bruxa interview

KICKING OUT JAMS of the highest order, local electronic band Bruxa—Derek Stilwell, Bianca Radd, Saint Michael Lorenzo—roll out the red carpet on their second album, Victimeyez. Their compositional style is sharp, capturing a darkly psychedelic essence that moves beyond the conceptualized theme of occultism that characterized their first album, Eye on Everybody.

Victimeyez, on the other hand, represents work that can be considered more universal. It’s being released jointly by Sweating Tapes and Mishka Records NYC, and as a sweet bonus, Mishka is offering a free digital download of the release starting September 1.

Pitched-down and processed vocals capture the doom and gloom aesthetic of a pre-apocalyptic world, and delve into the kind of dreamy distorted industrial territory that Trent Reznor would hold dear. The heavy vocal processing, along with masterful production of synth, bass, and beats, evoke a quality of semi-sexual aggression that immediately draws you in. Radd’s vocalizations, all done in Portuguese (Bruxa translates to “witch”), add a mysterious quality to the songs, at times making it seem as if she were channeling a child goddess of the ancient world. Upon first listen, I really didn’t want this album to end.

Elements of hiphop pulse with a unique stylistic edge: The often complex rhythms of Bruxa’s lyrical content sit damn near perfectly within the mix, taking the listener on a fantastic voyage to outer space. If you haven’t seen Bruxa live, Stilwell describes their shows as similar to “dub-style performances with different layers that are brought in and out while they [Radd and Lorenzo] rap over it.”

“It’s like a perversion of jamming,” adds Lorenzo.

“I feel the [live shows] are way more free form, noisier—with a lot more energy. When we perform I feel like I’m in a trance,” says Radd.

The band has an interesting philosophy on songwriting: “When you first make something, you have the most objectivity about it, and you should step back and trust that instinct and not over think it,” says Stilwell.

In a previous musical project, Lorenzo says he “was more concerned with how it was going to affect people that I knew, and Bruxa was a complete departure from that—it does not matter.”

“If you want to name a specific philosophy, fatalism would be a good choice,” says Stilwell.

“Post-religion, post-politics, post-sex,” adds Radd.

“It’s more creating a feeling as opposed to delivering an idea,” says Stillwell. “None of it is very premeditated… but we’ll find out that there are weird correspondences later. The lyrical themes that ride through the whole thing happen by accident.”

When asked what guiding aesthetic ties their work together, Lorenzo says, “We all have an affinity for triphop.” Bruxa also incorporate “the harsh bass and crushing impressive sounds” characterized by dubstep.

“We like bass music,” says Radd, very matter of factly.

“I’ve gotten way into sound design,” adds Stilwell.

The first Bruxa album, Eye on Everybody, came about almost as an experiment: “Let’s take dubstep and witch house and put them together and see what happens. That’s where the whole ‘witchstep’ subgenre came about,” says Stilwell.

Less than two years old, the band is already recording new material. “We are reaching even further into our influences,” says Lorenzo. So far, the results are impressive.

Sheer Force of Will Bruxa’s Fatalistic Jams

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Published work: Portland Mercury Newspaper →