Getting to know Bru-C, the MC who brings his heart and soul to D&B

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Representing the city of Nottingham, MC/singer/songwriter Bru-C has unlocked the formula for creating authentic crossover club bangers, fusing the best of British bass sounds for a sound like no other. Juxtaposing lyrics that capture his personal healing with the fun and cheeky moves of a Friday night, it’s no wonder he’s built such a cult following, helping calm fans in a world of political madness. .

Bru-C, born Josh Bruce, was surrounded by music from an early age. From Motown to Lauryn Hill to reggae, he connected to the soul in the sounds he heard at home, “music that had emotion,” he tells me. Thanks to his older sister, he was introduced to the British garage at the age of 10, a pivotal time that led him to discover grime thanks to Sidewinder cassettes. Three years later, Bru-C found himself around a local collective called YLC, or Young Reckless Crew, which included many of his older sister’s friends. “I always used to go to the youth club and watch them spit,” he says. “I loved everything about it. So I started writing bars, but I didn’t have the confidence to do anything with it. I was too shy for that then. Bru-C continued to invest in his talent, privately, as it brought him joy and a chance to escape.

It wasn’t until Bru-C turned 14 that he entered the studio to record his first song, “Changes,” with his friend G-Biz, which ended up being sent to his high school. The ultimate teen stamp of approval. “It was actually about smoking weed and how bad it is for you,” he explains. “I think I tried to incorporate it as part of a school project, which is why it was a bit of a different concept, but it was so sick.” Bru-C continued to immerse himself in the local music scene, which led him to fall in love with bassline/4×4, dubstep and drum & bass, a genre that never tires of him in this moment. “I was a plasterer and the guy I worked with always had Mixmag CDs in the car. So when I was, like, 16, I remember hearing Chase & Status, this before they came out more than manyand I loved what they were doing with D&B.

Testing his skills over the years, he jumped onto the fight rap circuit, via Don’t Flop, and began collaborating with London grime veterans D Double E and P Money. But it wasn’t until he shared his D&B track, “You & I,” that he noticed a change. “I dropped a clip on her Instagram and it just went crazy,” he says. “Then I played a gig in Kettering, like the week before the track came out, and everyone was singing it. I was like, ‘What the fuck just happened?’ Original sounds, allowed him to reintroduce himself as a singer on dance music. “I feel like it worked really well on this project, in terms of people hearing a different side of me, talking about mental health and that kind of stuff, and it really resonated.” His follow-up project, 2020s Smilewas also well received in the dance arena: “I feel like the world just needed to smile back then.”

The strong motif that runs through much of this bass-loving Forest fan’s music is honesty. Unifying his early love for emotive songs and fusing that with his love of new and legacy, the bass sound made him an unstoppable force. We caught up with Bru-C to discuss choosing the right label for his music, how his ADHD impacted his creative process, and the bassline song that accidentally became his sister’s birth song.

“It’s really surreal for someone like me to be signed to 0207 Def Jam. A man like Josh from Long Eaten? It’s unheard of.

COMPLEX: Tell me about this new chapter in your life and the decision to sign with 0207 Def Jam.
Bru-C:
0207 Def Jam are fam, man, 100%. I knew Cian [Cooper Davies] for years – he is responsible for A&R there. He tried to get me signed to another label a few years ago, and the label didn’t get me as Cian. I went to meet Cian and Twin B, one of the presidents, and the first thing Twin said to me was, “The best in Long Eaton!” From there, I knew it would be my home label. These people understand.

The twins are legends. Their journey and impact within British music and beyond is so significant.
It’s really surreal for someone like me to be signed to 0207 Def Jam. A man like Josh from Long Eaten? This is unheard of. I signed the contract on the street where I grew up. Instead of doing it with champagne in the office, I was like, “No, I’m going back to the ends!” I want to continue to be who I am and do what I do and everything just to be strengthened by being part of Def Jam, and that’s what we’re doing. I feel like the label is really good at taking an artist and showing them to the world. They made me feel so welcome. It was a very humbling experience.

I dug deep into your music catalog last week when the sun was out – banger after banger! I feel a strong influence from British music. What was your first memory of having experienced it?
My older sister showed me a UK garage when I was about 10, from Pay As U Go to Heartless Crew and So Solid Crew. The first time she brought the garage home was a tape recording of a Pay As U Go and Heartless live set. I was in it, but I wasn’t mad on this subject. I was like, “Yeah, that’s sick.” But then I heard a Sidewinder tape with Wiley and Dizzee. It was the year before I started secondary school, and that was it: from then on I was completely immersed in the UK underground music scene.

I remember hearing that moment, especially the back and forth and how special it was to hear their chemistry together for the first time. What got you excited about this Sidewinder set?
I’ve always been a high-energy person and I’ve always enjoyed a lot of more high-energy hip-hop tunes before that. So I think because of the tempo, the way the beat was choppy and the bass line melodies were just dark… [Grime producer] Alias ​​immediately comes to mind as an example. I remember hearing an Alias ​​riddim and being like, “Yo! What the hell is this?” The man was hearing Alias, looking outside and it was raining, it was dark and it was usually shit. Grime matched my surroundings when I was growing up. Where I growing up, it wasn’t a particularly nice place, and that music seemed to tell a lot more than anything we had ever heard. And I think that’s probably why it became such a big part of my life.

It really sounded like the soundtrack of our childhood, didn’t it?
In my teens, I really only listened to music that came from the UK and Jamaica. I’m not Jamaican, I’m Vincentian, but I spent a lot of time there. When I was younger, we used to buy a lot of CDs and bring them home; there would be, like, ten MCs on one beat for the full mixtape. Mavado would have a version, then someone else, etc. As for British music, where I was from, there wasn’t really a lot of local grime. Then I heard the bass line. I was listening to what was coming out of Sheffield, Huddersfield, Sheffield, Leeds a bit, Nottingham, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Leicester. It was different! It was mandem, it was MCs, and it also had a lot of vocals and remixes of old R&B tracks, which is why I really liked it. And then the drops were shrill and heavy. I was just like, “This is it!” There’s nothing that struck me like the bass line when I first heard it. It was like everything I listened to growing up, all on one CD – all these crazy new sounds that were bursting with energy and shutting down the raves. You can definitely hear that in my music. It had a huge influence on me. Then, from there, drum & bass and dubstep.

What early bass line pieces remind you of this stage of your life?
There are a few that are too rare to mention, but T2’s “Show Me” is a big one. “Monster Music” by T2 and Nay Nay is one of my all-time favorites, and my nephew was actually born with this song. I was with my sister when she gave birth. We were listening to “Pull Up Dat” by Flirta D, Shizzle, Napper and those guys, and then she said, “Put on a bassline!” I put on “Monster Music” and – boom! – she started to expand, then the baby came.

Growing up in and around Nottingham, how did local artists inspire you?
I was definitely a huge Wariko fan for years. I was a big fan of a rapper called Odjo, NG Cartel, Game Cartel, Shots Movements, S-Double, Skits and many more. There were so many sets and MCs just making music. I don’t think anyone was really trying to do anything special either, which is great. It was as if everything was happening. I wasn’t part of it, I was just a listener. I lived in Long Eaton and it was all around Nottingham: Radford, St Ann’s, Meadows, Lenton. Lots of youth centers, like CRS and Take 1 Studios, like Courtney and Trevor Rose.

How has confinement, lack of shows and isolation impacted your life and your music?
It’s had a huge, positive impact on me, because I’ve been on the road every weekend for, like, three years in the UK and around the world, just playing shows – non-stop – running. I had an event company at the time, a clothing brand too, and I realized in confinement that all of this was making me so unhappy. I just wanted to make music. I just wanted to create! And I don’t think I would have done those kinds of songs if the lockdown hadn’t happened. Having this time allowed me to think about what I wanted and who I am.

Sit quietly and think about how you are going to move forward.
Exactly.

I saw your tweet about ADHD. When were you diagnosed?
This year, January.

“I had visible symptoms of ADHD from an early age, which a lot of people in my life used to joke about and say, ‘You definitely have ADHD.’ It was almost like a running joke growing up.

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