Releasing a new song every month for a year, Bruno Major completed his album “A Song for Every Moon” in August 2017, exploding onto the music scene. The extraordinarily talented singer/song-writer, who is currently touring with Sam Smith, took time out to speak to Forge, candidly discussing everything from music to religion.
One of the things that make “A Song for Every Moon” stand out as an album is the way in which every song sounds as though you are singing it from the heart. Do you find it harder to perform with the same level of emotional connectivity in your voice when performing live than in a recording booth?
No, I don’t find it difficult. I just think about the lyrics and say them like it is a poem… but with the melody, obviously. Sometimes I think people believe there is more of an emotional connection than there really is.
Do you think the song writing process is where you process the emotions of a song?
Yeah, that is the hard thing. That’s when you are dredging up the Titanic! When you are writing a song, you have to be deeply connected to it and thinking hard about it. However, when it comes to performing it, it can actually be quite enjoyable, despite the fact it is a sad song.
Do you have a set process when it comes to song writing or do songs come organically to you?
Honestly, it is different every time. Sometimes I will write a piece of music on the piano and then a melody will come out of the cord voicings, sometimes I write a poem and other times it just comes together all at once. Normally, the best ones come that way. They feel like you are writing them down, rather than you are writing them.
Do you ever find it difficult to find the right melody to match your lyrics?
Yes, at times. Sometimes you can use a set of lyrics in five or six different songs and they don’t work and then one day you find their home. Song writing is one of the hardest things in the world, until it is the easiest thing in the world!
You released a song every month for a year. Did you find it difficult to remain in that creative mindset? Were there any months you struggled to find inspiration?
The first six months were a breeze but towards the end it did get pretty tough. I think it was due to a combination of consistent working and the fact that half way through people started to listen to my music. People were expecting music and that did freak me out a little!
Around February, which is when I released ‘Just the Same’, I had to stop partying. I started going to the gym and living a bit more like a monk, in order to keep myself focused. Right towards the end of the year, I was admitted to hospital for exhaustion… it was really bad!
Are you going to take a break after the tour to give yourself a bit of a rest?
I have had a bit of chill time already. After I finished the album, I took three weeks off. Although, I did end up writing a lot during that time, so it wasn’t really a complete break. To be honest, I am not really that good at chilling. After about three days, I start getting a bit antsy.
You stated in an Instagram post that you wanted the artwork on your album to be a “visual universe where your music can live”. Is this what you hope your music provides people with? A separate universe that they can escape into for a bit.
I think that is kind of what music is- what all art is. It is an opportunity to disappear into another world. I can’t’ speak for my own music but I know that is how I feel when I listen to other people’s music that I really love. One of my favourite things about being on tour is just lying down in the bus and listening to my favourite albums whilst I am only partially awake.
What are your favourite albums at the moment to listen to?
I am a really big jazz nerd! I listen to a lot of John Coltrane. My favourite album at the moment is ‘King of the Zulu Guitar’ by Madala Kunene. He is a really talented guitarist. The album is so beautiful!
How did you get into Jazz?
Well, to me, jazz is the most complex form of music that is improvised in our time. There used to be a lot of improvisation in classical music but there isn’t so much now. I have always been drawn to the highest level of musicianship and so I was inevitably led to Jazz. I just wanted to learn everything about it. Music is a form of language- just like written word- and so learning to use it enables you to express yourself more clearly.
In the song ‘Easily’ you mention the concept of destiny. Do you think the younger generation is becoming too focused on the future to the point we have forgotten to live in the moment?
Yes, but I don’t think it is just this generation that has become overly focused on the future. I think it is the way western society is set up. Alan Watts in his ‘School of Life’ talked about how nobody goes to a concert to hear the end- you go to experience the whole thing. He analogizes that with the journey we go through in life. We are obsessed with the ‘end goal’-whether that is becoming a CEO or getting a big house- and when we achieve that goal, we realise we should have just enjoyed the journey all the way along.
Potentially, I think this stems from the fact western culture has been heavily influenced by Christianity. The idea of heaven in Christianity, to me, belittles the beauty of the fleeting moments that we do have on this beautiful planet because you are always thinking “its cool! Whatever happens I will end up in Heaven”.
Do you have a faith?
I believe we are all slices of consciousness that feed into one greater, universal consciousness. I think that when you die, much like the carbon cycle, your consciousness returns back into the universal consciousness of which we are all a part of. We become part of the big, beautiful universe! I have a faith and I believe in a higher power, but I don’t believe in religion as such.
Did you come to that conclusion when writing ‘On Our Own’ and when your nan passed away?
I did, yeah. When I wrote ‘On Our Own’ I hadn’t thought about faith that much. I was what one would call an agnostic- a fence sitter. After my granny died, I became an atheist. It wasn’t until a little bit later that I came to my current hypothesis.