Rad Bromance: Brodinski on life, Los Angeles and his US imprint’s rise
Louis Brodinski is about as charismatic as they come. The French artist has no shortage of swagger, yet he also exhibits an arresting lack of arrogance. Slinking around a Los Angeles warehouse, clad in black leather and his patented backwards snapback, Bromance’s effusive captain greets everyone with a wide grin and an earnest handshake.
Despite their similarly dark music, Brodinski’s approachability is the perfect foil to his partner in crime Gesaffelstein’s brooding aloofness. Their pairing is symbolic of the many dualities that reside at Bromance’s core.
I first met the former at a Fool’s Gold pool party in Miami last year. Fresh off a superlative techno-heavy set at HARD Miami the night before, Brodinski impressed me with how seamlessly he shifted his sound to fit the pool party’s urban vibe without compromising the technicality that helped launch his career as a Parisian teen turntablist.
From credibly rocking Movement Festival to collaborating with Kanye West, Louis is a rare talent who can traverse the worlds of techno and hip-hop with uncanny ease.
“Genre doesn’t exist for me,” he says with a grin. “I just like good music.”
Brodinski’s dynamic DJ sets mirror this credo, stylistically freewheeling from searing analog synths to booming 808 beats. He ended his much-anticipated two-hour odyssey at last year’s HARD Summer with James Blake’s haunting “Retrograde,” striking an unexpected emotional chord for attendees who associate his name with harder and heavier fare.
“Someone like James Blake doing a track like this, I just love it,” he says. “It’s just a good song. I don’t care about putting a sticker on something. I see it’s exactly the same tempo as a rap track and so it makes sense. Everyone has tons of influences; nobody has like one influence anymore. If you love music and you’ve learned about it in the last 15 years, because of the Internet and the way it works right now, you can’t have just one influence.”
An avid follower of a wide range of music blogs, Louis certainly falls into that category. He fell in love with techno at the age of 15, began DJing at 18 and quickly expanded his tastes to include the rap and hip-hop elements he describes among his biggest influences.
“Let’s say that rap music in Europe is like soccer in the USA,” Brodinski explains. “People that know soccer here love it partly because there is not so much soccer all around. In Europe, everybody loves soccer and I love it too. But loving rap music in Paris… a lot of people are actually listening to rap music, but it’s not everybody. I think that’s really cool because we feel like we listen to some music, and then we come here and it’s everywhere. It’s in every club and everybody sings the songs that we play. We come from a different world, France is just totally different.”
That dichotomy between Paris and his adopted home of Los Angeles was a prime motivator behind the creation of Bromance US, the stateside sub-label whose launch is the pretext for the warehouse party at hand. While Brodinski had conceived of the concept long before its launch, his label’s rapidly expanding American profile convinced him that the stage was suitably set for expansion.
“The American market and music just feels different to me from what we are doing in Europe,” Brodinski says. “So we extended a branch to the USA because it’s cool to work with people and develop artists out here, which is something we can’t really do in Europe.”
Brodinski has always described Bromance as a family. Beyond its ubiquitous BMC (Bromance Crew) branding, it’s clear that the label’s convivial approach says something greater about its founder’s personal worldview. A glance at Louis’s active Instagram feed reveals more pictures of his friends than of himself, an ego-free anomaly in dance music’s self-centered social media echo chamber. When he speaks of “the crew,” he really means it. Bromance is more than a business to Brodinski, it’s a living tapestry of the friendships that comprise his life’s fabric. He views its nascent American bloodline in no lesser a light.
“Bromance US is gonna be exactly like what we do in Europe, but with American artists that we can develop in their country,” he says. “Of course we have plans and stuff, but it’s definitely gonna have every kind of electronic and rap music. It’s just stuff that we like, exactly like we do in Europe.”
Working in partnership with Skrillex’s OWSLA, Bromance US ushered in its inaugural release last August in the form of History of Man, a full-length album by the Weeknd’s producer Illangelo. Brodinski selected Illangelo’s effort for the imprint’s debut after his manager, a member of the Bromance US crew, passed it along.
“Illangelo was the introduction for the whole project and he is the newest member of the crew,” Brodinski says. “OWSLA has a very cool staff and they understand the music very well. Even if we’re not doing the same music Skrillex is doing, I think it works because we are both doing something different.”
Brodinski’s collaboration with Brooklyn rapper Theophilus London, “Gimme Back the Night,” followed, as did a seven-stop Bromance US Fall Tour alongside Gesaffelstein and Louisahhh!!! With a slate of upcoming projects that includes Brodinski’s own full-length debut scheduled for release in 2014, there should be no shortage of action for his crew in the new year.
“We have a lot of products for the beginning of 2014, it’s going to be a big moment,” Brodinski says. “All the artists we want to push are getting ready to release things. I’m just running fast, busy in a good way.”
His hustle is paying off. Adopted by such Los Angeles fixtures as HARD, OWSLA, the Hundreds and the Red Bull Studio, Bromance is well on its way to becoming an indelible institution in the City of Angels while still retaining its European edge. Nowhere is this more evident than in the composition of the crowd that fills the downtown warehouse, which includes such dance music royalty as Skrillex, 12th Planet, and Le Castle Vania.
The OWSLA boss even makes a brief cameo behind the decks before retreating backstage to Brodinski’s eager embrace. Los Angeles is a city that rewards innovation, and it’s hard to envision a hug between two more forward-thinking dance music forces.
“Paris is a small city compared to Los Angeles, and you can see it in the way people behave and in the way the culture’s changing,” Brodinski concludes. “I feel LA is one of the cities I could live in, and so I have a special relationship with it.”
“Being here, I just feel like the two energies are very different, and it’s just like how I love techno and rap. I love LA and Paris. It’s the same idea.”