The Sunny Swag of Balu Brigada

Keeping up with the constantly changing music scene is a skill that the band Balu Brigada seems to have mastered. The four boys, ex-pupils of Rangitoto College, have formed a bond within their love for music and turned it into something that is quickly becoming very popular.

With quality, well-produced tracks already available on music apps like Spotify and Soundcloud, the band is slowly reaching more people every day. The love of music and passion that the boys have when they play live is incredible. With their music being described as ‘Sunny Swag’, it is a mixture of genres including anything from alternative rock to hip hop. Every song from Balu Brigada is something that you can nod your head along to, and you will quickly become familiar with the lyrics

There isn’t a lot of meaning behind the name Balu Brigada. The guys say that they were originally called ‘Baloo’ after the bear in the classic Disney film, The Jungle Book. They later decided to change the spelling, and added Brigada as a unique and phonetically pleasing twist.

Balu Brigada stemmed from three brothers jamming together in their parents' home. Charles, Henry and Pierre were experimenting with music years before the band came together. Henry had been in a lot of other bands before Balu Brigada, where he met the band's fourth member, Guy. Guy was a perfect addition to the musically inclined brothers, playing alongside them as a three piece before Pierre was old enough to attend gigs outside of their parents' house!

Influencing musicians can play a massive part in an artist’s style and the way in which they produce music. For the boys, they were heavily influenced by indie rock bands such as the iconic Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Kings of Leon, who had much early impact on the boys. More currently, the band has been interested in the works of Gorillaz and Outkast, and have adapted their own hip hop sound through listening to them. This style then led them on to artists like Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, and Tyler The Creator. The way that the band is able to incorporate so many different influences and turn them into their own style is a part of what makes Balu Brigada so unique and quite a different and exciting sound to open your ears to.

When the band performs on stage, there is always guaranteed to be high levels of energy and this is entirely reflected by the way the crowd reacts to the music as well. Between guitar solos and rap breaks, the boys are clearly entranced by their own sound and are constantly grooving to the beat. The best way to enjoy music is to enjoy it live, loud, and to become entirely captivated by it – which is exactly what a show from Balu Brigada does to you.

The band has definitely spent a lot of time rehearsing, playing, and planning together, so naturally, it has created a bond between them. Henry Beasley, lead guitarist and vocalist, says: “It’s definitely a good excuse to see each other on a regular basis, and each little win shared between the band naturally brings you together that little bit more.”

Henry, who also writes most of the lyrics for the songs, finds his inspiration through the experiences of love and relationships and uses this to help shape songs into things that others can interpret themselves.”Lots of the time I try and jam a bunch of imagery and analogy into them to make sure the lyrics are something that can be dissected and read into. That’s what my favourite lyricists do, and it makes the music more rewarding when you grow a better understanding of it, so I follow suit in that way.”

After the lyrics have been written, Pierre, who owns the keyboard in Balu Brigada, and Henry take full songs to the whole band. From there, the re-working begins and the songs are crafted to be suitable for live performances. This can sometimes take a lot of time. ‘Weekend’, the band’s first single, took four years to be released after Henry had written it.

Henry gives the advice to any budding artists: “If you’re passionate about it, being a musician is the most rewarding slog in the world – but a slog it is. Remember to acknowledge your successes and pat yourself on the back for each little win you make!”

Balu Brigada are on their way to releasing a whole lot of new music over the next couple of months, and should be playing a few shows over the summer, so be sure to follow the band on social media to find out when these are happening. 

Issue 81 October 2017