For anyone paying attention to electronic music, Brodinski will be a familiar name. He’s been a fixture in clubs and at festivals worldwide and he’s the co-founder of the always on-point label Bromance, which has released music from Gesaffelstein, Club Cheval, Illangelo, Kaytranada, and more. In 2013, however, he reached a whole new audience, with production credits on two of Kanye West’s Yeezus tracks and a collaboration with Theophilus London.
On some of the more talked about releases of 2015 so far, producers have stepped into the spotlight, presenting projects on which they flex their curatorial expertise as well as their production talents. Albums from long time hip-hop mastermind Emile Haynie (credits include Eminem, Kanye, and Kid Cudi) and production group Future Brown have given the people making the music, rather than just the vocalists, the a they deserve. Now it’s Brodinski’s turn.
The Frenchaman has always been ahead of the curve, and he proves it beyond doubt with BRAVA, an album that blends dark, aggressive electronic production with raw street rap in an honest, powerful, and genuinely groundbreaking way. He literally has Atlanta’s Bloody Jay and Peewee Longway rapping on techno tracks! Whichever way you spin it, this kind of fusion has hardly been done before, and definitely never this successfully.
Far from phoning in features (and the guest list is definitely impressive: iLoveMakonnen, SD, Young Scooter, Slim Thug, Yung Gleesh, Chill Will etc.), Brodinski actually went and spent significant time recording in Atlanta and Los Angeles, and the results prove that it was well worth the effort. There are no weak tracks on BRAVA, and its appeal is wide, from dance music aficionados to people who think Fabo is the best rapper alive.
With Brodinski’s brilliant debut album out today, we talked to the producer and rap head about falling in love with Three 6 Mafia, the incredibly vibrant Atlanta scene, Bromance’s exciting plans for the future, and lots more.
Buy BRAVA on iTunes here.
You’ve been working on BRAVA for a few years now. Do you remember a moment when you really decided that you wanted to make a full album?
Yeah, it was August 2013. That was when we left Paris to go to L.A. and start working on the album properly. We started getting features and vocals for it, and that was the time I decided I really wanted to make an album.
At that point had you already decided that you would have a rapper on every track and did you have the artists in mind already?
I had some artists in mind but I don’t think I wanted an artist featured on every track. I wanted to leave some of them completely instrumental. I had done one or two proper techno tracks for clubs. I really thought about that at the time. I don’t like the word fusion, but I wanted to show that this was a proper mix of rap and electronic music, especially techno.
After eight or nine months, I started to think that I didn’t need to have the different tracks. I decided that it would still make sense with all the features. But in L.A. in 2013, I was not even thinking about having Fabo and Peewee Longway on my album!
Who are you most excited to have on the record?
There are so many. But I think Peewee Longway is the one. Because I remember being such a fan of his music. The day I met him was so complicated and it took so much time to make it happen, but seeing him in the studio made me realize, “Yes! We did it.”
To me, there has never been such a complete fusion of dark dance music production and rap across a whole album. Do you feel like you’ve done something groundbreaking?
It’s difficult [for me] to feel that it is, you know? We just tried to make something different, not simply because we wanted to be different, but more to make something that we like. I didn’t want to make any compromises, I wasn’t thinking about whether people are going to like it or not. I wanted to get the artists I liked who are making real street rap and give them the chance to be on different production.
I didn’t want to make any compromises, I wasn’t thinking about whether people are going to like it or not.
BRAVA is not just the music I wanted to make but the music I want to listen to, too. That’s why I’m definitely not objective about it because I love this shit! I wanted to make this music because I wanted to listen to it, and that’s the first time I’m actually making something like that.
Were there moments when you were in L.A., Atlanta, or even before that, when you were worried that these rappers you wanted on the album wouldn’t want to rap on your beats or work with you?
I didn’t really ask myself that question because we had so many different beats. So many beats with different vibes. And I understood after being in the studio with different artists a couple of times that you can make it happen. You can explain to them that even if it’s not their style or they don’t know what to do on it, they can do it.
We would give these motivational speeches with our French accents like, “Let’s do it!” We always keep smiling. I feel like anything can happen at any moment. At the end of the process when we needed to contact all of [the featured artists] to have their final approval for the album, sometimes it became a mess because it’s hard to keep in touch with them. But I believed we could make it happen, and we made it happen. I’m really happy about it.
So, you spent a lot of time in Atlanta recording this album?
Yeah. I remember trying to get in touch with the lot of the ATL rappers then at one point I decided to just go there. We were on tour with Club Cheval in the US and I had a gig by myself in Tampa. I told Myd to come with me to Tampa and then let’s go to Atlanta for two days and let’s rent a studio and let’s see what happens.
He said, “Yeah let’s do it.” We were there and we waited. The first day nobody came by. Daouda, who we were working with in the USA, came with us and we also met Derek there. Derek is one of the executive producers of the album. He helped us a lot in ATL because he knows everybody there. So he came by and I showed him a list of 45 rappers and he was like, “How do you know about those guys?!” He was like “I didn’t even know they were making music!”
I remember that first day being scared that nobody was going to swing by. But the day after Skooly came by, Chill Will came by, Peewee Longway came by, Mike Will came by and we all talked and listened to some music. He came back with the Rae Sremmurd guys too. Everyone was around and I felt that it was the right place to finish what we had started.
And that was the first time you had met all those dudes?
And then when you went back and stayed for longer, did you set up in one studio and have people would come to you or did you go to the different artist’s studios?
In Atlanta, we set up in a studio called Castle Hill and Max the engineer, he was the man. He recorded us and Chill Will and a lot of people in Atlanta. Being there, having rappers swinging by, was super cool. But I also wanted to go to rapper’s studios. Peewee recorded in his house, Young Scooter in a few places.
From your experience, why do you think ATL has the most crazy, vibrant rap scene right now?
I think it’s because everybody is inspiring each another. And the competition is so big that everybody is trying to do it differently. And the city… I remember being in the studio with Bloody Jay in the studio and Fabo just showed up there. It was amazing to see Fabo just sitting right there. As soon as you are in the studio, everyone is good. Everyone just wants to make good music. That’s the Motown vibe.
As soon as you are in the studio [in Atlanta], everyone is good. Everyone just wants to make good music. That’s the Motown vibe.
That’s a good way of describing it. The new Motown.
They actually call it that! They just talk about making music in the studio, that’s the only way. They are making music in the studio, together. It’s just a place I want to spend more time.
Does anything specific stand out about recording with all these guys?
I feel like everybody was super cool. I met so many people. Everyone was coming with a lot of friends and everyone was a bit crazy. But I feel like [the Bromance crew] are crazy too! There is not much difference between us in the studio.
Can can break down the artwork for BRAVA and what your vision was for it?
I remember finishing the album and contacting those guys called Le Creative Sweatshop. It’s a collective of four people in Paris, and they worked with Adulte Adulte who did the whole BRAVA and Brodinski typography. So it’s six of them and they designed everything for the last six months since we decided the whole artistic direction of the album. They also designed the whole visual that’s going to be part of the new show.
What’s that going to be like? Will there be video playing behind you?
Yes, exactly. There’s going to be video behind and in front of me, actually.
You run the label and collective Bromance, but it seems to be more than just a label. What does Bromance mean to you?
It means more than just a friendship. And I used the term Bromance because it’s not a job, it’s a passion. It’s like friendship and passion going together, so we’re making music with friends. That’s the right way, that’s what we want to make happen.
I used the term Bromance because it’s not a job, it’s a passion.
When did you first fall in love with rap music? What was your first experience?
I remember falling in love with rap music when Guillaume Berg became part of the team. He played some of it for me, like way back, and I don’t know… I was a proper techno addict. After I stuck to it for a bit and after I met Guillaume and he started playing some of the Three 6 Mafia shit, I started getting into rap.
As soon as I got into it—like how I did for techno—I started downloading, getting all the music I could. From that, because rap music had so much to offer, so many contexts, so much music that I wanted to get involved. It’s been around six years and I feel like I’m still discovering a lot.
You are curating and presenting Bricc Baby Shitro’s new mixtape. Is this kind of collaboration with rappers something we can expect more of from yourself and Bromance in the future?
I don’t think curating their mixtapes is the best thing for me. After spending a lot of time around the artists, I realized that I am not so much a beat maker. I cannot really be with them everyday for three weeks because of tour and everything. I mixed Shitro’s mixtape for him but what I’m going to do now is take a lot of time working on side projects with rappers which we will release on Bromance.
Right now we are working on a project with Bloody Jay called Ghetto Hippy which will come out on Bromance.
Right now we are working on a project with Bloody Jay called Ghetto Hippy which will come out on Bromance. But not right now, because we are still working on it. We are also going to work on another project with Shitro where I’m going to show the more techno, dancefloor side of our production with rap music.
Awesome, because “6 Drugs,” with production from Sam Tiba, is such a great track.
Yes, there is more on the mixtape. There is production from Richelle, Pelican Fly, Myd, Sam Tiba, Kore, ATM, Metro Boomin, Sonny Digital. Everybody’s involved! I’m really happy. It’s coming out March 31st
Looking back at the process of making the album, what’s the biggest thing that you’ve learned?
I learned to be patient and to be happy about the work we do. Not to be pretentious and be able to communicate our values and what we want to do to other people. I feel like I’ve learned everything in the past two years, but I’m probably going to tell you the same thing in another two years time! I hope so…
I definitely want to keep on learning more. I don’t know about making another album right now but I definitely want to learn more and take time to do what I’ve what I love again and again.