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Bruno Major
Bruno Major
Bruno Major

Bruno Major

Singer Songwriter
Bruno Major

Rising star Bruno Major has his fans enamoured with his blissful, soulful sound and impeccable songwriting skills. He is well on his way to becoming a household name worldwide and has played on stages across the globe. 

Bruno Major
Why Jazz?

 “There were always guitars lying around the house because my dad plays guitar. I just picked one of those up one day; I must have been about 7. When I showed an interest, my parents were very supportive in getting me tuition and signing me up for lessons; leading me to play classically for about two-years. When I was in sixth form, I couldn’t decide whether to do music or English, I always wanted to be a writer maybe try my hand at journalism, but I got the music bug and started getting obsessed with the guitar. Around 15 and 16 I started practising 6 hours a day and I got really into it. I also had some stuff happen around that time; two of my mate’s brothers passed away, I had a heart condition that meant I had to have two heart operations, I wasn’t really interested in school; I’d skip games and just do guitar instead of doing my homework. At that point, I decided I had to commit and study it more.

Why Jazz? The jazz thing… I never really understood jazz, but I once went and saw Martin Taylor in concert, who’s a jazz guitar player. He came in and gave a solo jazz guitar concert (at the time I was playing classical guitar) and he translated jazz into a solo guitar format, which was a real “oh my God” moment for me because suddenly jazz made sense. It wasn’t just some guy widdling away on a trumpet over the top of it going ‘ding ding da ding ding da ding’ like “jazz band”. I really wanted to learn how to play like that. Also, I think I must have been 17, and I was dating a jazz singer who showed me some chord voicings; which made me want to understand what was going on in that world, even more.

I think, in a way, I viewed classical music as having become a little stale. I think had Mozart, Chopin, and Bach been alive today they probably would have been jazz musicians! I viewed it as the highest form of music, I figured if I could learn jazz I could learn and do anything. In terms of Western music and Western pop music Jazz is kind of the backbone, and jazz harmony forms the basis of how music works.

Natural songwriting

I enjoy production, but I view production as something I had to learn in order to facilitate my musical creation; I don’t really get off on the idea of EQ’ing a kickdrum like some people do. That’s not me belittling sound engineers or anything, because that’s an amazing job, I’ve just never been that interested in sonics, necessarily. I’ve spent a lot more time working at guitar and trying to become the best guitar player I can, but the thing that I think most naturally comes to me, and the thing that I think I’m best at is probably songwriting. It’s not really something that I have to work at I just decided to write some songs and they came out in a very natural way. Whereas guitar I really had to work at that in order to become competent.  I’ve written over 500 songs at this point so I can’t say I haven’t worked at songwriting, but it wasn’t a slog; guitar was a real slog at times. Trying to learn my technique and learn scales I really had to put the work in. I feel the results have been far quicker and far better with my songwriting.

              I think my proudest achievement is my album; it was a long process. I went through this whole thing of signing to a major record label and then being dropped and then having to work back from square one again. I think that took a lot of strength and determination, it’s the kind of thing that I’ve seen a lot of people fade away after having experienced. The fact that I was able to come back from being dropped, and learn to produce, and then produce my album; and then having released it and it being something that I’m proud of musically. It's been successful enough that it has facilitated my career touring around the world… I think that’s a real achievement. I’m very proud of myself for it.

Oh yeah, and my first tour I ever did, that was with Hugh Laurie, it was fun but it was ages ago now! Five years at least.

I think melodies are contained within words

I don’t have a rough framework at all, to be honest. I think most often it’s a concept. For example, I have a song called Just the Same and the song reflects on somebody who you love and who can treat you as badly as they wanted and do all these terrible things to you, but you’d still love them anyway. That’s the basic idea behind it. So, I had this idea ‘… and I will love you just the same’; that was the first thing that happened. The chords came because they reflect the dark tone, and slowly the song started building out of that. Sometimes I have words that come out…. I think melodies are contained within words themselves. The way that you say some things, you can identify a rhythm within them. Again, I’ve come up with chord sequences or music first but, more often than not the lyrics and the melody are what lead the whole thing.

My guitar playing is something I lived in fear of for a long time because there a lot of people that spend a lot of time working on their instruments and becoming proficient musicians. They can play incredible jazz on their saxophone, but then they’ll almost cynically think ‘well, I’ve done jazz how hard can it be to write a pop song?’ then they’ll go and make the worst music you’ve ever heard. They don’t respect the fact that it is as hard, if not harder to write a good song. When I went into songwriting I’d already come a long way in my guitar journey so when it came to learning to write songs I put the guitar to one side. I wrote only on the piano because I was very limited at the piano, forcing me to concentrate only on the lyrics, the melody, the chords and the feelings that I had.

Cover it in musicality

After I had become confident at songwriting I felt comfortable enough to bring my guitar playing back. The way that I approach records now, I write the song; like Leonard Cohen, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Randy Newman, Paul Simon, the way that all of my heroes, or how I perceive them to, write songs. Once I’ve finished that then I turn off that brain and my jazz musician brain, and I cover it in musicality. I bring in D’Angelo, Chet Baker, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and I suppose that’s where the second most fun part happens.

I feel like songwriting and musicality are often two separate things. I view some of the greatest songwriters of all time as being less musical than some of the greatest jazz artists of all time. For example, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, or Randy Newman, I don’t think you could say either of those 3 guys are fantastic singers, and none with the exception of Randy Newman, none of them are necessarily virtuoso on an instrument. They’re just great songwriters. Whereas, if you look at Ella Fitzgerald, or Chet Baker, or Donny Hathaway, those are great musicians and they don’t necessarily write songs. It’s a separate skillset. For me when I’m writing a song I very much think in the vain of a songwriter, and when the song is complete I turn off that brain and I bring in the musician to sprinkle on top.

Outtakes and Credits

Q. Who are your favourite artists?
A. Favourite Artists- guitar-wise: Joe pass, Bill Evans on piano, Chet Baker for vocals, songwriting: Randy Newman, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan. Production and musicality wise: D’Angelo, James Blake, Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar.

Q. If you weren’t working in the music industry what do you think you would be doing?
A. I’d be a writer

Q. What would your fantasy microphone be?
A. I think there should be a live mic, like the SM57... but not shit. C’mon Aston.

Q. What four words would you use to describe Aston Microphones?
A. They make great mics!

Q. What was the first song to make you cry?
A. Strange Fruit – Billy Holliday

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