In the early days of Bråves, the Los Angeles-based band comprising American producer Johnny What and Aussie vocalist brothers Jericho and Thorald, What was in a meeting with a label executive when he heard the words: “Old as dirt.” The exec was down with What’s music, but he thought the musicians, at 32, 33, and 32, respectively, were too old to really gain traction.
“I thought that was bullshit,” What said, speaking over the phone from L.A. “I was like, whoa, I need to shock the world, and that’s really hard to do with music — but I can still do it with a video.” So their video for “Dust” was born. The video depicts albino model Shaun Ross, who was himself discovered on Youtube, in front of a sea of roiling waves; it’s tame enough till the video’s final moments, when the camera pans out to reveal Ross, nude, possessed of an unnaturally large (prosthetic) penis. The clip went viral, earning Bråves a deal with Rostrum Records. And then that same executive came back with an offer.
The visual component of their music is still tantamount for Bråves, whose latest single “A Toast” premieres exclusively here and whose third EP, the aptly titled III, debuts later Wednesday. The trio declines to show their faces in photos; What directed their upcoming video for “A Toast”; and the accented ‘å’ in Bråves was selected in part “because it looked cool,” What said. (That, and it makes them more searchable: Like the ‘v’ in Scottish band Chvrches, the ‘å’ in Bråves sets the band apart from, for example, the baseball franchise Atlanta Braves.)
“A Toast,” and the EP it precedes, “marks our entrance into the threshold of the pop realm,” What said. The three musicians span the spectrum of pop music: Thorald is a huge fan, his brother Jericho less so; What places himself somewhere in the middle. They started playing together after a first fateful songwriting session about two years ago for Anna De Ferran (they’ve since produced an EP for her); they met up for a second session and wrote “Never,” their debut single as Bråves. Their first two self-released EPs were a bit more experimental — intentionally so, because they judged the music tougher to convince a label to distribute — with jittery beats and droning bass. Though the trio’s pop sensibility was still evident, those songs lacked the massive hooks present in tracks like “A Toast,” with its swelling singalong chorus of “You really f**cked me over / Still, here’s a toast to you.”
“‘A Toast’ is kind of a serious song, but it’s kind of not,” What explained. “We’ve all had them — one of those relationships that basically broke a fcking bottle over your head and then you turned around and thanked it for it.” He has a tendency to write songs that villainize the other person, he said. “It’s not like she really fcked me over. Maybe it was me that f**cked her over and I was kind of writing as a reflection.”