Brody playing in the Adirondack Mountains, photo by Jamie Schenk [Photos provided by Brody Schenk]
As Talkers know, in 2017 Che “Of The Town” Holloway interviewed 107 Rochestarians from a diversity of creative fields. A couple of years ago, Che left Rochester to pursue his acting career in New York City, and the series remained at 107.
Recently, Brody Schenk, a junior at Penfield High School, contacted me. At only 16, Brody has been in numerous musical groups in multiple genres, released music on all platforms, played over 100 shows, and is quickly building a following of supporters. Even better, Brody already made a cameo appearance in the magazine in 2016!
We’re pleased to make Brody the 108th interview.
INTRODUCING BRODY SCHENK
Tell us a little about yourself, where your from, grew up, what H.S./College you attended etc.
Well first, thanks for having me on the Talker, I’m very grateful for the opportunity. My name is Brody Schenk, I’m a 16-year-old singer-songwriter, guitarist, and musician from Rochester, New York. This past December I released my debut single, “Charlie Brown” on all platforms and I play in multiple bands as well as performing as a solo artist. I am a Junior at Penfield High School.
As a singer-songwriter, I try to focus on the lyricism and storytelling as much as the music. Some of my idols are Bob Dylan and John Prine, and after listening to them religiously for so many years it’s hard to appreciate, and therefore write, music that doesn’t tell a story, teach a lesson, or offer a new perspective.
My main bands are The Old Souls Band and JUDAH. The Old Souls Band, in which I deliver lead vocals and guitar, draws heavily from jam bands such as The Grateful Dead, Phish, and Wilco with a growing selection of originals as well. The instrumentation in the band consists of guitar, drums, bass, and Saxophone. We try to breathe new light into any covers we do, and you’ll never hear us play a song the same way twice!
JUDAH is a four piece rock/blues group with Anthony Blood delivering lead vocals as well as some fantastic guitar playing.
What inspired you to be an artist/entertainer? Early experiences worth sharing?
As long as I can remember I’ve always loved music, there are so many videos of me as a little kid dancing around to Bob Marley and other musicians. I started taking guitar lessons when I was 7, by the time I was in middle school I knew full well that guitar playing would be a major part of my life.
Perhaps a big turning point was in 2016 when the music school I took lessons from was having a recital at Carnegie Hall and I got to go and perform. Leading up to this recital was when I really blossomed as a guitarist and learned a lot about the instrument. I ended up playing Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry accompanied by a drummer and bassist. It was a great experience.
Talk about a time where you have faced adversity/conflict and have triumphed.
Up to this point I am extremely grateful to have received many support systems that have encouraged me to keep going no matter what. The only real struggles I’ve had with music is sometimes feeling discouraged by the modern music industry. I see so many musicians going viral and having music careers despite not having an ability to write a song or play an instrument which can be disheartening to those of us who have been doing it for years and put the time in.
I could sit here and complain all I want, but at the end of the day, I’ve got a ton to be grateful for and not much to complain about.
What do you believe sets you apart from other artists/entertainers?
I think perspective. There are few people my age who have spent so much time in bars and coffee shops playing and watching music. Not to mention the type of music I listen to the most. I don’t know of any of my peers who regularly listen to songwriters like Bob Dylan. I think given my exposure to new/popular music growing up as well as my obsession with the greats, I have a different perspective that is lacking from musicians of my generation.
Another thing that sets me apart is my guitar style which I have been developing for years, I’ve taken influences from so many separate places with hopes of creating a unique, yet listener friendly style. I try to let this shine as much as possible in my musical endeavors.
Do you have other interests or hobbies?
Well, I live a normal life not regarding music, keeping up with school, hanging out with friends… all that jazz. However, there are few things other than music that can completely absorb me daily. I suppose if I must say something, ping pong? I like going up to the ADK’s to climb mountains also!
Any projects you have out or currently working on?
Yup! This December I released my debut single, “Charlie Brown”, which was produced by Elvio Fernandes (keyboardist, Daughtry) at his home studio. The song features many of the above-mentioned songwriting styles and tells a tragic tale about the character we all know and love, instrumentation features acoustic guitar, singing, piano, bass, and trumpet! Elvio and I are currently back in the studio recording another single which I will be announcing very soon! There’s plenty more where that came from!
Also, I will be a guest artist on a single by local band, MoodPill. They are a cool group that mixes plenty of genres but mostly metal. It was a great experience recording with them as metal is typically out of my wheelhouse! I’m not sure when it’ll be coming out but it’s a great song so be on the lookout!
I also really look forward to playing live music again, before COVID I had played over a hundred live shows and withdrawing from them has been tough! I did manage to have some socially distanced outside concerts this summer which I’m grateful for but as we all know, it is not the same!
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
Great question, there’s countless ways I could probably answer it, but no matter what I want to be playing and making music as my focus. Whether that’s as a solo artist, touring musician, studio musician etc. Really there are many things I could end up doing, I care more about the journey. My current plan is to pursue music college in order to further expand my knowledge and experience as a musician. I will always be writing songs because for me that’s where music really starts to have meaning.
What advice can you give to aspiring artists/entertainers?
A big piece of advice I’d give to anyone is to surround themselves with people who have a positive impact on your dreams, that doesn’t always mean people just like you but it’s important to always put your passions in front of less significant things that could get in the way. Other advice is to start going to open mics and open jams! We have many great ones here in Rochester, Johnny’s Pub open mic has been so supportive over the years as well as the open jam at Murph’s hosted by the phenomenal Nate Coffey (who you should reach out to if you are an aspiring guitarist looking for lessons!).
More on Brody:
His link tree, includes links to stream his single, “Charlie Brown”:
Self produced videos of original songs:
Videos he’s edited together for his bands,The Old Souls Band and JUDAH