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Interview (Part One): Multi-Instrumentalist/Producer Jon Brion Talks About His Early Experiences With Music

Jon Brion: One Man Band
Jon Brion: One Man Band / Photo by Mike Witcher
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Describing the breadth of Jon Brion's career can be a trying task. He's a man who wears many hats—among them multi-instrumentalist, producer (Aimee Mann, Kanye West, Dido), film scorer (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Punch-Drunk Love) and singer/songwriter (Meaningless). But to Brion, it's all one body of work, and he's most happy when he's making music.

Brion is also one of the reasons why LA residents can call themselves geographically fortunate, thanks to his weekly gigs at Largo. Each Friday night show is its own animal—a chemistry of sound that includes everything from one-man-band live looping to special guests. It's a rare opportunity to hear new takes on old classics, as well as to witness the creation of new music on the spot. Earlier this month, LAist sat down with Brion a couple hours before he took the stage at Largo. As the venue began to come to life for the night, he opened up about his early experiences with music, his first night at Largo and his love of improvisation.

LAist: What led you to choose drums as your first instrument?

Jon Brion: I guess, like anything, it just looked fun. It's the same reason why people who saw the Sex Pistols wanted to form bands. In fact, I probably got the same feeling the first time I heard the Sex Pistols as I did when I first discovered drums.

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The best compliment I've ever received was one I heard years ago, before Largo was even up and running. I played a gig at the Alligator, and some guy who was apparently a very successful comedian in Australia came to the show. He saw a friend of [Largo owner Mark] Flanagan's and mine the next day and told him, "I just went out and bought a guitar," to which our friend said, "But you don't play!" Then he said, "Yeah, but I was watching that guy last night, and he seemed to be having so much fun that I figured I'd give it a go!"