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Name: Adam Bernard
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Artist Of The Week - Brzowski
Monday, January 10, 2011

The Northeast oftentimes gets looked over by the hip-hop community. Thinking the only things past Massachusetts are ski lodges and a Poland Spring factory, many hip-hop heads miss out on a lot of talented artists. One of those talented Northeasterners is Brzowski. Originally drawn to music by Black Sabbath at the age of 12, Brzowski is currently making quite the name for himself with his mic skills. He just released a collaborative effort, Brzowski+Moshe Like Woe Remixes, last week, he’ll be touring Europe in April, and he’ll be releasing his next album, A Fitful Sleep later this year. This week I caught up with Brzowski to find out more about his music, where his unique perspective comes from, and how a Canadian girl nearly sent him, and everyone he was on tour with, to jail.

Adam Bernard: Many emcees have hard to spell monikers because they choose to spell a traditional word in a different way. Your name is just straight up hard to spell. Why’d you go with Brzowski?
Brzowski: It is my mother's maiden name. I started using it around 1998 in honor of my grandmother who performed as a professional wrestler, “Bobo Brzozowski,” many years before I existed. She was always very supportive of my creative endeavors. I took out a few letters so it would be spelled more how it is meant to be pronounced - BRR-ZHAO-SKEE

Adam Bernard: As a huge pro wrestling fan I wish we could talk more about your grandmother, but I gotta get to music related questions. Spending time in Maine, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts you know the Northeast, and New England pretty well. Would you say there’s a defining vibe for the area? Is there a sound that is “New England hip-hop,” and if there is, or isn’t, do you think that’s a good thing?
Brzowski: I can't say that there is a defining “New England sound.” It's definitely East Coast / New York influenced, and rather hard-edged, because it gets cold as hell here. I tend to listen to and align myself with artists that are taking a more experimental, or non-traditional, approach. There is some serious hip-hop history in New England, but that doesn't mean that there aren’t some weirdos breaking new ground out here. The problem is that there are not enough progressive cats, in my mind. I constantly have to sit through five “traditional” acts to see the one dude who talks offbeat on purpose over techno. I'm a snob. Ha! That said, the scene is healthier in Maine than in many places I've been. The talent is top-notch. All in all Massachusetts has come a long way in the last eight years as well, and more centrist hip-hop goes over a bit better there. Rhode Island I'm a little worried about, as there is hardly anywhere left to perform.

Adam Bernard: That’s even becoming an issue in big cities. Let’s talk about the sound you’re bringing people.
Brzowski: Well, the new album, A Fitful Sleep, will be out in the spring of 2011, and I can't wait to get this out. It is fairly dark, personal, and melodic. It's not the kind of record you throw on partying with your crew at 2AM. Unless your homies are into The Cure or Type O Negative. It is more the kind of record you experience in headphones, or in the car by yourself. It is designed as a solitary, introspective experience.

Adam Bernard: I’m sure some small minded folks take one look at an emcee who’s in places like Maine and Rhode Island and think “what the heck could he possibly have to talk about?”
Brzowski: I'm sure there are, because I encounter them on the road all the time. My rapper ego kicks in and I get just get up there and rip harder and faster and with more panache than their pathetic fifth rate Wu-Tang impression can fathom. I enjoy out-classing people... it's a character flaw.

Adam Bernard: What topics do you cover with your work and what unique perspective do you think you bring having grown up and lived in the Northeast?
Brzowski: Topically, you have to be true to yourself. I grew up listening to, and playing, metal and hardcore until the late 90s, and I bring that aggression and urgency to the table. I broke the law, wrote graffiti, made unhealthy decisions, got in fights... but I also painted pictures, read books, taught myself to be well-spoken, volunteered at the Center for Marxist Education, fell in love a few times, and went on to get two college degrees in Fine Art. Every person has a unique experience to communicate, it’s just a question of how well they can channel that into lyrics and performance. I honestly believe that there are amazing and relevant emcees and artists everywhere.

Adam Bernard: In addition to your recorded work, I’ve heard your live shows are a really good time. What’s a person in store for when they come to see Brzowski live?
Brzowski: I think I finally struck the right balance a few years ago between my dark-content material and a comedic stage-banter persona. It makes the bitter medicine go down easy. For years I had this hardcore approach to performing, like “OH-MY-GOD-I-LIVE-THIS-SHIT-AND-IM-DEAD-SERIOUS.” It would be scary and off-putting to people who did not have access to the reference points I was coming from. Most hip-hop fans didn't get it. They would be like “who's this lumberjack with a Venom t-shirt pissed at?” Now I'll tell a bad joke, engage a heckler, ask for someone to bring me a whiskey mid-song, make fun of the opener's matching outfits, do impressions of other rappers, whatever. The humor is mostly to amuse myself. It was a coping mechanism to deal with crowds that I confused regularly, and ended up a part of the show. I jump around and sweat and swear and rap and sing and drink and share bawdy thoughts. I'm a serious cat, but I'm having fun, SERIOUS FUN!

Adam Bernard: Give me one supremely crazy, or simply strange, story from one of your shows.
Brzowski: Back in 2006 I was on tour with Epic and Chaps in Canada and this girl was adamant about everyone signing her breasts. Then she left the party quickly saying “I have a test in the morning... at high school!” I gagged a little. She was a second year senior. Shows are 19+ in Canada. Whew! No jail for us.

Adam Bernard: That’s a close one! Finally, since we’re entering a new year, what message does Brzowski have for 2011?
Brzowski: Buy some music. We are not just nomadic t-shirt salespeople. Seriously though, support your local underground musicians and go see touring acts when they come through. You have to participate in your own subculture for it to survive.

Related Links

Website: milledpavement.com/brzowski.html
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/BRZOWSKI
Twitter: twitter.com/brzowskimusic
MySpace: myspace.com/brzowski


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:27 AM  
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