How BRUX Found Herself In The Darkness Of Dance Music
Three years ago, BRUX was a triple j Indie darling. Now, she's a mysterious producer making some of the best club music around.
“In the earlier versions, it was more grotesque,” laughs BRUX. “We tried to make it a bit more attractive. But I wanted it to be confronting.”
The Sydney producer is talking about the cover art for her debut EP, Fruit, a distorted, rotting pile of colour and shapes forming a bust of a person, designed with Kazakhstani artist Radimir Koch.
It’s a small but distinct step away from BRUX’s visuals so far: ever since 2018’s menacing, thumping debut ‘I’m Back’, six singles have been released. Each have a corresponding Tarot card art-work, centring a neon 3D mask. The break was pointed — preferring to keep her identity separate from her music (though, of course, it’s an open secret), BRUX trades in darkness.
Industrial-techno, pitch-shifted vocals and eerie visuals combine to keep you focused on the sound itself, piercing through the shadow: the three-track EP features some of BRUX’s most high-octane work yet. It was time to get a little less clean-cut.
For most of the past decade, BRUX played a different game. Back in 2014, she had triple j’s most-played song, with a perfectly on-trend indie-pop sound and aesthetic that saw her play endless festivals across Australia and collaborate with Flight Facilities.
While she’s not renouncing her old work, it was dance music that let her feel unrestrained, citing a two-week stint in 2018 at a Red Bull Music Academy workshop in Berlin as key to un-training her old impulses.
“I have much more room to experiment,” she says. “And I’m not as concerned with whether all these songs make it to the radio…. [The workshop] made me think I had a place: that I didn’t have to, you know, write commercially anymore. ‘Cause I was so worried about that. The formulas were just so drummed into me from the years of writing and performing — I was worried that like, maybe I don’t know how to write dance music.”
“It taught me to just not analyse it anymore, to not pick at what I’m actually writing, or not worry about structure, or not worrying about using the most expensive microphone to record it.”
BRUX, at her best, abandons structure. Latest single ‘B.W.P (Bitches Want Pitches)’ has clear influences from the Disclosure camp, but its chorus and late build-up defy expectations, keeping punters on their toes. She tells me it took time to trust herself coming from a world where expectations would point towards a certain recording studio, or particular, radio-approved mixers.
BRUX’s ambiguity helps, too: she tells me with her former work, there was a certain chicness to uphold, and the expectations of what an indie-pop artist in the 2010s could and couldn’t be.
“With my old projects, I showed my face and found I had to be quite feminine — not that there was label pressure, but just, socially I felt like I had to look a certain way. Withholding specific gender on this project, I feel like I show my masculine side and my feminine side. I don’t need to act or look a certain way.”
Often, BRUX’s songs are duets — on Fruit‘s title track, her pitch-shift vocals let her play both roles in the song’s hedonistic relationship, where both parties want to have their bodies used like a ‘piece of fruit’. It’s the intense, visceral feeling club music is perfect for and that BRUX felt somewhat cut off from exploring earlier, restricted to the love-obsessed structure of pop.
“Withholding specific gender on this project, I feel like I show my masculine side and my feminine side. I don’t need to act or look a certain way.”
“That song for me is all about this urge and pleasure,” she says, “[And] wanting to physically and sexually connect with another being, without having to tie in love with it?… There’s so many more topics to explore rather than just love.”
Still, there are restrictions in the dance world, too. BRUX says she’s still encountered her fair share of discrimination behind the scenes — people assuming she doesn’t make her own music, or not taking her seriously as a producer. On a lesser scale, it’s funny how many people just assume she’s a guy.
“It’s been very interesting,” she says. “I’ve had people reach out on social media not knowing that I’m female and calling me ‘bro’, ‘man’, all these names, like ‘Hey bro, I really love your tunes, man’. I haven’t responded to correct them, but… you know, the social experiment. I knew it would play out like that.”
BRUX laughs it off, as if she’d read it in the cards. Despite the air of mystery, she’s never felt more understood.
BRUX’s Fruit EP is out now via etcetc/DIM MAK records.
Jared Richards is Junkee’s night editor and a freelance writer based in Berlin. Find him on Twitter.