Jack Bruno’s bar for success keeps rising

Jack Bruno

On the eve of his 4u EP release, Jack Bruno chats with Substream about how quick his life is changing in 2020.

Despite sunny skies over West Hollywood and a seemingly nonstop string of successes, Jack Bruno cannot ignore the elephant in the room. “It’s such a crazy time,” he says shortly after hopping on the phone with Substream. “Even when you’re touring Europe, and you’re a million miles from home, there are still places you can go that feel familiar. It’s so weird that there is nowhere to go right now.”

Bruno is participating in another day of interviews leading up to the release of his new EP, 4 U. The three-track effort comes a month after the release of Bruno’s latest single, “Someday (Before You Get Bored),” and the young genre-blurring artist is continuing to develop new material while in Covid-19 lockdown.

“I’m an artist to my core,” Bruno explains. “It’s tied into how I [feel] happy, how I deal with my emotions, and how not to lose my sanity. [Art] is tied to everything for me. It’s how I stay sober. With there not being many distractions, my only options are to make music and be happy or go crazy, so it’s what I’m doing. I’ve been working on finishing my album and writing songs with friends. I’ve also been making good on promises I made before about helping others with their songs.”

Life is changing quickly for Bruno. After releasing a successful mixtape and a series of well-received singles in 2019, he saw the difference one song can make when “Someday” was released in late February. The track differs from Bruno’s other singles in that it stems from an authentic and honest place. Themes of young love and longing emanate from the bouncy, fun sample from The Strokes at the track’s core. It’s the kind of material that is deceptively deep, and Bruno claims he always knew it was special.

“We wrote [“Someday”] about nine or ten months again. We had just wrapped this mixtape that was a very quick attempt at making a hip-hop mixtape. It was very simple, and there wasn’t much that we were trying to get across. When it came to “Someday” and this new project in general, I wanted to push myself as far as I could lyrically, feeling, and so on. I always liked The Strokes, and I just thought if I could use that, it would be so cool.”

As for the inspiration behind the material, Bruno claims, “It was a confusing time because I was afraid to get into this relationship. I thought it would make me slack off with work because I had never been in a healthy relationship. There was a back and forth over whether I should do it or not, but I ultimately thought, “fuck it.” I realized that if something feels right, you should do it, and that vulnerability was what I captured on the song.”

Bruno’s next project is still in production, though he claims the majority is complete. He’s pushing himself to go deeper emotionally with the album, but he’s insistent that he’s not forcing himself to deliver something that feels inauthentic.

“Sometimes, I decide to explore emotions more, but other times I may be confused. Maybe what I’m doing isn’t clear to me, or perhaps I don’t want to talk about those things. It’s a mix of what I’m going through and what I want to accomplish through this music. I told everyone that I want to win a GRAMMY with this next album. I don’t want it to come out and be considered cool or whatever. I’m not interested in that. I set the bar for myself when “Someday” was written, and I don’t feel that I fit into any genre right now. That’s kind of scary, but it’s also more exciting.”

He continues, “I want to do something with music. I want to impact people in some way, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with saying that…Me realizing that I’m kind of alone here as an artist was good because that’s how I am as a person. I’m not afraid to stand on my own and believe what I believe. I don’t need five other artists to do the same thing for me to feel comfortable about [my Art]. I know what I like.”

Speaking of his interests, Bruno is as much a fan of punk rock as he is hip-hop. He recalls the feelings that overcame him while seeing bands at Warped Tour in his teens as one of the many influences that lead him to pursue music.

“I remember seeing crazy punk bands at Warped Tour,” he says, “who would play side stage at Warped Tour in 2009 that would come out and say, “fuck all that mainstream shit,” then get into the crowd and get in your face. That’s what I miss in music, and being able to take that to a mainstream [sound] is a great thing.”

The industry seems to agree. In recent weeks Bruno became one of the latest musicians to be promoted on a Billboard by Apple Music. His response was more humble than many may expect.

“That was so weird,” he confessed. “It’s hard to describe. We drove by the billboard, and my friends were all so hype. I found it kind of funny. I mean, it’s a billboard of me. I don’t care, but it is a cool little benchmark. I’ve been working my ass off, and now, people are going to get to see me a little more. It was also cool to tell my ex-girlfriend about it [laughs].”

He adds, “It’s also hard to believe it’s me. Like, I guess I have been working hard.”

As our time together runs short, Bruno’s focus turns back to his latest efforts. He’s making the most of his time at home by working on new material, but he’s not sure whether or not the state of the world will influence his latest work in any way.

“I was thinking about this yesterday,” he explains. “Right now, every manager is telling their talent to write a virus song and a quarantine song because those will go viral right now. I know a lot of people that work like that, and I don’t have any interest in doing that. I think if you’re going through some personal experience with the virus, then you should go ahead and write about it. I thought a friend of mine had it, but thankfully, that wasn’t the case. I’m a tiny bit bored because everything is closed, but I’m also isolated with my three best friends. When it comes down to it, being on tour last month had a bigger influence on me than this moment. The same can be said about the breakup I just went through. When I go through what’s happening right now that is impacting me, like bars being closed or being afraid of what may happen, it’s just not making that kind of impact on me. It’s a crazy time, for sure, but at this point, it’s not inspiring me enough to write about it.”

He ends with a hopeful note, adding, “I think it’s good for people to take this break, even if the reason for that is scary. It’s such a crazy time period.”

Bruno’s 4 U EP is available now wherever you get music. In addition to “Someday,” the release features two additional tracks. You can stream the record below via Spotify.