Kid Brunswick: “I had to kind of kill the momentum that I had… but I’m not going to disappear again”

Following 2021 mixtape XFOREVER, Kid Brunswick had been earmarked as one of the most exciting young artists to watch. A messy label situation put a pause on things, but now he’s back with The Fall: Part 1 – and the promise that even more music is “consistently” on the way…

Kid Brunswick: “I had to kind of kill the momentum that I had… but I’m not going to disappear again”
Emma Wilkes
Ben Stapleton

The last time Kid Brunswick spoke to Kerrang!, in September 2021, he said the hardest thing he had been through was addiction. He didn’t know what was round the corner.

Things were good back then – great, even. He’d just released his debut mixtape, XFOREVER, which he’d worked on with one of his ultimate heroes, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda. A tour supporting Don Broco, which would take him to the illustrious stage of London’s O2 Academy Brixton, was just a couple of months away. His music was gracing radio playlists and even getting airplay in America. “It really felt like my life had peaked,” he says.

Then, for 18 months, there was silence. It shouldn’t have been that way – the artist, whose real name is Harry James, had plenty of music that he was waiting to release. The problem was that the relationship between Harry and his label had completely broken down. “It was a really messy situation,” he recalls. “I chose to basically not release the music and kind of kill the momentum that I had to allow myself the leverage to get out of that deal and not be locked into that for the rest of my life.”

It was a decision that was as difficult as it was necessary. A single, Heaven Without You, that he had said would come out in two weeks were delayed and then didn’t come out at all. All the while, Harry spent his days waiting for an email to arrive that would confirm that his request to be released from his contract had been approved. It took a year and a half.

In the meantime, for the first time since he decided he wanted to pursue music at the age of 14, Harry was considering abandoning the dream and doing something else. He thought about joining the army – “It was the most structured thing I could think of,” he reasons – and even bog-standard nine-to-fives started to become more appealing.

For a while, his creativity dried up. Usually he writes a song a day – during this time, he wrote one song in the space of a year. “When you do music, it’s everything for you. You can’t be your whole self unless you have that side of you activated. If I don’t have that inspiration to write or create, then basically I self-destruct. It completely killed my inspiration because what was there to write about? Whenever someone’s depressed or feeling down, someone’s always like, ‘Why don’t you go and write a song about feeling down?’ but for me, it doesn’t work. Just being depressed is not inspiring.”

It was an isolating time as well. “I had people in my life backing me, Harry, but I didn’t really have anyone there backing Kid Brunswick. How does someone relate to trying to get out of a major label corporation and not being able to release music after working with a hero of yours called Mike Shinoda?” he questions. “It’s such an out-of-place situation to be in. I almost felt like a complete twat for even talking about it.”

But he couldn’t be held down forever. Now an independent artist, Kid Brunswick is finally able to release some of the music he’s been sitting on for longer than he wanted. He’s happier now, and he’s excited again. “It’s about building the trust again with the fans I’ve already acquired and making them see that I’m not going to disappear again for a year and a half,” he says, “and that I’m actually going to consistently put stuff out.”

His return arrives in the form of new EP, The Fall: Part 1, a scintillating, smart collection of tracks that dart from genre to genre, where guitars might snarl and have synths hiss back at them. There’s even an R&B song, Baby I’m Not Okay – Harry’s self-described “Drake moment” – thrown in at the end for no reason other than ‘Why the fuck not?’ It harks back to his first forays into music, making beats and creating rap songs behind the production desk rather than a mic.

There’s more to come from him in that vein, too. “In terms of the sounds and stuff, I think my music is becoming a bit more synth-led,” Harry says. “Instead of it just being guitars and stuff like that, I’m using a lot of weirder sounds. I think for me now, it's really about finding that mixture of R&B and rock and marrying them together. I just want to do something a bit different. I want to be able to release what feels like me, you know?”

While most of the songs on the EP aren’t particularly new, a couple of them first came to life even further back. An early version of Depression, an atmospheric five-and-a-half minute saga of a track, quietly appeared on Soundcloud in 2020 but never made its way to Spotify, but after Harry stumbled across it again, he knew it deserved a new lease of life and a proper release. “If something’s really good, and it hasn’t been released properly, and it still makes you feel a certain way, I don’t see why I shouldn’t be able to take that and then write something new to it and develop it even more,” he explains.

The aforementioned feverish rock anthem Heaven Without You is even older, its chant and central riff written when Harry was 17 under the title I Don’t Want You. The final draft’s lyrics were also reworked to apply to a more modern situation, namely a toxic relationship from the past. “It was a terrible song,” he remarks. “But I think being able to rework old songs and apply them to now is interesting. I’d be interested to see more people do it.”

Naturally, a title like The Fall: Part 1 begs the question of when and where a Part 2 might come. As a matter of fact, the EP is set to serve as something of a prologue to Kid Brunswick’s eventual debut album. “It’s a concept album about the last two years of my life, and the fall from wherever you might be in life, whether it’s from a relationship, or a fall from somewhere really great to really bad,” he says. “If XFOREVER was [about] this feeling of getting through stuff, The Fall is [about how] you can do all of that and you can still be completely fatigued.”

Nowadays, Harry considers that period of time a test. “I think that’s all you can really do. If I made it through that, I’m pretty sure I can make it through anything now.”

The Fall: Part 1 is out now. Kid Brunswick plays London’s Omeara on May 22.

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