Say the word “Butter” to a dedicated music fan, and you’ll likely evince images of smoothly seductive arrangements and tunes. Press further and you may gather fond memories of Isaac Hayes’ iconic Hot Buttered Soul album.
Dig even deeper, though, and you’ll find Craig “Butter” Glanville, an up-and-coming songwriter/producer who’s steadily risen through the ranks by landing credits on albums by Lalah Hathaway, Najee, Leela James and Take 6. Much of that work has been done with partner Andrew Sherman, who perhaps inevitably goes by the moniker “Bread.” But lest any pedantic musos start thinking of the Newbeats’ goofy 1964 pop hit “Bread and Butter,” this century’s B&B are much more forthright.
“I’ve been called ‘Butter’ off and on through life, mostly because of my skin complexion,” Butter explains. “And with ‘Bread,’ besides the fact that it goes with ‘Butter,’ it’s a reference to making money.”
The pair first hooked up at Berklee College, exploring their musicianship together before formally forming Bread & Butter as a writing/production team. Lately the pair have had a more loose relationship with each other, as Bread has been busy playing and touring with a host of acts while Butter has focused more on the behind-the-scenes aspects of the business. “We’re sort of like Pharrell and Chad [of the Neptunes],” he says. “We work together, but we also do a lot of things on our own.”
Butter’s interest in music began earlier than most: At the age of two he was playing violin. However, once puberty hit, “It became pretty obvious to me that carrying a violin onto the school bus wasn’t all that cool,” he laughs. “Drums became much more acceptable.” A wide-ranging interest in styles and genres has continued to grow, with jazz, R&B, Latin, and hip-hop coming to the fore. “For me, classical music is like baseball,” he says. “I like playing it, but I don’t like just watching or listening to it.”
Relationship-building, often on the road, has been key to his success, Butter says. “It’s really been about one thing leading to another: Najee heard our work for Lalah, Take 6 heard our stuff for Najee, and said, ‘I like that, send me some stuff.’”
He adds that his habit of writing constantly has served him well – “I know I’m very fortunate to be able to do music for a living” – and is eager to push his latest project, Crazy N.E.D., to the next level. The acronym stands for “Not Easily Describable,” though it contains elements of all the styles he’s been influenced by throughout his life.
Built around an animated homeless man cartoon (voiced by comic Tommy Davidson), Crazy N.E.D.’s music is actually less of a mishmash than might be expected; the tune “America” rolls on a funky, forward-thinking vibe not entirely unlike the progressive sounds of will.i.am or, to go back a bit, Arrested Development.
“It’s really my brainchild,” he enthuses. “That’s what I’m focusing in on. With the right attitude and the right connections” – both of which he obviously has – “I’m hoping we can deliver something that will have people come knocking.”
“America” can be viewed here .