Following on from the glorious success of his previously shared singles ‘Glitra’, ‘Velvet Ditch’ and ‘Stay Up, Stephanie’, all lifted from his forthcoming debut album ‘Glitra’, guitar-pop artist and producer Brijs now returned to share the record’s fourth cut ‘River Swimming’.
With its meandering psych-folk aesthetic, 'River Swimming' makes for a wonderfully warm and inviting addition to his ever-growing collection. Filled with sweeping guitars, an insatiable rhythm, and his own uniquely tranquil vocals, this newest gem looks to do nothing but bring a bright and shining smile to your face.
So with his new single available now, we sat down with him to find out more about his origins and what has inspired him most over the years.
What was the first instrument you fell in love with?
My maternal grandfather’s piano. It sat in his office and music room which I was allowed into on the odd occasion during visits there as a child. I hated being torn away from it! That piano is now in my Mum’s house and I play pretty much every time I visit.
What has been the most prominent inspiration behind your music so far?
Definitely film. The combination of story, image and music seem to be the art form that speaks to me the most – as a viewer those masterful cinematic musical moments have always left the strongest mark on me emotionally and I’ve always wanted to find my part on the other side of that exchange.
What kind of music did you love as a teenager?
I had very distinct chapters. 13 to 14 was Blink 182 and pop punk... I had the first emo fringe in my school – proud moment. Then 15 to 16 was Muse, Radiohead, Bloc Party, Arcade Fire, Klaxons and Justice. When I was 17 I suddenly became a fanatical drum and bass head, listening purely to the Hospital Records catalogue and routinely emailing owner Tony Coleman my embarrassingly sub-par demos. Finally I emerged from that and finished up 18 and 19 mostly with Vampire Weekend, MGMT, Bibio, Hot Chip, Temper Trap, Four Tet and Burial.
Can you remember the first song that made you want to pursue a life in music?
That’s hard to pin down. As I say film score was the main inspiration but the first song I consciously remember trying to play was Limp Bizkit’s Mission Impossible theme “Take a Look Around”, which I arranged for one string. I remember roughly mastering the 4 bar melody and thinking “yep completed that… now time to write my own”.
Who are your favourite artists you have found yourself listening to at the moment?
It’s been a year of songs rather than artists for me but here’s some names that stick out…
A photographer who I worked with put Flavien Berger on during a shoot and I had that magic feeling when you discover a huge discography from a prolific artist you’ve never heard of before. HAIM’s album is just insane – I think we can all agree there. Same for Perfume Genius’ “Set My Heart on Fire Immediately”. My girlfriend introduced me to Mereba and I’ve returned to her stuff regularly. I’ve been running a lot with SAULT, TTRRUUCES and the new Tame Impala record. Weirdly I’d also been listening to Ennio Morricone obsessively in the few months before he passed away – he’s a true legend and a hero for me in terms of carving a career between pop music and film.
How many of your songs have you written about people in your life?
Nearly all my songs are snapshots or stories of my personal relationships. The ten songs from my forthcoming album Glitra are about a group of people I lived with in a guardianship of a dilapidated mansion in my hometown for two years – it was a genuinely magical time with this new gang of friends who appeared almost out of nowhere. They’re addressed collectively in some songs and individually in others.
What has been the most unusual moment in your career so far?
I’m having a flashback to Kite Yard studios in Battersea with me holding a massive PVC extraction tube from a nearby industrial saw between my legs like a hobby-horse and slapping the top of it whilst my producer Rob Brinkmann was shouting “you need to cup your hand more”. You can hear that exact sound from 3 seconds on in the opening of Velvet Ditch.
Outside of music, what is your biggest passion?
Film, no doubts there!
If you weren’t a musician, what other path do you think you might have taken?
Yeah definitely making films. Either a writer, producer or one of those Weta Workshop nerds designing and making props and miniature scenery for fantasy blockbusters.
And what advice would you give to other musicians looking to start a career in music?
Rob and I spent about 30% of our studio time hypothesising on pop music philosophy and there’s one jointly mined nugget I now carry around with me everywhere… We came to the conclusion that there’s two types of successful pop artists.
The first type make genuinely idiosyncratic music that’s true to themselves and are fortunate enough that at some point in the future it becomes relevant or resonates with a mood / feeling that is felt widely. The second type “jump on the bandwagon” by making music in response to a trend but still find a way to exercise their individuality through the format it dictates – in the same way great contemporary pianists can play 400-year-old pieces in their own recognisable styles.
I don’t think either is better. Neither has more or integrity or is more authentic - they’re just different. However, I do think people are generally better at one or the other and figuring out which one you are good at and making peace with it can save a lot of time and anxiety. If you’re finding it hard to establish a unique voice, follow the trend and make it your own. On the other hand, if you find it impossible to make something that sounds current, make the music you want to make and let go of other people “getting it” and validation from commercial success – there’s a small chance it might be the start of a trend that others follow in the future.
Brijs' new single 'River Swimming' is available to stream and download now. Have a listen to it in the player below.