ROCHESTER, Minn. — Bret Rodysill faced a tough choice 13 years ago, as he contemplated a future in music or a career in law.
At a fork in the road, he followed Yogi Berra’s legendary advice — he took it.
Since then, he has practiced law after passing the bar in both New York and Minnesota. In March, he released his third album (his first full-length album), “Lay It Bare,” under the moniker The Record Summer.
His collaborators on the project include multiple Minneapolis musicians, including members of Haley Bonar's band, The Pines; Andrew Bird’s touring guitarist; and Doomtree’s Lazerbeak.
The album has a layered, new-wave post-punk sound. With synths, smooth vocals, it's reminiscent of legendary British band New Order.
Rodysill returned to Minnesota in 2008 from New York City to attend law school at the University of Minnesota. He had found success as a musician while attending Columbia University in New York.
Despite committing to law school, he never entirely stopped making music.
“I didn’t really make a choice,” he said. “I just kept doing both of them.”
During orientation at the U of M, Rodysill had a solo acoustic show at the Fine Line in Minneapolis.
He handed out fliers for the show to his fellow law school students. It wouldn’t hurt to try to boost attendance for a solo show on a Wednesday night, he said. They were confused.
“They didn’t know what to do about that at all,” he said.
In 2010, Rodysill released an EP, “Race to the Bottom,” on Minneapolis label Catlick Records. That release secured him a spot at a music festival in Barcelona, as well as a slot at South by Southwest (SXSW). He then released two singles on London-based label Loose Narrative.
His first law job was at Winslett Studnicky McCormick & Bomser LLP, which, among other things, represents entertainers. His work there kept him close to the entertainment industry, and gave him experience working with music and entertainment contracts — which has proven handy for him when negotiating with record labels.
“They’re not going to be able to screw me over,” he said. “Well, too much.”
The firm was accommodating of his music schedule, including when he played at SXSW in Austin, Texas, a second time.
Balancing music and law hasn’t always been easy. One law job in New York had him reviewing contracts and demanded 60 hours of work a week.
“I don’t mind being busy,” he said. “I just don’t like working on only one thing.”
Music was never going to be relegated to a hobby.
“I never just sit around and play,” he said. “I like making stuff and getting it out there.”
That’s what he’s doing with his new album.
“I’m working to see what’s next on the business side of things with this album,” he said.
That might include a string of tour dates, remixes, and possibly a rerelease with wider distribution possibilities.
As for law, that career is on hold for the time being, he said, adding that he plans to return to it.
Rodysill said he plans to return to entertainment-related law, either back at Winslett Studnicky McCormick & Bomser, or starting his own practice and contracting with that firm and others.
“I’ll probably continue with that frivolous pursuit,” he joked.
Rodysill currently spends his time between Los Angeles, New York and Rochester as he contemplates his next moves — in both law and music.