I moved to Berlin recently, and while I’ve fallen in love with it there are a lot of things I miss about New York City. The way it smelled on a hot summer day; that oddly compelling combination of hot concrete, trash, exhaust and street-food. Sweat and perfume blending in equal notes. The cheap Bushwick thrift stores. The ability to get an awesome slice of pizza (realpizza, not this weird crispy stuff) at almost anytime. But what I miss more than anything are the clubs. Many of my nights were spent at some of the best underground parties NYC had to offer: †FILTH†, Germs, Top8, GHE20 G0TH1K. The unique style of NYC nightlife can’t be found anywhere else in the world, but Berlin isn’t without its own swag. The Wednesday night global bass blowout Get Wavey is doing some mad next-level booking, and they’ve brought some of my favorite US DJs to drop a taste of that vibe onto an eager audience. When I saw that NYC-via-Chicago producer Bill Salas was set to play on the first of June, I knew I had to be there. Better know as Brenmar, this dude has been drawing my eye for a while now. Aside from spinning at many of my past favorite parties, as well as drumming for the now disbanded ghost-punk group These Are Powers, Brenmar has been producing some of the best house tracks of the last year. Unassuming and friendly, he was down to kick it for a bit, so we hung out backstage before the party and got caught up.
EB: Tell me about this new EP . I just heard ‘So High’, it’s crazy good.
B: Cool, thanks man. It’s out on June 20th, it got pushed back a little bit but four songs, three new ones and one Dubbel Dutch remix of ‘So High.’ I have another EP that’s coming out three or four months after this one.
EB: Does this one have the same pumped-up vibe as the last EP?
B: I’m basically continuing the same vibe, same theme. ‘Want Me’ is a rework of a ‘90s R&B jam. ‘Tasting’ is fairly new a little more housey. ‘So High’ is my song for the streets, the dark club one. One or two more aggressive hard dark songs and then a couple tracks for the ladies. That’s the new vibe for the next EP. The next EP right now is three songs, pretty heavy dance beats and R&B specifically. My aesthetic, but further refining it and playing with the tempo.
EB: I’m all about the different influences you play with. I was really into ‘Paper Running’, I love the crazy east Indian jams.
B: It definitely had some of those vibes; it was sort of incidental. That’s actually a vocal sample.
EB: Where’s that from?
B: It’s from Beyonce.
EB: No way!
B: It’s a Beyonce vocal sample that I played with. It doesn’t really sound like it but if you listen really closely it sounds like a vocal sample kind of. It’s pretty cool. I made that track exactly around the time I made the first EP. Same sessions.
EB: Totally different.
B: I should of put it on the EP in hindsight but it’s all good because a lot of people like that song and I personally feel good about it too. But it was kind of a sleeper hit. I thought, ‘this is cool but I’ll set it aside and these four songs will be the EP and I’ll hold on to it for now.’ But people really responded to that song and I’ve heard a lot of people say it’s their favorite song.
EB: It’s my favorite song.
B: A lot of people have said, that and I’m like, wow, okay cool. You never know… you think you know but you never really know until it’s out there. I’m curious to see what people think of the new EP, which song seems to be the stand out. I keep getting different responses, although people seem to be leaning to one particularly right now we will see.
EB: Which one?
B: It’s called ‘Want Me’.
EB: That was on the mix you made for Fader last month, right?
B: Yeah. But I’m pushing ‘So High’ as a single. I’m going to be releasing it as a freebie pretty soon. Right now I’m just putting it out there to tease a little bit. But I’m going to release it as a freebie, no one knows that yet but they will within the next couple weeks.
EB: I’m really surprised you choose ‘Taking It Down’ to do a video on. I really like it but I thought it was one of the more low key tracks.
B: Oh really? No, I get the biggest response to that song, that is by far my most famous song. A lot of people like ‘Paper Running’, more people than I thought would but ‘Taking It Down’ is like my hit if you will. Immediately it was evident when we were sending out promos for the release, everyone was like ‘Taking it Down Taking It Down Taking It Down’ like from the beginning. I made my decision last year that I was going to do a video for that song, it just took a while the whole process and everything. The club goes nuts when I play it, especially if they know it. And that one… I just work, I’m like a factory. I don’t think too hard about if it will be my slow jam hit, you know? I cant think too hard about it. It’s not getting off my computer if I don’t feel good about it. So if it’s out there it’s because I feel really good about it. I wanted ‘So High’ to be the single but people are really responding to want me so a part of me says maybe I should release ‘Want Me’ as a freebie or not. The last couple jams I’ve put out have been a little softer, more on the R&B tip and ‘So High’ is a little aggressive. I want to put out a darker one and switch it up a little bit.
EB: When did you start producing music?
B: I got my first set of Gemini turntables when I was fourteen. My first shitty sampler when I was fifteen and I saved up enough money to buy a used MPC2000 right before I turned sixteenn and I used that and records for the first few years. I went through a lot of different phases musically, I was doing nothing but weird hip hop beats in the beginning, sampling off records, and then I started getting into electronic music like Aphex Twin and Autechre and all that Warp Records shit in the ‘90s. I started working with samples and got into computer production, got Pro Tools around like seventeen and started taking it really seriously at eighteen.
EB: So right then you were like, ‘This is what I’m going to do’?
B: Music at least. I knew that much, not necessarily beats. Bremar used to be Bremar Someday for a while, it went from beats to a one-man band kind of thing. I was doing live turntable looping and effects pedals and it was a combination of hip-hop and noise and I busted out a pretty ambient track for four minutes in the middle of my set with live drums. I mean it was literally like a one-man band scenario. Looping shit, even doing some vocal stuff. Then I joined These Are Powers. I got really bored with electronic music for a while. Justice took over in the States and everything and everyone was making shitty electro. I hate electro, I just cant get down with that shit. And I just tuned out and I got kind of bored with hip-hop so I started to listen to jazz and noise. In Chicago the free jazz noise scene is real big so I kind of fell into that for a while. Joined These Are Powers, moved to New York and we did our thing for three years. Then I got really into dance music again, it just got really exciting for me and I wanted to make beats, do something different, switch it up. That’s a brief history of the last seven, eight years basically.
EB: Yeah, I remember I saw you with These Are Powers like a minute ago when I lived in NYC, I think it was at Death By Audio.
B: We started off as a noise rock band but I was never a rock guy. I dabbled in it a little bit and I tried to get into it. But it was like the timing was right at that time when they approached me. I was listening to lots of punk and noise shit and they were really serious. I had bandmates in Chicago and they were cool but I didn’t want to go to band practice. For me music was more important than anything else. And for (TAP vocalist) Anna Barrie that was the case. The prospect of joining a band with others that were as serious as I was, I was like ‘alright, lets go.’
EB: You gotta grab that shit when it comes.
B: Right? Plus I was twenty-one and I dropped out of school to focus on music, and then the band came along and the opportunity to potentially move to New York came along and I was like ‘fuck it, lets roll with it, listen to your intuition.’ We did our thing, no regrets. Played some amazing shows, amazing tours. But creatively we were at different junctions creatively where we wanted to go. I started getting a really good response early on with the Bremar stuff. I never stopped making beats. I always had my computer and turntable and shit. Do a little remix here and there. But I put the solo stuff aside to focus on the band. And then at one point I started doing the solo stuff to fulfill what I wasn’t getting out of the band. That feeling, there is that certain feeling that you get, working on music is better than sex, drugs, any of that shit. When it’s there, when you write that song or are in the process, lost in the moment. I wasn’t getting that from These are Powers anymore and I needed that – so that’s where Bremar came back into the fold I guess.
EB: I know exactly what you’re talking about, I used to be in a band myself and when it becomes a chore it’s time to quit.
B: Yeah exactly. It would be another story or harder to quit if we were making bank. Being broke sucks and I’m not trying to be broke. Living in New York is just so expensive. Getting back into the city and having to try find a part-time job to make ends meet… I wasn’t trying to have that. Like, I’m not trying to have that, it’s not an option. I want to continue to do my own solo stuff, continue to produce under my own name and continue to DJ because I fucking love it. But I want to get into production for other people. I want to be producing for Ciara and shit like that. I’m going to continue to DJ and do my own thing but I want to get into it and make beats for Usher. Slowly but surely man, I’m working on it like it’s happening and it will happen. Just give me another year or two. I have this beat right now that I am trying to pitch to Soulja Boy. And I’m getting close, I have his email. It’s a start and this beat is perfect for his ass, too. It’s so right. I made it and right away I was like fuck, this is a Soulja Boy track.
EB: So in a years’ time we’ll be seeing Soulja Boy produced by Bremar.
B: Maybe, that’s my shit. That’s what I listen to the most, like hip-hop and R&B and the weird dance stuff I guess, that’s where my heart is and always was. It’s just kind of coming back full circle. Revisiting the music I was listening to when I was fifteen. I’m not trying to get totally nostalgic about it, at a certain point you hit your mid-twenties and suddenly all the music you were listening to in your teens is worth listening to again. But that’s not me at all, I’m super excited about new music. But I have kind of rekindled an interest in the stuff I was listening to when I was thirteen, fourteen.
EB: What have you been listening to mainly?
B: TLC, Backstreet…hahah, not Backstreet Boys fucking Blackstreet. Not Backstreet Boys. A lot of TLC lately and Destiny’s Child – mad Destiny’s Child like every other day at least. What else? I’m actually going back and trying to find a lot of bad boy shit that I missed. For a while I went through an indie hip-hop phase and I was like fuck Puff Daddy and his shiny suits. But going back now I can appreciate a lot of it on a different level. Its not all great, but a lot of it is actually really good – that motherfucker put out so much music and not all of it hit. A lot of it did, he had a high batting average for a while, especially in the mid to late ‘90s but there is a lot of stuff that kind of went under the radar and that people have sort of forgotten about or whatever just because I don’t know.
EB: But for now you have this and, I mean… you’re doing well, makin’ bank now?
B: I’m alright; we’re getting there. We’re definitely making more money then I was before for sure. It’s going to be a good year.
As is usually the case, we had an even better conversation than this after the recorder was turned off (better for me anyway, but then I can talk about Aaliyah for hours) and as the clock struck one, Brenmar hit the decks. A foot-blistering combination of left-field world house, hip-hop bangers, juke, and remixed R&B hits followed, ensuring that for five hours I barely left the floor. This was pure vital nightlife, the energy of the music and the crowd surging through my bloodstream, and as I staggered home, the air smelled like sweat and perfume.