ICON: Where did you find your love for music?
Bruno Major: “I don’t really know where it came from, but it’s always been there. I’ve never really been very good at doing things that I don’t enjoy, and music is just something that I’ve always loved doing and I work very hard at it, but it’s never felt like I’m working at all. It’s just what I want to do every day.”
After having written an entire album a couple of years ago, your record label at the time dropped you. In an interview you mentioned that you had enough money to buy a laptop and Logic and you just started writing. Was it ever an option to just quit and get a traditional job?
BM: “No, I’ve never felt like I would leave music behind. I was a musician long before I was writing songs and before I was an artist. I went to college and studied music and I never dreamt that was even possible to become an artist or a songwriter. Those were like pipe dreams. I always presumed that I would end up being a music teacher or playing at weddings. That’s what I was doing for a long time after I left college. I left college when I was 20 and I didn’t sign a record deal until I was 24. In that four-year period I was making my living signing in Italian restaurants and playing guitar for other artists…
That’s the real beauty about music, there is bread and butter. If you’re an actor, you’re either very successful or you’re kind out of work and there’s no bread and butter industry. Whereas a musician, there are thousands and thousands of musicians that make a great living doing stuff like I was doing for four years. When I ended up signing a record deal and then coming back to London, whilst I was worried about my artist career, I always knew I could make music as a living. I don’t know anyone who has become a successful musician that had a Plan B. It was either this or nothing for me.”
Did you have a moment where you were thought “I’ve made it”?
BM: “[Laughs] No. I did not have that moment. I don’t think there is such a thing as ‘making it’, because boundaries are always moving and for me, leaving college, I dreamt of making my living as a musician and then I started writing songs and I dreamt of being a songwriter and then I signed a record deal. I dreamt of being a touring artist and then now I’m a touring artist.
“The goal posts are constantly moving, and I think that anyone that’s really driven will have the same feeling that they’re never really satisfied where they are.”
There are always people that are doing better than you and people that are doing worse than you so there’s no such thing as ‘making it’. But I certainly feel very fortunate that I have the ability to make a second album because my first album did well enough. So, I guess in that sense, the release of a second album is an admission that you got to a certain level.”
What has inspired your latest album? Did you draw from your own experiences?
BM: “I think all art is a product of its environment and generally speaking, the stimulus over the period of a lifetime and regurgitates it in the form of art and that’s how it works. But I guess in terms of like what my influences are, it’s everything that I experience and see and smell and taste and touch and feel. Things like reading books and watching films. It’s life all around me.”
I’ve seen that you employed a ‘cry test’ for your debut album. Is that the case for this body of work?
BM: “Yeah, I didn’t [use] it on every song. Some songs, like ‘Regents Park’ are just like kind of funny. So, I definitely wouldn’ cry on that. But the ones that really mean a lot like To Let a Good Thing Die’, ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Older’, ‘Tapestry’. The ones that are like emotionally acute. It’s more when you’re actually writing them.”
And how has your sound evolved in the last few years?
BM: “Well, I suppose the first album was over the course of making it I developed my sound with Phairo my co-producer and once the first album has been made it’s an aesthetic flag in the sense where all future musical ventures continue from. With this album, I tried to keep the creative process as similar as possible as I didn’t want to radically move away from the first album, I wanted it to feel like a development and expansion. I did have some budget this time.
“The first album was literally made in my kitchen with one microphone and a laptop.”
Whereas this time we had the opportunity to go into some music studios and work with an engineer. So hopefully it feels a little higher vibe but still very much in the vein of the first album.”
Talk to me about the creative process of working with Finneas on ‘The Most Beautiful Thing’. How did that come about?
BM: “Finneas and I have been mutual fans for a while. We met on Instagram, which I suppose everyone does now. We met up when I was in LA and went for a coffee and got on well and started writing together whenever we were in the same place at the same time. ‘The Most Beautiful Thing was the second song we wrote together. It’s very easy to write with Finneas. We have a good creative connection and he is an astonishingly intelligent human and a very talented songwriter. So, the process of writing is very natural for us. I’m really proud of the song we wrote together.”
How has quarantine changed the way you create?
BM: “Creatively speaking, I’m in a bit of a weird place at the moment because I have my album about to come out and I feel like a sprinter on the starting block waiting for the guns to go off and it’s hard to think about anything else but that. I have written a couple of songs during lockdown, to be honest, I am incapable of writing when I’m touring. I am incapable of writing when I’m recording. So, I have to really dedicate time to writing and it’s been quite nice to put that hat back on because I was a little burnt out and hadn’t really had any time off… That’s probably a direct result of being quarantined to be honest.”
You also toured with Sam Smith. Is it humbling to know that you’ve found fans within these incredible artists?
BM: “My fans are so famous – it’s really funny. Like the Kardashians listen to my music. No one knows who the fuck I am, it’s really funny I had like Kylie Jenner painting her nails on her Instagram stories to one of my tunes and around the same time I went on James Corden and did The Late Late Show which was obviously a huge deal and I got considerably more messages being like “Oh My God! You’re on Kylie Jenner’s Instagram Stories” – they didn’t care about me being on TV.
On a sincere level though, people that I am really inspired by are musicians like Rufus Wainwright, Randy Newman, Chet Faker, John Grant. These people are like huge Greek Gods on top of mountains for me and most people don’t know who they are and it’s because they are the type of musician that influence and inspire others and that’s the kind of musician that I have always aspired to be.”
Bruno Major’s sophomore album ‘To Let A Good Thing Die’ is out now. For more from Bruno, visit his website here.