Most Austinites know Lauren Bruno as the hypnotic voice of the six piece horns and strings chamber ensemble, Les RAV. However, fans are beginning to learn that the multi-dimensional Bruno is one of the most constructive young artists in the Live Music Capital. Aside from creating eargasmic melodies, she invests her energy into directing $3 Shows, a local non-profit dedicated to creating an alliance between the arts community and the social issues community. As if that’s not demanding enough, Bruno is also co-owner of Solstice Live, a tech-based booking platform that helps connect musicians with venues to arrange live performances.
Bruno’s most recent project, Slooom, a dark disco collaboration with Capyac’s funky electronic producer Delwin Campbell, is an audio/visual extravaganza that galvanizes the senses. Slooom’s debut video, ‘Honey,’ was recently awarded Video of the Year at the Austin Music Video Festival and has set a hefty precedence for follow-up projects from this innovative duo. Bruno is currently working with Australian producer, Dream Fiend, and Slooom is in the process of filming their next major video, a 52 vignette visual odyssey that Bruno promises to be groundbreaking. Bruno sat down with Doug Leach at her East Austin office at Chicon Collective to tell us more about it, and soon after we whisked her away for an insanely beautiful stripped away shoot.
DL: So, what goes on here at Chicon Collective?
LB: I direct a non-profit called $3 Shows and I also work for a tech company called Solstice Live. Both of our offices are based out of this co-working space, Chicon Collective. It’s a really awesome space that has a lot of different creatives and a lot of different start-up companies. I’m very attracted to places where people are collaborating. I think I always end in places where there are a lot of creatives collaborating.
DL: You’re a musician, an artist, a non-profit director and a partner with Solstice Live. Where do you find the energy and creativity to stay so productive on so many fronts?
LB: You just kind of have to imagine something you really love…you’re really passionate about…something that keeps you going. I think everybody has that in their life…that little light in them that keeps them going. For me, the reason I stay so active and so busy is because I have to. I don’t really have a choice. It’s just in me and that’s not a bad thing. A lot of what I do is working with artists and putting on events using the (Solstice Live) platform. Once you start creating relationships and building trust with the community it becomes easy to keep busy with that. It’s all about building relationships.
DL: You’ve stated that your main goal is to connect as many people as possible through art and love. What do you mean by that?
LB: With the non-profit I direct I came up with this moto called The Three C’s: Community, Collaboration and Cross-promotion. I’ve learned that there is so much more value in the collaboration, in the community and in the cross-promotion. You may not see money right away but when somebody is sharing what they do and working with other people…putting themselves out there, that’s the only way artists survive. So, there is a lot of value in connecting with one another. Sharing community and love is essential. There are a lot of people that don’t experience love or the amount of love they deserve. So, to me, it’s important to spread as much as I can…which I’m not always perfect at. But, it’s just something I feel is more valuable than money.
DL: Your focus with $3 Shows is to help create an alliance between the arts community and the social issues community. Where did you come up with that idea?
LB: The non-profit world is always focused on their mission and to me they should be able to focus on that mission without having to worry about the stress of fundraising and putting together events. That’s why I wanted to do that for them. They already do so much for the community. I feel like we kind of owe them. I thought it was a perfect union because artists want to know about great causes and want to help. But, they generally just don’t know the first steps of doing that. As an artist, we understand what it’s like to struggle…to live paycheck to paycheck. So, we kind of have an empathetic view of it. I think that’s why we are so keen to want to help others.
DL: Your current project, Slooom, is more electronic based than your previous work. What drew you towards the Electronic genre?
LB: I love Bjork…and she obviously worked with an incredible producer. So, after Les RAV, I wanted to start going that route and working with music producers. Creatively, it opens you up more. It changes your perspective of what music is. Especially with technology now. I used to always think, ‘Oh, it’s all about the live show. It’s all about building in the local scene.’ But, in reality, it’s all about the internet now. Ideally, you don’t want to really stay in Austin. I love Austin. Austin’s great. But, for something like Slooom, Europe is going to eat this up.
DL: So, what is Slooom?
LB: Slooom is basically an Audio/Visual Spectacular. The base of Slooom is Delwin and me. But, forty people worked on the ‘Honey’ video and made that happen. So, Slooom is more like a creative community. We want to release all of our content with a visual component. Meaning, every single we release, we want it to have a video. We want to think outside of the box. The next video project we are working on is going to be pretty groundbreaking.
DL: ‘Honey’ recently won Video of the Year at the Austin Music Video Festival. What went into creating that video?
LB: The director, Ryan (Orenstein), wanted to do a video for Les RAV. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any plans for a video with Les RAV at the time. However, I was just beginning to work with Delwin and I told Ryan that I’d be open to sending him anything we wrote. A week later, we had a rough version of Honey and I really liked it. Ryan told me he had two weeks before SXSW and wanted to make a video for ‘Honey.’ That meant we had two weeks to do the whole thing. We did the casting call right here in Chicon Collective. People were dancing naked right here in this room. Everybody that auditioned had to be comfortable with being naked in front of people. It was crazy because the whole casting call was all of my friends. So, I literally saw all of my friends naked. After the casting Ryan’s team scouted the locations. One of the locations was his brother-in-law’s ranch and another location was St. Elmo Soundstage. Then we filmed it in two days.
DL: So, what’s next from Slooom?
LB: We’ve done a bunch or remixes for Honey and my goal is to release those. We are also teaming up with Glittertribe to find additional support. I’ll know more once I have all of the masters and have talked to more people about what to do next. We are trying to figure out how to reach out to labels and find support…It’s difficult to do much more without financial support from a label or a pr/management team. Delwin has Capyac and I just applied to this program that takes artists to China for a month. You play 10 showcases to bring American music over there. I’m still waiting to hear back from that. So, who knows?
Written by Douglas Leach (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Images by Linda Hughes/ Fuzebox Photography (email@example.com)
Hair and Makeup by Kelli Wilson Ponce
Shot on location at St Elmo Soundstage