Grassroots effort works for musician

Brittany Moseley

Christopher Browder may be the last musician still releasing music on cassettes.

When he wanted to carve a niche for himself in the ever-growing online music scene, Browder started a project called The EP Initiative. Beginning Sept. 23, Browder (known musically as Mansions) released the first of seven EPs. As if that wasn’t innovative enough, he decided to release the EPs in a variety of formats including free MP3s, cassettes, CDs and MiniDiscs. It was a risky move for anyone, especially for a relatively new musician still building a fan base and making a name for himself.

For Browder, though, it is the perfect way to separate himself from other musicians.

“What we were trying to do with it was have a physical object that would be kind of different and that you could treasure a little more than throwing your jewel (CD) case on the floor,” Browder said.

Only one of the four EPs thus far features new music. The other three include older songs with a new twist, such as an acoustic EP, a remixed EP and his latest one, an original demos EP. Two were distributed as free MP3s, one as a cassette and another as a MiniDisc. He made 50 copies of the cassette, and 25 of the MiniDisc. Both sold out. Although he was worried about fans’ reactions, the positive responses have alleviated Browder’s concerns.

His fans aren’t the only ones responding. After getting a hold of his demos, Doghouse Records signed Browder a year ago. In April, Mansions was chosen as one of the “100 Bands You Need To Know in 2008” by Alternative Press. Still, his musical journey hasn’t exactly been quick and easy. Browder is the first to admit his brand of dark, acoustic-driven Indie pop doesn’t translate to worldwide fame. Lines like “Fuck you and your God damn scene” don’t exactly scream radio-friendly.

“Part of it, I don’t think that the way my songs are and the way the music is, I don’t think it’s the type of thing that would really suddenly be huge on MySpace,” Browder said. “You know, we’re not the new All Time Low or something.”

Besides his grassroots ideology — he does all the artwork, producing and mixing for his music – , the most impressive thing about Browder is his music. His songs are honest to the point of being aching, in a depressing-but-catchy kind of way. Each song sounds like Browder tore a page out of his journal and added a pretty acoustic melody. He does what comes naturally to him, and for Browder, that means a lot of dark undertones.

“Sometimes I’ll write happier songs, but then they seem kind of boring to me, and I never play them again because they don’t mean as much to me the next day.”

Still, don’t pigeonhole him as another depressed emo kid with a guitar. Whether he is adding a dance beat to the lethargic and throaty “I Told a Lie” or making an acoustic version of the rock-heavy “Por Favor is Spanish,” Browder isn’t afraid to try new things and have fun with his music.

Although he released a full-length record in spring 2007, one he calls a “total homemade sort-of release,” his first full-length record for Doghouse won’t come out until next spring. The record will include old and new songs that fans can hear through The EP Initiative.

With his indie record deal, disheveled blond hair and acoustic guitar, Browder looks like a lot of musicians on MySpace, a label he is trying to avoid.

“A lot of bands, it seems, they’re kind of condescending to kids, like the way they talk to them,” Browder said. “They’re putting on this big show, and I don’t like that so I try to just be normal.

“It’s definitely hard. I don’t know if we’ve figured out a way to separate ourselves from all the other bands.”

With his strong work ethic and intensely personal songwriting, Browder just may have it figured out.

Real Quick

Mansions with The Bigger Lights and Angela Huffman


Saturday, Nov. 15 at 9 p.m. free for Kent State students, $2 for


Contact all correspondent Brittany Moseley at [email protected].