BIG|BRAVE – Minimalism, tension, heaviness, texture

BIG|BRAVE Anxious Magazine interview

BIG|BRAVE established their musical roots in Montreal, Quebec in 2012. They are a band that constantly pushes the boundaries of sound, balancing delicacy with expressiveness. Their latest album, A Chaos Of Flowers, is the next step in the evolution of their sound and their ability to express deep emotions through music. On this album, the group continues their exploration of textural distortion and coupling, while exploring new subtle aspects of their sound. Reviewed in Anxious, A Chaos Of Flowers is a monumental work that invites the listener on an emotional journey full of intense experiences and delicate gestures. Crossing sonic thresholds that are painful to our ears is almost the middle name of this musical trio. The experience is intensified when you experience their art live. This time around, they have largely succeeded in transferring this specific sensation to their latest studio release, which we mainly discuss in the following interview.

Artur Mieczkowski

BIG|BRAVE – Minimalizm, napięcie, ciężkość, tekstura wywiad
Robin Wattie

A.M.: Let’s start with the origins of the BIG|BRAVE band. How did it all begin? What events and experiences have contributed to the evolution of your sound from minimal folk to more experimental musical directions?

B.B.: We started playing ambient folk music in our living rooms with friends. Eventually we decided to try our hand at amplification when the acoustic guitar i was using accidentally broke. Because both Mathieu and I were in art school a lot of our approaches were conceptual before anything else. So when we did decide to experiment with amplification, Mathieu was in the process of learning about minimalism in music (i.e. Tony Conrad, John Cage’s 4:33 etc) and it all bloomed from there.

A.M.: Can you share the history of your collaboration with Southern Lord Records and what has been its significance for your artistic development?

B.B.: Well it is a story about three nerds wanting to find a home for the record we had just recorded with Efrom Menuck from Godspeed! You Black Emperor. We emailed about four or five labels we really admired and Southern Lord responded! It was quite rare as they get hundreds of emails – so it was sheer luck and courage !

Regarding influence, it was only when Greg Anderson asked us to open for Sun O))) that we realized the depth of amplification and loudness and heaviness could really be utilised!

We owe so much to both Efrim and Greg!!!

A.M.: How has your creative process changed when working on A Chaos Of Flowers compared to your previous albums?

B.B.: Before recording the collaboration album with The Body, Mathieu and I made certain that we had everything written and fine tuned before coming into the studio. We did for many reasons but primarily because of financial reasons and need / want for certainty in what we were producing. Since the collab record, because it was written and recorded at the same time, it kind of helped reset our brains in how we approached writing music specifically because Seth Manchester is such an integral part of experimentation and sound production.

BIG|BRAVE Anxious Magazine interview
Tasy Hudson

A.M.: The album A Chaos Of Flowers focuses on an exploration of the most vulnerable human experience and themes of marginalisation and isolation. What were your inspirations and messages in creating this album? Mention the use of poetry by artists whose words resonate with the experiences of those often marginalized by society. Can you share more about this process and how it influenced the lyrics and atmosphere of the album?

B.B.: I was inspired by the tenacity of these women to express the hard truths about love, lust, grief, mental collapse, marginalisation, war, sexuality etc etc etc. especially and more specifically considering the era they lived in. Today, even now, people are not free to just be.

So when it came to writing the lyrical concept of the album, it made sense that it became the sibling to ‘nature morte’. That album is the cause, and A Chaos Of Flowers is the effect: as a species, we are not healthy, and we are not always kind. I believe we can do better, or at least try.

A.M.: Other artists such as Marisa Anderson, Tashi Dorji and Patrick Shiroishi make guest appearances on the album. What was your experience of working with these artists and how did their input influence the final album?

B.B.: We sent them each a few songs and asked them to do whatever they wanted to because we trust them so inherently. Their ear, their instincts, their sensitivity and how they listen are so incredible that we knew whatever they would come up with would make the songs even better.

A.M.: What is your approach to loudness, noise and sound dynamics in the context of creating music in the band BIG|BRAVE especially at concerts? I admit that the performance in Gdansk made a huge impression on me – a kind of catharsis.

B.B.: Aww yes our live performance does have catharsis doesn’t it! The catharsis was a happy accident to how we approached writing music. We always approached the writing with the performance in mind – minimalism, tension, heaviness, texture.

Mathieu Ball

Przemek Król.: Like Artur, during the concert in Gdansk, I was very impressed with your sound. I believe the Orange amps played a big part in defining the ‘sound’ we were able to experience then. Your sound remains powerful, while the approach to the songs has changed a bit. Has your approach to the equipment you use changed?

B.B.: Oh very good observation! Yes, every cab and amp we use, including every pedal and our specific guitars has everything to do with our efforts in creating these soundscapes. Our approach to the equipment hasn’t changed necessarily. However the use or which piece of equipment for our live sound vs what is recorded alters based on what we are trying to do. So we experiment with different amps and pedals and they’ve changed only slightly over the years.

P.K.: Where did you get the idea to use such a heavy compressor on the kick drum in Not Speaking Of The Ways? This technique can often be encountered in Techno music.

B.B.: Ah good ear – it’s actually a side chain effect. Sounds like a compressor though :). It was Seth Manchester’s spur-of-the-moment idea that turned out amazing!

P.K.: Has your approach to the effects and instruments you use changed? When creating the material for A Chaos Of Flowers, did you use effects / instruments that had not appeared on your previous recordings? Or have you unearthed some long-unused equipment for reuse on the new album?

B.B.: The effects have definitely changed and we also used certain tools and instruments we don’t normally use for sure.

A.M.: What would you like listeners to remember after hearing A Chaos Of Flowers? What emotions and reactions would you like to evoke in listeners?

B.B.: Honestly whatever emotions they feel when listening to the album is l.

A.M.: The album draws inspiration from English and Appalachian folk traditions, as well as themes of hardship, love and revenge. How did you approach incorporating these influences into the songwriting process?

B.B.: I’ve always wanted to dive into traditional folk, old timey music for ages.

A.M.: What touring experiences have had the biggest impact on you as a band?

B.B.: I must say that perhaps every experience has affected us. Which also has in turn, affected how we tour and what our priorities are when touring. Of course the negative situations naturally have an impact, however we use those experiences to learn from so that we may move forward with health and ease and contentedness. However, it is the more positive experiences that we make for ourselves that has the most impact: touring is very difficult on the body, brain and heart – so we make a concerted effort in actively seeking out the small pleasures of finding beaches, lakes, oceans, forest/trees, parks and more importantly local food and wines! This helps us feel human and less like a robot zombie.

A.M.: I get the impression that you are very close and positively connected as a team. What role does friendship and camaraderie play in the creative process for Big| Brave? How does it affect the overall energy and atmosphere in the team?

B.B.: A good working relationship is very important to us. We do our utmost best to keep the lines of communication open, to be patient with each other and to listen and pay attention. touring, writing, recording, it’s a lot of hard work. And just because we are friends, it doesn’t mean it gets easier. It helps a lot because we can really enjoy the special moments together.

A.M.: Do you plan to collaborate with other artists in the future? 

B.B.: Oh we definitely hope to collaborate with other artists!

A.M.: What can we expect from you in the future in terms of new music and sound experimentation?

B.B.: Well! We have something that may be coming out next year. We already recorded it. It is very different and very experimental!

A.M.: Thank you very much for the interview. See you at the concerts in Poland!

B.B.: Thank you! Can’t wait to be back in Poland!!!





Koncerty: Big Brave, Kee Avil