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Brant Bjork - The Other Bjork

Author: Steve Tauschke
Monday, 23 February 2009

Music is just one component of Brant Bjork’s collective artistic vision as 3D’s Steve Tauschke discovers.

Since holstering his drum sticks at the turn of the century after a decade with American spliff-riff masters Kyuss and Fu Manchu, Brant Bjork has quietly carved himself a niche as a unique solo act.

Six eclectic albums and countless tours across the globe since 1999 have revealed the California desert-raised 35-year-old out as a multi-instrumentalist renowned for his rich sonic tapestries of psychedelic pop, soul and Sabbathian grooves.

Those who hailed Bjork as a stoner-rock poster boy in the ’90s – he wrote key tracks on Kyuss’ finest works Blues for the Red Sun and Welcome to Sky Valley – will now find him content to stir the musical melting pot. For this part Irish-Mexican-Cherokee Indian brother, mixing it up in the studio is simply the result of instinctive impulses, as demonstrated on his genre-defying 2005 double album Saved By Magic.

“Every record that I’ve made on my own I just look at as a Polaroid of where I was at during that week or two – they’re not much more or less than that,” shrugs Bjork from his home in Venice Beach. “And the beauty of recording is that you get to put it on there.”

Having toured to near exhaustion in 2003/04 and part of 2005, Bjork took a mid-decade hiatus, returning with last year’s Punk Rock Guilt, an album that confronts various personal demons.

“It wasn’t super dark but I wasn’t having the best days of my life either,” he says. “But that’s also part of your art – your ups and downs. There were some hard times and I was going through a lot of personal stuff – and that happens.

“As a kid I just liked to get lost in the arts. Sometimes things are heavy and gnarly growing up and I think I speak for a lot of kids where music or movies or sports just gets you out of your darkness and keeps you motivated. You’ve got other things too like drugs that aren’t necessarily totally negative – they can be positive too. So it’s a balancing act.”

Bjork’s jammed-out and often cathartic soundscapes make up part of a multi-tentacled artistic vision borne out his teenage explorations of weed-inspired poems. More recently he’s been absorbed in screenwriting.

“I’m just obsessed with it” he enthuses. “I’ve always loved film as much as music. And I’m at that age where I’ve accomplished a lot of rad stuff with music and it’s awesome and I love doing it but I definitely want to focus on some other things and screenwriting is one of them.”

Hoping to head into the studio to record another album in April, Bjork is currently in the process of writing a script – “about a pool man” – that he hopes to complete by the year’s end.

“I find many similarities in any art that I do,” he says. “The process is very similar, just working hard and knowing that the arts is a job like anything else and strokes of genius are things that just don’t happen too often – so you can’t stop working at it.”

WHO: Brant Bjork
WHERE: Plays Golden Plains Festival, Meredith / Annandale Hotel 
WHEN: Saturday 7 March / Sunday 8 March
MORE: brantbjork.com

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