A young lady speaks about not believing in Christianity over the soft sounds of piano embellishments. An older woman says with confidence that young people with creativity “will save the world yet” to the swelling flourish of drums, piano and strings. Others discuss their jealousy of Jack Kerouac or the loss of first love and other tremendously personal topics that are candidly spoken alongside complementing musical compositions.
It’s reminiscent of Frank Warren’s community mail art project PostSecret: People anonymously mail postcards that reveal their darkest secrets, which are later displayed online and in art galleries throughout the world. But One Hello World, the somewhat accidental brainchild of native Syracusan Jared Brickman, 26, goes a step further by taking spoken revelations and placing them over equally moving musical pieces.
The communication is twofold in words and music, but in a way unobstructed by meter, rhyme or self-censoring embarrassment. Rather than a singer-songwriter spilling out their heart and mind in song, Brickman helps to amplify the thoughts and feelings of others by placing their open emotions over his own sonic creations.
And the communication doesn’t stop there. Once the songs are composed and recorded, Brickman posts them to the website onehelloworld.com, where comments flow in as the tracks are listened to, literally thousands of times. Strangers comfort each other, relate to each other and share their thoughts and feelings.
“The ongoing purpose of the project is that people get a unique perspective,” Brickman says, “one that they don’t experience: that they can have an engrossing experience, this emotional connection with a stranger. Ultimately, what the project proves is the fact that we’re all the same. We all have the same emotions. Our viewpoints might be different, but we’re all human beings. Sometimes it sucks and sometimes it’s awesome and hopefully that makes you feel more connected to your common man.”
Although the purpose of the project is strong today, it didn’t start with such a secure mission back in Wichita, Kansas, in 2010. After graduating in 2008 from SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music where he studied music business, Brickman moved to Wichita, where he stayed active in music booking and promoting shows. But in August 2010, while he was composing on the piano, he had the idea to add voices overtop. Brickman admits, “I don’t sing. . . or I shouldn’t sing,” but the piece needed more. The music was pensive, reflective, so he decided to add some philosophical talk to it. He posted a note to his personal Facebook page, asking friends to call a number and talk about how they defined happiness.
Brickman recognized some of the voices that called in, but he was startled to realize there were others who he didn’t know. “I thought only my close friends would be crazy enough to call into this number,” he says, “but I got random people calling in. I was like, ‘OK, cool. I’ll put them on the track, too,” and I put the track together and posted it up on my Facebook. And people didn’t stop calling the number. People just kept calling.”
And Brickman kept composing. He decided to make a page for the project on the blog network, tumblr.com, and soon he was receiving hundreds of voicemails daily. He started up a Facebook page soon after as well as onehelloworld.com, all under the surname, “Max.” The anonymity allowed Brickman to keep his own life separate from the voicemail pieces, but also enabled people to feel more comfortable in sharing some extremely personal feelings.
An example Brickman notes in detail is his composition over a voicemail from a girl who got drunk at a party, had sex and is considering an abortion. Among the responders is a girl who sent in her own voicemail about being an orphan who realizes that her mother once faced that same choice. The resulting conversation took two completely opposite views of an emotional topic and brought them together in a respectful way that probably couldn’t have been possible otherwise.
Other significant perspective-changing voicemails Brickman has posted include someone who was having a hard time coming out of the closet to their parents and a daughter of an illegal immigrant in Arizona who, nearly two years into college, was sure she’d soon be deported.
“I had a lot of people respond to that like, “Holy shit. That’s a really sad story. That really sucks.” And people are saying they could feel the sadness,” Brickman says. “Imagine being in that person’s shoes: establishing a life when all of a sudden. . . Again, I’ve got my own feelings on that, but take a second and really think about how that person feels.”
Brickman’s work has made an impact. In addition to thousands of fans and responses to the various pieces, he’s also been talked about on the online video network Motherboard TV, BrainPicker.com, the BBC, LA Times, Paste Magazine and more. He’s also raised $5,000 using a Kickstarter.com campaign that will allow him to bring 30 tracks, out of the 92 he has composed, to SubCat Recording Studios for mixing and mastering. The CD dropped on March 31.
“I really get off on seeing people interact,” Brickman says. “This is everybody’s message coming from whoever. For the people listening, it’s about the story, but I strive for it when I listen to the voicemail: to support and enhance the emotional or editorial curve of it to the point where not only are they listening to this person’s story and feeling their own reaction, but the music itself is drawing emotions out of the person because music has that power. It has that extension beyond words. Music makes us feel shit that regular conversation can’t.”