Bravo Bonez: Complex Thinker

Bravo Bonez: Complex Thinker

Anthony Limbrick is a man of many talents, one of which used to be finding and sharing great new music via his Facebook page NZ Music 4U – which he put on indefinite hiatus in May this year. One can only assume that decision was made in the light of having his own musical projects ahead, as well as a new studio in central Wellington called PureSound occupying his time at that point. In October, he released an EP full of low key chill out electronic beats under the name of Bravo Bonez (pronunciation-wise, think Spanish, not pieces of hard whitish tissue making up the skeleton in vertebrates), giving NZM an excuse to catch up with him. 

How did you come up with the Bravo Bonez name? 

It’s a secret… haha! He’s actually an alter ego of mine. A delusional narcissist, mid-thirties, still lives with his mother and spends hours looking in the mirror, at himself, posing, in mirror glasses. He thinks this is his big break. As I said, he’s delusional.

You were signed to a major label at some point. What was the name of the project that you were signed with? 

It’s something I’m a little embarrassed about. I’m still crying on the inside, even after three decades. Let’s just say it was all going so well until the gig from hell. The record company didn’t want to talk to us after that. We’ll leave it there.

Bravo Bonez is just one of your musical identities, which seems sensible given you switch styles quite a bit. What are you stylistically aiming for with each? 

My principal identity is Bravo Bonez and that covers retro, lo-fi beats with a neo-soul twist. That’s my main production identity and I’m looking to collaborate with others as I have done over the last 18 months with Alba Rose on a ’90s-influenced trip hop/acid jazz project called ARLS, from which we have some new material coming mid next year. The first single Lucky was released in August last year to a positive critical response.

I do have a love for 1980’s post-punk and pop, but it doesn’t sit easily with my more contemporary music, so I split that into a separate stylistic identity called Learning to Dive, from which there are two EPs coming over the next couple of years. One to be released in the first quarter of 2021, with a couple of singles coming in a few weeks! The first single is called High and Dry (November 20 release) and the second is called Falling Leaves (early December release). People have told me they hear David Bowie, Brian  Ferry and Iva Davies (Ice House) and definite 80s influences in these tracks.

This project was very rewarding for me to create, as thematically it addresses quite a few thoughts I have about the world, expressed through a style of music I love, and it was recorded in an extraordinary place in Norway called Ocean Sound Recordings – on an island at the end of a fjord! The EP was co-produced with Greg Haver (Manic Street Preachers, Mel C, Feelers fame), was mixed by Clint Murphy with backing vocals from Alba Rose. Brilliant session guitarist Andy Taylor also contributed some magic. 
There is also another project I have, called Haikyo, which translates in Japanese as ‘ruin’. I lived in Japan for five years and on a recent trip back there was struck by how many buildings were old and falling down, and it resonated on a personal level, as much of my music comes from a similar inspiration. Broken pieces coming together to form a whole. It’s difficult to describe, but it shows up in my ambient and textural, cinematic work, so I decided on a separate identity for this. The first EP consisting of 13 short pieces is due for release on December 11, 2020.  

Wow! And what’s the sonic vision for Bravo Bonez? 

Well, it’s varied, as can be seen through my various identities, but I love to build texture, depth and dynamics into my work. Texture is especially important, and of course, melody and harmony comes with that.  

Your just-released EP ‘Love Blast Lounge’ is the sort of release that sounds best if you’ve got some good speakers to appreciate everything that’s going on. Who did you work on it with? 

I worked alone on the EP. The inspiration for the EP came from a DJ set I was putting together. I am looking to play live more often combining DJ controllers and real instruments such as violin, guitar and trumpet.  

Can you run us through a bit of your set up for this?

I have a very well equipped recording studio (PureSound in central Wellington) and use a range of digital audio workstations;  principally Ableton, Logic and Maschine. I am a big fan of Native Instruments, and my entire recording and performance set up is integrated through that platform. I also have a very large Spitfire Audio sample library. Beautifully crafted sounds.

What were the big challenges in creating the EP? 

To be honest, there weren’t very many challenges in creating the ‘Love Blast Lounge’ EP. I put it together very quickly, so it became fully formed much faster than I expected. Where I did have challenges was recording my other EP titled ‘Norwegian Pop’ in Norway as Learning To Dive. Having been away from the music industry and performance for so long I had lost confidence in my ability to sing, but was helped incredibly by Alba Rose and her vocal coaching, and Greg Haver who pushed me to deliver performances I didn’t think I was capable of. He’s a great producer on many levels.

What people do you think will best appreciate your sound? 

I think millennial’s will pick up on my retro lounge vibes, but an older audience may key into the 1980s influenced material. I think my potential audience is quite wide when looking across all the identities. Surely there has to be someone on the planet who will like my music! 

Being a fan of collaborations, is there anyone you would die to work with as Bravo Bonez?   

I would love to work with the guys from Boards of Canada (Scotland), and maybe Radiohead. But I’d probably be tongue-tied so it would be a waste of time! 

You’re quite the NZ music aficionado yourself – what local projects are you currently into? 

I really enjoyed the new Gramsci album ‘Inheritance’. I’ve been a big fan of Paul McLaney‘s work for some time now, and of course Greg Haver played the drums on the album, which was a further point of interest for me. But there are so many great young acts coming through with huge potential. It’s difficult to keep track of them all! I do recommend having a look out for Alba Rose’s new project. She has been recording in my studio and I can tell you there are several sublime songs coming out of these sessions. I have also really enjoyed working with Matt Dalzell from Metrosideros. This is an exciting new trip hop/shoegaze project from an early ’90s name. (Matt was in The Malchicks.)  

And finally, what’s next in your schedule? 

I’m currently focused on the release of my ‘Love Blast Lounge’ EP, and upcoming releases from Learning to Dive and Haikyo. I am also currently enjoying building a client base for my recording studio. So many talented and interesting individuals from different backgrounds! Lots to be thinking about and working on!