Music

BRAJ run us through ‘Brajtopia’, track by track

The rhythmic boys from BRAJ are here to give you the scoop on their playful pop EP, Brajtopia.

22-year old producer Nev Benjamin and 20-year-old vocalist Jordan Kellaway make up BRAJ, a pop duo that doesn’t muck about. The duo quickly crafted a collection of melodic bangers with a pop sensibility, resulting in their debut EPBrajtopia.

We scored a chance to chat with the group about the seven hard-hitting tracks, and learn more about BRAJ’s inspirations and creative process. In their own words, this is Brajtopia.

BRAJ

WASTED

I’ve never really enjoyed going clubbing, I might’ve missed the window where that’s a cool thing to do but I have always just had this fear of what might happen or who I might run into when I’m in that kind of environment. The blasting music makes me really claustrophobic and anxious. So I guess all of those fears manifested in this song.  I always love playing with perspectives when I’m writing songs, I think Wasted is a great example of that.

The first verse is from the perspective of a guy who similarly feels a bit jaded towards clubbing, but his fear is running into the same girl he’s been involved with before. Those fears of course are realised when he spots her across the room, his whole night is just immediately ruined as all of his memories with this girl come flooding back. The second verse is from the girl’s perspective, she doesn’t really realise the effect that she has on the guy, and so she sees him feeling vulnerable and insecure and takes advantage of the situation, with the intention to repeat the cycle they’re trapped in.

 

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SUNSHINE

In 2020 I released a bunch of music and Sunshine was one of those tracks. It was also the first time Nev and I had ever put out music together, by that time we had already developed such great chemistry and workflow that it kind of just felt natural to continue the momentum that we had built by that stage.

So Nev and I sat down and were just jamming along to some chords and eventually we had the basic structure for Sunshine. But it really came together once we put down that bassline, I think we both can agree that tracking bass is easily the most fun part of putting a song together. The track has this indie flair to it while still staying true to what I think we were aiming for sonically, a classic 2000’s R&B song.

FUN

One of the reasons I love working with Nev is because he really encourages me to really think about my word choices when it comes to writing. He likes me to write with an intention every time, not just fill spaces with words. Fun came around in this way. I remember we were sitting on the chords for a while and were trying to think about what we wanted the song to be about.

Eventually, Nev pretty much was like “You should try and write a song about a clown who is infatuated with this girl”,  so that’s what we did. I guess if you had to put a metaphor to it, it’s about how foolish you can look when pursuing somebody you like, tunnel vision sets in and you kind of lose yourself.
But honestly, the song is literally just about a clown.

 

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VILLA

Villa is another song that I had already released last year, it became a bit of a favourite amongst our friendship groups but I never really felt like it got the chance it deserved, I really shot myself in the foot by producing it myself. For a song I loved so much I really should’ve spent more time with it. So when we were thinking of songs to put on the album we both really wanted to remake it the way it was always intended to be, the difference is night and day.

I was so impressed by how it sounded that I decided to put the BRAJ “stamp of approval” on it. If you listen really closely to the beginning of the song you can hear me whisper “BRAJ”. I remember writing it about a girl who flew away for a while and I was just really missing her, so sonically I wanted it to sound like a holiday. Summery, bright and bittersweet.

 

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IMPATIENT

I think BRAJ is really special because on one hand we can write love songs with pretty melodies and chords, and on the other hand we can write stuff like Impatient. Once again this started with me playing around on an old nylon classical guitar, we wanted something spicy and latin-inspired, so eventually, we stumbled upon the riff you hear throughout the song.

We knew we wanted it to be a banger with a bit of dancehall in there for good measure, and I think we decided early on that if we were going to have a feature on the album it should be on this track, so we got our friend Yoey to put down a verse and he killed it. Nev loves when I stack harmonies on my voice and so he wanted me to do the same on Yoey’s verse but I loved it so much I pretty much just said “No, leave it as is.”

DON’T STOP (INTERLUDE)

This was very much a last-minute addition to the tracklist. The funny thing is that Nev and I had never really spoken about having an interlude on the album but it turned out that we both really wanted one and just never spoke up. So when we were mastering and sequencing Brajtopia with our friend Nadav (aMess), he brought up the idea of having an interlude before the final song.

We jumped at the opportunity considering Nadav is one of the most talented producers we know. He produces Lo-Fi hip-hop for Lofi Girl but he is an accomplished ambient composer too. He and I had some beef over some lost files from a couple of years ago so we weren’t close for a while, which is why the interlude felt like such a perfect storm as we had just started to work together again and hang out.

We were super inspired by Coldplay’s album Mylo Xyloto, and how the musical motifs carry over from one track to the next and each song seamlessly transitions into one another. We really wanted to capture that feeling with this interlude, and I don’t think Brajtopia would be the same without it.

 

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DON’T STOP

I think this song will make a lot of people feel a lot of different ways, it has that summery tone like Villa but it has kind of an indie-rock vibe to the drums. Don’t Stop is definitely a love song for sure, but it’s not about any particular person. Nev really wanted a track where we kind of just said “If you like what we’re doing here, feel free to stick around for the ride. If you don’t like it, that’s fine too. But just know that we will always be doing this because it’s what we love to do.” This song was always going to be the final track, it’s too important to us to be placed anywhere else.

To me, it sounds like the song that plays during the end credits of your favourite movie, to you it might make you think about a specific person or place, but to us, it sounds like the way forward, I think we’ll look back on this track when we’re making our 15th album and remember what it felt like to be where we are. Two guys in a room making music for our friends and family to enjoy, and whether that circle of people expands beyond our wildest dreams isn’t necessarily important, we do this because it’s fun and it’s what we want to do with the rest of our lives.

Listen to Brajtopia below: