"People are going to put you in a box and you have to decide how big you want that size of the box to be”, said the current New York resident producer, Brenmar. Music has always been important to Bill Salas, the man behind Brenmar, and at the age of 28, he’s managed to brand himself in the underground dance music scene from Soundcloud to clubs all around the world. Before the all the sexy digital edits, noise pedals were a huge part of Salas’ life . Up till 2011, he was in a three piece band called These Are Powers, who were signed to an indie label, Dead Oceans. It didn’t take long for Salas to create Brenmar and the internet quickly accepted. He is now known for making girls sweat from reworking hip hop songs like Beyonce’s “Naughty Girl” and Rihanna’s “Loveee Song” Feat. Future.This is an exciting year for Brenmar because he’s found himself in a comfortable place where he knows exactly what he’s doing and confident of the music he wants to make. On February 18th, Brenmar released his first mixtape of all original songs called High End Times Vol.1. Read this exclusive Steve Madden Mag interview below as Salas takes us through his music travels, Brenmar Someday, and finally finding this comfort place.
I see you’re going to Buffalo Exchange later, how do you like living in New York?
I love it. It’s good.It’s hard but it’s my favorite city. I’ve been here for six years. I was constantly on tour on the road so it’s probably closer to three and a half to four living years I feel like.
Your studio space is in Brooklyn?
Yeah, I live in Chinatown and my studio is off Metropolitan and Roebling. It’s just me and L-Vis 1990. It’s small, not anything too crazy. We ain’t fitting no bands in there but if we make beats and record vocals, it’s chill. There’s a bunch of synths, old synths and our little desktop set up.
How often are you in the studio?
Everyday. It could be anywhere from three hours to six or seven, eight , ten. Anything that I do is essentially music first. All the other stuff like the parties, press and this interview, it’s cool but music always come first.
Can you tell us about High End Times Vol.1?
From the first song that you released “Medusa”, it seems very R&B. I’ve been working on it for a while, at least eight months now. Most of 2013. Eight songs, all originals. This is the biggest body of work I’ve done. My biggest statement as an artist. Sasha Go Hard, Uniique, Ziggy The Zombie, Mykki Blanco, Junglepussy,Calore, Ian Isiah and Rush Davis are all on there. The first song is R&B but the rest is pretty club. The Calore and Uniiquee track is on the harder club side, 130 BPM. The Sasha Go Hard track is 160 BPM, sum crazy hip hop shit. There’s a lot of hip hop on the record. Ziggy The Zombie is hip hop, he’s a new kid from Jersey, 19 years old. I started with “Medusa” because it just felt very good and people were responding to it very nicely. I’ve spent months on these songs. There were more than eight songs for the mixtape, some just didn’t make the cut. I’m really picky when it comes to recording. it doesn’t leave the studio unless it’s as good as I could make it at the time. It was a big learning process to go from making edits and remixes because that’s what most people think of when it’s Brenmar. Instead of me sampling other people, I want people to sample my shit. I want to continue to do both but it was time for me to make this move.
The music that you make is very identifiable and it shows that you’re confident in your sound. How long did take for you to get here?
Well, I’ve always made what I wanted to make since I was 18. Now more than ever, there is real validation from people and I feel really good about it. You can’t have a career in music or art in any sort if you don’t have people invested. At the end of the day, it’s not fun when you spend hours on something and there is no one else to see it.
There’s a Youtube of you playing live as Brenmar Someday,when was this?
Wow, you went back. I was showing that to my girlfriend recently and she was like, bring that hair back. I was 19, not even old enough to be at the club and they put x’s on my hands. I did that for three years.
Yeah, the reason I moved to New York was to be in a band These Are Powers, it’s an electronic, pop, punk, noise band. We tried to not have a genre and constantly tried changing our sound. That’s why it was hard to maintain an audience. You’d gain one fan and lose one. For the longest time, I was inspired by my muses and constantly did whatever inspired me. I used to play a lot of different shows. I was that young weirdo kid that played noise shows to hip hop to free jazz. I’d promote it all the same and people came and would make comments. I noticed people saying how great I was at the hip hop show but also say things like “oh but his set was weird, I didn’t get it” at the free jazz show. I noticed that but said “fuck that” and continued doing whatever I wanted. People are going to put you in a box and you have to decide how big you want that size of the box to be. When I put out a new Brenmar mix/song, people have a pretty good idea of what to expect. You hope you think you know what you’re going to get and if you don’t get that, you’re going to be.. There’s just too much music out there. This is the first time where I love everything that I make, and people like it too so it’s perfect. I guess I approached it differently. I felt like I was stifled because I wanted to do everything. You have to zone in on a particular aesthetic because you can’t do everything. You can but you can’t.
Yes, totally agree.There’s a quote from you during another interview where you said you make music to keep the ladies in the club happy. Which are your go-to tracks to set everything off right now?
Oh man, I haven’t played a show in a while. “Drunken Love” has been it for the last couple of shows. Anything off the Beyonce album really. Girls love that.
Please tell us about the entire Brenmar brand; the voice sample, the hair and the tattoos?
What is this brand you speak of? [laughs] The hair and tattoos developed over time. I want a new look for spring though. The drop is a friend of mine. She’s an artist from Chicago and directed some early Salem videos. The voice is her leaving me a voicemail on my phone. I’ve been doing that since the beginning. It’s on the earlier songs. I like it and people love the drop. I’ve done remixes without the drop and people will hit me back with “yo bro, can you put the drop in”. Sometimes, I don’t even notice it anymore. It’s subtle, you know? If you hear it, you know it and if not, you’ll get to know it. That’s the idea of it.
What are you doing for NYFW?
There’s a couple potential things. Fashion week is all so late at planning and especially with what I do, most of the DJs are relegated to the after parties and all these designers don’t even know where they’re having their shows yet. They’re not even thinking about the after parties.
Interview by Briana Cheng
Brenmar is wearing the GARRETT