He’s spent the last year releasing a song every month; or more accurately, a song for every stage of the moon.
And the result may just be Bruno Major’s magnum opus.
The final track was released last week, adding the finishing touch to his first studio album, A Song For Every Moon. The record is a sophisticated collection of blues and jazz numbers, varnished with Bruno’s emotive vocal performances. Recorded in conjunction with the producer Pharaoh and a whole host of independent singers and songwriters, the record is a modern day jazz ensemble which is sure to echo over sweet mahogany coffee tables for many “moons” to come.
Despite the magnitude of the project, when I speak to Bruno he is unassuming and friendly. It’s hard to believe that this timid sounding Londoner is a superstar in the making, on the verge of a partly sold out transatlantic tour. Our chat is devoid of any airs and pretension, and he often emits a shy giggle after answering my queries.
Bruno admits he’s kept a low profile since he released the final track; after the enormity of the project, one can hardly blame him for taking a well earned rest. What’s more, that penultimate release, ‘On Our Own’ has been the heaviest for Bruno to face over the whole twelve months. Written in response to the death of his grandmother, Bruno cuts no corners in describing to me the personal journey that the song encapsulates.
“I had a conversation with my mother after my grandmother’s death. We both had opposite reactions to the event in terms of our spiritual outlook. My mum’s Christian faith had been strengthened; it helped her to deal with the grief. However, the death sparked off a journey for me that took me away from being the agnostic I’d always regarded myself as, into being an atheist. ‘On Our Own’ is actually written about that conversation with my mum. It explores our different reactions to the event, and some of the lyrics are written from her Christian perspective.
“I’m really proud of the song but of course, those circumstances make it bittersweet. Another reason for that is the memory it brings of another death that became connected to it. The cellist on the track, Naomi McLean’s father was dying from cancer when we recorded it. He tragically passed away a few months later, but before he did he sent me a message saying that the track had really helped him deal with his situation. That really meant a lot, and I’m so pleased the song was able to bring comfort to someone in their final months. Its very special for that reason.”
Not every song on the album was as difficult to make of course. Bruno audibly lights up when describing the track ‘Easily’, which he says was written on a sunny day in Los Angeles. “I wrote the song with my friend Emily Elbert, who is an amazing singer and songwriter in her own right. We ended up recording it later that evening. The final cut reflects how raw our recording was; at one point you can hear an iPhone ringing in the background!” He also particularly enjoyed creating ‘Just The Same’, which he says may even be his favourite track from the record. “I wrote it on the 2nd February and it was out a few days later. I was then able to take the rest of the month off. It’s not just that it was easy to write; its a song I’m really proud of.”
As the trajectory of releases show, a lot can happen in twelve months. So why exactly did Bruno commit to releasing A Song For Every Moon, taking with that commitment all of the year’s highs and lows?
“I was working on an album for a while,” he explains “and I had one song ready which was, ‘It Wouldn’t Mean a Thing.’ I really wanted to release it but I didn’t have any other material ready for an album at that stage. So I decided to put it out there anyway and it became the first track on the project which eventually became A Song for Every Moon.
“Shortly after that I had a dream, in which I was shown how the universe works in perfect geometric patterns and lunar cycles. I’ve always been fascinated by space and that kind of imagery; I don’t see how you couldn’t be. The experience made me decide to release an album around the cycles of the moon. A month wasn’t an arbitrary period of time which I pulled out of thin air; its the amount of time it takes the moon to orbit our planet.”
In the initial stages of the project, it certainly seemed that the sky was the limit for Bruno. He originally committed himself to releasing a song every month for the rest of his life. However after persuasion from almost everyone around him not to, he settled on trying the format out for a year.
“For about seven months in I was breezing through the record. At about eight months I hit a giant wall. I was two weeks into a track which I decided was rubbish and I was panicking. In order to honour the commitment of releasing a song every month I had to change my lifestyle; I stopped going out as much, and I started going to the gym. I started the track all over again.” Despite the setbacks and immensity of the project however, Bruno is adamant he would do something like it again in the future. “I’m not sure I could put my manager through it again however! There are so many behind the scenes things going on when you release a song and he was having to do that every month! However I still have 400 songs that I haven’t released. For this project I actually ended up recording lots of new material. I want to be able to get the material I’ve already recorded out there at some stage.”
Upon that, I ask Bruno if he would consider releasing a song for every sun. He quite obviously points out that this would of course involve releasing a song everyday. “As much as I like challenges, I just don’t think that would be humanly possible. If I did, the material definitely wouldn’t be of a great quality! Obviously its an idea I could work with; you could have my face photo-shopped into the sun on the album cover, like the baby sun in the Teletubbies!”
Speaking of album artwork, that used for A Song For Every Moon is far less silly. The design, which uses a diagram of the moon’s cycles is the brainchild of Bruno’s school friend Rob Shuttleworth.
“Rob and I were the bad kids in school. When we were getting told off he’d draw pictures of the teacher shouting at us in real time. I wanted him to be involved in the record because he has a beautiful mind and of course hes a great artist. I explained my concept but I wanted him to have free reign. The album design is very much his vision and I’m delighted with it. Its a creative relationship that I hope will be continued in the future.”
In terms of the future, Bruno’s tour kicks off at Elsewhere in Brooklyn, NY on 1st November. He will be supported by many of the artists who’ve helped him make his debut album, including Emily Elbert. Yet it feels that with such a mature collection of songs under his belt, he will be quite capable of supporting himself as an established singer and songwriter on the stage.
Words by Paige Tracey