Posted On 23 Oct 2017
London phenomenon Bruno Major, Dot Major of London Grammar’s younger brother recently opened a run of European dates for Lianne La Havas and will be making his way towards the states for his first-ever headlining US gigs. Having initially worked as a session guitarist, he moved down from Northampton to London and, inspired by the energy of the city, became obsessed with songwriting. He draws influences from James Blake and D’Angelo to Chet Baker and Nick Drake to create his own, uniquely intoxicating aura, the singer went from “next to nothing to 30 million streams” (NME) in a year.
A year ago, the singer-songwriter embarked on an unreplicated artistic experiment: to write, produce and release a song every month for one year. Last month, he digitally released the fruit of his experiment: the achingly vulnerable, 12-track, R&B-inspired pop album, ‘A Song For Every Moon.’
What inspired this? “Whilst I was in Los Angeles I smoked DMT and had this mad epiphany where I saw how the universe works in perfect geometric patterns and synchronized cycles. I wanted to release a song every month, because that’s the length of cycle of the moon,” Bruno recalls.
Listen to it here:
Learn more about Bruno Major in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So where does this interview find you today? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it? What’s a song you are loving these days? What music instantly lifts you out of a bad mood?
I am currently sitting in my flat at the piano, my favorite place. I just watched an interview with Jacob Collier and June Lee about negative harmony that blew my mind. There are builders drilling outside, the machine is making an unpleasant sound halfway between F and F#.
Oscar Peterson normally lifts me up, it’s impossible to listen to him without smiling. A song I love at the moment is Randy Newman – She Chose Me.
Did you approach the start of this year any differently then you did last year? What have been some of the highlights for you this year? What are you excited for in 2018 which will be here before we all know it?!
At the start of this year I was in the middle of ‘A Song For Every Moon‘ the project started and ended in August so the NY really didn’t feel like a start at all. A real highlight of my year was the crowd singing me happy birthday at Latitude, it was the first time I’d played the music from this project at a festival and it felt so special. Obviously completing ‘ASFEM’ was an amazing feeling, I am proud of it. 2018 will bring new music and live shows hopefully all around the world.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Was there ever a time where you thought about doing something completely different? What do you think it finally was that pushed you to this career?
I wanted to be a race car driver, but music was also a fun option and a little more attainable. I’ve never really enjoyed anything in the way that I enjoy music, it feels like real life magic. My earliest musical memory is sitting in my dads car and hearing the Beatles – Come Together. The beat was so interesting and that SHHOO sound. I was looking up out the window at the rooftops and I couldn’t see because I wasn’t tall enough. I nearly went to university to study English, I’ve always loved words and writing. Music is a language too, so it feels the same. I guess I love songwriting because it is the marriage of words and music.
How much of an influence was your sister? Has she shared much advice about the industry with you, shared song-writing tips or something else?
My sister and I live together, she’s the person I am most connected too. In a lot of ways we share the same musical brain but the music we make is very different. I think we’ve naturally influenced each other quite profoundly.
I always like to know how a particular city has influenced an artist. How do you think your hometown has affected the kind of music that you are making today?
Much of the music I am most inspired by is American. Jazz is the great American art form, and my musics soul, the songwriting, lies in the world of jazz. Aesthetically speaking, sonically, I think it is fundamentall British. Radiohead, James Blake, Nick Drake. London is where I live and is my favourite city in the world. It inspired me to start writing. It feels real here, we have seasons and cynism.
Let’s talk about your recently released, “A Song For Every Moon.” What was it like putting this collection together? Did anything at all surprise you about the process to put it all together?
I was surprised by how much I grew as a result. I became necessary not to think, and just to create and release. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to creativity, 90% of writing songs is convincing yourself that what you are doing isn’t terrible. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but equally the most rewarding. I’m so glad I did it and I’m so glad it’s over.
Why did you decide to write, produce and release a song every month for one year?
I had one song ready: Wouldn’t mean a thing, and then nearly 400 demos sitting on my laptop. The plan was to record one of these each month, just to force myself to release music. I ended up writing and releasing bunch of new ones as well as some rerecorded demo songs. I had a recurring nightmare for a while where I couldn’t leave my flat. I’d try to get out the door but I’d always forget my wallet or my shoes. Once I finished ASFEM the nightmare went away.
What has it been like writing songs with Jamie Cullum lately? Do you have plans to release them soon?
Jamie is one of the people that inspired me to start writing songs. I revere him for being an accomplished jazz musician whilst also being a world class songwriter. That’s really rare, and something I aspire to. Writing with him was amazing, being able to nerd out on jazz harmony and lyrics simultaneously is not something I’ve shared with anyone else.
How excited are you to be heading to the US for your first-ever headlining shows there?
It is truly a dream come true. ASFEM has done really well in terms of streaming, but we had no idea if that would translate to ticket sales. We decided to put shows on in the 6 places that had the best streaming numbers and see what happened. It was a risk, but LA sold out in a day, NY in 2, London in 4. It’s crazy to me that my first ever show in America is in NY and it’s sold out.
What was it like opening for Lianne La Havas recently?
Lianne is a very special musician. I don’t think there is anyone in the world with a better voice, she sings from the source. She has become a dear friend and opening for her was a wonderful opportunity.
I listened to Elton John. I think because I spent so long in jazz land I have huge holes in my knowledge of pop music. Elton John is amazing. Everyone else already know that. I started meditating. I do it when I go to bed. It turns into sleep normally.
How do you think being a musician gives you all the most joy in life today?
Music is my whole life! When it is going well, I am happy. I’m just arranging sound waves but it feels important.
Do you believe that the music being created right now will be greatly influenced by the intensely politically charged times we live in right now? How has it affected you as a musician in general?
I don’t believe that we are living in a particularly politically charged time. Every era is politically charged, we just have Twitter feeds giving us real time updates. But of course music will reflect current affairs, all art is a product of its environment. I’m English, middle class, straight, white, male, so I feel I should stick to love songs for now.
What artists have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
I am inspired by so many people it’s impossible to name them all. I love everything from Ravel to Messugah, Randy Newman to D’Angelo, Todd Terje to Ella Fitzgerald. I dream of writing a song with Randy Newman, he is my hero.
What advice would you give to a young person who is considering becoming a musician one day?
If you are ‘considering it’, it’s probably a bad idea. You either are or you aren’t.
At the end of the day, what do you hope your fans take away from your music? What do you hope is the message of your songs?
I hope my music is perceived as honest. I hope it communicates warmth, and I hope it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It is really a reflection of me, if you don’t like my music you probably wouldn’t like me either.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
I often walk around my flat talking to myself, and I’m constantly running 10 minutes late. On my first day of school I was sick on myself in the school canteen. My first word was ‘pretty’ and my second word was ‘lights.’ I wrote most of my songs on an out of tune piano. I wrote these answers on my iPhone, the screen is cracked and it made my thumbs sore.