No Time For Sleep - A Conversation With Brasco
Some Nights (feat. 724x & Trip C) - Brasco's upcoming single
As I wake up to a fresh batch of hurried messages containing production files, vocal stems, and interview responses, I wonder when Brasco finds time to relax. Most of these messages were sent after his shift - he was supposed to have today off of work, but they called him in. This seemed to be a common theme for the man who already had multiple projects on his plate. Whether it's his work with The Neverending Mixtape, his own groups Classifieds and Badmood, or his upcoming solo work, he’s always juggling new obligations - all with a smile on his face. The question quickly becomes not "When does he sleep," but simply "Does he sleep at all?"
The Tennessee-based producer sat down for a few sessions to discuss his recent output and ambitious plan to drop at least one new track every month in 2022. This cycle begins with his first single, Some Nights, featuring frequent collaborators 724x and Trip C.
Tell me about 2021. Is this the most consistently you’ve ever released music?
Absolutely. To be honest, I really had trouble growing artistically and letting myself do things like vocals for a little bit before joining [The Neverending Mixtape]. I would do really rough demos…but I couldn't get myself to really work on something to properly release because of the anxiety I [felt while doing] what I was doing. I had reached a point [that] I wasn't positive I could grow past, then I joined the group, and suddenly I was making full blown tracks with dozens and dozens of others. [Seeing the group] contributing, critiquing and revising the hell out of what we had [gave me] a newfound drive. [That’s] why I had gotten inspired to write Roll With Me after I had heard the beat and Trip C's part, and that was, like, a week after I joined.
So how has this past year shaped what you’re planning for 2022? Besides the major boost in confidence.
I think the biggest push for me [has been] the wide variety of sounds and styles I [have] gotten more used to while working within the boundaries of NEM. Roll With Me or New to This, for example - I've loved both of those styles of music for years and years, but I had been having doubts [that] I was supposed to do vocals at all, let alone over stuff like that. That would also include things like [a demo] I did where I was screaming for my verse, too. I had discovered that to some degree I can mold myself to fit a style in a way that I didn't think I could, and with work and as many takes as I needed, I could make it sound at least kind of cool. [Meanwhile] the projects I was building behind the scenes with a couple of my closest friends and collaborators were not as experimental as I wanted them to be. [With] Classifieds I [can] always push how gross and heavy we [can] get, Badmood I [can] always really try to push the songwriter [in] all of us, so [I asked myself], what do I do for my music? I decided to… stretch and mold the songs I [already] had and the new ones I was making into directions outside of "808, trap hi-hats, and a splice sample." There's nothing wrong with that formula - I just feel like I can do more and I haven't been. 2022 is me doing that.
Speaking of style - for all of your talk about experimentation and pushing boundaries, I get the impression that at heart you’re a sucker for a simple, catchy pop song. How does this pop sensibility inform your music?
Absolutely, I love [an] earworm. All of the artists and producers I look up to the most - whether that be Pharrell, Kanye, SOPHIE, or even someone like Kurt Cobain - took what [was considered] a pop song and pushed those boundaries forward in their own ways. That’s what I want to do when I say I’m starting to push more. I want a catchy hook from someone like Trip C or an amazing bridge from 724x, but I want it to be [used] in a different way than someone like Mark Ronson or Max Martin would use a catchy hook. A good example for that would be the Badmood track Embezzle. I’d argue that’s one of the best poppy tracks any of us have done, and it sounds nothing like pop music that’s big right now and I love that. That’s what keeps you relevant, in my opinion: growth and pushing boundaries. It may not always be perfect for the ones that do it, but it keeps you moving artistically, and that’s what I want for my career.
You’re mentioning a lot of collaborators, which makes me wonder about your synesthesia. You’ve told me that you have very specific visions for how songs should sound and that a lot of that comes down to how they “look” to you. Does this make it a challenge to collaborate with so many artists?
Not at all, actually. All of them have specific shades to their voices for me, so if I reach out to a specific person it’s for the same reason I’d choose a specific sample or synth - they fit the pallet in my head for the track in a way I or a sound just couldn’t. There’s a feature on [a] song that’s dropping in March, [and] I waited months for this verse to come through just because I knew the voice would flow with the colors in the exact way I needed to bring the song [to] a level I’d be proud of. That song made me really fine-tune how I can almost [use] the features as instruments for the track as opposed to just vocal features over the beat. I think the tracks I’ve made since that realization have been a big step up.
Recently it seems like you’ve been intentionally taking steps to move past the simple “producer” label. What role would you consider yourself to have in the projects you’re working on? Does this vary by project?
Outside of my [solo] songs, I try to look at everything as if I'm the Executive Producer so I can maximize the ideas I can throw at it. Classifieds is pretty squarely the four of us, for example, [and it’s the] same for Badmood being the six of us, but I try to look at any and all of these projects from the perspective of the Executive Producer to really push the potential of everyone involved. In my own music, I have had issues with...focus[ing too much] on that realm and it just becoming perfectionism, which is where having the perspective of a few people has helped immensely. For example… 724x is the person who helps me really boil down the ideas I have for my own work. He’s been a big influence in the [Executive Producer role] that I'm usually in, and [he] helps a lot with his opinions and views on some ideas I've thrown at him.
So Badmood, Classifieds, Neverending, and your solo work. Top that off with random production credits scattered across other a handful of projects and it already feels overwhelming just to say out loud. How do you handle all of these obligations while navigating your own personal life?
When I was a teenager and first teaching myself how to produce, I immediately became obsessed with it and would sink hours in. Honest to god, I’d do any obligations I had for that day, eat dinner, then work on music until I passed out at 5am and wake back up at 9am and start again. So spending 8 hours at my day job and coming home to work isn’t new to me, but I have learned since then to give myself more downtime here and there for my hobbies where I can. Reading, movies, video games, [etc]. Plus, [these hobbies] feed back into the music with inspiration so it’s a win-win. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, though. I was beat [while finishing 3 projects this year], trying to help with 724’s album, and work[ing] on my solo stuff all at once, but luckily that’s not a constant.
Is releasing music at such a frequent pace a way for you to combat the perfectionism you mentioned earlier?
Very much so. I’m kind of mad at myself for never releasing music [before joining] NEM, so when this all started there was a fire set under my ass to get things done, mixed, and released. The sheer amount of music we’ve done in this time frame is a proud spot for me, and I don’t plan on slowing down too much any time soon.