Coffee, dogs, and London at night are just three of the inspirations behind the masked producer's debut album.
Brolin: "Reykjavik was the 3rd track I wrote for ‘The Delta’. The instrumental was inspired by the landscape, mood and colour of Iceland after a visit to the country. There is nowhere else like it."
Brolin: "My home Moka pot-fuelled many sessions throughout the writing of this LP. Every morning, I make a full barrel before sitting down, sparked by caffeine to work on new ideas and themes. As a result, I then spend most of the afternoon editing hyper progressions that have occurred, into some sense."
Brolin: "'Mezzanine' was hugely influential as it introduced me to the idea of dark, driven electronic production, working within the parameters of pop song structures. A standard default for electronic music is to strap a vocal sample over a 4/4 beat while crescendos of the same chord progression ebb and flow. But Massive Attack blended the menace and tension of electronic trip-hop with pop structure sensibilities, which massively influenced my music."
Brolin: "I’m a big Minor Threat fan and the independent work ethic of Ian MacKaye. His ethos - as an artist, producer, and with Dischord - inspired the belief that you can do it yourself and don’t have to compromise to get your music out."
Brolin: "I’ve worked in animal rescue for a while and fostered dogs needing a routine to get them back to a place where they’re suitable for rehoming. Freddie was a long term foster who lived with us for well over a year. He sat with me while I wrote a lot of this album and gave me an excuse to get out the house for walks when I needed a break from writing. He was rehomed with a wonderful family, but I do miss his company."
Brolin: "Japan Centre is a Japanese supermarket/food court on Shaftsbury Avenue. I often had lunch there when I was passing through central London en route to recording vocals for 'The Delta' in Shoreditch. I'd recommend trying the chocolate mochi 'Little Moons'."
Brolin: "London at night is always surprisingly busy, yet I find the darkness and street lights hypnotising. The air of nostalgia, the history, lost tourists ambulating arm in arm, London buses, they have all inspired themes and concepts on this record, especially on Regent Street and Berwick Street."
Brolin: "I went to the Egon Schiele exhibition The Radical Nude and was blown away by the extreme angles, twisted fingers and limbs, and directness in his portraits. I found inspiration in his ruthless approach to the human form and adopted elements of that brutality into my writing process."
Brolin: "Ninja Tune is a label I have always admired, for their belief and investment in artists that the mainstream often neglect. Releases by Coldcut, Amon Tobin, Bonobo and many others on their roster have paved the way for music like mine to reach an audience, and I feel this record owes a lot to their cultural influence on the independent electronic music scene."
Click any of the images above to launch the gallery.
Commitment is keeping a disguise throughout the entirety of your career. But, standing with your face covered in front of photographers and screens isn't enough: you need a backstory, some myth, or plenty of smoke to give the illusion its potency. Music has its history of veiled artists: MF DOOM, The Knife, SBTRKT, Zomby - all of whom have one of the qualities mentioned above to give substance to the allure of the enigma. And, in the case of Zomby, as Oscar Wilde once said, "Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth."
Another artist who has followed this lineage is London-based producer Brolin, who recently released his debut album 'The Delta'. Since 2012, Brolin has been sharing his music online with the an obscure bio ("I am a bedroom producer, self-taught, self-analysing, into beats, space and melody") on his Soundcloud at first providing the only concrete knowledge he wanted us to know about him. Further tracks between NYC and 'The Delta's lead single Night Driving tenuously created a link between cities and urban spaces, but it has all been too one-dimensional to establish a fantasy behind spectral debut.
To find out a little more about the elusive producer, we asked Brolin to outline ten factors that inspired 'The Delta'. Our instructions were simple: send us photos, crisp packets, audio clips, words - anything that will give us an insight into what made him tick during the recording sessions. Perhaps the most endearing discovery from the list is that Brolin worked as a foster owner for an animal rescue centre based in his hometown of Leeds (it has long been assumed that Brolin is from London, where he currently resides). Musically, Brolin states his heroes as Minor Threat and Ian MacKaye and Massive Attack, while he also tips his hat to the many multi-cultural spots in his adopted home, especially the sights and sounds of Soho where he would people watch.
Check out the influences listed in the gallery above.
Brolin's debut album 'The Delta' is out now through Megastomo (buy).