The Ballroom Music Man: Brent Mills

Samantha StoutAugust 26, 2020Ballroom Chat: Episode #19
brent mills

Brent Mills talks about music, dance, musicality, theatre, choreography, artistry, performance and so much more! Brent shares his thoughts on how music and dance are intertwined, how he approaches choreography differently from hip-hop or contemporary choreographers, and his dance, music and choreography experiences over the last twenty years.

Ever wonder why one song can be played for a Waltz, a Tango, and a Cha-Cha? Want to know why you should reconsider that "Phantom of the Opera" showcase? If so, then this interview is for you.

Brent Mills is the owner of BallroomPlaylist and the Music Mills App, providing music content for dancers and studio owners. He has also served as the Music Director for numerous competitions, was the 2x US Cabaret/Theatre Arts Champion, served as a music editor and consultant for 4 seasons of So You Think You Can Dance, and holds a BA in Piano Performance from Berklee School of Music in Boston, and a BFA in Dance from BYU.

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Show Notes

Episode Transcript

Samantha: Welcome back to another episode of Ballroom Chat. I'm your host, Samantha with Love Live Dance. Today I'm joined by Brent Mills, the music man himself. He holds a BA in piano performance from Berklee College of Music, a BFA in dance at BYU. He has been the music director at numerous competitions over the years.

He is a two time US Cabaret Theater Arts Champion. He was the music editor and a consultant for four seasons of So You Think You Can Dance and is the owner and mastermind behind Ballroom Playlist and the Music Mills app. Please help me welcome to the episode Brent Mills.

Brent: Hello, how are you doing? Nice to see you. Thank you for having me here.

Samantha: Yeah. And it's so lovely to see you so lovely to get the opportunity to talk to you. how are things, how is, how is life currently?

Brent: Life, is, well, let's say silver lining. It's great. I used to travel over 160,000 miles a year. Now that is stopped. I'm having awesome quality time with my loved ones and actually enjoying home. So that has been the silver lining and, and, and the other thing, just having time, becuase going out on a Wednesday, coming home on a Sunday and then leaving on a Wednesday again, left me two days, typically, maybe three days to kind of reassess my life and get things back and then repack and leave.

So, that has been amazing. and the downfall is, you know, going from. 46 weekends a year to zero. So, everything is been an adjustment, but luckily, people in my circle are very supportive and we were able to literally get home and within two weeks losing, every event up through December, and then trying to reassess and refocus what I can do because.

I never thought it would all just be gone. I was booked like three years in advance. So it has, it's both pluses and minuses. So I think it's a good synergy, yin and yang, whatever you want to call it. And the balances is doing okay. You know?

Samantha: Well, and I think to that point, you are honestly one of the, people in the industry that I kind of looked at as soon as quarantine hit to go, okay. How is he pivoting or what is he shifting his focus on? because I feel like a lot of us are used to that kind of like either lesson structure or competitive cycle structure, you know, vendors are, like you said, going out 46, 50, 52 weekends a year, depending on how many competitions there are.

So when it all just falls out, it's like, okay, well, what do we do now? And pretty much immediately, I feel like there wasn't a beat from when BYU nationals got canceled to when I started seeing, Hey guys, we've got this app. Have you thought about picking up our streaming service? I was like, Oh my gosh, that's brilliant.

He's just pandemic proofed his business. So was it just a matter of, well, I'm not pushing this anymore, so I can really drive traffic and drive eyes to this app that I've had for a while? Or was it more of a conscious no, I want to shift the direction so that I have a lot of people interested in this now and I can just focus on the app and the streaming service?

Brent: Right. Great question. well I've always wanted to push it. but being that the travel schedule, which is what, fueled the popularity, demand, whatever about the music and, you know, being able to, you know, get that trust, I guess, in the dancers after that 20 years, it became.

I couldn't push it, but I was like a team of one. So, you know, traveling, coming home, like I said, like a couple of days, I've always wanted to push it, but I didn't have any staff on, its like a one man band, to start off with like any business. And so, all of a sudden I had time and I, all of a sudden I'm like, well, what do I have now that I can just give. You know, and I've been editing online professionals music, sending it to them. And I thought, well, you know, what? What really spurred it was, everything was closed down the studios, the events. And so I knew immediately that students and teachers and amateurs are, do not have access to that library anymore.

And I'm aware that Spotify is out there, but I know Spotify doesn't, you can't change the tempo, you can't edit the songs. You can't organize in like a dancer's mentality, cause it's not made for dancers. And so I'm like, well, I have the streaming it's already set up. It was already rolling. We were just waiting to do a big launch.

So we're like, well, here's our launch. So we reduced it down to 10 bucks and we just said, Hey, during COVID, if you don't have access to that, all that music in your studio and your teachers, then we're going to give it for $10, which is literally less than cost to at least. Give people access and practice at home.

Cause that, that moment through really the end of June, everyone was still inside and practicing inside, taking lessons inside, all the teachers got online and, and so that's, that's what started it. And then, you know, being home and having eight hours, 10 hours just to, I'm not gonna, I mean, it was so like, I'm not going to just sit here and watch movies and eat bon-bons.

I just need to. You know, now I have that time to like, make it really good posts, you know, have some legitimate like information, thoughtful process of marketing, and getting the word out. So that for me was kind of like, I always wanted to take the plunge and stop traveling and say, I am going to, you know, but my income was, you know, was a big deal about traveling, and, and, and I didn't, I loved going and I w and I liked being out there as part of the whole process. So, this made me take the plunge. Literally I had to jump and, and it's, and it's, it's not like we went from, you know, a hundred users to tens of thousands. You know, it hasn't jumped like that because again, it was still money and no one was making money, but at least I was able to now focus directly on this business that I've been in my head planning and trying to get ready for the dancers. So a little bit of both kinda threw it that way, but I didn't, I just didn't put it together. And a wall went online. It had been going for about a year quietly, like a soft open. And then I guess we get to do the hard open. We had no choice. And so we scrambled and put it together and yeah, we, we, we got about 30 or 40 really, People that just needed that music, studios, teachers and whatnot.

And, you know, we, we canceled out when this is over and its still rolling. So that's, that's what started it all. And it's, it's been all right so far.

Samantha: Nice, from a studio owner perspective. So I, I do not own a studio. I'm an independent instructor, but, I still get the, got the nasty gram, about a year and a half ago from, ASCAP saying, you don't have your music licenses all in check.

if someone subscribes to the Music Mills app and they are in a professional capacity where they're teaching lessons, Do they also need to go out if they're only using the music from the app, I should say, do they need to still go out and get separate licenses from all of, from the three major licensing agencies or as part of that subscription, is that covered?

Brent: Officially the part of the subscription, if you're subscribing officially, it does cover a licensing because it's it's the, the policy for the government is concerned. It can't be double taxed. So you can't, you don't have to pay licensing twice. So if you're paying a subscription, that means you are paying someone and they are paying. So we pay every three seconds.

You listen to a song, it gets dinged and we documented it and it gets paid out a little cents go out. So, we were able to. To, to let people know, like, yeah, they'll call, ASCAP will call, BMI will call. Now what they're doing is they just, they know people are just letting music roll. And so they do the, Hey we're big and scary, and you're da-ba-da-ba-deen and then you get all nervous and then, you know. But the problem, the fact is that they really, I wanted to go for, you know, prosecuting or investigating.

They'd have to fly an auditor to your studio that he'd have to sit in your studio and listen to all your music and make sure find tracks from ASCAP, they're not all from one place. Yeah. BMI, ASCAP, CESAC like there's like four big ones. So they'd have to do that. Then they'd have to get the court days.

The lawyers, like it would be tens of thousands of dollars to prosecute to come and find you in little old Utah, you know, to say you can't play that one song. So they know that is not cost effective and it is not realistic. So they just do the big let's call everybody and, and legitimately, do they have a case?

Of course they do. It's that's the law, every bar, every restaurant, they all have to pay, you know, but there's different ways to pay. There's like just a blanket where you pay a fee and you can play music. You don't get it, download it. You don't get it, send it to people or broadcast, but in your place of business.

So. That's what that covers. Now, if you take your step a song and then you perform it publicly, record it, and sell it, that's a whole nother thing. It is not covered by like yeah. Your studio. So that we realized that quickly, you could just stop those phone calls and say, I pay for a subscription. And then they, they know.

They have to move on. So it does, it does help with that. Yes, because that's the confusing part and yeah, everybody did get shut down. Everyone was putting their stuff online and YouTube's like, bye bye. And, you know, the algorithm that they do and sometimes they get it. Sometimes they don't. a lot of times they'll, they'll ding it, but it'll say, if you go into advanced like more information, you'll see like, Oh, it only got blocked in.

Albanian and it got blocked Kazakhstan, like countries that like are way off the grid, you know, not England, not North America, Canada, like, so it looked like a big scary message. But if you really read the details, there's just, you know, pretty closed down countries that are basically not allowing it. So.

You know, they're, they, they are definitely trying to protect, you know, which I can appreciate as a musician. That's awesome. I'm glad they have some kind of thing before. Remember pre Napster days when everyone was just, you could get everything, you know, for free. And that's what the record dealers were like, well, CD's are not, are gone.

How are we going to collect? And so that's how it all got online and got very efficient that way. Yeah.

Samantha: Well, that's good to know. That's good to know that. At least there's a little bit of coverage there. Where, where, if you are a member of the subscription fee, you are paying that out every month to have access to the music that you aren't having to also then go out and make sure that you have everything else in place if you're just doing it under your studio building. Obviously if you're going out and performing, that's a, that's a separate discussion. I want to talk a little bit about your kind of entry into the dance world, because while we know you, I think mostly for being a music director and now for providing this app, you actually had an amateur dance career for a while, and you were first a dancer and then became kind of this music guru in the industry.

So how did that all get started? How did that all start?

Brent: So I was a musician first when I was really tiny, like two or three years old, looking at pictures of my older siblings piano books, and I'd just tell stories and plunk out, come to terribly, terribly made songs as a three-year-old really, but I, that was the beginning of me seeing something and wanting to put music to it.

Then I got lessons and I was a musician all through school. And then my freshman year of high school. I, that's right. I mean, you know, you start high school and there's all these new programs. And I was, I was thinking drama was cool. And so I went into drama and then they decided to do Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, that year for the musical, which requires 14 male dancers.

And, you know, we're in little Pleasant Grove. By the mountain po-dunk, you know, tiny town. I don't say po-dunk, I love Pleasant Grove, but you know, it's definitely not back in the eighties was definitely not ready for male dancers. That is for sure. So we had to go and recruit baseball and football players.

We, but we got it. We got 14 dudes. We learned the waltz. We learned lifts. We learned the polka, all kinds of lifts, all kinds of stunts. I mean, so for the guys in the little high school. It was very fun. We got to hang out with the girls and that was always, you know, hello. So we, we thought it was great.

The musical ends and all of a sudden we're like, well, we've been meeting for three months, you know, doing this, now what? And we want it to keep going. So the director's like, well, let's just start a little ballroom team. And my director was a former alumni of the, of the first Blackpool winning formation team in, in England.

So she was part of that whole situ the whole history of the BYU dance company, even pre Lee Wakefield, like Roy Mavor days. So, we started that it was just one hour after school, every Tuesday. And we had a ball, she saw some kind of weirdness potential in me, suggested I take privates. So that's nice. She was a cabaret theater arts, Roy Mavor, who trained her was the theater arts man of he was the Baryshnikov of theater arts, literally that guy.

So I had a lot of heritage in my training about cabaret and theater arts, also trainings in the Latin and ballroom. And, yeah, by the time I was a senior, it became an official club at the school and we were doing like the prom, you know, the little things they do in the middle of the night, you know, to break up all the making out and all that stuff. They're like, yeah, let's have a show. And you know, so, that became, and then, you know, years later, other kids from other high schools will come into Pleasant Grove afterschool to be a part because they heard about this fun team. And as alumni would leave BYU, they would start a team in Orem high school.

Then one started in American Fork and it just spread. And then Pleasant Grove became the first accredited PE credit ballroom class in a high school recognized by the state school board. The first high school in America, it was the very first high school to say, ballroom dance classes now you can take this as an alternate route for PE.

So that was crazy. And then all the other school programs got on board. And of course, as more alumni came out of the program with BYU, more high school and then junior high and elementary. And now as you know, today, it's a massive team match. Thousands of kids, high school, junior high, elementary, and it just became this thing.

And, you know, parents love their kids looking all cute. Little ties and a little, I mean, it's a perfect recipe for cuteness, right? So that's family, it's Utah. Hello? Everyone wants their child to be an Osmond. So that is potentially even the heat, a bigger growth that way. So that's, that's how that all began.

Meanwhile, I was still doing music. And in the band jazz band and all that stuff. So I had this dual kind of role all through school and then, decided that I was going to, I want it, if I'm going to go to college, I'm going to go to music school. And that's when I chose Berklee, um in Boston just to go there.

And I originally went as a drummer, because I had more chops as a drum. I'd only taught myself how to play piano. I'd had training in a drum and bugle Corps that I marched in for one season. so I got in on drumming and then I changed it to piano when I got there. Cause right. Yeah. So that's, that's kinda like how that all went down and that was all pre BYU.

That was just like, okay. I'm out of school. I, I, you know, It wasn't, I didn't even consider dancing as a career. I don't know why, but, you know, I think it was because I didn't, I wasn't ballet, I wasn't brought up in that real studio atmosphere, so yeah, it was music. And then I finished Berkeley and decided to come back.

And realized that, Oh, I got a job. Oh, I know what happened. So I came back from Boston to, let me know if I go on, I go, way too

Samantha: You're fine

Brent: So I get home from Boston. And I'm hanging out and I decided to, to, to finish up or to begin at the university of Utah, cause my mom worked there in the hospitals, I got like half tuition.

So my tuition went from $7,000 a semester to literally $350 with my mom's discount. So of course, I'm going to this school no more college debt. And, but the music program compared to Berklee was like high school band. I mean, it was literally just a bunch of students getting ready to become a high school band teacher.

Like, and I was not, I was just like, I'm not that. So my grades went down and I didn't, I just gave up, I was managing a bar, you know, it's just like that rough life of like, you know, what am I going to do? And then in that bar, there's a patron. She owned a little dance studio with little kids, jazz, tap, ballet.

One of the first people to actually, She opened her studio in Cottonwood Mall, like in the mall, like the first dance studio ever to be in a mall. Cause she's like, you know, marketing, people walking by, she, the whole thing was windows. So it was pretty brilliant, but she was a, not so good at managing, but you know, she hired me because she needed some male.

She needed help with boy-girl, like lifts. And so someone told her that I used to dance. I don't know how anyone found out, but so she's like, you know how to do that? I'm like, oh lifts, are you kidding, that's all I knew. So I came over one time and I was just looking at it and , Oh yeah. So with that guy and shift, and then have that girl go over there and lift her up and then drop them down.

And, you know, and I just naturally, like I had seen before, just I decided, yeah, do that and did that and to there and, They're like on that went onto like a national title over in LA. And they were just like, this is awesome. Do another one. So they hired me again. And then all of a sudden, they're just like, we want you to be our assistant director of the studio.

And I'm like, well, bag bar life. I'm done with that. So, and to that, and then I suddenly realized how much I lacked as far as like the skills of teaching, the elements of dance, all those things. I was just like choreography. I found this creative, little thing that I did not know was going on.

And, so just alone on the idea is I was kind of coasting, but I really felt like I need some training. So , BYU hs one of the most innovative dance part is as far as like being able to have these touring and these companies, so many options between folk. and contemporary and ballroom. And so I'm like, I'm going to go down there and just get some training because, you know, professional musician and making it was like, this was the ladder.

But like as a male choreographer, for some reason I was, it was like this, it was so much closer. Like it was so much easier to get work. so I did, so I went down, applied to BYU, Got rejected a couple of times, cause I had terrible grades. So I went back to U of U and just retook all these classes and then apply it again.

And then they rejected me again and I was like, what? And so I double checked and they actually messed up my transcripts and didn't calculate right. And I was ready to fly to Puerto Rico and just decided to give up and be a windsurfer during the day and work in the hotels at night. Just. I just to be a bum and I was literally ready to go.

And a very good friend of mine was like, just go down on Monday, you know, just go. Just find out and I'm like, really BYU is going to say, Oh, well, I'm sorry. You know, I was so bitter and I, and they're like, just go. So I did. So I go down and I'm all mad. And lady's like, Hey, did you get in? I'm like, no. And she's like, why not?

I'm like, because I don't know. She looks up. She was like, well, your GPA was like 2.6 and he'd like three, two. And I'm like 2.6 It's. I came in with a 3.5. She's like *makes typing noise*. And she's like, Oh, oh my, and , what's going on? And she's like, I can see what happened. We had a new intern that, calculated your grades wrong.

Well, she's like if I do the math it's yeah, it is a 3.5. I'm so sorry. We're going to resubmit this. You're going to know in two days and I'm going to call it, you know, and I'm like, I am dying. I'm like what? And I went home that day, just like. I would literally was ready to buy a plane ticket. And then the rest is history.

That was like the pivotal point of like, I would totally, I mean, I'd probably be dead by now with skin cancer. I'm positive. So I got in and then the rest is history. I just, I just took off the idea of choreography and creative process, which I kind of fought the process of ballroom as a sport because I really wasn't into it as the competitive side. I was into the artistic, like I loved creating, I would hear music. I'm like, I need to coor a coordinate movement with that music, you know? And so to me, when I got in there, yeah, it was all ballroom and steps, but I didn't feel like steps can really portray a character or tell a story. Like cha-cha basic, what does that tell you? Nothing. So, got into a few other programs in there that like, lets you choreograph. So, I just took off and I loved contemporary dance. I was so in love with all that. I mean the weirdness of trees, not so much, but it had a point in and it gave you way more control as far as like knowing how your body moves your center and all that stuff. And so to me, I had a whole different foundation developing outside of ballroom, but I was, I was in ballroom still because I loved it. I loved the team effort. I love the shows that we would do because they were very artistic shows it wasn't a bunch of competitive dancers, like watch a bunch of Samba, but it was very creatively, very sequenced.

and so that appealed to me. And so that, that took off and then. Yeah. And graduated and then went to yeah, the whole thing. So that's, I'm, that's my short story. Short version,

Samantha: It's the short version. I love that. so many things that I want to chat about in there. so just as a quick aside, I enjoy the fact that you mentioned that you see the artistic, connection between music and dance and that there is movement in the music.

I have always felt like I'm a little bit of a crazy person because when a song comes on the radio, I. I can visually see what bodies are supposed to be doing to the song. Like if I don't hear the music, I see it as a play or performance.

Brent: Yeah. You're like me. That's what I do.

Samantha: And that's so hard to communicate to people that don't have that aspect,


Brent: Oh yeah, trust me. And when I started choreographing, I started choreographing when I moved from New York to. Well first started at BYU before I moved. my last year I got hired at the Hale center theater, right. And they did Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, which is literally, there's no dialogue. It is a full on every piece is a music piece it's so every piece was choreographically had to be set.

So that was a nightmare and Hale center theater is in the round. There's four sides. Another nightmare. So, when that's, that was the first professional gig that I had really gone out on. And, you know, I didn't really, I just did my thing, which was how ballroom people do they show up. If someone says, Hey, do me a da.

And you're like, okay. And you put on a song and then you have to literally on the fly, give a couple, a creative routine and you know, something original and fresh. I mean, Just on the fly and I didn't realize, and it was so natural, I'm just like, yeah. So I would show up to rehearsal and I'm like, alright, you go over there and you do this.

And you know, and then I do, and I'm like, no, let's just do it this way. And the dancers would gets so mad because I guess real choreographers come in, they have their notes, like this section, and then we're going to here, and then their little formations drawn out and all these details and da-da-da, and I'm like, yeah, I couldn't do it.

I couldn't concentrate long enough to try and organize. And the other problem was is I always choreograph. If I ever pre choreograph, it was always too hard for everyone.

Samantha: Yes.

Brent: Because I can do it. I can do it easy, watch my style, man. They move and then I would show it. And then I realized nobody can do this.

Plus they're actors and actors. I'm sorry, acting community. You're not, you're not good dancers. Actors don't make the dancers because they're all trained in a basement somewhere or someone's garage down the street and they it's just too much for them. They don't realize. So you're just like, so I would always have to dummy down the choreography because I had done all this and they're like, Can we just do kick-ball-change? Or a grapevine? Easy. So to me it was just easy on the fly to just start out. Yeah.

Samantha: Well, and I, because I predominantly work with older adults and especially a lot of wedding couples, although 2020 being what it is. I have found that I purposefully. I'll listen to the song before I go into a wedding couple's first dance lesson, but I purposefully won't start choreographing it until I go through.

And I'll choreograph it like 16 or 32 counts at a time and immediately start filtering down or filtering up based on what they can physically do. Right. It's like, okay. I, I know what I want to do to, this Michael Bublé song. But you're not going to be able to do it. So how do I water it down? Yep.

Brent: Yeah. Yeah, that happened to me many times. And the dancers would just, especially the really good ones. Cause they're used to all of this cut and dry, black and white, and I'm like, You know, it's opening night and I'm like, no, change it to this. I want you to, you know, and they'd be freaking out.

Samantha: Yeah.

Brent: And I'm like, and I, and I would literally warn the cast cause I did this many more times for Hale. And then after New York down in Arizona, again for Hale, cause they have another big, they have a big one down there as well. And it was just. A warning. I just said, look, this will change. It's going to evolve and y'all need to deal with it because it's just, I can't do it the other way, you know? So just everybody relax.

And if they knew that they'd do it, some of those actors are so uptight. I mean, I would rather have a bunch of dancers and I could tell them, you know, what, you need to act sad and lost and lonely. And I got. I would get such a better performance out of dancers portraying that character than I would actors, because the actors, all that they can't think about acting, you have to think about left right left cross in front of kickball change had to, you know, whatever.

So they're, they're acting goes out the door, the dancers, the movements inside it's already muscle memory. So, what do they do? They can just act, they can just play that character because that's what dancers do they have to do all this movement. And then they have to get behind a facade and make that whatever the character is of that choreography.

So for me, actors out, dancers in. I I'll tell them what to look like. It's so much easier. I love you actors, I'm so sorry.

Samantha: Well, we'll have to, we'll have to have a conversation off stream about, about that

Brent: can't wait,

Samantha: just, I hear your point, but it can go either way.

Brent: I had to do, I had to do Sound of Music in the round and I had to do,

Samantha: Oh my gosh.

Brent: You know, So Long Farewell, right? Which is iconic. Everyone knows that choreography everybody, no one doesn't know what it is. And so when you're there, you're like, I either copy this verbatim, which you know, is Cardinal sin amongst choreographers, or I had to do something completely not recognizable. And then let's add four sides to that as well. So let's just, it's like the Rubik's cube of choreography. And, that's the decision because you, you, you can either just take the easy road and just do that, all that stuff, or you find another gesture and you're like, well, what's another gesture for hello? There's not many, there's not many variations.

So I mean, it was challenges like that for me. But again, Like you, I hear a song and I, I immediately go into a story. I immediately go like, Oh no, I have the girl come out and she's going to this. And the guy's going to be like, I can't stop it. So there was, it was easy to be clear up front because I immediately would know, you know, and that's just, that is only unique to ballroom.

That's only unique to ballroom people. You'd go into lyrical jazz. Even hip hop, everything's pre done. It's very organized. You know, nobody understands about choreographing on the fly they would cause I've asked other choreographers, like no just come in and you'll get it. Just, you know, sit down. They're like, no, I don't, I'm not going to do that.

They panic.

Samantha: Yeah.

Brent: So it's, it's, it's interesting. It's been a great tool because I've been able to produce for, you know, dance companies or productions much faster than other dancers that I, that I've watched, you know, other choreographers, how they process.

Samantha: Well, and I wonder, and I'd love to get your opinion on this.

I wonder if part of that is because ballroom dance is so tied to the connection between two people. Like you have to have a certain amount of emotional connection with your partner. You have to feed off of each other. There's the lead and follow aspect where you're getting a signal and you're reacting to it.

So even if you go into a pre choreographed preplanned routine, It's never going to be exactly the same every single time. There's still elements of, I want to play with the music on this, or I want to create a sharper moment than we've done in the past, because I don't feel like our tango is hitting exactly the note that it needs to.

So if I feel like the ballroom mindset is more. I want to kind of know the beats that I want to hit, but I want to be able to have the ability to react in the moment. Whereas hip hop or jazz or tap, it has to have a little bit more of a structure to it because you're wanting to create emphasis, emphases in the same place every single time you perform that single piece of music.

Brent: That's right. Same like, like if you go to a salsa competition or Bachatac competition, it is not like our competition, the majority are groups of people on the floor. They don't know the music is coming. You play it, everyone reacts in their role. But like the, even West coast swing, the swing, salsa, bachata, Argentine tango, it's all based off of solos.

Like. They all still come out with their music. It's all choreographed. There's very little, like let's have all bachata and we pick out our 24 and our 12 and our six. It doesn't work that way. And so to put on a piece of music and start dancing for any other style, except ballroom is, is, is like, I don't know how to do that.

And you know that, but the, but, but we're also very time specific. So the timing doesn't, it's not because it's too fast or too slow, but if it gets faster, then it becomes another dance and, and, the dance industry doesn't understand that. So like salsa, hip hop music, it's not based off of tempo. It's like East coast, there's West coast.

Ballet is based off of what the progression is adagio, Legros, you know, tangos, things like that, where it's just a certain style, but we're like, it's a certain, not only is it a certain style, but there's a certain rhythm. And then that rhythm, there's a character. And in that character, there's a story, you know?

And it's like so much to take on. I've I've, I've had ballerinas from American Ballroom Theater, like in New York, they come over and they can't even do a rumba walk. They can't do a Rumba walk because they're trained to like, place that foot first. And then walk on it. Well, we're like, no, just start falling and you'll catch yourself.

And they just go why would I fall? I'm a ballerina. I'm all about balance. I don't go off balance.

Samantha: Yep.

Brent: You know, and you're like, turn that off, turn it off. You know? So to me it brings a lot of variety and like a lot of texture. for when you know, and that's why, I said, So You Think You Can Dance. That's a big reason why it was so successful because you had to know ballroom and they find the legitimize ballroom as a craft.

and not, you know, because before that, I, I gotta tell you I was embarrassed. I didn't want to be called a ballroom dancer. So when I was in New York and so like, Oh yeah, he's a ballroom dancer. I'd be like, don't say that because I know, That the, the entire dance community, they hear ballroom dancing, and then you're just, you're done.

Cause they think of turned in feet. They think of fake tan, all the rhinestones, they don't give it a lot of validity because. They can see that nobody has really taken time to say, don't turn your feet out. I mean, don't turn them in. Or, or your, your extensions are, you know, I mean, like they can, I can see, and I'm not even a ballerina, but I know I've had ballet classes for years.

I know. That's what they're thinking. So I didn't want to be put in that group of like, he's not legit. Cause that's basically how it would feel. And so when that show came out, it was like, Oh no, these ballerinas now have to do Chacha and now we can all see that they don't look like the ones that know chacha.

So I think it was a great reveal for everyone to go, Oh, it is legit because I, again, I've been like, I am all about, that's that's, that's why it was never going to get in the Olympics either because, you know, I used to teach ice dancers and I will used to help them with, back East with, their choreography, lifts especially.

And, one time I was, teaching them and I said something about their coach and judging. And they're like, no, our coach doesn't judge. I mean, our judges judge and our coaches coach, and you don't get to do both. And I thought, Oh, that's why, that's why you can't have a judge. And then they teach you and then they get to judge you.

That is like to the Olympic committee that like that's in bizarro land. And so until that changes, I guarantee you, it will never get to the Olympics because there's too much potential for, you know, bias. Yeah. I've, I've always tried to mesh those two to get them legit, but you know, the haters are on this side about the ballerina, the technique.

And then the ballroom people are like, no, I, I am a world champion. I'm like, I know you're a world champion, but I still see your turned in foot every time. And that is wrong. So I have to like stand back and just go. A lot of ego going on.

Samantha: Definitely a lot of ego going on

Brent: that's another podcasts right there.

Samantha: I was gonna say, it's talking about, the divide between different dance styles could be a podcast on its own. Talking about whether or not judges and adjudicators should also be coaches and, and amateurs versus professionals teaching. And. That could, that, that could be several podcasts in itself.

Brent: Totally, totally.

Samantha: So you brought up, So You Think You Can Dance? I do want to talk about that. you were the music editor slash consultant for four seasons of, So You Think You Can Dance?

Brent: Yeah.

Samantha: and I kind of want to like lump two questions into one if I can.

so the first is just generally, what was that experience like? And then the second is, When obviously part of it is you're taking a three minute song and cutting it down to one 20, one 30, one 40, a performance showcase length and for TV. but the other part of it is I'm sure you were taking arrangements that were in one tempo and one time signature and changing it because the dancer wanted to dance something different.

Brent: right.

Samantha: Most recent example, you published a version of Shallow in Viennese waltz timing.

Brent: Yeah, that just go released

Samantha: Yeah. as a Viennese waltz and maybe I'm incorrect, but the original recording is in four, four, is it not?

Brent: Yeah.

Samantha: So yeah. So what was the experience like on, So You Think You Can Dance? And what's the process like when you're taking these pop songs and completely changing them for the dance style?

Brent: Okay, well, quick history. When, I was in New York, I was, I was a professional dancer. I had a span of professional dancing, and, I was in Gary and Diana McDonald's studio, the world, 10 dance champions. Very popular at the time. And I was teaching out of their studio. and they're like, Hey man, we want to do a, they knew I was a musician.

And I think we want to do, this, a Evita piece for the world, Latin show dance champion. But they, it, it was before there was mixing and digital and all this easy. It was before garage band, all that stuff. Right. But digital editing was up and coming and I was learning how to do it. and they knew I was a drummer, so that, can you just make this Latin make it sound like add a clave, things like that.

Because back then before all this downloading was going on, you had to go down to a record store down in some seedy place in Manhattan. Into a Latino and just start listening, you need to find an album and like, ah, $17 for one track because it was a really good Chacha and you had to find it. And I had to be the tempo.

So even if it wasn't the tempo you like, man, and so it was so hard to find good music and for performance. even worse. So they asked me if I would, so I manipulated it. I edited it. I did all these drum tracks. They ended up winning the United States Latin show dance championship, and that kind of just opened up the opportunity of like all music can now be manipulated pretty much over either editing, tempo change or remixing. So I did Louis van Amstel. I did Beata and Michael, I like, I was fortunate that through Gary and Diana. Thank you my friends. I got connected and one of them was Mary Murphy. And so by the time I left, and decided to go full time music out of New York, moved my, my little family to Arizona and started doing music full time.

And then Mary contacted me. I'd done a little bit of music for her and her studio back when she was, I think pro-aming maybe. And so she knew me from there and we were always good buddies and she's a character. And, that's when she, she got on that show, so she calls me up and she was, had to choreograph that opening number for the first time.

And so she's like, can you edit this real quick? Cause I can't, I can't get ahold of their guys and the production studio. I'm like, yeah, send it over. And I am like, how long? She's like one minute and 32 seconds. And I'm like, okay, because TV has to be specific. Everything's on the minute. So I did it, sent it to her.

Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Then they had Ron Montez as a guest choreographer. Rons like I need this edited, Mary's like just have Brent do it. He's fast and he'll get it done. So I do it for Ron and then another choreographer and then one of the hip hop choreographers. So eventually halfway through the season, the producers are like, who's this Brent guy from Arizona?

Who, who is this? Like, because they're all just going outside. And so Mary put in the word and they're like, well, let's just hire him because obviously everyone's very happy and he's, he's very fast. And I got really quick at editing when I was in New York for Gary and Diana and all those people, like editing was just super easy, remixing, a lot longer, but so easy to edit.

So, that's how that all went down in that situation because. we were able to now manipulate music and now that everything's online and digitally there, then like for instance, Shallow. So I hear music, It's the, when I hear a song, if I hear a song, I go, yeah, yeah, yeah. But if I actually get the, the sheet music, or if I learn the song on the piano, then I'm open to do it however I want to do it. And you don't cause, cause the song are just, it's just a repeat of chords. So I don't even really care about the melody. I like just playing that progression of chords and then making up my melody as I go. Which is, and I'm not a songwriter for that reason because that makes I have to decide, you know, I mean, it took me a long enough just to decide whether I was going to do for Shallow as a waltz or Vienesse Waltz.

cause they both sound really, really nice in their own little sort of way, waltz versus Viennese. but the progression of the chords and all that lends to me that it's needs to go faster and flow more. I'm going to release, I'm just finishing, Killing Me Softly, which I did. I do a Monday night, little. I don't know if you call it a podcast, but I just turn on my camera and my piano back there.

And I just turn it on every Monday and whoever wants to watch, and I just go through these songs and I start figuring out arrangements, and then I'll just tell people like what I'm doing and why I'm doing it, but it's really just an opportunity to see the process of what goes on in my brain when I think about like Shallow.

So I'm, so I'm actually going to do that tonight. I'm going to, I'm going to go over Shallow and let people hear what I did. And, that's at seven o'clock, Pacific time and it's just live. We do it through Facebook, but it really, It's either people to educate and to know kind of how music is it.

Cause I kind of try to help dancers like figure out how to listen to music, because like, for instance, one of my pet peeves, when I'm playing music at events is, you know, they'll announce the first dance, mainly it's professionals that always do this. And, there was a trend for awhile, "Music please, waltz".

And I haven't even pressed the button and all of a sudden the couple just takes off.

Samantha: Yeah

Brent: I'm like, Well, that's some, that's pretty brassy. Like that's pretty assumptive that they can just, yeah, I know what song's coming on, its all good. It's which, which I was like, how do you know, how do you know, how do you know, maybe I'll just take a little longer to press that button and make it awkward.

You know, we'll just keep watching you move without music while all the other competitors stand there. Watch you move, you know, but to me it's like that, that is like almost a foul because how is the, how is dancing made? Is you hear something and then you do it. You know, there was no band that saw a couple just dance in the silence.

And they're like, yeah, that looks like a cha-cha let's join them. It doesn't, it's never worked that way one day time in history. Okay. So it makes me laugh. I mean, there are pieces without music, but that's all contemporary and they're brilliant. And I get that process. But even without music, there is an internal rhythm that has to be there for those dancers to connect, obviously.

So if there's no sound then you're not connecting and you haven't connected yet. So to start moving was really, really, really silly. cause to me, when I was dancing, Even earliest days, it was a story. It's a story. And a, a progress of like, and I was being trained as a professional, Rufus Dustin, you know, great choreographer, very passionate about technique and process of storytelling.

He said it to me once ith our partner, he's like every, well, I think every two measures is a story. So every, or maybe four, I think he said it was the sequence of four. So tell a story of every four measures and then either repeat the story or whatever the movement says. And I actually became way better and more attached because I could actually focus on sections about really what I'm portraying and not like, Oh, New Yorker.

And then I do hip twists and you know, like that's goes in your brain, but that doesn't tell a story. That's just technical jargon. So when I hear songs. So I, you know, I started doing this program, which was really just like, Hey, I love Killing Me Softly, but listen to it as a Foxtrot cause Foxtrot is like, *sings Foxtrot style beat* that, you know, so I'm like, Oh, that's is like a nice little groove.

And that's why like groups like Postmodern Jukebox

Samantha: Yes!

Brent: Group like that went huge because they. And then I'm like, man, I should've, because I've been doing this way before they came along, buddy, this guy took those songs. Everyone knows is hip hop and whatnot and broadened into this jazz funky, enjoyable, relatable piece of music for everybody, not just the old foogies that like *sings intro to In the Mood*

You know, they think they're the greatest music I'm from the eighties. So I'm like no punk rock, you know, it's like you, we all think our music was the greatest, but like this guy took that song into a level. Like it made it the greatest for everybody to relate to. Kids are digging jazz. I mean, that's amazing because my daughter hates jazz, but this stuff, you know, she's 20, right?

So she is like, nah, but then she hears this stuff and like, Oh my gosh, I love this song. And I just, I just kind of smile internally because. You know, it, it relates to everybody because that's, that's what it is. It gives a story and it's a literal translation. So that, to me, when I heard that, I was like, Oh, I can turn any song into any style.

And I, and I'm so used to it because at BYU I was a modern dance accompanist. So I got a job immediately when they heard, I just came from Berklee though. I didn't want to play for a modern, you know? And so, and I was a drummer as well, so I had my drums and my piano and I'd watch them, do a sequence.

And I'm like, Oh yeah, that's, that's really jazzy. So I'm going to do something really lyrical and throw them off. And they had to deal with it, you know, cause that's modern dance. Right. And so I learned really quickly how to improv and just play rhythm. Rhythm and rhythm. So to me, my platform is not my music.

This is my song. It's more like I'm making music for you to move to. I love creating something that enhances the visual, I guess. Yes. Say it that way. Even modern art, you know, I could put music to, I see a poster and I have rhythm in my head and I, all of a sudden I'm like jazzing it, or I'm like, Viennese waltz is in my brain.

It's, it's quite, it's quite disturbing sometimes, but like, I can keep, keep focus on like what, a project can be. And I get ideas all the time. Like I find more music in elevators. And restaurants and hotel lobbies then I do try trying to go and search for music. So, yeah, that's how that happened with Shallow and kind of putting those arrangements together like that.

Samantha: Well, and I love that too. For me, when I'm at a competition, I love the moment and I feel like it's, it's a 100% credit to the music director and how they're picking songs. But I love it when I'm watching like a Tango or a Foxtrot. And I'm like, Oh, that's a really pretty song. And then like 45 seconds in, I'm like, Oh my goodness, that was Enter Sandman by Metallica.

And it just it's like. I how, how and why? And you just fall in love with the fact that somebody had the presence of mind to go, I enjoy the song, but I want to strip everything that you associate with the song away and see if I can still make it an interesting and complex musical arrangement in a context that it would never be in.

Brent: Yeah. And that's what I do on the, on my little Monday, the little thing, because I try to show people, you know, if you're not musical, you're completely codependent on the melody. And if the melody is not there, I mean, I could play Killing Me Softly for 10 minutes in a room and maybe five people out of all the 50 will know that's the song.

Cause there's a few identifying chords and such in there, but most will just be like, Oh, this music. And then if, as soon as I start playing the melody, It all makes sense, and it all kicks in. And then once they hear the melody, if I take the melody away, they are now aware that that is the song. And then they hear the chords and then they're like, Oh, this is where the chorus is, you know, "Stumming in pain", you know, things like that.

But most are just codependent on the melody. And I try to show people. Bag the melody. The melody was just the thing that gets you hooked into the song because that's song that song writing 101. Three chords. Awesome. Hound Dog is three chords just like thousands of songs are those three courts, but it was that *sings guitar riff from Hound Dog*, you know, that was that melody hooked everybody and the style and Elvis and those things. So that's what will sell a song, but those three chords can be played in so many different ways and so many different styles. Like I can do Pachelbel's Canon, you know, the famous wedding song now it's Christmas song apparently

Samantha: Yeah, yeah.

Brent: It's the only song that's been written centuries ago that made its way back to the top 40 literally, is 14th century. And for some reason now it is like the wedding song. And now it's a Christmas song, you know, once a Christmas song, everybody it's Christmas song forever.

Samantha: Always.

Brent: So, but that's a progression of chords that are more, a little more famous than the *sings beginning to Pachelbel's Canon* like that little melody line that goes long?

It's that *sings beginning to Pachelbel's Canon* so that's what I try to show people like, I'm just going to use this progression and I'm going to play it as a Viennese and then a waltz. And then here it is a Foxtrot. And then I can Tango this song like that, that, even that song right there, I can play. I could play for all four styles.

If I played live for a round. I can play Canon as the Waltz for a minute and a half, and then like a change to a tango, to a Foxtrot, to Viennese waltz, all the same song. So that to me is a lot of fun because you get to do a variation on a thing which composers did all the time back then they would take another composer's theme and do a whole nother situation.

but they loved the theme. It wasn't the melody, it was just that progression. So. That's my thing. That's what I love doing. I'm not about songwriting. but I love good songs and I love good songs that were not only as a great progression chords, but the lyrics sometimes land like some songs I don't want to do jazzy because the lyrics won't feel, they don't feel jazzy.

You know, it's more to be beauty, you know, things like that. So that's how that all went, goes down.

Samantha: So that, leads me to an interesting question, which or, I hope an interesting question, which is, when you are listening to a song for inspiration to make it ballroom or to, to recompose it, are you paying more attention to you?

The emotional quality in the music as it was originally written, or the story that the lyrics are telling? For what, how you want to recompose it, right? Because, the emotional quality that the dancers are expecting to be performing in a Samba is going to be very different from a Bolero, which is going to be very different from a tango, which is very different from a Viennese waltz.

So if you're stripping the melody out or you're, or you're ignoring the melody as you're re composing it. What dictates for you? The direction that the song would naturally lend its lend itself to?

Brent: Lyrics is the last thing that I take into consideration because when I think about music for dancing, it doesn't necessarily mean someone has to sing the song.

whether it's a very familiar song or not like if like say when I release Killing Me Softly as a waltz, which I have decided I like it as a waltz. I tried it as a Viennese waltz. And, it's some, some songs don't work because, they are sung not kind of in strict, for instance, last week I did Love on the Rocks and this is an old song by Neil Diamond and the chords though are so awesome.

Cause it's a very sad song. It's emotional, it's an, a minor chord, and then it ends in a major and goes back to minor. And it's just this very, you know, it's a great ride of emotions. Love on the Rocks and it heartbroken. So the S the chords are awesome, but the way he sings the song is it's very, like, *sings jazzy* love on the rocks ain't no big surprise.

Like, he's not just like *sings strict tempo* Love on the rocks, you know? So to me to try and play that in my right hand as a melody. I can't get that message through when you play it, because now I'm just imitating his his the way he that's the style he's singing. So I just let that go. And I just go into the chords and just kind of fill the top as kind of support.

And once in a while, we'll, we'll pass by *sings lyrics* first they say they want you. Something like that. And then I'll take off again because I can't really, but other songs like, I did Longer, by Dan Fogelberg. The way he sings. It is like *sings melodic tune* he sings it that way. So it, people will relate to that because it's the same thing.

So lyrics are kind of the last in the list. It's the progression of, of the chords. How, like if they, if they, modulate, if they go into a minor or a major, some, some are just three chords. The whole song, like Shallow literally is. *hums chords* the three songs during the, there's three chords during the verse and four chords during the four different chords during the bridge and bridge, and chorus so there's, there's nothing else to that song.

So it's not like a real complicated and they got all complex with the, with the extensions and stuff like that. But. The way they put it together is compelling because you have this kind of section first and then a big cry out loud in the chorus hits, you know, *sings I'm in the* and that becomes minor. So it's funny because the happy song started major.

And then when they go into the crying part and the chorus, now it's all minor or other songs like Neil Diamond's starts minor. Cause he's telling you his story. And then he goes into chorus and like, Oh, inspiration! And it builds and falls and stuff like that. So that's how I. I, I will here. I, and, and, and just the style of music that's that changes.

I just default by. You know, cause I've been listening to music for the last year, 20 years for dancers. Right. And so I've learned, I've watched them connect. I mean, I will literally watch dancers, make sure there is someone is connecting with this or, you know, cause you know, I'll get the stink face all the time.

Either from dancers a lot from the judges, you know, they'll be, they'll be up there and judging and I'll play some songs. I may have found the song like three o'clock in the morning, and I thought it was good that I was sleep depo'ed it's so, you know, I've, I've made the mistake totally will confess. Not every song I thought was awesome, was awesome. And I've missed it and you know, but that's okay because I learned and I took it out. So I, and it's not about my pride. Like I love the song and I'm going to play it no matter what. I can find, people don't like it. I mean, I've done that many songs and I thought you guys are crazy, this is an amazing song. But if they don't like it, I take it out and they'll look back and they'll give this crazy stink face.

And I'm just like, I'm going to play another chacha in literally five minutes, like seriously,

Samantha: it'll come back around

Brent: Like, that's what you're mad about?

Yeah. It's, it's, it's so funny. Like they, they it's like a restaurant, you know. Restaurants, if you've had a bad experience, they tell 10 people. You'd have a good experience, they tell one, that's just how it is.

And it's so funny how dancers think. This mainly happens with judges, but you know, they're okay with coming up to me and be like, I did not like that song. I just, nothing .*makes whining noises* You just hear them. And I used to get not offended, but it would stress me out. Cause I'm like, Oh, I didn't please one person, you know, I w cause I wanted everyone to connect and you know, not every song's the awesome song, but I was hopefully filtering out stale and the cheesy songs.

Right. but I just think it's funny cause you know, I would never. If I was down on the floor, on deck and I sit next to a dress designer, let's say. And then one of their dresses goes on. I would not be like, you know what? I just don't like green. I don't like that green you use, you know, it's just not, it just doesn't work for me.

You know, I don't, I wouldn't use green anymore. You know what I'm saying? Okay. And it's and what, what do you, what do you think would happen? And they slap you they'd be like, why did blahbity blah, you know? So I, I just think it's funny, like it's, it's not okay to do that, but yet you can, you can come up to me and be like, yeah, I didn't like that.

So there's people that are very connected. To the music yet, they don't really act or do what really connected people do with music. They just, at that moment, it wasn't their song.

Samantha: But on the flip side, you definitely have songs that will come on and you see the entire judging panel trying to be very serious, but they've got the hip going or the knee bouncing or the shoulders are popping. And it's like, ah ha!,

Brent: I watch that. I love, I love to see them connect and the best part, this is the best part. This is like sweet justice is when. And, and I know it's happening cause I'll play a new song. I'll I'll know it's new, I'll know it's a little different, it's got a little tweak on it or whatever, but I'm going to play it anyway, you know, just to see how it rolls.

And, you know, I watch the judges and judges, you know, tapping, you know, and then they'll come up. I dunno, I'll play it like two weeks later, somewhere it'll be in a different place and they'll be like, I didn't like that song, you know? And I'll be like, really? Cause two weeks ago in New York, you're tapping your foot was tapping.

You were like having a little jam to that song. I was? I really was? I'm like, yeah, you were digging it. So I might want to check yourself on your little opinion there because. You don't get to say it. If it doesn't stay consistent like that, it just completely invalidates anybody's opinion. And I just go, Oh, okay. Well, thanks. Have a nice day. You can go back to your little closed bubble and your little world and figure it out, but you know, that's what typically can happen.

Samantha: Well, I think that's one of those unique things about music too, is that it hits differently depending on what mood you're in, what else is going on in your life.

The same song played at at different periods in your life can mean very different things. You could absolutely hate it as you're a teenager because it's on the radio all the time. And then in, you know, later in life, when it comes on and you're like, Oh my gosh, that was, that was always on the radio when I was 16.

And I remember driving in the car with my boyfriend and we were going down a country road and we were laughing that why is it always this song? But it just kind of takes you back to a place or later in life, you can be like, man, that was a song that, that jerk that I dated in high school used to listen to all the time and I can't stand it.

Brent: That's true! Cause there's always stories in related to song, especially the past songs and what I find a lot when people like for a, showcases, especially their solos. Well, the pros do this a lot. And what happens is they have their favorite song that they related to. They were something happening, high school, whatever, all kinds of stories beind the song.

And then they think that it's compelling enough that the audience is going to immediately understand all of this that went through years of whatever for this one song. And a perfect example for me is, I love the song. Come Sail Away by Styx. It's an old eighties tune. it's just grand sciences, big breakout section.

It is back in my day. It was just this great, great song, great piano riff in the beginning. And, I've actually made into a Viennese waltz as well. That'll be later. But yet if I try to take that song and get my partner and try to dance to that song as a presentation, nobody is going to get, they're not going to be able to see my connection cause there's way too many, you know, memories or whatever in the song.

Plus the song is so epic. It's not going to relate well, even if I got in a sailor outfit and like come sail away, like it's still, even in the literal sense. It's still not going to do well for an audience because as there's not enough, it's not an, so I see that mistake made a lot because they think it's their favorite song.

So it's gotta be everybody's favorite and then it tanks, and it's just very awkward on the floor or they keep doing things that we've seen. If I see another Chicago piece, I'm going to do something. It's terrible. You know, it's crazy. If I see another Phantom piece. Now, do you want to do Phantom and put a mask on and then come out in like a banana hammock or something?

Like, make me laugh, like throw me off. Because when I hear that song, I immediately assume it's just going to be a cape, some guy in some mask, and some girl that's in distress. That's, that's the dance and I don't even have to watch it, but that's, what's going to happen. So to me, if you, if you choose common music or something that is already out there, you need to go way past the typical and throw people off.

And that's the secret. You need to find that piece that, that shows and portrays your, your whole intention and the character and the story that you want to tell, or you use a piece that everybody knows and make, make them look at it a little differently.

Samantha: Yeah.

Brent: For that, for those three minutes, that's, that's the challenge.

And I, and I throw that out to all professionals because you know, don't take the easy road because. You know, you may be new for five people in the audience, but everybody else is like, they're ready to walk out and get a drink, you know? Cause it's, they're not connected and that's your responsibility. You have to connect with the people you're, you're giving performance to.

Samantha: Yeah. Well, and I think, I mean like the professional showcase at Ohio was an easy one to turn to because it's typically posted all over the internet. So it's easily found. I feel like with professional showcases, there is a fine line between taking yourself seriously and trying to prove the quality and the clarity in your dancing and deciding that this is just a fun moment and let's celebrate it and let's have fun with it and kind of be goofy. I feel like the professionals, the showcases that I really appreciate are firmly and clearly in one camp or the other, and the ones that fall flat for me are trying to like thread the needle between, we want to show that we can really dance well, but we also want to kind of be goofy, but we don't want to go too goofy. Right?

One that stands out to me from, I think it was last year is the Baby Shark routine. That was the pinnacle of hilarity for me because she came out, she came out in an inflatable shark costume, and they were dancing to Baby Shark.

Brent: That's the perfect example that I was actually gonna, I was when you brought up Ohio, I'm like, that is that's.

That's exactly the, what I was going to say. Like, You know, Ohio, they all have to have this great show dance and they're all under pressure. They only, they can only get so much time and it's a big deal to them. And, but it's so competitive. they're all like, do I go funny? Do I go serious? Do I go emotional?

Or do I go dramatic? You know, things that, that's the big decision. Right. And. You know, as soon as I heard the music and I, and I'm totally admitting this, as soon, and it's Travis and Jamie, you know, so they're legit. They're, I mean, highly decorated. And by the way, I taught Jamie, her first cabaret routine, I choreographed for her back at BYU, Idaho, I just want everyone to know that. So you're welcome, Jamie. Yes. Like some royalties one day, please. Anyway, so they're in rehearsal and that music comes on and I immediately judge, I immediately just shut off, like really that's the best you can do. You know? I mean just my, my own fault, you know, and they come out and they start their thing and I'm already, I'm like, That's it, they did it, they did it because what they did do is they took that song.

What did they do? They made everybody watch because nobody would have expected that level or that extreme or that just, and they didn't do any to the most basic movement and steps. It wasn't anything, but the whole

Samantha: They did the Fortnight dance at one point

Brent: One of the most brilliant. Brilliant moves, but I am telling you, there was a point where they were with Gary and Diana and then their crew over there.

Like, you know, we want to do this, but how should we do it? Because they know like everyone hates that song because at that point it was just now it was annoying.

Samantha: Yeah.

Brent: And we were kinda over it. And it was just perfect timing, perfect situation. And they really kept it simple. And so that is a, that is a great example.

Yes. About they, they, they took the easy song, but they put it a lot, a lot of thought into it and look at it. It will go down and as it's so, so memorable and relatable to everybody, I mean, I'm showing it to my non dancer, non ballroom people, and they're like, That fabulous, amazing, you know, all, all of those things.

And so, yeah. Perfect example you showed right there.

Samantha: I want to wrap things up but before we do, what, in your opinion is one song that you could go the rest of your ballroom competitive experience without ever hearing again? And what is one song or one version that you wish more people would practice or perform to?

Brent: Hmm. I don't need to hear, All That Jazz ever again. I don't need to hear Phantom of the Opera ever again. I'm good with those. so, so yeah, there's there, Blurred Lines. I, you know, and that's the thing is what I do is I actually retire music. I found out that I'm really the only music director that actually take songs out of this and like, I'm good.

I'm done with this one. Cause some. They have their moment, you know, Happy. That was the fun, you know, but now Blurred Lines that was like the song. And then, you know, cause it's different now because all people have to do is just Shazam and they got the song. Whereas before, they would come up, Hey, where can I find this? Oh, well I got it on a CD and it's at my house and I don't have it.

You know? Like they, they, they couldn't find it. So a good song, you found one, lasted for months because it was a surprise still. Now, if I find a really good song, I'm, I'm hesitant because as soon as it goes, everyone's going to go and then what do they do? They go back to the studio and they play it every 15 minutes for eight hours a day, seven days a week.

And then it becomes a very annoying song. And, but I can, I'm still using it out on the road. So there is a fine line that I'm very sensitive to, to be like, okay, I have played the song enough. For a final for a pro or I've played the song. And so I'll take that from a pro into a pro am category where they, they will get this good music, but it's not going to be a professional event now.

And so everything kind of trickles down and then once it's kind of done there, then it gets archived. Not all songs, some songs, people just love hearing over and over, again all the time. And I don't, it doesn't get old. Moon River. There's the song Moon River to me. I could listen to in so many different versions that I have.

actually played it last week on my little piano thing. works in jazz and works in Viennese and works waltz. And just the style of that song to me, I could listen to, forever every, every time. Very sentimental as well. So I get very mushy when it comes to, you know, songs that kind of the chords connecting to the melodies connected and then these beautiful words that go along with it.

Samantha: Well and I feel like, you know, the music out of the Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin era is so timeless in its original version. And then it gives this, a massive amount of playroom for newer artists to reinvision it. So when you have something like Moon River, I mean the, the original recording is just perfect, but if you listen to it a million times, cause you're a wedding ta, a wedding dance teacher, and every third father daughter dance wants to use Moon River.

There are enough other options and enough other covers and tweaks of that song that you can still find variety in it. Yeah.

Brent: Right. And that's why the Internet's awesome in that respect because it allowed, you know, software became more affordable. The processing became faster, so you didn't have to go into studios to make recordings.

So all of a sudden, there's these artists that are talented, talented artists that could just get their song up online and. All of a sudden you add access. I mean, you can, you can type Fly Me to the Moon into iTunes. And then this is what people ask me. Like, how do I find music? I might take your favorite song, type it into iTunes or even Google.

And you're going to F you are going to find 20 to 30 different types of arrangements from hip hop to hard rock to bossa nova. I have found, I have found so many American Rumba songs in Bossa Nova because the trend now is like converting eighties and nineties tunes. into Bossa Nova, which makes me a little old because, you know, I didn't really plan on my music becoming classics, you know, cause my brain I'm still 23, but besides that, it's, it's the fact that people can now not only find it, and get it, but they can, there's just a whole new world of music for dancers that was not there before.

And they just had to have whatever was given. So it was, that is, that has been a blessing for dancers, for sure. You know, to find that music like that.

Samantha: Definitely, definitely. Well, I feel like we could talk for hours and hours about

Brent: Oh, for sure!

Samantha: Musicality and choreography and all of that stuff. I will definitely, if you are willing, I will have you back on for a future podcast or so

Brent: Yeah, I'll see you tomorrow.

Let's just, yeah, we can just chat. Cause yeah, I have a lot to say, especially when it comes to music and you know, I love, I, you know, that's, that's the reason I'm doing this. The whole platform is it's like, you know, here here's musician, right. And musicians go along and make the music and goes out and they license it.

And they, but they stay right here in the right lane on the freeway of careers. Dancers, they're in the left lane going forward, you know, do their projects, teaching, come over here, grab the music and then come back there. And they're always changing lanes all over here. And to me, these guys never come over here ever.

Ever, but there's a ton of work over here because dancers need, they have to have it. That's why they move. Right. But yet dancers don't always know, you know, that they can have something remixed. They don't know, like all of, a lot of people I found this great song, but it's kind of slow and I'm like, you're not aware that we can manipulate speed now? So even you can do it on your little phone.

Samantha: Yeah.

Brent: Now we can do it through my app, obviously, but it's like so much easier now to do that. And people need to realize like there's no limitations now to music, for what you would like to create and that's what I want people to know. I want to be the Netflix for dancers.

As far as music goes, where we find all of the music for you, that's out there, but we also make. I also make original tracks. I have my own tracks up in iTunes, my own foxtrots I've made, I made one of U2s, a U2 cover. I made a ZZ top cover. so you can check all that out, but it's like, that's what I love doing.

And that's, that's the purpose of like, let's just share and share alike.

Samantha: I love it. Well, thank you so much, Brent, for being on

Brent: You're welcome. Thanks for having me. Indeed a pleasure. I'm so glad you're doing this. There, there needs to be a lot more talk about, you know, the realistic things about dancing, where it's going on, how it's going on and where it's going and, and, and how to stay in touch because everyone is so spread out now and we don't get to connect anymore. The comradery. That's what I'm trying to think as far as seeing each other. So to me, it's like, let's keep in touch and that's why I just went online. I'm like, all right, you know, here's a tune, here's a song. And if you, if it's being tagged, then, I'll give you song that I own.

And you know, and you can borrow it until, you know, like I've, I've leased out my so much music since March. Just for those that, you know, they don't have the money to, you know, pay for the licensing of this Michael Jackson tune because it's tens of thousands of dollars. So, you know, I just want to be that tool basically for the dancers.

And thank you for having me here. I appreciate it very much.

Samantha: Thank you. I appreciate that. I'd like to thank Brent Mills for being our guest on today's episode, if you're interested in subscribing to the Music Mills app or would like more information you can do so using the link provided below. I've been your host, Samantha from Love Live Dance.

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