A Conversation with Singer and Performer BREEDLOVE
By Jillian Mercado
If you think Mondays are boring, and if you spend them sitting around just waiting for Friday to come, then I’ve got something that will convince you otherwise. It’s a little something called “Magic Monday,” a show featuring and hosted by a performer known as Breedlove. You can dance, slide back a couple of Budweisers, and begin the journey with music, friends, and an all-around great time, forgetting your Monday sorrows in the process.
Coming from Larkspur, California, Breedlove wanted to spread his love for theater and music into the city of New York where he currently resides. Having had huge success producing alongside DJ Chew Fu–who has remixed with Lady Gaga and Rihanna, to name a few–their collaboration has had an amazing turnout.
Being a regular attendee at “Magic Monday,” as well as someone who was in his “New York City Rooftop” music video, I decided to chat with Breedlove about his perspective on the music industry, his hometown, and the process of writing music.
Jillian Mercado: What are your feelings on artists with a look, and do you think an artist can separate themselves from their look once it’s been established?
Breedlove: I think an artist has to be authentically inspired by what they themselves are doing to come off as a credible performer. A lot of that has to do with their sound and songwriting of course, but without a definitive, inspired look, you’re only telling half the story. Maria Callas gave advice to young students in her master classes: get yourself a look. You have to stand out from others who also do what you do.
It’s not that the look can’t change. Some looks change by decade, some by album cycle, and some, these days, by single. In terms of separating from a look, who wants to? I’m Breedlove. That’s a name Lady Starlight gave me. I wear big glasses that conceal much of my face, and a beard and shaggy hair that conceal the rest. People ask my real name, and when I say “Craig” and they look disappointed. I put in contacts and wear a cap with my hair pulled back to go to the gym, and when I see a friend on the street and say hello, he doesn’t recognize me and awkwardly walks away. But when I yell, “It’s Breedlove!” he squints, and suddenly he’s happy to see me. Who wants to look like everyone else? Especially when a large part of success as an artist depends on people recognizing you.
JM: Based on your own foray into the music scene, what are some important guidelines you think one must commit to?
BL: Love what you’re doing because you should do it often. The first year and a half of “Magic Monday” at St. Jerome’s was like boot camp for me. I did it every week then, and I refused to miss one if I was sick, so it forced me to get smart as a performer. Songwriting and production and all that are so important to figure out, and once you go through all the work to figure that out, then you have to start the process of becoming not only a good, confident performer, but also one capable of singing around illness, exhaustion, dehydration, and all the other things that you don’t realize significantly affect singers. I say book yourself a residency and do at least one show a week, and don’t miss one unless you have an out-of-town gig. Learn if you have what it takes before someone invests money in you.
JM: What caused you to start making music in the first place? What do you think inclines you to pursue this venture, as opposed to something else like art, acting, painting, etc.?
BL: There has been music playing on a loop in my head for as long as I can remember. All I do to write a song is quiet my mind enough to hear a melody and sing it out loud into a recorder. Then I add lyrics, and those seem to have always been somewhere inside me too. I guess you could say I didn’t pursue music; its constant presence inside me made it annoying not to express it in some way.
JM: Have you ever gone by a different stage name? When did you decide to be referred to simply as ‘Breedlove’?
BL: As a child actor I went by CR. Yes, I was a very creepy, not very successful child actor. I needed a name to use while go-go dancing with Lady Starlight in 2003. She found a shirt from the ’60s on ebay with a label that said, “Craig Breedlove for Sears.” She said, “I think that’s your new name: Breedlove.” It’s been my name ever since.
JM: Would you say your background has influenced your sound? Do you believe an artist’s parents or hometown can drastically shape their music?
BL: Absolutely. When I was in my mother’s womb she was performing the music of Jacques Brel almost every night of the week. My parents performed in nightclubs together when I was growing up. The drama in that music and in my mom’s performance style had more to do with who I am as a songwriter and performer than anything else.
JM: What was your journey to where you are now like? How did you go from admiring singers to becoming the one you are now?
BL: Work. I had the ideas, wrote the songs, got them produced, put on a show. Every week for years. I can’t necessarily see a progression in myself, but I can tell you that about halfway through I lost the fear and I was actually able to live inside each song.
JM: What do you hope to accomplish with your music? Is there a certain way you’d like what you’ve done to be remembered?
BL: I just want to sing for as many people as I can before I die and let someone else figure out what happens after.
JM: What types of thoughts go through your mind when writing music? Do you have a ritual?
BL: When my brain gets set to songwriting mode I try to stay out of the way and avoid any judgment at all whatsoever. It’s a very delicate and emotional corner of my mind, like the pubescent female of the household. I leave her alone as much as possible and avoid making her upset at all costs, since she has a tendency to run away for various lengths of time when criticized.
JM: I know you’ve done a remix before, are there any more of your songs you’d like to remix, or artists that you’d like to remix with?
BL: I think if LMFAO and I got together and did a song an angel would get its wings.
JM: Where do you see your music going from where it is now?
BL: I’m writing the music and lyrics for a musical based on the life of Stu Rasmussen, which will premier this Summer at Intiman Theatre in Seattle. I’ve loved working independently because I’ve had plenty of time and freedom to explore and rehearse, but I’m interested to see how the introduction of management and an openness to record labels changes things. I’m also excited to be throwing tailgate parties with the Born This Way Foundation at every venue on the North American leg of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way Ball.” I’ll be performing at after-parties in most cities also, so follow me on twitter for updates and come hang out!
Breedlove is a singer and performer based in New York City.
Written by Jillian Mercado
Edited by Jonathan Metzelaar
Photography by Jonathan Grassi
Design & Photoshoot Assistance by Marie Havens
Breedlove, “Phantom of Broadway,” Times Square, New York City, November 30 2012, Photography by Jonathan Grassi