Bru-C Talks Signing to Def Jam, Taking Drum & Bass Mainstream & More
Endeavouring to become a musician has never been a particularly secure career choice, for some early purveyors of Black British music, it wasn’t a career choice at all. Many of the architects of Grime and UK Rap were driven purely by the passion, as there was no promise of much else. Since the gold rush which was set off by the release of Skepta’s iconic Shutdown in 2015, the money has come rolling in; and all of sudden UK Rap and its many offshoots have become increasingly lucrative. Despite the deluge of would be artists that have flooded in, it’s not hard to tell the real musicians from the charlatans hoping to make a quick buck from a viral track.
Nottingham native Josh Bruce - better known by his moniker Bru C - is most certainly the latter; and has always approached music as a labour of love. With any lifelong passion, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly when the love affair started. For Bru C, its somewhere between witnessing his uncle playing bass on the iconic 90s dance track You’re not Alone, or his voracious consumption of early nougthies tape packs, from seminal grime collectives like Pay as U Go.
Naturally, because of his diet heavily consisting of Grime and Rap, Bru C’s hors d’oeuvres mirrored these early influences significantly; serving up four grime mixtapes, and several hip hop flavoured EPs. But ultimately, it would be Bru C’s introduction to cutting edge dance music that would have a profound, lasting effect on him: “My sister would bring home Jamie Duggan mix CDs, and DJ EJ - these were Bassline mixes. When I heard that, it was everything I loved in grime, and everything I loved in R&B, combined with mad drops.”
Dance music was free of the shackles of braggadocious toxic masculinity that sometimes plagues rap music, so it meant that Bru C was able to express himself more freely, while also creating music that people could move to. So despite being in a hip hop band, and even making Reggae at one point, the gravitational pull of the euphoric energy that surrounds dance music, was too strong for Bru C to ignore. Bru C explains further: “I think it’s the energy bro. It felt like me, things that I talk about on dance music are my life, and suit me as a person, my lifestyle. I think I just suit the music better, and I have a great understanding and love for dance music.”
Bru C’s quest to create this feeling in his own music, would result in You & I - which Bru C describes as “a song you can fall in love to off your head at a festival”, and after being streamed over 71 million times and recently going gold, it seems he’s found his niche.
Authenticity is hard to come by these days, with so much of the scene awash with gimmicks and tropes, it’s refreshing when a major label actually invests in originality. Bru C signing to an iconic label like Def Jam is testament to the endless possibilities of being true to yourself. At the end of the day Bru C reminds us he’s just “a lad from Long Eaton, on Def Jam making DnB, thats what I’m saying, if I wasn't from Long Eaton and I hadn't been through what I've been through I wouldn't be able to do that, and I just wanna make the music that I wanna make and thats the reason that it works on Def Jam.”
Originally Featured in the Print Edition of Clash Magazine Issue 122