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Harrison Brome destiny and determination rises from the shadows

by Vanessa Tam

“I don’t have anything else. I dropped out of school, you know; if I don’t have music, I’m fucked. It’s my life.”

VANCOUVER – After listening to Harrison Brome’s deep and soulful voice through his music, expectations are often blown away when meeting the young singer/songwriter in person: he’s a 20-year-old elementary school dropout. “I [pretty much just took that time where I would’ve been in school] to focus on my music. My mom has always been mad supportive,” said Brome over a cup of coffee on a chilly Friday afternoon in Vancouver. “If I didn’t have that time [to work on myself], I probably wouldn’t be where I’m at right now musically.”

Growing up in a creative environment in the suburbs of Richmond, Brome listened to a lot of Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding and Nina Simone through his mother, who always shared her love of music with her family. From a very young age, Brome suffered from severe dyslexia growing up and never had an easy time learning in a traditional setting. “I couldn’t read a book, like nothing,” he shares. “So my mom bought me a karaoke machine and something to do with the beat kinda led me to be able to string shit together easier. It was just happenstance that I started singing a whole bunch.” From that moment onwards, something clicked in his mind and he knew that pursuing a career in music was what he was meant to do. “I knew that this was my purpose,” he explains. “To make music and that I had a voice that needed to be heard.”

Fast forward to 2015 when Brome was finally ready to release his debut single, “Fill Your Brains,” to the world, which eventually culminated in a six-track EP by the same name. Dark and moody instrumentals laid the foundation for the young artist’s soulful vocal range that draws inspiration from the brooding coastal city he calls home. “I don’t know who I would put in my music category,” he says, thinking out loud. “Like a James Blake meets The Weeknd kinda vibe, but like Allan Rayman too I think. He’s a Toronto guy that’s on a similar vibe. I fuck with his stuff.”

Building a strong initial following through Spotify plays and blog features, Brome has also come to build a solid foundation of local support from a city that’s notoriously dismissive when it comes to emerging local artists. “Like at my first show at Fortune Sound Club [in Chinatown back in February],” he says fondly. “I thought maybe like 400 people would show but we sold out the place weeks in advance! I couldn’t have asked for a better first show in my city.”

Surrounded by live plants and vibe-setting smoke and lights, Brome performed his newest single “Body High” for a sold-out audience for the very first time. Showcasing the young artist’s vocal flexibility and incredible falsetto, the single became an instant hit performed alongside other fan favourites “Midnight Island” and “Fill Your Brains.”

Self-taught in everything he knows about music production, from singing to playing the piano and guitar, Brome likes to work with another person to help get his instrumentals down while he works on the rest of the song. “I have a tight circle of producers and engineers that I regularly work with as I like to focus on the top line and overall vibes of a track while my collaborator works to fill out the rest of the track,” he explains. “So usually I’ll start with a certain sound on the keys and kind of mumble a top line to it. Then I’ll get one of my producers to start making the drum beats and then we build it from there. My producers are almost like my translators [because] they help me to get my ideas out, but at the same time I also like bringing in ideas from other people. It’s the best [of both worlds really].”

When it comes to songwriting, Brome draws from his own personal experiences and writes about relatable topics that a wide variety of people can understand. “I would never take back any of the shit that I’ve ever gone through because then I wouldn’t be the person that I am today,” he states confidently. “Everything I write about is my way of expressing myself; it’s cathartic. I’m speaking my mind and still feel like people understand me, even though they’re interpreting [the lyrics] in their own way.”

As for what’s coming up next for Brome, he’s preparing to release a new single with Pomo and is booked to play a bunch of shows and music festivals around the world including dates in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. “I would love to do a lot of collaborations with producers as well as features,” he says, already thinking of the future. “I think it’d be cool [to work with] a female singer like Lully or BANKS. Having a female singer with my vocal I think would be dope. I’ve never really experienced that so that’d be fun. Count me in.”

Harrison Brome performs April 13 with Pomo at Fortune Sound Club as part of Seasons Festival.

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