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Jonathan Bree

AKA: Jonathan Owen Bree

About Jonathan Bree

Jonathan Bree is a singer-songwriter and producer in New Zealand, best known for co-founding the indie pop group The Brunettes in 1998 and Lil' Chief Records in 2002. He frequently collaborates with label-mates as a musician, engineer, and record producer. His debut solo album, The Primrose Path, was released in June 2013, and the eponymous single was released earlier that month.

Jonathan Bree was born in the late 1970s in New Zealand. Mark Lyons, frontman of indie pop band The Nudie Suits, was both Bree’s cousin and a mentor in Bree’s formative years. When Bree was ten Lyons introduced him to Modern Lovers, with Bree becoming a long-term fan.

The Brunettes were formed in Auckland in 1998 by Bree and Heather Mansfield. According to Bree, “My cousin had recorded her band Yoko and I thought she had a great natural voice, no silly effected delivery. I was looking for a girl to sing on some duets I had written so I tracked down her number.” The band independently released its first recording Mars Loves Venus EP in 1998.

In 2002 Bree founded Lil' Chief Records with fellow indie pop musician Scott Mannion of The Tokey Tones. The two men had met that year in Marbecks Record Store in Auckland, where Bree was working at the time. The Brunettes' album Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks released in 2002 was the debut release for the label. The album received a glowing review from Allmusic, as did the label’s second release, The Brunette’s 2003 The Boyracer EP. Bree produced both albums. The next two albums on the label were released simultaneously in 2003 by The Tokey Tones, and Bree guested on some of the tracks. Bree went on to release several more albums on Lil' Chief with The Brunettes. Their second album Mars Loves Venus was released in June 2004 followed by 2005’s EP When Ice Met Cream. In 2004, Ryan McPhun started playing in band, who opened for The Shins 2005 tour of North America. They have also opened for Rilo Kiley, The Postal Service, Broken Social Scene, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and Beirut and played at the 2006 Big Day Out festivals in New Zealand and Australia. The Brunette’s album Structure & Cosmetics was released in July 2007 in New Zealand and August in the USA, on Sub Pop. Their UK profile was lifted after their track “BABY” was featured in a UK campaign in December 2007, and the release of their music video. In 2008, The Brunettes covered The Cure’s “Lovesong” for American Laundromat Records tribute compilation Just Like Heaven – a tribute to The Cure. In 2009, The Brunettes released the Red Rollerskates EP on Lil' Chief, shortly followed by Paper Dolls. In 2010, their song “Red Rollerskates” was included in soundtrack of the 2K Sports video game NBA 2K11. “Brunettes Against Bubblegum Youth” was featured on an extended advertisement for Hollyoaks in the UK.