In Conversation with…Bru-C
It’s not often that an artist like Bru-C comes along. Immensely talented, proficient across a multitude of genres and also incredibly self-aware and modest, Bru has been grafting and plying his trade for years now, mainly due to the fact that he started his journey so early in life. Now, he weaves effortlessly between dancefloor-ready, uncompromising shellers and thoughtful, mindful selections that not only reflect on life’s ups and downs but also open the door to new avenues and thought processes, for both himself and the listener.
As one of the most noticeable voices and faces on the underground dance music circuit, and as an integral part of the scene-leading Crucast collective, Bru is used to being in the spotlight but, as he explains through his music, this has its positives and negatives. At first glance, he’s a larger than life character; the life and soul of the (often high-energy and high-tempo) party, but if you look deeper, you’ll find productions and art teeming with emotion and passion, verging on pitch-perfect, almost spoken word movements on cuts like ‘Introspective’ and ‘Life’.
It’s a testament to his artistry, self-belief and experience that he keeps it all rolling as one. Like a well-oiled machine, Bru retains the aspects and personal facets that have made him a highly-respected individual in the industry whilst constantly pushing things forward in a progressive manner, whether it’s to advance his own work and initiatives, or for the good of others’ music, careers or wellbeing.
Up next for Bru is a high-energy, Reggae-infused collaboration with the highly-regarded soundsystem and vocal specialist Charlie P, himself renowned for his sunshine-etched talents, stunning own releases and collaborative work with Mungo’s Hifi, O.B.F, Hybrid Minds and more. With a cracking video and visual aesthetic to boot, Bru and Charlie have pulled all the punches on this one, highlighting their never-ending graft to present the very, very best from both camps. Ahead of the release, I sat down with Bru-C for an in-depth chat talking today’s release, his time in Drum & Bass, an expansive, upcoming album, his focus on mental health, the amazing ‘Smile With Bru’ initiative and much, much more.
First off, how’s your lockdown been? Been keeping busy?
It’s been good you know. Can’t lie, I’ve enjoyed the time off shows – it’s been 4 years deep on the road, most weekends so it’s been nice to spend some more time with family, have a bit of a normal sleeping pattern and work on music…
A bit of a refresh?
Yeah, a bit of a refresh bro, it’s been good man!
I bet you’re missing the clubs though. Has it allowed you to work on the business side of things a bit more? I know you’ve always put a lot of time into Krudd but I can imagine it’s been nice to have a bit of time off!
Yeah, I am missing it. At first, I definitely just saw the positives. Obviously I’ve got an office space now but for a long time I was working from home and I kinda realised that that part of my life was very similar to self-isolating; not leaving your house for hours in a day and I’m used to that, so when it came to locking down I was happy with it. I just made a positive of the situation and like I said, because of the break I wasn’t missing the shows but now, I’m really looking forward to getting back into it.
Especially with the new single on the horizon, it’s a proper bubbler! How’s it lining up release-wise, excited?
Very excited man, got a wicked visual for the tune as well, the music video is banging. Really excited to work with Charlie P, been a big fan of him for a while! It’s something different, I always like to keep it versatile.
Keep things evolving?
That’s it man, keep people on their toes!
I’m really interested by the collaboration with Charlie P who’s an incredible artist and vocalist in his own right. How did you two link up?
I met Charlie P in 2015 at Glastonbury, I hit him up because I was already playing and he was playing with Mungo’s, I hit him up saying “Yo, it’s my birthday…”, I didn’t really know him, we’d spoken a couple of times and not gonna lie, I was kinda fanboying! Like I said I’m a big fan of Charlie P and I didn’t really have much of a name then, I just thought if you don’t ask you don’t get, so let me just see if he’s gonna let me go back-2-back on my birthday at Glastonbury on a set with Mungo’s and he said “yeah, come through man” so I ended up playing with him & Mungo’s!
With Mungo’s?! That’s mad.
It was so sick man. So that’s when we first met and then we’ve just been saying “yeah, yeah let’s get in the studio” – when I started to plan my next album, he was a bit of a bucket-list collab that I wanted to do. The single was just supposed to be a track release on the album but I’m basically sat on about 15 tunes, maybe a couple more so there’s like four singles that I’m not gonna be releasing this year; we’re gonna wait until the festivals are back so I thought, “What can I release now while there’s no raves on?” And I feel this is the kinda tune that you don’t really need to be in a rave to listen to and enjoy it, it’s a bit more universal, it’s got a Reggae twist, it’s got a Jungle vibe so it made sense to release that now.
How have you found the release process? Your socials have always been popping on previous releases but has it been different bringing it forward in this time period?
I think you just have to go that extra mile, the thing is you just have to think outside the box with what you’re doing. Some people lay out step-by-step plans of what’s going to get the most engagement but you don’t know what’s going to pop and what isn’t, having schedules for posts and stuff like that isn’t always the way to go. Sometimes, it’s more “What am I gonna do that means people are gonna turn and think, have you seen Bru-C’s done this?” and that’s what makes your release pop, that’s what gets heads turning so that’s what I’ve gone for with the music video for this tune.
With this release and others, you seem to have really found a home in the Drum & Bass genre, seeing success across Liquid, Jump Up and more subtle, rolling tracks, is that something you’d always planned to dive into?
It’s just something that happened really, I’ve always been into Drum & Bass and I’d done a few Drum & Bass tracks in 2012/13, as well as a few freestyles. To be honest, when I first started getting into dance music it was mainly Bassline, old skool Bassline, then from there I went onto Dubstep as I was a massive Dubstep fan when I was like 18 and in my early raving days. I liked Drum & Bass and I really liked Jump Up but I was more into Dubstep. Then when Bassline came back around I was really into that but I felt Drum & Bass is just more musical, it’s got more width in terms of what genres can fit into it whereas bassline is just intro, drop really. There’s different electric sounds; I’ve got Drum & Bass tunes that are made from live instruments, I’ve got tunes that are made from digital sounds and digital instruments. There’s Jump Up tunes, there’s Rhythm & Blues, there’s Dub, there’s Reggae – there’s bare different avenues that you can take.
We’ve seen that variety on pretty much everything you’ve put your mind to whether it’s clothing, business or music; if you think back to where you’ve come from, stuff like ‘Don’t Flop’ I remember watching back in the day! Is that variety something that’s always been important to you throughout your journey, always adapting and evolving?
Yeah 100%, I think it’s kind of a flaw as well… there’s pros and cons to it. It’s really good to just know what you’re doing, have a consistent sound, run with it and do it well, so the pro is I just do what I want to do. For example, ‘You & I’ has been my most successful tune by a long way compared to some of my others but I thought, I’m not about to just try and force making this song again. I think that’s more impactful for influencing your sound and being in the moment of how you’re feeling, that’s what matters. I feel I can do that and it still be popular, I think there’s definitely a mix man – you have to kinda play the field to a certain degree and treat it like a business but then at the same time you’ve got to have a ‘why’; a ‘why’ you’re doing something or don’t bother.
I feel like that’s something that’s important for you, and something you’ve put across really well in your music. ‘You & I’ has done 15 million streams now on Spotify which is huge so I can imagine that’d be the ‘easy’ route for want of a better word. You’re always pushing the boundaries which leads us nicely onto your upcoming album which I believe is dropping later this year. I’ve heard it’s quite a mature, different project?
I don’t know if I’d say mature!
Maybe a bit more personal?!
Yeah, definitely personal. It’s definitely still got tunes that are like, saying the Prime Minister’s a wanker. It’s not the most mature stuff you’ll ever hear, it’s just how I feel, that’s the best way to describe it. I’ve made this album for the people in a sense, I want it to be something that you put on and go through the emotions because it’s a rollercoaster, kind of like life is, it’s got ups and downs throughout the whole album. That’s what I’ve done the album for man, it’s for the people to listen to and to take something from in terms of where your head’s at and hopefully, to learn something from the experience of the album rather than it just being some tracks that are thrown together. Obviously, the last album did really well but there were a lot of old releases on there, it made sense to do the album and it did do really well but this one is more thought out and it’s more of a project than tunes just put on a tape.
I was really excited for this interview because I knew you were keen to chat about the mental health side of things. You’ve been really open about that, is that something you really want to put across in your music now?
Yes and no…
It has to be done right and at the right time?
Yeah, I don’t want to force anything on anyone – there’s some people that just want to listen to my music and that’s fine, I understand that and that’s why there’s songs on the album that are a bit more ravey. I’m someone that wants to preach wellness but I want to have a drink as well you know, I don’t want to be this guy who’s eating raw cucumbers on his Instagram story, talking about not drinking and that! I like to have a drink, I like to enjoy time with my friends and eat shit food sometimes. I think a lot of the public figures that preach mental health are so serious and that can lead to worse things; too much of one thing is no good.
It’s a really prevalent issue in the music industry, do you feel you have a responsibility to vocalise the experiences you’ve had, or is it something that just comes naturally to you artistically?
I think a bit of both, artistically because it’s something that I’m passionate about, something that I suffer from, it’s something that people close to me suffer from so I want to be open about it to help me in my own personal life and help me deal with it; I think a problem shared is a problem halved. The more open you can be about the way you feel, the more you can learn and that’s a lot of what mental health is: it’s people not understanding what’s wrong with them and the more you talk about it, the more people can give you their experiences and tips. You know what it’s like man, that’s why you go and see therapists because they tell you to do this and do that and you think “shit, this is actually working”.
So it’s partly that, and then the responsibility side comes from the fact that we’re in an industry, just in terms of being a dance musician, and our fanbase take drugs, have late nights drinking and consuming shit at our expense because we sell the tickets – they’re our consumers. From a business perspective, I want my clients to know that they can trust me and that’s just talking in business terms, I don’t see my fans as clients, they’re just people that like my music. I want them to know they can trust me and I want to be able to give them guidance and not just take their money, put on a show and act like “well this party’s the best” you know – life’s not like that man.
On that artist side, does that come naturally to you vocals-wise or does it need a bit more time & planning? There’s a picture you uploaded to Insta of you writing outside that really resounded with me!
I don’t even think I was writing bars you know, I think I was just writing! Just writing thoughts and feelings. I like to do that when I’m feeling a bit stressed or down, or overwhelmed, I like to write things down and it just gives me not only a bit of understanding but then I can go back and look at how I was feeling on a certain day and think of events that were happening around that time, and just try and piece together what’s going on and why I feel like this. It’s always good to look back on.
‘Introspective’ with Chris Lorenzo, ‘Sunrise’ & ‘Life’ are three of your tracks that really stand out to me in terms of mental health awareness, how did you find the creative process behind them compared to say, a track like ‘Inhaler’ or ‘Bits’?
I’d say the writing process isn’t really that much different, I just put a beat on and write a tune. Like I said bro, whatever mood I’m in, in terms of where I’m at in my life, what I want to do and what message I want to put across, that’s what I do in that time. That’s it, and that’s why I’ll make a tune like ‘Bits’ and then I’ll make a tune like ‘Introspective’ because I’m not like “I’m gonna make this sound, and then I’m gonna make this sound”, I’m just all over the place with it bro and that’s how it is.
You and Skepsis have got a really good friendship and partnership, and he’s been a big inspiration for me recently in terms of his attitude towards mental health and exercise. Is that something you guys work towards and talk about? Is it similar with the Crucast crew?
I think if you had this conversation with Window Kid you’d get a bit of a different story, he’s a pub man! Yeah, me and Skep definitely, we talk a lot about how we’re feeling and share views and opinions that we think could help each other. I’d just say that, I wouldn’t say it’s the same with the rest of the gang but I don’t think that’s for any reason, I wouldn’t say it’s a good thing or a bad thing that we don’t, we just don’t!
Yeah man, it’s just natural. Finally, I want to touch on ‘Smile With Bru’, I wanted to give you the platform to give us the lowdown on what you’re working on there. What does it involve? It’s a lovely thing to do.
So basically, I had a bit of a bad time recently with anxiety, and physical anxiety more than anything. I went to see a therapist for the first time, the first few sessions really well and it was helping me a lot man. I’m in a position where I can afford a therapist, and before that, I’d always been quite sceptical about it. I tried to do it through the NHS and I thought it was the most soulless thing ever, I just thought it was shit to be completely honest with you…
I’ve been there man, it can feel so clinical sometimes.
Yeah, it just made me think of the people that haven’t got that and I also feel like somebody that’s quite intelligent in that spectrum you know? I’ve learnt a lot from reading a lot of books on wellness and stuff like that and obviously you hear it in my music. I feel like there’s a lot of times I’ll speak to my friends about how they’re feeling and it can be quite helpful and I thought I might have something to give here, it might be a career path in terms of life coaching and stuff like that, that’s something I’m passionate about as well. I thought, there’s only one way I’m gonna start this and that’s by being open about it, helping people and seeing where it goes, that’s where the idea came from and yeah, it’s going really well so far man.
That’s amazing, so people can contact you via email?
Yeah, [email protected], and then I’ll get back to you as and when I can. It’s pretty busy at the moment! Calls are scheduled up until mid-August but it’s all good man!
It’s an incredible initiative you’ve set up, big up yourself. Thanks for being so open, best of luck with the release and album! Would be great to check in the future man.
‘Cardio’ is out now & it’s well worth copping! Buy/Stream here.