Behind Words & Music: a Conversation

The latest release from This Intangible Existence, Words & Music, is a compilation album of the artist's previously released remastered original compositions. Terrell Brinlee, the man behind the act, sat down and answered a few questions.

Why did you want to do a compilation album?

“I’ve always been in a state of reimagining these works. Whenever I started recording with Billy Hillman back in 2013, I was doing this: making better recordings of previously recorded material. Recording at Hilltrax Studio, I was able to exhaust my repertoire in a way that I’d never done before. That happened over the course of about three years. Whenever I finished That You Are Mindful of Him, I knew that I wanted to give these songs another shot, and a new sequence to exist in--a final form.”


In previous interviews and essays, you’ve spoken on these songs. Has the narrative has changed at all with the new sequence?

“The concentration for this set-list was to show chronology and progress over a length of time. I wanted to hear 2006 through 2016. These songs have helped to tell my story for so long, and they have defined my artistry. They needed to be cradled together as one story the same way that I was introduced to them. There are four smaller sets within the entire playlist. The first set is a ‘coming of age’ tale, and also renders spiritual exploration in astrotheology. In the second set, Christianity becomes more prominent in the work, though that theme is throughout. The spiritual scope becomes narrow with more Biblical perspective. Thirdly, I talk a lot about accepting who you are as an individual; and lastly, depravity is recognized, and Jesus becomes the only means of salvation.”

Though professing to be a Christian, you talk about dealing with homosexuality.  Wouldn’t those seem like two conflicting positions?

“They are. W&M is a great place to tackle this idea, however. The songs articulate this better than my spoken word can. My opinions about it have varied over the past ten years, but ultimately I believe the truth stands for itself. The Bible is clear about homosexuality, so I don’t think I have to quote the book to define that position. Part of my goal is to share my experiences with homosexuality and Jesus, so that if there is anyone else in my situation they might be helped or comforted. No one has a good answer right now for people who want to follow the Lord but have this disposition. Most of the solutions come from outside the LGBT community, and I don’t think people respond to that well. I by no means claim to have the answer, but I think I have something to offer.”

How that’s been received?

“I’ve definitely gotten hate mail. It’s a bit of a hot topic these days, and the LGBT community is gaining a lot of ground politically. It’s difficult to state your case whenever it goes against an entire people group who are seeking social reform in the exact opposite direction you’re going in. You’re basically a defector or a traitor.”  

You mention That You Are Mindful of Him, which was released earlier this year. What kind of response did you get from your listeners?

“The record has been an absolute blessing to my musical career. I feel like I gained a lot of listenership because of it. I’ve said it many times before, music about the Gospel is ultimately why I do what I do; I really wanted to do a worship set, and concentrate on more obscure songs; many seem to have taken a liking to it. TYAMOH allowed for me to go back into the studio for W&M, and do all the remastering. With new listenership, I thought the timing was right to reintroduce these songs. I feel like Gospel artists are often looked at as if they are morally perfect;  W&M really levels the playing field, and promotes transparency to those listening to my story.”

What happens next for This Intangible Existence?

“I’ve been training with different piano techniques, and playing songs that are out of the norm for my musical vocabulary. I’m really looking to expand my abilities as a musician, and hopefully, my writing will reflect that, as well as my recordings. I’m sure I’m going back into the studio in the earlier part of 2017, but I’m not sure what the result will be. Traditionally I’ve done live set recording, but I would like to branch into more layered productions and create a higher quality product that focuses on one song at a time, rather than a whole set of them. This would leave the door open for later collaboration with other artists.

Words & Music, the new compilation record by This Intangible Existence is now available on iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify, as well as a complete catalog of covers, worship music, and other original works.




Polaroids, the Board, and Circles

Sifting through some images that were shown to me on Timehop, I came across the accompanying pictures. They are from 2011 whenever I first started working on the board, and long before the greater idea was known.

It was a time whenever the board was separate from the idea of circles. It was also a time when I didn't know what circles were all about. The images show a certain naivety about the form. As I recall this was from he last set of Polaroids that I took from The Impossible Project. It was an end of a season in my life. 

The images have been added to their chronological spce in the board section of this website.

Late Night Songwriting

Tonight, I'm trying to recreate something from a few weeks ago. Same lighting, same screens, and same seating. My time here in this place is coming to a close; I'll be leaving Deerbrook Gardens. I want to make sure I use this time wisely.

Writing has changed a lot for me over the past few months. I used the board to formulate ideas for so long, that I forgot the roots of this craft: The midnight hours, the drifting thoughts, the spontaneity of melody--I forgot about this. 

As of late, I've been dealing with thoughts quickly & momentously whenever it comes to milling them into song. Previously, songs would be a hollow void of melody that would be constructed, and then filled with thought and lyric. Tonight, I produced lyric, melody, and feeling all at once. Making decisions on the fly. It takes times. One has to sit, and give themselves to the process of writing.

I stopped using drugs over a year ago, and I was very interested in how my art would change because of this. I'm starting to see those differences now.

Whenever you stand in one place, it's hard to understand what it's like to be in another. Whenever I was writing Bulbs I had no idea what I was going to write about next, or even what it would even sound like. Even further, the music that I began to write immediately following Bulbs has somewhat ceased, or at least, taken back seat to these quickly ejected conclusions of my currents thoughts.  

At this point, I'm closer to a new original record than not. I speaks a bit more to the thought of never know what you're going to write about. I thought I had something going, and in reality, something completely different happened. I guess that's a regular part of life. 


New Structure & Purpose

Tonight I had my last practice with SAVERCOOL for a while. This year has been very tell for me in what it is I'm doing as a musician and as an artist. With the past few performances with my set, Savercool, and Deondra's set, I've come to know what it is I want and don't want: what is important to me and what's not.

I don't want to play music for people who aren't interested in hearing me. Pretty straight forward idea really. I've played about three or four shows this year where people were genuinely uninterested in the performance (which is to be expected), but what's the point in that? What is the purpose. Why would you waste your time "casting your pearls".

I want to write again, and focus my thoughts and artistic drive towards my craft. I don't feel like I've been able to give myself to that because I'm stretched so thin. Ten years ago when I first wrote "Flamingo Fandango", I had a lot of time to refine that music. I had a lot of spare time to concentrate on recording, and words, and research, and meditating on melodies that my heart was singing. I had more time to give to my instrument in practice. The more I adult, the more I have less time to do the things I love. Not to mention, it's difficult to do your own music whenever you've just spent two hours rehearsing for someone else's project.

I want to continue with the church. That is ultimately the most fulfilling play time I have as a musician. I've met with the Lord with music on many occasion in private, and to meet him like that in a corporate environment is where I find a true purpose; it's something divine. I feel like I've been lying to myself by saying that I want to chase this dream of musical pop star. When I was a child, I wanted that--and a part of me still does--but a bigger part of me want to seek a greater communion with Jesus and the God of the Bible. It's an honor to be a musician in the house of the Lord, and I don't want to take it lightly anymore. I don't want to pretend that it's not the high light of my week. To sing songs of reverence and praise to the Great Architect of the Universe, Jehovah God, and enlist the people in the room with you to join in is chorus is a high calling in my opinion. 

In 1998 the church began grooming me musically, for this time of my life. This time I'm going to pursue the path that I was destined to fulfill. 

I may play a gig here and there, and I'm definitely going to continue writing and recording music, but now it's standing up for what I believe in: Identifying with my Christian heritage and upbringing. 

I started writing this entry because I have had a strange shift in the visual context in which I see myself artistically. The following images show the iconography that is above my piano in my writing place. Like always, this space has somewhat organically arranged itself. Also, Like always, I can see a narrative developing: a theme. This is a bit outside of the realm of the board but in this intangible existence these images exist in the same place. It almost beg to give a different title to the board.

This has always been a sacred place for me. 

A digital recreation

Love Songs and the Like

My perspective of music changes with every passing year. The older I get the more my understanding of this gift grows deeper: elaborating on the unseen realm that the music exists in.

My latest thoughts today are about Love Songs, and songs that specify a commentary about, or that conversation towards another human. Whether in love or admiration, I'm beginning to find love songs some what of a waste. 

Maybe it's because I've never really been in love. I've definitely written songs that were for or towards certain people that I care about, but in this season of writing I'm coming to find this practice a waste. 

Almost Idolatrous...

I should go ahead and say it that my music has been God centered in subject matter since I got serious about writing in 2007. I've also been engaged in playing for the church for almost 5 years now. Music has become a tool for me--used to pay homage, and show reverence. Sure, I am still entertained by music, but it's greater purpose, is in an evocation or a worship setting.

So whenever I hear these really good songs that are about someone's lover, I have to ask myself,

"Do you feel that greatly about this person that you would give them such a masterpiece?" 

"Is this person really worthy of receiving this great piece?"

"Is there even a person behind these lyrics and emotions, or is it just a scarecrow that 's used to prop up a good melody and hook?"

I believe the worship setting alleviates these types of questions, but I don't think that every song has to be about God or Jesus to be considered good or relevant, but I guess as the years go by I'm more interested in what's important, eternal, and intangible. 

Love Songs--and the like--seem to just be a frivolous waste. 

<ramble ramble ramble>

New Record & It's been busy

"For five years now I have opened the first quarter with a campaign for my music; This year has to be the most busy."

THIS INTANGIBLE EXISTENCE is the words and music of Terrell Brinlee. The project started in 2010 almost mistakenly, "I was renting a room in the Humble area, and I started blogging. I titled the blog This Intangible Existence, and it just stuck from there." The title expresses the idea of the spirit or inner man; the reality of each human's intangible self.

"I've always wanted to be a musician, and a singer/songwriter. I feel like this year is the first time that I actually believe that I am." Since 2012, Terrell has been gathering his musical catalog, recording intimate solo performances of works that he began writing 2007. "Right after high school I got really serious about writing my mantra. I don't feel like I knew exactly what that was at the time, but on this side of it, I feel like I was really being guided to say things I have."

"I met Richard Savercool in 2011, and he really encouraged me to start working towards a more professional high end sound. We worked together for a short time on Campaign One;, and soon after that I started my solo work with Billy Hillman."

Each collection of songs produced annually have their own flavor, their own time stamp, and own narrative. Not all have been original compositions, as with this year. The newest record, That You Are Mindful of Him, will be released in February, and is a distilled and airy interpretation of praise and worship music. "Just because you don't have anything to say, it doesn't mean that you should be saying anything. The majority of my work is Christ-centered, and being a church musician, it's important for me to display this part of my work in my recordings. Aside from the great commission, I have a calling on my life to sing the gospel."

The new record features songs from artists like Aaron Shust, Soweto Gospel Choir, and Keith Green, who has been a big inspiration for Terrell over the past two years. "Keith Green was an innovator in his time, and his music is so wholesome and uncompromising when it comes to talking about Jesus. That kind of boldness is something I would like in my own work."

"I wanted to pick songs that were a bit dated and obscure. Even though I didn't write the music, I wanted it to be perceived that it was original work." But the ending track, "Good Good Father" made popular by Chris Tomlin would give it all away. "The record needed to be a bit recognizable; I want people to sing along. Initially I was going to do "Your Great Name", but after the recording I had to boot it. It was too vocally demanding the way I wanted it presented, and at the end of recording, I knew it was too poor of a performance." 

The new record, That You Are Mindful of Him, will be available on February 15 in all major digital outlets including , and will be the fifth studio recording for This Intangible Existence. Be sure to catch Terrell and the rest of the band at WareHouse Live in Houston on March 25, for tickets click here.

"Campaign; One" Available on Spotify, iTunes, & Google Play

I wanted to drop a line, and let everyone know that my EP, Campaign One;, is now available across the internet for download or streaming in most digital music providers. 

It features Richard Savercool's awesome edit of "Flamingo Fandango" as well as two other full length tracks he produced in his studio while we were serving a Freedom Family Church in Patton Village. I wanted an opportunity to showcase this work, so I put it together primarily as a promotional piece for Antiquarian Floods. The digital version also includes the updated artwork that is featured in the "listen" tab of my site. 

There is a lot of fun wrapped up in this record, and I hope it's enjoyed. For a hard copy of the record see the "buy" tab in the navigation.