As a songwriter and producer, Bruno Lewis has one goal: to serve the song.
We spoke with Lewis about his inspirations, aspirations and studying at Abbey Road.
Bridge: Let’s start from the beginning…I read that you started playing music at 12 years old, what was your inspiration to start at such a young age?
BL: My father played guitar and so I grew up with music at home. He would play during house parties or over the holidays at family gatherings and it became a tradition in my family to sing songs at those sorts of events. If anything, I started late!
Bridge:I’m going to go out on a limb and say that 12 years old isn’t “starting late” but we are glad you finally got around to it! (laughs)
Can you give us insight into your creative process? Where does the process of writing a song start for you?
BL: Every song is different. Some come from moments of inspiration and others are just the result of weeks or months of working on a melody idea or chord progression.
But almost all of them start with me and a guitar. I usually try to make sure that a song sounds good with just me and a guitar before I start producing it. Then I know I have a good base to start building off of. “Wild Woman” was written almost completely on a guitar in about 30 minutes, although the production took almost 5 months!
However, every now and then a song will start on the computer, with a beat or a sample that I like and then it unfolds from there. “Midnight Street” was like that. I had already written the melody and chords over the beat sample, but had no lyrics. It took me weeks to write the lyrics and it changed multiple times.
I’ve never really been concerned with the process. As a songwriter I just try to work on lyric or melody ideas and just make sure I serve the song the best way I can throughout the process. I’m always asking myself what would this song need to make it the best possible version of itself. Sometimes I get it right but most times I get it wrong.
Bridge: Speaking of ‘Wild Woman’- I was sent that song by a friend of mine and absolutely fell in love with it and your work (and my friend, but that’s a song for another day) The lyrics, music, visuals? It was so powerful and perfectly fluid! What was the inspiration behind the song?
BL: Thank you! It’s always great to hear when people connect with my songs! Wild Woman is a titular reference to love in a post apocalyptic world to allow us to challenge the grand narrative and reassess our values more virtuously in relation to our fellow person…. Kidding!!
“Wild Woman” was just a moment of inspiration. I wrote it in about 30 minutes one night at home while playing guitar. I try to ground all of my songs in some sort of personal experience and I really think you can hear the difference when someone is writing a song from an authentic place. I’m trying to be as authentic with my music as possible. For me that’s what music and art is! Music has the unparalleled ability to communicate emotions and experiences where mere words just don’t suffice.
I wrote “Wild Woman” after coming out of a very big breakup, and someone else came into my life at what I can only say was the “perfect time”. This person was wild and a little crazy but in a good way! She had also just come out of a bad breakup herself and so we both agreed we wanted something with no strings attached. It was nice for both of us to just have someone for a bit and I think we helped each other heal through that experience.
…So I guess crudely speaking, “Wild Woman” is about getting under someone so that you can get over someone else!
Bridge:Reader, seriously go check that song out! Not right now, read the rest of the article first, but then definitely go check it out!
Okay so, NOT ONLY did you record Wild Woman at Abbey Road, you studied audio engineering there! How did that come to be? What was it like?
BL: It was an incredible experience and honestly the best experience of my life so far! I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa and never thought I would end up at Abbey Road. It seems strange even to me. I’m a South African, of Portuguese descent who now lives in London and I make music that sounds like it comes out of Nashville, Tennessee. Go figure!
I went through a big change in 2018 and I decided to sell my retail business, which I had started 4 years prior, and I moved to London to pursue a career in music. I applied to Abbey Road Institute thinking i probably wouldn’t get in as they were only taking 20 people out of almost 100 applicants and when i heard i was accepted I was ecstatic!
The place is just drowning in music history and being surrounded by the experience of people like Carlos Lellis and Jayson O’ Bryan, who have decades of experience in producing music really inspired me!
We would have workshops with producers like Youth and mixing legends like Andrew Schepps, so it was an amazing time! Wild Woman was mostly recorded in the basement studio at Abbey Road so i can honestly say that song would not have been the same without Abbey Road!
Bridge: That sounds like an absolute dream come true! From South Africa to Abbey Road…wow, that is quite the jump and journey!
I promise this isn’t an attempt to get you to name drop but How do you choose which singers to work with?
BL: The main thing I’m trying to do as a songwriter is serve the song and make sure it’s the best possible version of itself. Vocals in my mind are the most important part of the sound of a song. It’s like the narrator to the story and depending on the story some people are better suited to sing it than others. Wild Woman needed Josh Del. He was born to sing it. I had already been working on it for a couple of months and I knew it needed a “Chris Stapelton” type voice to really communicate the feel of the song. I was also listening to loads of Stapelton at the time which probably influenced how I wrote it as well.
So I really set out to try and find someone with a similar voice and I came across Josh over a popular forum for musicians and producers called SoundBetter. As soon as I heard his demo I knew it had to be him! We’ve subsequently become friends and developed a great working relationship. Keep your eye on him, I think he has big things coming! There is just no stopping a voice like that and I feel lucky to be associated with him.
On the other hand, there is no one I’ve heard that’s better at delivering soul and blues like Richard Farrell. I have been working with Richard since before I moved to London. The man has incredible technique! He will often smash out a song in one take! I can’t wait for the day that the industry recognises how talented he is! He is a giant!
Bridge: “Serve the song”- I don’t know why but that just gave me chills. Such a great perspective to have. And freakin’ Josh Del. Man, that guy can sing. He was the perfect choice for Wild Woman!
Now, I’m going to name drop a little bit because I saw that you recently signed a publishing deal with Wisen Music Publishers! First of all, congratulations. Second of all, How does it feel to be on a roster with the likes of Carlos Santana, Tom Petty, The Black Keys, Neil Young?!
BL: Thank you! As a songwriter my main goal was to try and get a publisher on my side so it really is a dream come true! Tom Petty in particular has always been an inspiration and I definitely lend from his writing style, so to be signed by the same company is awesome! It almost doesn’t feel real to be on the same roster as the likes of Al Green, John Lee Hooker and The Doors. You can hear the influence of all of these artists in my sound!
Bridge: I can absolutely hear that in your music. Solid influences!
Here’s a question I wasn’t sure if it was true…Did I read correctly that you’ve only started releasing music 7 months ago? How have you gotten so far so fast? (Im taking notes)
BL: Well to be fair I did release an EP in 2018 under “Bruno Carvalho” that went absolutely nowhere! But it was a great experience because i realised i needed to do a lot of work on my music and writing which is what i did for 2 years.
But yes I released “Wild Woman” in May 2020 and definitely didn’t think I’d have a publishing deal by now or over 600,000 streams on YouTube and just over a million on all platforms.
There is still so much work to do. I think it’s harder than ever to make it in this industry. It’s wonderful that independent artists like myself have access to platforms like spotify but it also means the business is becoming increasingly saturated. But we do these things because they’re hard not because they’re easy. I also know that there is nothing else I want to do. Music is the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning and the only thing that keeps me sane. I’ll just keep doing it until I die and hope for the best!
A good friend of mine really put it into perspective for me. He would say success is a toxic word. What exactly is “making” it anyway! The only thing you can do is get up everyday and do your work, whatever that work may be. For me that work is making music. I try not to think about it too much, I just try to do my work everyday…But I’m also working a part time job to try and make ends meet as well as a few other sideline things. That’s just how it goes for a musician.
Bridge: It pains me to know that creative geniuses like yourself are working side jobs. My empathy is entirely selfishly motivated though, because I just want you to pump out more music (laughs)
And speaking of that. What can we expect from you next? When are we going to get a new song?? I’m not yelling, I promise.
BL: I’m busy working on an album now but it’s still in early stages. I’m really happy with the songs I released in 2020, so I’m not in a rush to release more. I’m going to take my time and make an album I’m proud of. I don’t want to release music just for the sake of it or because I have to keep people’s attention. My music will still be here when I’m gone so I want it to be worth it.
Bridge: I hate that that makes sense and is a mature and logical statement. I guess I’ll just have to be patient then…
Alright, Mr. Lewis the end of the interview road…If you could only pick one, what song would be the soundtrack of your life?
BL: Really tough question! If you’re asking which song I’ve listened to the most then it would probably be Gravity by John Mayer. But if It’s more about it being the soundtrack to my life right now then maybe Upbeat Feelgood by Foy Vance.
There you have it folks, Bruno Lewis is your next new favorite artist.
Keep up with Bruno at his social media links below and for the love of all that is holy, GO LISTEN TO WILD WOMAN.