Q: Please introduce yourself to the readers and how you first got into this field of work –and who were some of your influences growing up?
My name is Ty Bru, which is simply my real named shorted into two syllables. I’m an Asheboro, North Carolina native, I’ve lived in China for a total of 5 years and toured Europe back in 2005. I started in the music scene back in 1999 at college parties in Boone North Carolina and after a few years of that co-founded a hip hop group called Scan-Fam with a handful of other like minded individuals (which I still talk with to this day, a couple on a very regular basis) from all around the state, we dropped three albums within a few years but didn’t really take a full professional approach to my personal career until my debut solo album in 2007, ‘On The Brink’
Growing up my influences varied, Biz Markie and Slick Rick were a few of my first influences, followed by Onyx, Wu Tang Clan, Sadat X/Brand Nubian, and of course The Notorious B.I.G. those all kind of helped me find a love for hip hop, but since music is ever evolving my influences expanded much further as I got older. I always felt a lot of power with what Shaq did with balancing music with basketball and also his attempt at acting, I guess that’s really where I saw the potential to pursue several facets at once, and that was the most important influence.
Q: What kind of training have you had, if any?
Initially, no formal training. I always used my literature, English, communications and journalism classes in high school and college to help with my writing, but when it came to making songs and music, it was something that just came with me already in the package.
I take pride in being self taught with close to everything I create art-wise. rapping? self taught. singing? self taught. photography? self taught. film making? self taught. fashion design? self taught. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t listen and take advice or guidance from people who have done these things in the past or doing them now, I just feel that ideas and innovation really need no training, but things like math, science, mechanical work, all those types of things needs extreme guidance and training.
I mean I do borrow from what I am influenced by and channel certain people that I look up to, but really when it comes down to it, behind the microphone, behind the camera that’s all self taught. However when it comes to producing/composing music, I learned by being in the same room as Westtopher and watching him work hours upon hours in college beginning to perfect his craft, so I will call that training, even though I will never be on the same level production wise as he will.
Q: What has been your favourite project to work on so far?
Hands down, ‘Heart Core Hip Hop’ it was my sophomore album and was released in 2009. It was when I first really started blending a new style of singing with hip hop. It’s when I really started diving deep into my soul and heart and digging out a much more mature sound than I was putting out until then. I am extremely proud of this body of work and have been working hard in the last two months to bring my fans something very similar in 2021, with complete production by Virginia legend, Poe Mack.
Q: How did you get the gig?
Because I fit the bill and delivered the goods!
Q: What sports do you enjoy watching?
I used to love watching NBA, but since the early 2000s I haven’t really felt a connection with sports. I try and watch the bigger games, Super Bowl, NBA Finals, World Series, The World Cup, but I just can’t get into it like I used to.
Q: What has been one of the biggest highlights/achievements of your career?
This one has nothing to do with music. It was when I finished my very first film, ‘Shucks’ back in 2016. It was a very low budget, super independent production with just my wife, my cousin and a few other people. I wrote the script in a few weeks but never showed it to the “cast” I just guided them each step of the way. It was an incredible feeling to create what we did with what little we had, I still feel like it is much better than it actually is, but it was exactly the symbolic gesture I wanted to show the world and almost exactly how I wanted to do it. It dives into Addiction, PTSD, Overdosing, etc without it being all in your face about it, actually a viewer has to dig for the meaning throughout the 50 minute run time
It went on to be premiered in Asheboro at Sunset Theater on Veteran’s Day weekend in 2017 and has been an official selection and won several awards in the international film festival circuit since then.
Q: If you had a chance to work alongside anybody who would that be?
I would love to work side by side with Rob Zombie, especially filming on set and then also when he makes his music. A close second would be Norah Jones and a third being Chopin.
Q: What projects do you have coming up?
I’m juggling quite a few at the moment, but I will focus on three.
Since August I have been intently working on an album produced solely by Virginia legend Poe Mack. This one has such a smooth feel to it, I wanted this to be the next stepping stone from “Heart Core Hip Hop” and help refine this new style that I am going for, a hybrid style of straight hip hop and my flavor of folk music which I feel has yet to be named yet.
I also have a project with all Westtopher production, which is in the early stages, but most of the beats are picked out and hooks already written and then a second installment on the Brown Bag Special series, which is a trio of us, Ty Bru, Ed E. Ruger & Phillie Phr3sh. we’ve gotten a small chunk of that finished and have some pretty nice features on there, going to be a good follow up from the 2008 release.
Q: Who is your inspiration?
My wife and my son. My father and mother.
Q: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?
I saw the new movie, ‘Empty Man’ that was a wild ride. I had never seen a trailer for it and I didn’t know anything about it, but I usually watch almost all horror theatrical releases anyway.
It was so much more than what was on the surface, I fell in love with it pretty hard. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, so if you are into horror type films, check it out.
Q: What are your favorite venues to perform in?
Ones where the owners/managers/promoters actually value the worth of what an artist brings their establishment. Places that there is a mutual level of support and respect met, where both are getting something equal in worth, not just “hey you should be lucky we give you this stage to perform”
I was talking about this in another interview earlier on in the week. My tour in Europe and my time in Mexico, China and elsewhere was really uplifting because if you played a venue, they respected you and wanted you there. Here in the USA there are too many places that plain don’t give a f*ck about an independent artist.
Q: Social Profiles:
Q: How did you come up with the idea for your Music video?
For LIKE IT USED TO, I wanted it to be special. The song was written for my wife and celebrating our 10 year relationship and 5 year marriage, so I wanted it to be the perfect visual supplement for that, so what better way than to blend a dozen or so videos we made while traveling the world!!
Q: Do you have any advice for young music makers like yourself?
Adapt. and always be prepared for the possibility that you need to adapt and don’t ever think it’s permanent, but also don’t think it will easily get back to the way it once was, be grounded in reality. too many artists get into their comfort zones and what COVID-19 has taught us is that you can’t always rely on the same things that once made you a dollar, or got you the response you needed for your art.
Q: Who were the biggest inspirations for your career?
Careerwise it’s been people I am around and conduct business with on a regular basis or have known throughout my life. My father is the highest on that list, he has shown me more inspiration since 2017 than most will do in three lifetimes, he’s the real deal, motivated business man who cares for people. My wife, she has inspired me to write like I used to again, for the first time in a decade, I’m digging back into my heart’s core, and it’s largely due to her green light.
Ed E. Ruger, when it comes to his persistent work ethic and brokering a lot for the hip hop/music community in Greensboro, NC. A lifelong friend, Michael Gaines, who has excelled tremendously in his personal career by perseverance and grind, every time I think of him I get inspiration. We actually just talked the other day about a song I’ve got coming up with an artist we both loved to listen to growing up, Fiend (No Limit Records, Ruff Ryders, JetLife etc) and I’d like to think he played a role into pushing me to get to a level where that would happen. And before I leave I’ll mention Westtopher again, because he has been such a constant inspiration with his beatmaking/production for 15 years. He really helps inspire me to bring out some beautiful art.