A New England fixture and polarizing national figure of underground hiphop, BRZOWSKI is in post-production for his third compilation of rare/out-of-print tracks entitled Blooddrive Vol. 3, due out on Milled Pavement Records this October. June saw the US release of his hyper-political collaboration w/ Monsieur Sai -” Songs For Marty”. Milled Pavement Records celebrates their 50th release at Space Gallery in Portland, ME on Aug. 17, after which BRZOWSKI will take to the road (again) supporting erstwhile Mainer Sole for a brief east coast jaunt. In addition to rapping and performing, BRZOWSKI has been promoting, spreading, and supporting Maine music since 2001. You can check him out at:
Q: Where were you born?
A: I was born in Providence, RI.
Q: What brought you to Portland?
A: I initially came to Portland as a student to finish out a degree in Painting/Art History in 2001, and have only left (Portland) to tour and travel since.
Q: Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
A: I have several hustles going at all times to make ends meet. I work at 2 major cultural institutions in Portland, both of which I love, and I’ll leave it at that. My musician persona, my visual artist identity, and my “normal-guy-paying-bills” are all separate entities, and I vastly prefer it that way. I seldom speak of one in the context/surroundings of another.
Q: What’s the origin behind your name?
A: My grandmother was a professional wrestler many years ago, and her stage name was “Bobo Brzozowski” in homage to her future husband. She was always vastly supportive of my involvement in the arts, and a few years after she passed, i took the handle of my own, subtracting a couple letters to make my name more easily pronounced for non-Polish folks. It has still been screwed up, misprinted, mispronounced, and mangled in every way imaginable over the past 13 years. BRZOWSKI: “Brzzzz-owww-skeee”.
Q: What was your most memorable gig and why?
A: Easy. The most memorable gig was in December of 2009 on my first European tour with Moshe. We played in a stone barn in the south of France in what was a squatter/punk-rocker occupied functional farm. A few hundred people showed up and essentially raged out… and the dozen or so dogs that lived on the farm kept running across the makeshift stage. Old folks, little kids strapped to their parents paramilitary jackets, ancient plumbing, amazing organic food. Rowdy crowd. Dirty, and beautiful.
A: I remember H.W., Jesse Dangerously and I took some heavy hits on one particular Canadian tour in 2010. Never underestimated the size of Canadian provinces…yikes. HW was the only dude with a license, so he drove for 40 hours straight (with a 3 hour nap in a gravel pit off a 2-lane highway), only to arrive at a show in Alberta where it was apparently underpromoted and sparsely attended. This also happened to be a sparsely attended, under-promoted show that had only offered to pay us a door-deal percentage. One of the openers then proceeded to say over the PA that if his friends present had better things to do they should leave, and that he was going to do so after his set. It was all Jesse could do to keep HW and I from having a talk with this lil tadpole in the parking lot. After that much uncomfortable travel and stress, I was at breaking point. There are a million similar war-stories, that one just happened to rise to memory.
A: Type O Negative’s 1993 album Bloody Kisses changed everything for me. I first heard it in 1994 or 1995, and it really appealed to my varied tastes. Big, doomy guitar and bass, saccharine acoustic passages, dramatic and melodic vocals, melancholic lyrics with a healthy dose of subtle humor and self-deprecation. I was intrigued that a nine minute song about sex and death could hold my rapt attention after hundreds of spins. It set the blueprint for the kind of “hiphop” music I wanted to make, as there was (and truthfully IS) no real equivalent extant in sample+lyric-based music.
Q: What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
A: Guilty pleasures..hmm. I’m not really into “guilt”, per se. I like a lot of odd things. I really like alot of the Pop-Rap radio stations in California, and listen to them whenever I’m out there. And I listen to outlaw country almost exclusively when in my domestic enclosure.
Q: What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
A: A good live mic. My baby is a SHURE SM 57 with a 58’s globe on top… had it for years… and you can record demos of vocals or guitar in a pinch with it as well.
Q: Any advice for a musician starting out?
A: Do everything yourself, until you can afford not to. The music business is a long, slow burn over the course of a career, especially if you are presenting something radically different or complex to digest. Don’t rush, unless you want to be a pop sensation… in that case you had better make a splash before age 25, or the mainstream industry won’t want you. Know your audience, and always please them second.
Stephen has exhibited his photography in California and throughout New England and served as Associate Director of a Boston-based non-profit overseeing the organization's technology, visual design, social networking, and event planning.
He lives outside of Portland with his wife and two children.