From Techno to Trap: Brodinski Wants to Bridge the Gap Between Atlanta Rap and Electronic Music
The French producer talks about his knack for fusing trap with electronic sounds to make something uniquely his own.
Image via Complex Original
When you hear the name Brodinski, it rings a bell as well as a slew of other sounds in the realm of electronic music. He’s hit milestones most electronic DJs chase all their lives like having the honor of dropping a FabricLive mix or headlining a Boiler Room set. As of late the Paris-based DJ/producer has taken on a sound all his own, infusing trap gods like Chi-Town’s SD and ATL’s presently incarcerated Bloody Jay with techno. Trap-no? Maybe.
While working on his signature sound, Brodinksi has also worked behind the scenes for others. He and his manager, Manu Barron, started the label Bromance in 2011, and since then, the label has released projects from Danny Brown, Kaytranada, and Brodinski’s hometown homies Club Cheval. Then in 2013, he brought his talents to Kanye West’s Yeezus, receiving co-production credits alongside his label mate Gesaffelstein on “Black Skinhead” and “Send It Up.”
This March he released his debut album, Brava, which featured visceral street lyrics from the likes of Peewee Longway, iLOVEMAKONNEN, and Slim Thug alongside Berlin-esque electronic elements, hence the whole trap-no thing. Brodinski has been touring the album since April and is set to wind down in September.
It’s a summer afternoon in Midtown Manhattan when Brodinski, a.k.a. Louis Rogé, comes to visit Complex’s headquarters. Later on tonight, he has an open-to-close set at Brooklyn’s Output. He has a carefree demeanor, though in the past two weeks he’s cloud-hopped among Detroit, Denmark, Greece, the UK, Paris, D.C., and now New York. In those two weeks he’s played large festivals like Distortion, Movement, Parklife, and has even partnered with Boiler Room for his record label Bromance’s takeover party. Halfway through his tour, Brodinski talked with us about the creation of the album, Kanye’s crash course, and what’s planned for the future.
You have a French electro/techno music background, but have now made a crossover to producing tracks with iconic references to American rap and hip-hop. Were you always influenced by hip-hop?
It was always somewhere in my life, but since 6 years that’s a genre that got into me and I got really interested in. Especially Southern rap that became trap music.
What made you decide to start incorporating and now heavily featuring hip-hop and rap in your productions?
It took me like four or five years, and I’m still learning how to do it. I never really decided it, but after a while I realized that I didn’t want to play just electronic music in the club but also rap music. So then I start incorporating one song, and then two songs, and then three, and then I was like why not just remix them and make them the way I wanna do it because no one else is doing it the exact way I want to make it happen? That was the first time I really considered doing an album. So I chose to do Brava, and I started working on it, and it took me a while because I’m touring every weekend still. So I took my time being in the studio and working with rappers. It was more than just a purpose, it was more than just an album for me, it was an amazing experience. The album is just another step in the process of what I want to do in the next 10-15 years, which is working with the people I love and making them go through many, many, many changes of what we love in music and opening the spectrum of what we like. Getting Peewee Longway to work on crazy music or Bloody Jay, that’s already what we do. Now it’s like how can we get in the studio with Gucci or Future and actually realize what we wanna do. Maybe even going further than that and still working with people that I appreciate a lot especially in the ATL scene and the newer ATL scene like Johnny Cinco, Bankroll Fresh, and all these rappers that I wanna work with, and I wanna bring them in the clubs that we are playing at now.
You’ve always been a big collaborator and worked on projects with producers and DJs like your friend and label mate Gesaffelstein, Theophilus London, Daft Punk, and Kanye West. What was your favorite collaborative project?
I would say that every project that I worked on is a collaborative project anyway because I’m always bringing people in. From the beginning with “Bad Runner” I always had people around me, helping me, and teaching me how to do things, and also when there’s people I want to collaborate with I always find the studio time way more rich when I’m with people. More recently of course, the album because I had a chance to collaborate with Myd from Club Cheval, and also people like Peewee Longway, Bricc Baby Shitro, Bloody Jay, Young Scooter, Slim Thug, Louisahhh and many, many others. For me it’s bringing people in that I love and that I want to work with, but first things first, it’s a human relationship that’s going to make the change. When you meet someone it’s going to be different if you like each other, then you can actually share music, taste, and opinion. Working with Gesaffelstein on many, many projects, and being on tour with him of course, it had to be working on Yeezus with Kanye that was one of the highlights of the collaborative projects I’ve worked on in the studio. I hope, I really hope I’m going to have many, many more.
It must be an amazing feeling to have your music respected and recognized by an artist like Kanye, enough so that he pulled you in to produce two out of 10 tracks on his album, one of them being a single. Is Yeezy tapping you on the shoulder for more production opportunities?
First things first, I’m not alone working on those tracks. Gesaffelstein was there and Daft Punk, which is like…what can I say? I wasn’t by myself doing that. I think that Kanye is a real artist. I loved working with him in the studio because he’s always going to push boundaries and go wherever he wants to go. It’s his vision and he’s gonna respect it and he’s gonna have people around him. Is it going to happen again? I don’t know. I hope so. Maybe.
How do you feel about him crashing your tent at Coachella?
I wanna give a big up to Guillaume Berg and Virgil Abloh because what happened was, our party got canceled on a Friday afternoon and Virgil was at the house, so we were like let’s run another party. So Guillaume Berg called everyone around, and we had some friends, and we found this place that we did the party at. Then apparently Kanye West was coming to perform, but I didn’t know what to think. Anyway, I didn’t see that much of it because it’s our party and I’m always like working on the guest lists, handing out drinks. You know you what I mean? Then I was in the crowd and I saw him on stage. I was like, “Ohhh, shit.” I’m happy he came in the party. It’s good to just see him do whatever he wants, as a big artist.
You’ve been DJing, producing, and remixing for years and have created a very recognizable sound that resonates with your fans, yet we only just heard your first album. How long were you working on Brava, and why did you decide that you were going to release it in 2015?
When I started it, it was August 2013. I worked a year or maybe 18 months on it. For me it doesn’t seem like a long time. Sometimes it does though, but I’ve been touring for like the last seven years and I love it. I always consider myself a DJ more than a producer, and it’s changing today because I’m spending more time in the studio, and I love it. I really enjoy spending some time with people I love and making music. It wasn’t exactly like that four or five years ago. I loved the studio but didn’t have a purpose going to it. So when I started Brava I said I’m going to take my time and just do whatever I want because I know it’s an album, but an album today doesn’t mean an album like 20-25 years ago. It means for me a long format, that’s what I want to do in 2015. With Brava I found what I want to do in the next few years with like reaching and building a proper bridge between what I love in trap music and what I love in electronic music, without taking the soul out of the music and respecting every step of it and everyone that we are working with.
with Brava I found what I want to do in the next few years with reaching and building a proper bridge between what I love in trap music and what I love in electronic music, without taking the soul out of the music and respecting every step of it and everyone that we are working with.
You have your techno/French electro, but you also have these hip-hop/trap sounds. Were you conscious of the balance between both of those while making this album?
I didn’t really think about it until I had to take some time to be objective about it. It’s more like chemistry to me. I’m going to put a little bit of that and a little bit of this. I’m not like counting it. That's just the way I wanna do it, and that's why I feel like I wanted it to sound the way it is without any boundaries, any rules, any edits. I just wanted to do exactly whatever I wanted to do. I think it’s a bit of a selfish feeling, but I wanted to make music that I loved. I didn’t want to make music for millions of people to listen to it or sell many CDs. Today the only freedom you have as an artist is to do whatever you fucking want all the time. If you don’t, you have something wrong, and the goal on the top of your pyramid is wrong. I feel like I want a career anyway. I’ve been doing this for seven or eight years and it’s nothing. We’re talking about a lifetime, like when I see people like Laurent Garnier or Dr. Dre. I’m taking two totally, completely different examples, but to see how people can still evolve as an artist with like growing up and being as passionate as they’ve always been behind the music, I think is beautiful.