In Conversation with Brookfield

Towards the end of last month, Brookfield released both ‘Fall Out’ and ‘Swim Deep’, marking his return to releasing music after a 3-year break. His new singles were more than worth the wait, with both singles proving to be enthrallingly cinematic in scope but intimate in detail.

Since leaving Brit School in 2014, Brookfield has enjoyed cuts with the likes of Troye Sivan and Anne-Marie. He’s also worked with a range of up-and-coming artists including Harry Strange, Carrie Baxter and Richard Fairlie. We caught up with Brookfield to get the lockdown on his new singles, travelling, songwriting & more!

Why did it feel right to release “Fall Out” and “Swim Deep” together?

Good question! I think the two songs are opposite sides of the same coin. I wrote Fallout a while before Swim Deep, when I was in a really dark place and didn’t really feel like I could open up to anyone – it was the cliché of just shouting into my voice notes and pouring my heart and soul into the production. It was the first song I wrote that inspired me to make music for myself again. Swim Deep started one day with two great friends having the deepest and darkest of conversations and I think you can hear it’s a bit more uplifting because of that collaboration. Fallout is the slope down into depression and swim deep is just getting through it – staying afloat.

You’ve travelled pretty extensively. How do you think those experiences have impacted your music?

Travelling does change you fundamentally, as pretentious as it sounds. I’m a born and raised Londoner so have experienced amazing things but I think absorbing new culture, food, people… it opens your mind so much. I think the most important thing travelling did for me was to value myself without being selfish – when you solo travel you are out there for your own benefit, and you can do whatever you want – as long as it’s not harming anyone else – and I think that’s reflected in my music. I feel so much more confident in my work despite playing it less safe? Does that make sense? I don’t know.   I’ve also been really lucky to write with people from across the world which has taught me SO much about songwriting and music in general. You pick up things you never knew you needed, along with all the tacky souvenirs..!

What’s your typical songwriting process like? 

I write for and with a lot of people so it really depends on what the people in the room are feeling – I’m quite industrious and like to get the ball rolling as I find it inspiring, but I’m so happy to just hang with people I’m lucky to call friends, and having a good feel in the room is more important than anything. I guess for myself it’s pretty insular – I’m one of those people that has the stupid delusional dreams where the whole song comes to me in the dream, the shower, the drunken walk home… and I love to produce while I develop those ideas. I think I’m more of a composer than a songwriter in that sense. Vocals are just another instrument, we just add poetry on top. I normally try and stick with the first ideas I get, mostly because I believe in fate and all that sh*t, but also ‘cause I’m lazy.

The single art is definitely unusual. How did you decide on that image? 

I’ll take that as a compliment! I’d like to say it was some really well thought out process but I tried SO many artworks and none of them worked. I had this amazing idea with a swimming pool, TVs… but like most musicians I’m skint, and then COVID happened, so my best friend Harry Strange and I went through my old photos and just blocked out any preconceptions of what it should look like and I ended up with that. It’s my old School picture. I love it. I think I love it so much because this is a new beginning for me – back to school. I’m learning how to do all the releasing stuff again and it’s kind of comforting to start young! Also, blue’s a nice colour, innit?

Both of the releases are definitely cinematic in scope. What’s drawn to you delve into that cinematic sound?

Movies! There’s nothing like cinema for escapism, especially when you have depression (did I mention lol) – I’m also the ‘listen in the dark’ type of music fan and I think you can hear that in my music. I’ve always loved longer songs as it’s so much more euphoric and meditative, you really get absorbed… it pisses me off when I have to cut down my music for certain companies and services – I think because I have to do it so often as a logical process for my work in TV I wanted to just let these breathe. I actually had to extend the drum recording I’d done for fallout ‘cause I wanted even more oomph. I’m quite a sensitive person and although I’m loud I can be quite insular – but I really like making my music kind of bombastic and over the top. Also – as a producer I think it’s so important for the music to reflect the sentiment of the song – that’s what I tried to do with fallout and swim deep – it’s a long, slow scream into a pillow with some weird sh*t in the background – there’s harmoniums, saxophones, anything I could get my hands on.

Who are the biggest influences on your sound and why? 

I hate this question only ‘cause I genuinely have no idea any more! It’s all over the place. I know that 22, a million by Bon Iver really showed me how much you can blend electronic and acoustic instruments, but then post-rock bands like Sigur Ros and Mogwai making these crazy builds and sh*t… using vocals as an instrument… but then the raw emotion in vocalists like Dermot Kennedy, and over the top Productions like The Night Game, Peter Gabriel… The last couple of 1975 records are probably my most listened to – they just do whatever they want! And it works! I want to do that! I love Matt Healy’s honesty and self awareness… it’s like Black Comedy in music.

What’s the best gig you’ve played to date? 

I’ve had some amazing shows for artists I’ve worked with – Harry Strange at The Waiting Room – Two Weeks In Nashville at The Camden Assembly… For me, I played an acoustic set at Somerset House which was pretty amazing, but I had a show the day after my birthday at Thousand Island (now the Grace I think?) a couple of years ago and drank a whole bottle of Prosecco on stage and got to play Dancing On My Own by Robyn with my very talented band which was as fun for me as you can imagine! I’ve had some great shows with Turtle Tempo of course – Notting Hill Arts Club was a particular highlight.

Who are three new artists we should listen to right now and why?

Carrie Baxter helped me write Swim Deep – and we wrote her single Love Me Better together. She is real as f*ck and so nice. I’m quite into Country (believe it or not??) and recently saw US write Sykamore play her new EP live – my friend Jeff wrote Record High with her – I’m working with new artist Will Bryant whose debut ‘Be Mine’ dropped recently – he’s so talented.

Finally, what does the future hold for you?

more. music. I hope (lol) – I have about 8 or 9 tracks I’m in the process of finishing – as soon as studios open I’ll be finishing them off! It’s been tough getting the visuals done and everything so expect some DIY sh*t – but I may have a new single out early June…

 

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