In a city known for bass music, one MK-endorsed producer is helping to keep the house flag flying
Brennen Bryarly has been steadily making a name for himself in house circles for the past half-decade or so. Recording both on his own as option4 and with Christopher Manik as 909 Til Infinity, his releases have graced respected labels such as Nervous, Ninja Tune and Club Sweat, while at home in Denver, Colarado he's also one of the driving forces behind TheHundred, a party collective born out of frustration at the lack of decent house nights in the city's clubs that has now staged hundreds of sold-out parties in and around Denver.
He recently got the thumbs-up from no less a personage than Marc 'MK' Kinchen, who named him as one of his "ones to watch" for the year ahead. So with his star firmly in the ascendant and a slew of juicy new releases in the pipeline, we figured it was time we reached out to him for a quick chat...
Can you tell us a bit about your musical background, for readers who haven't come across you before?
"I don't really have much of a 'musical background' per se, I've just always loved producing records! I lived in a small town during high school, so I turned to producing electronic music at a young age because, well, there wasn't much else to do. I started making music and DJing at the same time. About 17 years old is when I got my first pair of turntables and learned to beat match, but like I said, I was from a small town (Colorado Springs) so there were basically zero options to ever play out (no pun intended).
"My first club gig was when I was 25 years old, and I played a two-hour set of all original music at a biker bar on a Sunday night. It was awful! I wrote stuff from house to tech-house to electro to drum & bass, and somehow crammed it all into one set. It was... well, it was bad. I was bad. It's as simple as that. It's really difficult to be into something when no one around you is into it at all! It was a start, though."
How do you describe the music you make now?
"I guess it ranges across the house or techy side of things? Kind of all over. My musical downfall is that I simply like to create, period. So I don't have, like, a full catalogue of strictly house or techno or indie stuff - I just make whatever I feel like making that day and send it off to labels I think might be into it. I've been on everything from Fool's Gold to Nervous to Ninja Tune to Club Sweat.
"But I do believe that whatever I make will always sort of sound like me. My mind just works a certain way, so people can usually tell it's my record."
I gather you're launching a new label… tell us more!
"Ah! Yes, Hotboi Records. This is the most exciting thing! I did this producer search thing online a couple months ago that went super viral. Before I knew it I had hundreds and hundreds of songs to listen to. It made me think, man, there's so much good music that is never getting heard. So I thought I might as well start a label and try and help young artists out.
"The best thing about the label is by far the branding, but it really means a lot to me to be able to help artists avoid a lot of the pitfalls that I jumped into when I started in the game."
You're from Denver, as a surprising amount of artists and labels seem to be these days! What's the scene like there for a) house and b) electronic/dance music generally?
"Denver is awesome right now. SO FUN. House and techno are very well supported here, as well as the locals who drive it. We're still known for our bass music though. We have some of the biggest in the world who live here. It's an awesome time to live in Denver, no matter what style of electronic music you like."
You also run a party crew there called TheHundred - what can you tell us about that?
"There's 100 of us, and we just throw shows and parties together. It's a community more than a promotion company or anything. The friendships that have come from the group are second to none - I wouldn't be who I am today if it weren't for them. We do put on a ton of shows, though. Like a couple hundred a year..."
You were recently named as 'one to watch' by no less a personage than MK. Was that a good feeling?
"There is no greater feeling ever than having someone you admire give you an endorsement like that! I'm so blessed to have so many big names playing and supporting my music. When it's one of your childhood idols, though, it just makes it that much better. MK is a legend: I look up to him like a big bro."
You have several releases coming up in the next couple of months. Can you quickly rattle us through them?
"Oooh... finally so many cool things coming out! I'm super excited for this collab track with my buddy Worthy, which is coming out next month on Love & Other. Then I've got another collab coming out with my man Treasure Fingers on Nervous in September, as well as a remix for Crystal Fighters. There's another new single coming out on M4L in October and then another EP I'm shopping at the minute for a fall release, as well as a compilation I'm going to host for Nervous again in December.
"And then my album, in the beginning of 2018! I can't wait for people to hear all the new stuff - I've been waiting for it all to come out forever, it seems."
You also work with MANIK as 909 Til Infinity. What's going on with that project right now?
"Aww, this is the funnest project to me. It's just a side thing Chris and I do. We love producing together, it's a lot of fun, but we only make records together when we're physically in the studio with one another. So we have a couple more records coming out this year and will hopefully get together again soon to write more. Sometimes it's fun to just write bangers."
Finally, what else is going on with you at the moment that iDJ readers need to know about?
"I'm writing a children's book, ha ha! It's a pirate story, because apparently I have too much time on my hands. I write it on airplanes in my phone and it's the funnest thing I have to look forward to in life. It will also never be released cos I'm the world's worst writer, ha ha ha!"
Words: Russell Deeks
Worthy & option4's Workin' is out on Love & Other on 25 August