The name Bromance signifies more than just a friendship. Part brother, part romance, the name signifies a kinship, a bond, and when that type of connection occurs, the chemistry is undeniable, even when seen afar. For Paris-based DJ Brodinski and Manu Barron, the label that shares its name with the word has managed to encompass all that the name entails, plus more. The Parisian label hosts a family of undeniable music production wizards. While their official roster includes the likes of Club cheval (Sam Tiba, Panteros666, Myd, andCanblaster), Louisahhh!!!, Gener8ion… they’ve spent a large part of their time releasing compilations, mixtapes, and EP releases from a varied range of artists- everyone from Kaytranada to Illangelo to Danny Brown have made releases through BMC. They’ve also been working with guys like Theophilus London, Kanye West, Bricc Baby Shitro, and even ILoveMakonnen!, proving that
versatility has been key. NYC/LA/Paris based techno queen Louisahhh!!! mentions in an interview with The Playground (which, shameless plug, is my interview), that “the emotional intimacy and unusually close nature of ‘Bromance’ is true” even while the idea of a bromance being only between men no longer seems to reign true for the label, and their eclectic roster, combined with their famous Bromance nights, tours, and solo shows all prove that they are an entire family that love each other as much as they love the music. The artists know how to make every event in which they are together look like a blast, and the place to be. Their attitude, their attire, and the talent they manifest highlight that they are the coolest kids in music right now.
In all of my many interviews with their artists, every member I’ve had the chance to talk to stresses the need to work with friends, the strong bond of the label, and their belief in one another, as well as this insatiable drive to never let anything stop them. In an Earmilk Interviewwith Louisahhh!!!, she gives this advice-
“…whatever you love most, work your fucking ass off at it, and love your work, and also do it with your best friends. Talk about it. Keep each other inspired. Why not have a life where you can do what you want and do what you love most with your best friends. There is no reason why it can’t work for you. Pour your heart into it, and it’ll take sacrifice, and it’ll take hard work, feeling like you’re missing out. Years of frustration where it feels like it’s not happening, it is happening. It will come… don’t give up.”
This is what makes Bromance a fundamentally important record label. In an era of digital technology, of fierce competition, they have supported each other through thick and thin. I emailed with Guillaume Berg, who fills the fluid role of creative director, about the label, and he reaffirms this idea.
“Bromance is not just one person that dictates his vision or his desire. As much as it’s true that Louis is the main brain, the architect, the visionary, it’s also true that it takes a village to realize an idea. It’s a perpetual discussion between a few people. Everyone is bringing his talent and his craft to make it go forward. We love to challenge ourselves and challenge the world we live in. ”
This fierce determination and profound love has managed to bring immense amounts of success for both the label and its artists. Brodinski and Gesaffelstein worked on theYeezus album, not to mention that both boys have released incredible debut albums over the last two years. Club cheval is gearing up for a major label debut release, and Louisahhh!!! and Maelstrom have recently started their own label. Like mentioned previously, we had a chance to ask Guillaume Berg some questions about the label and their inner workings.
Kristi Shinfuku: When I first heard of you, I understand you were a manager/A&R, but am not sure if that’s still true. What would be the best way to describe your title (if you have one)? What does a typical day in the life consist of on days you aren’t touring? Who are the others working at Bromance that deserve a shout out?
Guillaume Berg: The title I have is creative director. To be honest, I had to google creative director to know what it really means, and I guess what I’m doing everyday fits the wikipedia definition. Bromance is not one person that dictate his vision or his desire. As much as it’s true that Louis is the main brain, the architect, the visionary, it’s also true that it takes a village to realize an idea. It’s a perpetual discussion between a few people. Everyone is bringing his talent and his craft to make it go forward. We love to challenge ourselves and challenge the world we live in. I’ll say that my position is to keep a discussion going between everyone, and then relaying what’s being discussed to others, bringing people outside the discussion when needed, etc… I’m some sort of a link between all the actors that make Bromance what it is. A typical day is split between visits to the studios, the office, meetings and a lot of time in my cave on my computer.
Shout out to Adélia, Elena, Sarah, Alexandra, Laurélie, Manu and Baptiste. (For a Bromance, it takes a lot of women…)
KS: Starting, maintaining, and being successful as a small label is immensely difficult, and yet Bromance has become one of the biggest and baddest to come out in the span of 5 years. What would you say makes Bromance so successful? If someone were starting a label on their own, what would be any main lessons you’ve learned along the way that you think is crucial?
GB: Bromance is not a label for us. It’s our teenage dream. It’s something that we really care about, our passion, our obsession. We like to challenge ourselves, the people we work with and the world we live in. So I guess that may play a part in the maintaining thing. Surprisingly, people are constantly trying to reach another level of quality. It’s just that when we put something out, that means we are really proud of what it is, so we are going to do everything we can to be able to try to reach the most people we can, and I think that’s why we are successful. Someone worked his ass off to birth that piece of music, that piece of art, and we don’t want to let them down, so we work just as hard to let everyone know that it is here.
KS: What drew me to Bromance initially, and this is probably the same for a lot of people, were tracks like “Nobody Rules the Streets” and “Depravity,” but what has kept me at Bromance has been a) the eclectic artist roster and b) this conscious decision to balance between trap and techno (and all other things in-between), which is hard to find anywhere else. As someone who’s been able to see both worlds firsthand and seen the creation of albums like Brava, what similarities do you find between the dance/electronic and hip hop undergrounds? What do you think the labels popularity signifies about the future of both genres of music?
GB: We see Bromance as a platform to express ourselves and for the people we care about to express themselves. Our personal taste goes from Andrew Weatherall to Gucci Mane, from Fugazi to Henry Flynt, from Underground Resistance to DJ Screw, fromThree 6 Mafia to Luciano Cilio, from Aphex Twin to Neil Young, and I could go on and on… but what I’m trying to say is music is music. We love music. We love what music means to you, what music brings to you, what music brings to the world. Bromance is a reflection of the people behind it. There’s no one conscious decision, just decisions that grow into something more. There’s evolution, because behind the label there are human beings, and like everybody, you’re growing up and you’re changing, you’re evolving.
Along with that, we saw you out DJing a lot more, sometimes solo, and sometimes with Virgil Abloh. We got to see you at the Bromance popup store party out in LA during Coachella Weekend, and at another event in LA during that 2015 Coachella timeframe , and they were two drastically different sets. Were you always DJing? Over the past year, what songs received the most reaction?
When there’s something I love, I get really hyped about it, and I want to tell everyone. I was lucky to grow up around interesting people, my “OGs”, who were giving me cds, books, vhs, and were always telling me to listen to this, read that, watch this, the story of that dude is so cool, so fucked up, anything interesting… When we left our small town in the middle of nowhere, I found myself a little bit lost and frustrated. Thanks to the universe, the internet arrived and I found myself able to satisfy my curiosity, spending night and day on Soulseek, forums, blogs, etc…
We started the blog because of that. Louis and I grew up in the countryside, and the internet helped us to build our culture, our creativity. So we were thinking, if you like the music we put, with the graphics that go with it and everything, the whole “Bromance package”, it probably means we have interests in common, so maybe you’ll like some of the other stuff we like too. So that’s why we started this. With no pretension, not trying to sell you our opinion, but just a little bit of background so you can make your own judgment. It’s also a good way for us to share a little bit more information on our projects as well. I got introduced to Sarah at some point, and I really liked the way she wrote. As I’m pretty busy, she’s writing all the content now. I just send her stuff, she does the same, other artists too, we talk about it, and then she writes about it and posts it onto the site.
I imagine that it’s pretty hard to find music that impresses the entire Bromance team. Were there any artists or any songs that you’ve heard over your past year that changed the game for the BMC family? Who are your personal favorite artists of the moment?
The Homieland compilation is a good example of what/who we thought that impressed us and agreed on. If you scroll down on our tumblr you’ll find some as well. Personally though, I’ve listened a lot to the Kurt Vile album, a french rap band called PNL, everything that’s happening and hailing from the Atlanta rap scene, that Wavves andCloud Nothing collaborative albumNo Life For Me, a lot of Future, been obsessed by those kids Joy Again’s “Looking out for you” video, the Shlohmo album, the Slaves album, everything Skepta put out, Stormy too. I really liked ASAP Rocky’s album. And I dig through my old collection of hardcore/punk and 70’s music because I’ve missed it a lot.
Finally, it can be pretty grueling to be an artist that is just starting out. Without connections, early on the music industry can seem very bleak. What advice would you give, as someone who’s been massively involved with Bromance since day one, to those starting their career/a label/ etc.?
There’s this saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them”… but for me, always aim to beat them. Do your own stuff. If it’s good, someone will find you. People are paid crazy money to find you actually. Then you’ll figure out if those people are just trying to ride your wave, or honestly trying to help you. Be innovative, be humble. Do not send your demos saying you’re the shit; don’t try too hard. Put your effort in the music; in the details. Watch that documentary Salad Days : a decade of punk in Washington, DC. Put as much effort on your URL presence as your IRL presence (if possible). Remember that you’re nothing without an audience, but that you’re doing this for you in the first place. Keep the bigger picture in mind. Patience is the key. Rome wasn’t built in a day.