By Tashfina Rahman
BRÅVES is an up-and-coming alternative pop trio consisting of LA-based producer Johnny What and singer-songwriter Australian brothers Jericho and Thorald. With an EP and a self-titled album already under their belts, they’ve made quite the name for themselves in just a couple short years. Their music has already garnered millions of streams on platforms like Spotify, even landing their very own feature on New Music Friday.
Singles off of their self-titled album include sumptuous, story-telling titles such as Me the Thief, Joan of Arc, and Catch Me.
Their unique, ethereal sound and minimalist narrative aesthetic carries from their voice to their visuals. During performances, you can catch them playing in front of vivid projections created in collaboration with Beeple, a group consisting of Flying Lotus, Imagine Dragons, and Skrillex. Music videos, directed by producer Johnny What, never shy away from controversial subject matter, even aiming to communicate poignant messages and shine light on a variety of sensitive issues. One of their most popular videos, for song Lovely Bones, chose to bring awareness to the real problem of child sex trafficking.
BRAVES is using their music to have a voice, veiling important messages among catchy melodies, even lending their sound to platforms they agree with. Crushwas featured in the documentary Gardeners of Eden, a look into the contemporary ivory crisis facing African elephants.
BASIC Magazine caught up with BRAVES in an exclusive interview right before they headed off to do another performance in New Zealand. To learn more, continue reading below:
BASIC: Let’s begin with the basics. Exactly how did BRAVES come to fruition as a band and how long have all three of you been making music together?
Thorald: We came together as a happy accident, Isaac and I as brothers with Johnny What. We met on a writing session for a young artist a couple years ago and we instantaneously loved each other’s vibes. We thought we would keep working together as a writer-producer combo but Johnny told me he had an idea for our voices. It started very innocently at first, before growing into our new favorite past time. At first, we weren’t exactly sure what it was, but we quickly realized this was a new project we’d be working on.
BASIC: Who are some bands or artists that have been influential on you all in your personal lives and on your music? Are there any artists you dream of collaborating with?
Johnny: I love Queen. Queen’s one of my favorites. So, when I met the brothers and I heard their voices, I thought we could do Queen-type stuff with their vocals. Like, you know all the crazy harmonies and stuff, so that was a big inspiration. In terms of collaborations, we’re a writer-producer team, so we already do write and produce for all of these other up-and-coming artists. In terms of vocal collaborations, Adele would be insane. We’re also friends with The Machine from Florence and The Machine and we’d love to collaborate with her one of these days. In terms of production, I’m also obsessed with Mura Masa.
BASIC: You three are doing something that not many other bands are doing – you’re making music with a greater purpose. What are some causes that you’ve brought awareness to thus far with your music and what other causes do you hope to bring awareness to in the future?
Thorald: We found ourselves with an opportunity to participate in bringing awareness to the plight of the African elephant ivory crisis. We couldn’t believe that that’s actually still happening. We were invited to write an original song (Crush)about a film that Jack Douglas was involved in, which was Kristen Davis’ documentary Gardeners of Eden. We just sort of fell in love with the project. We love to make music with potent subjects. As for future initiatives, we just want to use our music a weapon of influence.
Johnny: I’d say that even if we’re not backing a certain charity or something like that, through our music videos especially, we like to bring awareness and make people ask questions.
BASIC: In regards to your minimal, dark aesthetic – have you guys always had this sort of image or did it come about when you started working as a band?
Johnny: No, I wouldn’t say this is how we’ve always looked or dressed, maybe even the opposite at times before. The reason we went this route is because this is sort of the vision I received right off of the bat. Also, a lot of our favorite artists are less about their image and more about the music and the art. That’s what we care about-leaving a beautiful, amazing body of work behind, not our own bodies.
BASIC: Earlier this year, you guys debuted a self-titled album – congratulations by the way! What was the process of writing and recording this album like for you guys? How long did it take?
Thorald: At one time, we had 30-40 songs already produced before we actually put the album together. So, it’s hard to say how long it took exactly to create this album, because it wasn’t made as an album. It was made as a larger body of work created over the course of 1-2 years. Now, we’re doing things like going to Paris for six days and we’ll take a dream or a feeling and go a song a day and let the city and the environment influence us.
BASIC: Are your videos mainly a product of Johnny or do you all contribute to the creative vision? How do you come up with the ideas for these videos?
Johnny: Well I direct them and will come up with the general idea and then I’ll bring it to the brothers. At that point, we kind of talk about what we like or don’t like about it. Just like with our music, the brothers will come up with the melody and I’ll sculpt the tail end of it. The same process, except the inverse kind of happens as far as our videos go.
Thorald: We started BRAVES not to be about us, but the music, the visuals, and the conversations we’re starting. What has been most inspiring to us is seeing the conversations that our music and visuals have started thus far.
BASIC: Could you tell us about your most recent music video, Catch Me? Also, which video has been your guys’ favorite to create?
In our most recent video, Catch Me, our friend Victor Pineda is bound to a wheelchair and we have them do this crazy dance together. Just that in itself made me incredibly uncomfortable and I directed it. I hope it has the same effect on other people and makes them question why they feel uncomfortable. My favorite video of ours is Me the Thief, where Krista Allen is making out with the two twin sisters. Then, it scrolls through and kind of displays love in all its different forms. From a technical aspect, I just loved that because it was executed so perfectly. We love making these videos though, because it’s the best chance for us to continue expressing our weird thoughts, which there are a lot of.
BASIC: Are there any designers or artists that have inspired the amazing clothes you guys wear or the unique visual aesthetic you’ve created?
First of all, in regards to that, we should give a shout out to our stylist Kendall. Kendall Carrigan. Also, the three of us have always been on the same page about how we want to look. It’s a sliding scale between the three of us. Thorald is the most open with his identity, I’m sort of in the middle and Jericho would be the most anonymous. It’s like a fifty shades of grey rainbow.
BASIC: Is there a festival or a specific venue that you guys dream of playing at one day?
Thorald: I have this image of some kind of amazing old theater in Berlin, although I have no idea what the name of the venue is. I’m almost positive it’s going to happen and I don’t know how. It would also be fantastic to play Coachella just for the experience.
Johnny: It would also be cool to put on our own three-day festival, where we build some sort of structure and invite our favorite artists to come perform alongside us.
BASIC: Are you guys currently working on anything and can you give us any insight on that? What is your guys’ vision for the future of BRAVES?
Thorald: Our new stuff will be in production, with our songs written in Paris, which will be really fun. The vision is to keep on taking on being a writer-producer team and really come out of it as very influential creators. We just want to keep performing and creating good music and work with new artists.
Johnny: I’d love to shoot a video again soon. Also, when we get back from New Zealand, we’ll start working on the songs that were written in Paris. We’re also really excited to perform in a dome in New Zealand soon and continue to do these events that are just a little bit off the beaten path.