22 year-old Kettering producer Charlie Brigden has dropped his debut album BR2020. It’s a real humdinger, so New Boots ran at him clutching questions.
New Boots: How did you start making music?
Charlie Brigden: I honestly think I started making music solely because I couldn’t hear the sound I wanted to hear in the music I was finding. Throughout 2016, as I became more conscious of the music I was listening to, there was this growing itch in my head I was really struggling to scratch. The more music I listened to, the more frustrated I was becoming that I still hadn’t found anything that hit that spot. However I began to feel I didn’t really have any right to moan about that, when all the resources to make it myself were out there. So I think that’s where the urge to make my own music grew from. I started toying about making beats around January 2017.
How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences?
My sound purely comes from whatever can hold my attention and keep me excited. At the moment it just happens to be this very dark, murky, in your face aesthetic. My ADD is for sure the main driving force behind my music. I have a hilariously fragile attention span, and it takes quite a lot to get my attention in the first place. My whole sound stems from that. The best part of all that is I don’t know where it’ll lead me. Who knows what’ll be holding my attention this time next year, I could be deriving enjoyment from completely different places sonically than I do right now.
My main influence comes from Reggie Watts, he was my introduction to creating music that’s completely defined by the artist, and how good the results can be. Watt’s freestyles entire songs using a loop box, his voice, and one or two instruments on occasion, so the music he’s making is completely free of any self-review. This really stuck with me; seeing this guy making these unbelievably good tracks off the top of his head.
More recently I think my sound has been driven by the likes of Jamie XX, Aphex Twin, JPEGMAFIA, and Death Grips. I also discovered Jai Paul when I was around 75% finished with the album. Hearing sound design like his was super gratifying, knowing that I wasn’t crazy thinking the sound I was going for could work and resonate with people.
How has your music evolved since those 2018 single/EP releases?
My first full release, ‘System’, came before I’d developed the ability to flesh out this sound I was after. It became more of just a test run to play about with and put some energy into. You can definitely hear the direction I was going in some of the tracks, but overall It was just a bit of fun for me to make and put out there. Where I really found my footing was with 2019s ‘Paint Worth Chipping’ – this is where my current dark, loud, overbearing sound started to properly take shape. Looking back now I’m actually still surprised I managed to make something as unique as it was, with what I knew at the time. That really put the battery in my back. I wanted to take the sound from ‘PWC’ and compress it into some slightly more traditional sounding singles. Those three tracks will forever hold a place in my heart, showing those songs to my friends and seeing their reactions really solidified the idea that I was onto something with this music stuff, for me at least.
Tell us about this first album, BR2020.
After finding my sound with ‘Paint Worth Chipping’, BR2020 was the working title of my next big idea – me finally sitting down and making some sort of fleshed out product from what I’d learnt so far. The album was produced entirely in my bedroom; almost all the features were recorded by the artist themselves, with UV Killit even going as far as recording his feature on his mum’s iPad.
I really wanted this album to call back to the Reggie Watts way of doing things, to be extremely specific to me, and the whole project to kind of lay out as a collage of myself at the time. With samples of Watts himself on ‘WYS’, or clips from my favourite movie The Big Short on ‘No Income No Job’, to snippets of videos from my camera roll spattered all across ‘128gb’, I didn’t hold back at all when it came to putting my own influence into this record. I wasn’t making any of this for anyone else: not the radio, not TikTok, nor for Spotify playlists.
Do you perform out live ever?
I make a point of getting on stage and involved when someone’s performing a track I produced, but I’ve yet to think of a way to perform my own music while doing it justice. I’d love to get everyone on the record in one place to perform it in one go, but I get a headache just thinking about the logistical nightmare that would be.
Do you produce for others?
I do, although it’s becoming a weird area for me at the moment. A big part of my sound comes from me sticking with the track, and working on it up to the day it gets submitted for release. It’s been really hard to work with artists and make a fully fleshed out track like that, without being able to physically sit in the studio with them. I definitely have lots of great stuff in the pipeline with other artists. Just a lot of it is kind of stuck in limbo at the moment.
Are you part of a wider scene locally? Any favourite acts/venues to give a shout out to?
YOU DANCHOOO I AM. Shoutout Dakota those are my boys. Big ups Lay It Down, Hometown Projects, Menace Media, THE REST, The Lab, The Black Prince. You’re the engines keeping NN artists at full throttle.
There are too many incredible artists around here to list them all, but whatever you do do not take your eyes off Tragic, Deadboi, LT Quickscope, L30 Robinson, DeBe, SMOAK, and especially UV Killit. I’m honestly so proud to be in such great company over here.
How has lockdown been for you? Helped or hindered your creativity?
Well, the original March lockdown is where BR2020 really started to pick up steam, using my spare time away from work to start really putting my energy into one project. I really do have the spare time lockdown brought with it to thank for the record. But the latest bunch of lockdowns have been the opposite really; I think I’m as sick and tired of it all as everyone else is. I would kill to be able to get back in the studio making music with the artist, rather than sending files back and forth in between mental breakdowns.
What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Parachutes by Coldplay weirdly enough. I’ve been trying to diversify what I listen to, and I’d heard very good things about their debut album. I was pleasantly surprised to say the least, haven’t been able to get enough of some of the highlight tracks.
What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
Seeing people like Frank Ocean make hour-long albums that can hold my attention makes me really want to eventually be able to create longer form content that could do the same. That’s a long way out yet, I’ve got lots of learning and exploring to do.
When it comes to the near future, I just want to finish the stuff I’ve been making since I finished the album, it’s just slow going at the moment. Soon come though, I hope.
BR2020 is out now on digital platforms, and next month on CD [order here].