By: Shayla Lee
I want you to sit and imagine something for me. I want you to think back to a time where you felt complete solitude and happiness. It can be simple like the feeling when you stick your hand out of the car window on a spring day or a drive to the mountains with people you love. Drinking a morning coffee on a balcony or laughing until you cry at a dumb joke.
Thinking of a moment?
What if I told you there was music that sounded like that special moment?
Similar to The National, Bon Iver, and Keaton Henson, Bjéar captures these special moments and creates music. It will make you feel nostalgic. It will make you feel happy. It will make you feel sad. Bjéar’s music is all of life’s feelings and experiences transformed into music. It will make you want to seize the day and do something epic with the people you love. We had the chance to interview Brae McKee, the creator of Bjéar. We chatted about the inspiration behind his stunning music, the creation process of their EP, and what we can expect from Bjéar this year.
FEMME RIOT: Tell us a bit about yourself! What inspired you to become a musician? Was it something you always knew you wanted to do?
Brae McKee: It was really natural. I didn’t ever make a choice or get any lessons, I just loved trying to play on my family piano and guitar and it grew from there when I started to write. I only really recently decided I wanted to do music – I was more in to sport than music growing up.
You explained that Bjéar is a collaborative effort. What was it like creating music with others?
It’s always exciting to see how others will approach the shells of songs I’ve written and what way they might nudge the track. When I write alone I find that I get fixated on the first things that come out, so it’s refreshing.
How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
Haha, that’s a surprisingly hard question to answer, but I’ll go with emotive, nostalgic, melancholy and hopeful.
Where do you draw inspiration for your music? Do you have any musical influences?
Everywhere. There’s at least one thing I see, hear, or even a new thought I might have every day that inspires me to write something (even though I might not always capitalise on that). So much music influences my writing but the main culprits are Bon Iver, The National, Underoath, Frank Ocean, Sufjan, Kanye, Joni Mitchell, Cash and Coltrane.
Is there a specific lyric you have written that you are most proud of?
I don’t know if proud is the right word, but I’ve always been happy with lyrics in Nell because of their layered significance to me. And more specifically, the last line of the album – “and when I get there; Tuolumne, will she be there awaiting me? I’m alright, I’m alright, I’m alright, it’s over now.“
Your album ‘Bjéar’ was written over the span of a few years. What was the creation process for this album like?
Very organic and very slow. I didn’t ever set out to write an album. I worked on a lot of music (demos) for several years until I realised I probably had enough that I liked to record an album. I wanted to do it myself so I took out a loan and set up a home studio. From that point it was pretty smooth and really fun.
This is going to sound really weird, but when I listen to your music it just makes me think of life. At times the music is epic and at other times it’s quiet. I feel both happy and nostalgic when I listen to it. Is it difficult to create music that elicits so many emotions?
That’s so kind. Thank you! I wouldn’t say difficult but it has taken a lot of patience. I have to jam a lot of ideas every day and only rarely come across something I feel is worth going ahead with. I make an effort to only work on and release the songs that give me those feelings of nostalgia and a sort of depth and melancholy when I’m writing them.
‘Sierra,’ your opening track is epic and it’s a total road trip song. Have you had the opportunity to do a lot of travelling? Has travel impacted you creatively?
I haven’t done a heap but what I have done has been incredible and has really inspired me creatively. I’ve been to America twice (I’m from Australia) and both times I was fortunate enough to do a lot of road tripping and see a lot of the countryside and national parks. Sierra and Nevada were both heavily influenced by some time I spent up north in Washington, Montana, Idaho etc. I Can’t wait to get back! Washington and Firefall were greatly influenced by my first trip to LA and Yosemite – more so dealing with distance in a relationship than the places themselves.
What can we expect from you in 2018? Hopefully we will see you in Vancouver soon!
I’m working on a variety of things, but nothing’s locked in just yet. I’m hoping we’ll get over to the states to tour mid year, and hopefully we’ll get an EP out a bit later on.
Anything we haven’t asked that you want to add?
Nope, just a big thank you for asking me a bunch of cool and honest questions!
One of my all time favourite quotes is from ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower.’
So this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.
Bjéar’s music brings this quote to life.
We want to thank Brae for doing this interview! This article’s cover photo was shot by Matt Shrip. You can follow Bjéar on their musical journey on Instagram, Facebook, and Spotify. If you want to feel epic check out their entire collection below!