Timeless Love and Rumination with Bruno Major
“I feel like the world’s just Ctrl+Alt+Deleted itself”
Vibrations. That might be the word that encompasses everything we miss about live music shows: being held up by sweaty bodies in a crowd, screaming artists’ lyrics back to them, letting the music take control. British musician Bruno Major would have taken the Wanderland stage back in March, but not unlike many artists these days, he’s taken to YouTube live streams instead. Though it’s the best alternative we have for now, Bruno admits it’s just not the same. “[Performing live in front of a crowd] is very much like a visceral experience innate to an artist and an audience—existing in the same space, feeding off of each other’s energy and sharing the same air,” he says when we have a chat over Zoom.
The last time he graced our shores for Karpos Live last year, he played his debut album A Song for Every Moon in its entirety. He’s since released his follow-up, To Let a Good Thing Die, where he continues to decorate his romantic lyricism with laidback contemporary arrangements and a tinge of that Great American Songbook sensibility he holds dear—just the kind of comfort and warmth some of us have been craving for in quarantine.
What gives Bruno comfort these days, though, you might wonder? Eat Real lentil chips and a regular workout routine.
“It’s meditative, really. It’s concentration of your physical self, which then eases your brain,” he says. More than anything, though, these times have seen us look inward in depths we possibly haven’t allowed ourselves to reach. “I think people are afraid of silence sometimes,” ponders Bruno. “I know I am. When you go to bed, you put on some Netflix in the background or you put on some music or when you’re on the Tube, you’ll put some headphones in and you listen to a podcast. For all of us to be in a situation where we haven’t really got any background noise, we’ve been left with our own thoughts. You know when, on an old PC, you used to press Ctrl+Alt+Delete and it would reset the whole thing? I feel like the world’s just Ctrl+Alt+Deleted itself.”
“That’s the great battle and the great journey
that we all have to go through:
coming to terms with your own mortality.”
Bruno didn’t set out to release a wistful quarantine album, by any means. Songs like I’ll Sleep When I’m Older almost feel like a distant dream, depicting scenes of self-discovery and freedom out of our current grasp—“I’ll be a firework, not a flickering flame / Treat life all around me like a one-player game / I’ll go to the party and forget all their names / Should it come back to haunt me, it ends all the same.” But Bruno seems to take comfort in the timelessness of it, too. “It’s about my own youthful ardor, the need to prove myself as a young man and go out and do all the things I need to do and prove myself to myself, so that never changes. It doesn’t matter about the situation.”
He deems his first two albums as belonging to the same creative arc, one he wishes to depart from come his third album. While there aren’t any set plans yet, Bruno says he “wants to go and osmosize some new stimulus before [he] can create in an authentic way,” but, as someone who wears his musical influences on his sleeve, he seems set to keep this tradition of including one cover on each album. It was Chet Baker’s Like Someone in Love for the first and Randy Newman’s She Chose Me for the second (which, to my Pixar-tinged heart, read almost like a prequel to his heart-wrenching Toy Story 2 contribution, When She Loved Me).
“I wanna make four or five albums, I think, if I can do that without them becoming rubbish,” says Bruno. He might even do a D’Angelo cover on one of them but refrains from further ruining the surprise. After he’s done those, he says he might continue dabbling in producing for other artists when he’s a bit older and can’t be bothered to get on twenty planes a month. (ICYMI, he produced his friend and rising British act Eloise’s gorgeous first EP This Thing Called Love late last year! He deems her a female version of himself as a musician, both of them harnessing their interest for jazz and pop music, as well as possessing a similar preoccupation with honest, timeless love.)
The album closer and title track To Let a Good Thing Die reminds me of that Japanese term “mono no aware,” which refers to this bittersweet acceptance of life’s fleeting nature. The song feels like a gentle slap on the face, really. A number of people have messaged Bruno about the song’s abrupt ending, and I couldn’t help telling him that part of me wanted that final note to linger, but his deliberate decision to cut that note a second shorter than what one would expect was a true testament to letting a good thing die. It doesn’t give you any sense of resolution the exact moment it ends, but that in itself gives you comfort.
“That’s the great battle and the great journey that we all have to go through: coming to terms with your own mortality and coming to terms with the eventual loss of everyone that you love. There’s nothing harder than that. That’s why we are all anxious, that’s why we are all driven to do everything that we do to get up in the morning. That’s why I think a dog is so excited to get up in the morning. They’re so stoked to be here because they have less time and they’re aware of that in their own way, I think. They’re aware that every day is meaningful in a way that sometimes we don’t realize ‘cause we consider our lifespans to be really long, and it’s not—it’s really fucking brief. I’ve come to terms with my own mortality. I’m not quite there with the others that I love, but I’m sure we’ll get there.”
While it’s tough to attain any kind of consolation amidst all this uncertainty, Bruno and his music remind us that, one day, it will all come to pass. “I am continually honored and surprised that you even exist, that I have fans from somewhere so far away from home,” he says of his Filipino fans. “It’s always a real special feeling to come there and feel loved and I hope that you feel loved back too, and I promise as soon as it is physically possible, I will come over and play a show for you in real life, not behind a screen.”
Listen to Bruno Major’s To Let A Good Thing Die, out on all major streaming platforms. While we all continue to long for the vibrations of live performances, soothe the ache by keeping up with Bruno’s live streams and updates on his socials.
Words Bea Mata
Special thanks to Lova Da Records
Art Alex Lara