MY final interview of the day…
is with Lean Bravo, who has been telling me about his new single, The Journey, and how he will follow it. I ask what it was like moving from Chile to Berlin and what the German capital is like for a musician – the songwriter recommends an upcoming artist we need to follow.
I was keen to know if there are tour dates coming and which albums mean the most to him; if Lean Bravo has any plans in place for next year and if he allows himself some time to chill away from music – I discover which artist the songwriter would support if he was given the chance.
Hi, Lean. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey! That's awfully nice of you to ask. I don't think I've been asked how I am during an interview before. I'm currently fighting a cold, but I'll be fine! I hope you're doing great.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Sure thing. Greetings. My name is Lean Bravo and I'm a singer-songwriter/producer from Santiago de Chile, though I've lived in Berlin (Germany) for over six years now. Also; I'm really good at cooking. Oh, yeah…and I just released a song called The Journey. You should check that out…
The Journey is your latest single. Is there a personal story behind the song?
For sure there is. It's probably the most personal song I've released so far as it deals with a topic that is an essential part of who I am: the life-changing decision I made to move from Chile to Germany. I started writing this song shortly after my first trip back to Chile in 2013 and I finished it shortly after my second trip, last year. Writing it was a way for me to tell myself ‘It's okay that you feel lost and it's also okay that you don't know where you belong’.
Might we see more singles or an E.P. next year?
Oh, hell yeah. I've got an E.P. lined up and I wanna go really nuts after I release that. Lately, I've been getting into Alternative-R&B and lo-fi music. That's something I wanna explore next year.
You were born in Chile but live in Berlin. Was it difficult moving to a new country?!
The funny thing about moving to another place permanently is that your body travels much faster than your mind does. It only took me about a day to arrive in Germany but, mentally, it took me much longer to realize what that actually meant. It's like my mind left an after-image back in Chile that sort of lingered there for a pretty long while. The realization that I had left my life to start a completely new one was one that came very slowly and when it did...boy, I was not prepared.
This whole drama made for a very difficult first year in Germany. Add to that my inflated pride and my inability to ask for help when I needed it and I pretty much put myself through the gutter. With time, things got better. I settled down; got my sh*t together (in a way) and made the conscious decision to start an actual life here. I'm pretty happy now.
How is Berlin suiting you as a musician? Is it a great place to be?!
You will never run out of things to do in Berlin. That can be both good and bad. The truth is that there's a lot going on in this city but sometimes it can feel too unfocused. I wanna see people having less fun and working harder, myself included. Eating out here is a blast, though.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
I'd love to release another single before the year is over! It's almost finished, though who knows when it will actually be ready to be released? It's an old song of mine called Tired that I never got to produce and release properly. It's time it gets the chance to hit the streaming platforms - so far, people have only been able to listen to it at live shows. Despite that; people like it and connect with it. I'm excited to see how they'll react to the studio version.
Do you already have plans for 2019?
Yes! I'm fulfilling my life-long dream of going to Japan next year. That, and I wanna finish and release my second E.P. as well as another big project I don't wanna talk about until I'm sure I can make it happen.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
Last year, I got to take my live show back to Chile. My cousin (who's an amazing bass player and lives there) helped me put together an amazing live band and we made the show happen in less than a month. He's always been someone I admire a great deal, so getting to stand on a stage with him in my hometown; playing for my family and friends who hadn't seen me in years was a powerful, inspiring experience.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Grace - Jeff Buckley
It is one of the most eclectic and impressive pieces of music ever made in my opinion. So many epic moments! It defined a part of my musical upbringing and quickly became the soundtrack of my teenage years.
Continuum - John Mayer
This was the album that got me into playing guitar as a lead instrument. I still think it's a perfectly-crafted album. The production is so understated; it's insane!
Blonde - Frank Ocean
Every now and then, an artist will release an album that will make me question everything I think I know about making music. This was such an album.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I'd support John Mayer in a heartbeat. I'd do it just for the opportunity to say hello to the guy and tell him that what he does matters a great deal. And, if I got to choose my own rider, I'd ask for a clean shower, some fresh towels; plenty of water and nice food. I'd probably be too intimidated to write anything too extravagant into my rider.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
I'd tell them to think really hard about how to use their resources in a way that benefits them the most. I spent so much time and money on things that I thought would make the difference between my career's success or failure; like pressing really nice, expensive C.D.s, making an expensive music video; recording that one vocal part hundreds of times for three days straight until it sounded ‘just right’...most of those things won't matter one bit if there aren't enough fans around to notice them, so work on that first. To be honest; I still have to remind myself of this all the time!
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
(Laughs) Actually, no! I'm focusing on finishing my E.P. for now, so I'm not actively booking any shows at the moment - unless I'm asked to play somewhere. Do follow me on Bandsintown or Songkick to stay in the loop, though.
IN THIS PHOTO: Joji
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Yes. I'm glad you asked. Joji is the first one that pops into my mind. He used to make comedic content on YouTube but then quit to become a serious musician. I seriously respect how he managed to completely reinvent himself and establish a solid, clear-as-water artist image in the span of...what? A few months? Just when he found his own voice and style on his debut E.P., In Tongues, he went and dared to change things up with his debut album, Ballads 1 - instead of sticking with his tried and true sound. I think it's gonna work out great for him.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I bought myself a new bike back in April. I fucki*g love it. I now look forward to going out because it means I get to ride my dope-ass bike. People…invest in a good bicycle. The planet and your body will thank you for it. I love hitting the weights at the gym, though I'm super-bad at it. Hahaha! Cooking makes me happy - especially for other people - and every now and then I'll get together with some friends to play Dungeons & Dragons. Netflix and YouTube take up a big chunk of my free time, I'm afraid.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Since I raved about Joji already; I might as well make you listen to him!
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