "Dog on a Chain"|||
|Blonde||Frank Ocean||Co-producer, keyboards, orchestral arrangements, drum programming|||
|2017||The Dream||Tashaki Miyakis||Musician|||
|Lady Bird soundtrack||Himself||Producer, composer, instrumentation|||
|2018||Dirty Computer||Janelle Monáe||Co-producer, writer of "Jane's Dream", synthesizer, mallets|||
|Swimming||Mac Miller||Co-producer, co-writer of "Come Back to Earth", "Hurt Feelings", "Perfecto", "Ladders", "Small Worlds", "2009", and "So It Goes."|
|Christopher Robin: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack||Himself & Geoff Zanelli||Co-composer|
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- "Here comes the son", Interview, by Scott Bolohan, The Depaulia. Archived March 15, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
- "Best Coast Talks "Grown-Up" New Album, Working With Jon Brion", Pitchfork Media .
- Interview by David Wolinsky at The A.V. Club
- 2:03 p.m. (March 16, 2016). "Jon Brion on the Music of Punch-Drunk Love". Vulture.com. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
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