Very few artists have covered as much ground musically, as Bru-C. The Derby born, Nottingham hailing musician, is someone who has certainly worn many hats. Countless artists claim to be versatile, but how many of them can jump on a DnB tune, spit comfortably on the beloved 140bpm and drop a mixtape with a reggae and dub band? In the 11 years he’s been in the game, Bru-C has really done it all.
Unlike many of his compatriots, these pivots have not been planned or orchestrated in a futile attempt to keep up with the constantly evolving zeitgeist. Instead, these are just the many ways in which Bru-C’s love for music chooses to manifest itself at any given time. Possessing such an incredibly diverse musical palette of course required years of sampling some of the finest delicacies these various genres had to offer.
Witnessing his uncle play bass on one of the most influential dance tracks of our time Olive’s “You’re not Alone”, it was hard for him not to be inspired by this, but ultimately it was Bru’s sister who really opened up the world of music to him. What started off has obsessive fandom, quickly saw Bru evolve into an artist that was the purveyor of all these wonderful sounds that he’d taken in during his formative years. We sat down with him to chart one of the most incredible journey’s in the music industry to date, take in the full conversation below.
What inspired you in the beginning? What made you wanna do music?
“My first initial love of music came just before I started Secondary school, my sister came home from Secondary school when I was at Primary school, and she had Pay as U Go cassette tapes, Sidewinder, all of that. Not long after that, my sister would bring home Jamie Duggan mix CDs, DJ EJ – these were bassline mixes.
“When I heard that, it was everything I loved in grime, and everything I loved in RnB combined with mad drops, you get what I’m saying? My sister brought me into that, and the same with dubstep, she showed me my first like dubstep songs when I was like 15/16, and then by the time I was 18, I was in raves every weekend.”
When you started doing music, were you ever daunted by the fact that you were from outside London? Especially at a time when the scene was much more London centric.
“To be honest bro, music is something that I’ve always had in the back of my head that I’d like it to be more. I kind of feel like every step I’ve reached has kind of felt impossible until I got to it, so I think by the time it got to a point where I was thinking about: ‘could I make this into a career? could it effect me not being from London’? The internet was in such a place by that point, that it allowed people before me to show that it doesn’t matter where you’re from, you can make it work.
“As soon as I realised that homing in on who you are, and what you represent when you come from somewhere like where I came from, where not a lot artistically gets a chance to shine, it’s such an advantage bro. ‘Cause there’s not many people like, in the spotlight that represent a place like where I come from in Nottingham, and I just think it’s been a massive advantage for my a career to be honest.”
Has music always been something you wanted to do? What did you want to do before? Was there like a plan b?
“I don’t think there was much hope for a lot of things back then bro! I’m not gonna lie, I was just causing trouble, there was a lot going on in my family, I was going through a lot of struggle, especially in my teenage years, and I was going through so much trauma that music was just my escape bro, I just loved it and it just allowed me to escape.
“I’ve never been driven by money ever, I didn’t come from money, so I wasn’t even thinking about it like that, cause I’ve never known any different to what I had, or really aspired to have anything different financially, I think the changes I’ve always wanted in my life have always been who I am as a person and growth in that aspect, rather than in terms of career, finance or numbers. I just done my thing bro, you know what I”m saying?”
One of the most striking things about you is how musically diverse you’ve been throughout your career. Was this planned? Tell us about your musical journey.
“Nah it wasn’t bro. Like I say music was my escape, so I just wanted to to just make music to just make music, and I loved music so much, and I wanted to do it so badly as a career, that I was just kind of just immersed in everything bro. Which is why I was in a hip hop band, why I was doing rap battles, why I was doing grime freestyles and clashes, why I’ve done solo hip hop EPs.
“I definitely did a lot of different genres, but dance music has always been a massive part of my life from such a young age. I’ve always loved the culture of it, the partying side and all of that.
“Where I grew up we drink in parks from young, and play these tunes on speakers and that, so by the time it kind of got to like 2015/2016, and I kind of made more of a transition to dance music I was seasoned bro, like I grew up on it. I found my feet in it, I kind of felt like I could represent myself the best in that.
“Rather than in rap music where I kind of feel like it’s a lot more more ego, street life and that sort of thing. Whereas I’ve always been more about vibes, more about the partying, and also on the flip side of that, quite conscious and I like to get deep on tunes; and dance music is a place where you can do both in a very interesting way. I don’t feel like many other vocalists have ever done that, so that was like my sweet spot, and that is where I saw all this, and thought this is me man.
“I just feel like rap music breeds a certain pressure and aesthetic, and I feel like I can have more fun and get more deep on dance music, but at the same time still rap and sing, and do all the things in music that I love a lot more, and party, I mean what more can you ask for?”
Is this your final form? Are we gonna see any more evolutions?
“I’d definitely like to do some more live stuff. In the next couple of years, I’ll definitely tour with a live band at some point in the future 100%. Also I will definitely delve into other genres as well, I’m sitting on a couple bits at the moment, but yeah I won’t talk too much about that, cause its far into the future.”
How Important has collaboration been in your career? And why did you think it was necessary?
“I was just so in love with just making music, and I just wanted to have like minded people around me that were just on the same path. Doing things like that, it pulls out people that want it. It’s been massively important to my success, I’ve been a stepping stone for artists, other artists have been a stepping stone for me. Same with Youtube channels, interviews, radio.
“I think it’s important to work with the right people though, I wouldn’t work with anyone, if I don’t catch a vibe with you, or I don’t like you or I feel like we’re on different paths, or its not right I wouldn’t do it. There’s been artists recently that I’ve met with and we get on really well, but the time aint right for the collab, so its just about doing whats right and when.”
What was the Don’t Flop experience like?
“Sick bruv, I fucking loved it mate. It was so sick, it was definitely massively challenging like artistically, and even in life, cause people are just gonna draw for things. But I just love the sport, not even that I wanted to be the best, but I just love being in a room with like 500 people in silence hearing what you gotta say to some dickhead in front of you, and just taking his head off.
“There’s nothing more nerve wracking I’ve ever done, but then there’s no better feeling of like coming off and finishing your verses. The stage presence and confidence its given me is mad bro, definitely.”
Music aside, you also have your own clothing line Krudd. Tell us a bit about how that came to fruition?
“In 2015/2016, I decided to quit the band. I kind of reinvented myself in a sense, I wanted to do dance music and bassline mainly, I had such a love for it. So I started making some music and playing it at a few festivals and started really enjoying it, so I thought I’m just gonna start a fresh Bru C. Forget the past where I was doing everything, and just focus on one genre for once and see how it goes.
“That was inspired by the events I was putting on, I started Krudd we printed 30 t shirts and 20 hats for the events, and sold them all, the event was at 110 capacity bar and there was 400 people in there going mad, it was a zoo. That started to grow and grow, and my career started to grow and grow simultaneously. I was meeting more DJs and producers, working with the likes of Skepsis, Darksy, Jamie Duggan, and playing all over the UK while selling merch, and really spreading the name of Krudd.
“It kind of became a thing where you would go to raves in the UK and most people would be wearing Krudd, which was sick man. That quickly developed into being part of Crucast, which was one of the powerhouses involved in the resurgence of bassline music, we sold out two uk tours, a lot of the major festivals too.”
How did the pivot from Bassline to DnB happen? What was the thought process behind this?
“I kinda felt artistically, bassline wasn’t giving me enough room to do my thing. Thats when I found myself going into drum and bass, and just found my feet a bit more artistically. Now up until that point, I’d only been hosting for DJs and playing my own songs throughout, trying to squeeze in as many as the DJ would let me, and not many drum & bass or bassline MC/hosts were doing live PAs or their own sets. I realised quite quickly that there was a gap in the market that I could fill in that sense.
“So I just thought this is the time to work harder than ever and just stamp my place in the scene, and five years after that it got to a point where I’d made consistent music and my fanbase had just continued to grow consistently and now its got to where it is. I think the special thing about that is I’ve got fans from 10 years ago, 8 years ago, 6 years ago, 5 years ago – that started on this new journey, and then fans from last year, this year its sick man. I noticed it at a few festivals last year, the crowd was really diverse, but all there for one thing.”
You’ve clearly achieved so much independently, so why did you decide to sign now? What changed?
“Since I started doing music my career has slowly progressed each year, and thats through hard work and consistency. In this day and age you don’t really need a label to do that for you, I’m not really too bothered about who’s playing my songs on the radio and stuff, as long as the listeners are listening thats all that I’m bothered about.
“But meeting with the Def Jam team, I already knew Cian, cause he used to work for another major that tried to sign me, which I declined at the time. But meeting the rest of guys at Def Jam, was just like such a breath of fresh air, they just fully wanted to just back me, and just show people my story and my journey, and not really change anything that I was doing, which is really important to me.
“Artistically you can start thinking when you get to a certain level, you have to start doing certain things, and you have to make certain songs, but I’m not really fucking bothered about that bro, I just wanna make the music that I feel to make. I think I’m gonna surprise a lot of people with the music that I make this year as well for that reason. It’s for the people, I’m not doing it for the streams, I’m not doing it for the charts, its for the fucking people, its for the fam, like my supporters are my family init, and its family only. That goes for my friends, family, supporters, team, anyone thats backing me is family init, so I have a label now that understand that, and feel like family init, like every single person at that label is 110% in my corner, day in day out. Yeah being on Def Jam, the team are wicked, they care about me a lot and likewise, I care about them, they’re good people man. So you know its good vibes man, theres no industry feels, theres no ego, we’re just making music, we’re just creating and showing my journey man.”
Obviously you wanna take the sound mainstream. But there are certainly dangers associated with doing that, what are you going to do differently to avoid some of the pitfalls?
“Just be me bro. Not making songs for the sake of stats. When I redefined myself and went back down that path and I was doing stuff with Crucast, and then I released “You & I” which just catapulted my career into a whole new place, sat at 66 million streams now. It came out in 2019, so between the day it came out, a year on in 2020 and last year in 2021, it did 35 million streams, its about to do 40 in that space again. Then obviously releasing “Streetside” after that, they’re two completely different records in one sense, in the concept and stuff, but they’re just good tunes.
“Music will just do well if its good music, and I think where I’d do it differently, is I’m gonna represent for a side of the UK that isn’t often represented. Which is kind of what “Streetside” is about in a sense. You know there are a lot of road rappers, and a lot of road man representing the road life, I’m representing the street life.
“I’m representing knocking about in areas where there is no funding for anything, we’d go to youth clubs that are completely broken and bust down, to nothing. There are a lot of drugs everywhere, not necessarily drug dealers and gangs stuff, but just drugs, cannabis, other harder drugs that you can see effecting other people around the way. Pubs. A lot of man in the pubs. I grew up in pubs and my dad used to be in the pub all the time. I was around a lot of white culture growing up you get what I’m saying?
“In the UK it’s everywhere, but theres no spotlight on it, its kind of just seen as broken Britain, benefits whatever – but thats where I came from.”
You’ve previously mentioned that Calvin Harris would be your dream collaboration. What artist more from our world would you most like to collaborate with?
“I’d probably say Skepta, I think we could do something special. He’s somebody who wasn’t scared of going into other genres, and yeah I think it would interesting to hear. At the end of the day like, Drum & Bass was the first genre that a lot of UK rappers were spitting on, the roots of all your favourite rappers, and your favourite rappers favourite rappers, you get what I’m saying? It was a similar place, but there was nobody that really grabbed it, there was a lot of features and then dubstep took the course that it took, but yeah Skepta would be special man.”
What have you got coming musically for the of the year?
“I got some really special singles coming out, obviously touring Europe really excited for that. I’m going to travelling back over to Australia and New Zealand and the end of the year, and then yeah the third album is coming man, its being created at the moment, so yeah look out for that towards the end of the year.”