FROM BIRMINGHAM TO BERGEN – BRYN BOWEN

Musician and record label co-owner Bryn Bowen (29) grew up in Birmingham, UK. At 19, he moved to Northern Europe where he has lived ever since in cities, towns and villages: such as Trondheim, Kristiansand, Etne, Stockholm, and Bergen. The musician has been making songs with different bands since 2000, and established the record label “Giant Manilow Records” together with his friend Ralph Morton. His band Mountain Cloth released an EP titled “The Pony”. To support this, they played a bunch of shows on the west coast of Norway. Right now Mountain Cloth are working towards releasing a full length album to be released in 2017.
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Bryn Bowen | Photo: Linn Heidi Stokkedal

Being known as a music center Birmingham, isn’t the worst place to grow up in. What made you move to Norway?
The normal reasons a young man moves to Norway; my band stopped and my girlfriend left me. Also I liked the idea of living by mountains and ocean. Birmingham is inland so that stuff is really exotic for me.

Do you see any differences between the Norwegian and British music scene?
There is a lot more arts funding here in Norway so the bands have lots of slick gear. That´s the main difference I can think of. Here in Bergen a lot of the guitar bands use lots of reverb. Like that band Wild Nothing.

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Mountain Cloth | The Pony | Cover Art: Lloyd Bowen

What is your music about?
All the songs are about different stuff. I have a few guidelines I try to stick to when writing lyrics. No songs putting people down and no songs where I moan about my life. I´ve had a nice life so far so it´d seem a bit rich if I sang about how everything stinks.

George Pure Corn by Mountain ClothWhat do you enjoy most about being a musician, and what do you find most challenging?
Writing and recording is great. I don’t like rehearsing or playing live so much. Live can be a bit weird. If it goes badly you feel so stupid… And if it goes well and the crowd really gets behind you it tends to make me walk around the rest of the evening with my chest puffed out thinking about how great I am and that’s never a good way to be.

Mountain Cloth | Photo: Linn Heidi Stokkedal

What has been the most unconventional way for you to collaborate so far?
My other band The Shalfonts are an email band so it´s more unconventional than Mountain Cloth. The overdubs are all home-recorded and then sent back and forth mainly between me and my great friend Ralph Morton. Making music this way has led us to release four full length albums and lots of EPs over 8 years. The group also includes my brother Lloyd and another great friend Catherine. It’s a great way to make music and keep in touch with my friends in Birmingham although it makes playing shows very difficult.

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The Shalfonts | Photo: Linn Heidi Stokkedal

Did you have any particular experience leading you to become a musician?
No. I started when I was 8 with just lyrics and melodies. When I was 11 my brother taught me em and g and whoosh I was off! A family friend showed me how you could multi track using two boom boxes placed next to each other and I’ve been recording stuff pretty much non stop since.

In your opinion what is life about?
Nothing, not really. I don’t know…maintenance!? Trying to keep it together. Like jogging and trying to drink enough water. Breathing techniques. All the boring stuff that helps you not to be a total anxious wreck. As a teenager you could just do drugs and eat the food your mum filled the fridge with. Now the fridge is full of health foods I can barely afford. I don’t know what life is about!

Do you miss being a teenager?
I don’t think so. Looking back I was a bit of a creep as a teenager.

Why do you do music and where does your inspiration derive from?
Because it just happens and feels so right. The inspiration is always random and I don’t know where it comes from. I do loads of stuff just to please myself with no audience in mind and then after decide what is worth sharing with strangers. The only problem is that at the moment it’s so easy to publish stuff you’ve just made online and when you make something new you’re normally totally psyched about it so that has led to sharing things that maybe should have been left in the oven a little longer. Christopher, the lead guitar player in Mountain Cloth, is helping me with that stuff. He functions as a great friend but also as a sort of editor. Thank you Chris.

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Bryn Bowen in his studio | Photo: Linn Heidi Stokkedal

Which advice would you give to 18year old Bryn?
Go easy on the porn? I don’t know!? I’m too young to say really anything…. Right now my life is great, but it might all go wrong and maybe in 50 years I will end up in jail or totally regretting my whole life and then my advice to 18 year old Bryn would be: don’t go to Norway!

 

If you are in Bergen, don’t miss out on Bryn’s upcoming concert with Mountain Cloth at Victoria Café & Pub on Thursday January 25!

Interview: Victoria Trunova
Editing: James Hudson