Q&A: Brandon Bolmer
The punk/hardcore realm is a place continually built by instinct. In a positive light, it’s what churns emotions to howl at listeners but in a negative light, it manifests more drama within a band than a 1991 episode of Maury. After the rehashing of band that’s been put back into its original place, post-hardcore vocalist BRANDON BOLMER (Yesterday’s Rising, Chiodos) has found an opening instead of a curtain call with MASKARADE, an electronic art project that breaches average standards by stripping them of their monotonous tones (listen to his first two tracks). While settled in at his California residence, the 25-year-old addressed his new solo project and dug into its sound, what he hopes it grows into and how expectations shouldn’t be affiliated with anything experimental.
As a musician, is it difficult to accept and explore the idea of change?
Change is great. It keeps things fresh and keeps it fun. I would never want to be doing one specific thing forever, that sounds entirely too boring.
You publicly noted that you wanted to move in a different direction after being a part of the post-hardcore/alternative genre for almost ten years. What influenced that decision and when did that happen?
Since about 2006/2007, I’ve been brainstorming ideas for a solo project – something that would incorporate my love for classical music, film scores, singing and art. Since before I joined Chiodos, I had been working on my production skills, learning how to mix and trying to capture my ideas to the best of my ability. After so many years of being in a band, I really wanted to know what it would be like to do something alone. Since leaving Chiodos, I’ve focused all my time and attention on Maskarade.
Has there been a lot of outside support from friends and colleagues?
Totally, they are just excited to see what’s next for me. Anyone that’s been in the loop about this has been extremely supportive and helpful.
Is your a new project a total push forward from your previous sound?
Shouldn’t it always be a push forward? I’d like to think that it’s something new and exciting for anyone that has enjoyed my vocals over the years. Everything people are going to hear is made by me as I write all of it, create all of the musical content and most of the art. For me it has been a push forward. I’ve always been involved in groups that write the music and then write vocals – sort of like this 50-50 thing – so I guess in a way I’m presenting what I can do as an individual, which is the ability to write songs that are 100% me. I enjoyed my past projects because I’ve only done things I’m truly passionate about, but this is probably the closest I’ve gotten to doing something I truly love.
How does the project affiliate with music and art and a flowing sense of creativity?
Everything is so new at this point, I’m not really sure how I will incorporate art into the project, but it will be a huge part of what I’m doing. What I do know is that I need to shave my face…
As a talented vocalist, there’s a lot of skepticism as to how you will incorporate your voice into your music. Is that an aspect you’ll need time to nurture into your new sound or do you already have an idea of how it will fit?
I’m not really trying to make it any certain thing. I’m just letting my inspirations and influences live through me. I’m not changing anything about my voice to make it fit better but just singing how I sing and making music I like, and the marriage between the two seems to have worked really well so far.
How would you describe your music in relation to similar artists?
I wouldn’t want to give anyone the wrong idea but it’s similar to some electronic dance music artists and it’s similar to the sound of some film scores. There’s a very cinematic feel to most of it, incorporating a lot of orchestral/classical elements while keeping it current with the sound you’d hear in today’s EDM world. It’s a rather interesting combination; vocals with intense electronic sounds and a dramatic film score.
What ideas are you currently working on now?
Right now I’m just writing more material and developing concepts for the project. There have been talks of visuals and videos and also working on the live show. I will be performing the new recordings and I will be singing live.
Do you think it’s going to be difficult for fans to attach to this new project, especially with the media heavily spotlighting your departure from your previous band?
I mean, it’s a different sound than most of my listeners are used to and… it may take a few people off guard, but this is what I’m doing as of right now. This is where my heart’s at – take it or leave it. If anything, the spotlighting has helped promote the project in many ways.
From an individual’s perspective, how difficult is it personally to change your sound as a musician? There have been some recent smooth transitions for artists such as Kenny Vasoli (The Starting Line/Vacationer), Skrillex and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs but not all have been steady.
With the new project, it’s just natural – arranging music in different ways with the sounds that I like and adding original vocal parts. The challenging part is getting the fans that are supporters of my alternative projects, to cross over to this. The sound of Maskarade is very aggressive and fast just like the bands I’ve been in, so it’s similar in a lot of ways to what I’ve done in the past. This is all so new at this point, so I’m not really sure exactly how difficult it will be for listeners to make this change. All I can say is, it’s 2012 – listen with fresh ears and no expectations.
How does that test you as a songwriter?
I try not to think too much when writing songs. I’ve had past experiences with old bands where we’re sitting down trying to figure out what we should do musically and what will appeal to the listener, and… really… the only thing that it did for us was break the bands up because we were thinking too much. Analysis paralysis is a dangerous thing. You shouldn’t have to try too hard if you love what you’re doing and it shouldn’t feel forced. I’m just writing whatever sounds good to my ears and can only hope that my love for doing this will translate from the speaker to the listener.
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