June 29, 2018 Interview – Chas Bronxson
Out of the New York City borough of The Bronx, Chas Bronxson is a multifaceted artist who aims to convey a message in his songs. In the music game for years now, both as a performer, producer, and songwriter, he now looks to take things to the next level with his independently run label M.O.U.N. Records. With an eye toward the future Bronxson vividly reflects on the past heritage of R&B, Soul, and Hip Hop with hopes of move audiences to be proactive thinkers. Recently we caught up with the creator to talk his latest series of music videos released in coordination with Black Music Month, the mission for M.O.U.N. Records, plus more.
CrypticRock.com – You have been involved in music as a songwriter, producer, and arranger for sometime. What inspired you to pursue a career in music?
Chas Bronxson – The love of the craft. The love of music and being into it as long as I can remember. I guess at some point I wanted to take part in it as well.
CrypticRock.com – You have done a lot over the years and been a part of many projects.
Chas Bronxson – Yes, I was in some musical groups coming up. Then I just evolved into songwriting, because of being a part of the different groups I was in, I had amassed a volume of material. The amount of material was to the point that I clearly wouldn’t be able to do all that material on my own. I started writing for other people as well as myself. I am at the point now where I am doing projects for other people as well as myself now.
CrypticRock.com – You more recently released a tribute music video, “Group H.U.G.S.” It is a cool concept chronicling the history of R&B and soul from the ’40s until the 2000s. What inspired putting this together?
Chas Bronxson – What inspired me was I wasn’t hearing enough music from the past. It started out with me trying to pay tribute to the groups I was familiar with growing up as a child. I was familiar with groups like The Temptations, The Intruders, The Spinners, etc. When I started doing the tribute, I started learning about all these different groups I had never heard of, groups that had really great material, and I was wondering why we weren’t hearing anything about it.
The tribute initially was going to be no more than 4 minutes, but snowballed into something over 8 minutes. I want to include all the groups I was discovering, or at least as many as I could. I then began to wonder how I was going to arrange it. At first I laid out the songs, but I felt a better way to do it would be chronologically. That way there would be more of an amount of groups that one particular person from a certain era would be familiar with, and likewise going forward. We tied it all together and made one historic piece out of it.
CrypticRock.com – It is done very well. It is pieced together very nicely.
Chas Bronxson – Thank you, I appreciate that. As a writer, you intend for something to be interpreted a certain way, but that is not always the case. You really have to be meticulous about it and hope that people will interpret it the way you set out for them to interpret it.
CrypticRock.com – Absolutely. Your label is M.O.U.N. Records. Tell us a little bit about the concept and goal behind the label?
Chas Bronxson – The goal of my label is to provide a vehicle for the music I have written for myself as an artist. It kind of has a double meaning, M.O.U.N. is an acronym for Making Of Unforgettable New Records, as well as, I produce my own music. I really wasn’t paying too much attention to the idea of being a label until I had to sign an artist to release the music I produced for them. Ever since then, I have been a full-fledged incorporated label. I am learning as I go, everything is a learning process. I am heading my label as well as dealing with the creative aspect of things as well.
CrypticRock.com – Very exciting. Everything is a learning process. You can be doing something for years and still learn something new.
Chas Bronxson – Yea, and it can be intimidating in the beginning. I completely understand why people don’t venture out and take that step to do certain things. At a certain point, you have to say, “I am just going to start doing it” – it is jump in the water and try your best. You have to be ready to make mistakes, and I am willing to make mistakes, but ones I am going to learn from. Not costly mistakes but making the best educated, well-informed decisions that I can based on information I have. I will get it eventually, but the worst thing you can do is be stagnant, because you won’t get anything accomplished that way.
CrypticRock.com – Agreed. As a songwriter, you write songs with a deeper message. What is some inspiration for your songs?
Chas Bronxson – Just experiences and life. Sometimes you see something or experience something that is so profounded you want to write about it. Something that stays on your mind, and as a writer, that stuff comes out. It becomes fun and you think, “What am I going to say in this project?” Then it’s just a challenge and sticking to it. Staying focused, keeping that principle idea you are trying to convey through the song and taking it from infancy to adulthood.
CrypticRock.com – It is also an emotional, creative expression, so it is a good way to get your feelings out.
Chas Bronxson – Yea, and I understand why people say that when they do. At one time, I didn’t. I remember being in school and thought writing was so corny and boring – poetry… ah, who has time for that? I rather go out and play baseball. Hip Hop is a thing that thrives on the rapper or MC to be lyrically creative. It’s a taboo thing for a rapper to recite lyrics that he or she did not write. I learned that principle very early on that you have to write your own stuff and you were proud to.
With singing, it’s a little different. With Hip Hop, it’s just a more taboo thing. There is never really anybody in R&B and Soul that make an issue of somebody singing something they didn’t write. As long as you can deliver a stellar performance when it comes to singing, that’s what wows the crowd. The same thing with Hip Hop, if you can wow the crowd with your performance, although once it is known you didn’t write it, you can’t be considered a top 10 MC then. The thing about MCs are, you only get real credit, not only if you deliver a great performance, but if you wrote that stuff.
CrypticRock.com – That is very true. In regards to the “Group H.U.G.S.” music video, beyond a tribute, it seems to convey a message that there really are not many singing groups anymore. Which is quite unfortunate, it seems like a lost art.
Chas Bronxson – It really is. I included that point and made it my business to make that point in the song. It is true, you don’t really hear or see any singing groups or bands anymore. Not to critique the process by which one makes music – because times change and we don’t necessarily have to have a band to produce what we can do electronically. As long as you have a respect for the music, the craft, and you understand how notes blend together, it’s all cool.
If you do have an R&B artist, there are very few, and it’s not really promoted. Radio really doesn’t promote that, especially from black artists. What I have noticed is, there are white artists who are doing R&B music that is getting the attention that black artists traditionally could not get. I dealt with that issue on the project as well. “Group H.U.G.S.” started out as a tribute song, but the more I got into it I started to learn different things about the genre and about the music industry in the country as it pertains to black music and artists. I decided to incorporate all of that into the project. It’s more than just a tribute song, it’s more collectively a musical documentary, so to speak.
CrypticRock.com – That message is certainly conveyed well. Will there be more to the “Group H.U.G.S.” project?
Chas Bronxson – It’s a one time project in terms of the timing of the release, which is Black Music Month in 2018. The project will be ongoing in the sense that there are other videos coming out. I am not going to pull the song off the market or make it unavailable. The video is going to be there. There are 3 other videos that are coming from the Group H.U.G.S. album. The first one is “Group H.U.G.S.,” H.U.G.S. is an acronym – Honoring Unforgetable Groups of Soul.
We recently released another video for “R.I.P.” That is dedicated to the many disc jockeys and radio personalities through the years who have contributed and given us that good Soul music. The radio personality is a dead artform, we don’t have any more radio personalities in the sense we did at one time. The R.I.P. stands for Radio’s Incomparable Personalities. Then there is another video out now for “P.R.E.T.EX.T.” which deals with the procreation of black music by white artists. “P.R.E.T.EX.T.” stands for Prejudice Restricts Exposing Today’s Extraordinary Talent.
The last video coming is out now and is called “When They’re Gone.” It’s an ode to Michael Jackson because the time period we lost him was the last week in June of 2009. That wraps up all the songs as far as the videos going to be released from the album.
There are other songs on the album that delve into the whole phenomenon of procreating black music and what’s happening in the current state of black music together. There is one song called “Black music without Black People (Mtume’s Prophecy)” In the song, there is something James Mtume said over 20 years ago, and I was fortunate to get my hands on that clip. I put it right into the song so you can see this has been something going on with some people in the industry. It is shows how it’s become in regards to black artists and black music.
CrypticRock.com – There is some powerful context associated with the album.
Chas Bronxson – The album also deals with black radio. There is a song called “The Demise of Black Radio” and one called “The Demise of the Personality DJ,” which incorporates quotes from real radio industry people. They are all put together so you can see exactly what happened. The past few years, since I started writing the song “Group H.U.G.S.,” in my investigation, when I would hear a quote from an insider, I would take it and weld it into the songs. I didn’t invent it for my narrative, but so you can hear from people in the know and people in the business who can confirm what has happened.
CrypticRock.com – This is a very compelling project with a lot of thought put into it. Let’s hope more people find it! Last question for you. CrypticRock also covers Horror and Sci-Fi films. If you are a fan of either genre, do you have any favorites?
Chas Bronxson – I would say my favorite Horror movie would have to be The Exorcist (1973), the never before seen version they put out. The Grudge (2004) kind of caught me off guard too. I remember being in the theater watching that, and at several points, the whole theater bounced up in their seat because of something that caught them off guard.
Also, The Evil Dead (1981) was sick too! I remember seeing that when I was a youngster and it was mind-boggling. When I got older, I learned that movie would be considered a B-movie. That just shows you, you don’t necessarily have to have Hollywood behind you to have a good idea or to produce a good idea. I was affected by that movie.