Premiere: Brasstracks Drops "Brownstone" & Explains Their Love For NYC
If NYC pride was a quantifiable resource, Brasstracks would be standing on rich land—born and raised on it, in fact. The duo, comprised of Ivan and Conor and known for such production work as Chance the Rapper‘s “No Problem” (a Grammy-winning feat, it turns out), have spent the last year turning their sights back home, dedicating a project, in many respects, to honoring the city from which they came: For Those Who Know.
As it happens, the duo hasn’t always been so head-over-heels for their hometown; in fact, For Those Who Know marks the first project in which both Ivan and Conor have been able to express a new level of self-awareness and maturity. And with that newly-discovered maturation? A love for NYC (and a desire to express that love) inevitably followed. In their own words, For Those Who Know details “life drama and recovery,” so don’t worry—it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. On the contrary, relatable-as-hell might be a better descriptor. MILK.XYZ sat down with the pair to premiere a new single, titled “Brownstone”, dive deeper on the For Those Who Know project and find out what exactly it is about NYC that they love so damn much. Check the interview below, and the brand-new single, below.
We’re stoked to be premiering “Brownstone”, so can you guys just talk about the story behind the track?
Ivan: “Brownstone” is a really cool story. Well, the whole project, a big part of it is our pride for being artists from New York City holding it down here in New York. And our realization that it’s cool to be from New York City—we don’t gotta move to LA or go do shit with Chicago people necessarily, even though we love doing that, we don’t have to. When we first met Barber, it was his first time in New York, he came to my old spot in Williamsburg where Conor and I first started recording all of Brasstracks’s music. So Barber came fresh off the plane from London, we’d been introduced to him in London through a mutual friend of ours, and he came and worked with us for an entire week and left New York with like 10 songs. The dude wrote 10 songs in a week, it was amazing. And one of them was “Brownstone”. It’s all about his love for New York City, in the eyes of someone who had never seen it before. It was so special to me and Conor, to hear that, because it’s so easy to love New York, but New York doesn’t always love you back. So to hear it from his perspective, we were like, “Damn, we really need to put this on the project,” because it’s so…what we needed to hear. And it’s not a new song, it’s been in the works for about a year and a half, and when we were piecing together For Those Who Know, we were like, “Ok, this could be something to build off of.”
Would you say that the whole project is devoted to New York or just specifically “Brownstone”?
Conor: I would say yeah, it’s very New York-heavy. Inspired by New York City, entirely. Down to the style of each song, they all have a very east coast vibe.
Ivan: Yeah, it’s very New York. But I would add that there’s more than one theme; New York is a big one, but it’s not the only one.
What other themes did you guys touch on?
Conor: The track “Those Who Know” touches on some of our younger days. I would also say it touches on some things involving love entanglements, just some life drama, but also recovery.
Ivan: Yeah, life drama and recovery. A big theme of it is maturity. Comparatively, between the Good Love EP, and For Those Who Know part one and part two, we came into our own, we’re accepting us for us, and this is a project for those who know us. We’re working towards being better everyday. Maturity in every sense of the word; artistically and also personal growth.
I was curious, just since Good Love came out until now, I know it’s only been a little over a year but do you feel like you guys have grown a lot since then?
Ivan: I think we’re just comfortable in our own skin, musically, with talking about things directly related to us as opposed to hiding behind features. As much as we loved doing songs with features, and this project will have a lot of features on it, it’s just that all of them had a lot more to do with us, and our story. The music just has a lot more to do with us. I think we were always searching for a compromise between us and the listeners, because we were trying to get people to listen to our music in any way shape or form. I played trumpet on songs that now, I look back and am not really sure why I did it or even if I like it. And that’s no shade to any of the songs we’ve done in the past, it’s just that it wasn’t always true to us. And this is the first time that we’ve had a project that we can listen to all the way through and feel like people can get to know us a little bit better as opposed to just getting to know us as a couple of producers.
As far as producing for other artists versus working on your own stuff, is it a hugely different process or not really?
Conor: Yeah, there is a difference for sure. When we’re doing our own thing we can kind of just hang out in the bunker and make decisions without any care in the world, but when you’re working with another artist, you’re trying to create a harmonious situation or musical experience with them. And a lot of the times we work with people who we’ve never met before, so you have to kind of step back from your own preconceptions and let the flow happen by itself, organically. And then when it’s just us two, we’ve just established a relationship where we can do that without saying anything. You kind of give up control a little bit and let the process do it’s own thing.
Ivan: Yeah, I agree with all that. That’s kind of the difference—when we’re producing our own stuff, the control is fully ours. It’s just me and Conor. We working lighting quick like that, it’s nothing. But when you throw another person into the mix, everything is different. You have to be as patient as possible and let the process see itself through.
So were you guys both born and raised in New York?
Ivan: I was, Conor wasn’t.
Conor: I grew up in New Jersey.
Ivan: Which is like the same thing.
[Laughs] So when you guys are working on your own stuff or other people’s do you feel like everything kind of has that New York take on it? Like is it just ingrained in your style forever?
Ivan: I think now it does, because it’s funny, growing up in New York, it doesn’t seem like a weird thing until you leave the city for college. It took a while to find a sense of New York pride, both of us were in jazz school and they weren’t any other New Yorkers around us, you know. We were still honing our craft. So we got out of college, and started doing Brasstracks stuff, and the further we moved away from jazz school the more we came back into loving New York and remembering what New York was to us and how important it is to put it in our music and express that. I think that we were, for lack of a better term, looking for something to belong to, and it was literally right in front of us the entire time.
Pre-order “For Those Who Know”, dropping on Friday: http://smarturl.it/FTW
Featured image courtesy of @camera.17
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