If momentum was a commodity, Denver-based DJ/producer/promoter Brennen Bryarly (a.k.a. Option4) would be set for well into next year. He’s released a spate of records for top labels including Ninja Tune, Nurvous, and Club Sweat, and with each new release Bryarly further fine-tuning his pumping house signature.
In addition to his solo work, he’s burns the other half of the creative candle by partnering with NYC’s MANIK in 909 Til Infinity. Most recently the pair released their second release on Atlanta-based Psycho Disco! titled the Box Loop EP, brandishing upfront tech-house grooves. If that wasn’t enough, Bryarly runs TheHundred, a Mile High event promotion company which resembles a crowdsourced promoter outfit. This month alone he’s bringing Bonobo, Huxley, Christian Martin, Pete Tong and The Black Madonna to town for shows.
Having just released the banger “Workin’” co-produced with Worthy on Love & Other Things, Bryarly is getting ready to embark on a whirlwind seven-date club tour, hitting major house music hotbeds, kicking off his trek at Brooklyn’s famed Output.
We interviewed Bryarly via email last month to find out more about the evolution of his sound, TheHundred and his ongoing work with MANIK.
Option4’s North American tour dates are as follows: Ouput in Brooklyn on September 8; Grasshopper Underground in Detroit on September 9; Q Nightclub in Seattle on September 14; Spin Nightclub in San Diego on September 15; Halcyon in San Fransisco on September 16; Larimer Lounge in Denver on September 22, and Saguaro in Palm Springs on September 23.
Where are you originally from and what led you to move to Denver?
Brennen Bryarly: Originally grew up as a kid in San Francisco, but I’ve kind of lived all over. This stint in Denver is actually the longest I’ve lived anywhere. Mainly I came to CO to be closer to my family.
What’s the best and worst thing about living in Denver?
UMMM… I feel like the best thing about Denver right now is the music scene. We have so much amazing music coming here every day. It can be almost exhausting … but I’d rather have it like that then the opposite. The worst thing about Denver is the late-night food. Once 8pm rolls around all the restaurants board up their windows and the shut down for the night. People have to fend for themselves. Cannibalism rates are alarmingly high here.
What was the music scene like when you arrived, and how has it evolved?
Honestly it’s kind of a blur. It’s evolved so fast. There’s always been a rich history here for dance music. I just feel like the frequency of events all over the city no matter what kind of music you’re into as grown so rapidly. When I first moved here there were club shows I’d go to like once a week. Now for ex[ample]: there are club nights five nights a week. At multiple clubs. It’s crazy.
“I didn’t really start DJing til I moved here to Denver. I’d dabbled before at the house but It wasn’t til I moved to Denver that I started actually being able to practice the craft.”
Prior to moving to Denver, did you DJ, produce and throw parties?
I’ve been making music since I was 16. BAD music … I’d never thrown a party before in my life. I had no idea how to do it. I just kind of created an idea and put everything I had into it. Luckily it worked out (albeit the first couple years were really scary, and I was always on the verge of quitting). I didn’t really start DJing til I moved here to Denver. I’d dabbled before at the house but It wasn’t til I moved to Denver that I started actually being able to practice the craft.
How did you settle on the idea of crowdsourcing your parties? What inspired you to come up with the concept for TheHundred?
Oh man, it was a nerd book … about a wizard… and well … he had these companions … and they fought evil together … and I wonder why I’m single even typing that…
You’ve booked and shared the bill with big-name guests. How does it feel to change the clubbing paradigm?
Well, I dunno if we changed the paradigm as much as we just proved that community is a more important component to the music scene than promotion. It’s been an amazing social experiment but the friends we’ve all gained and experiences we’ve shared has been something I’ll never take for granted. VIVA LA HUNDREDDDD.
“The idea that you sign music to a record label and it will succeed just because it’s on that label is nonsense. The labels want the music to do well, but ultimately it comes down to you and your camp to try and make an impact.”
Musically speaking, you’re busy. How do maintain the balancing act between artist and promoter?
Oh man, that’s a constant battle. I’m doing a pretty good job of it as of late but it’s easy to get sidetracked. Partying is FUN. I can do it ALL the time. I love people. AND BEER. Haha … So growing up and understanding self-discipline is something that I’ll always have to work on. I am most productive when I learn to say NO to things and stay in and work when … well … I’d clearly prefer to go dance and tequila the night away.
You’ve released tracks on revered labels. What’s been the biggest learning for you about how the music industry works?
YOUR MUSIC IS YOUR PRODUCT. YOU’RE RESPONSIBLE FOR PROMOTING IT. The idea that you sign music to a record label and it will succeed just because it’s on that label is nonsense. The labels want the music to do well, but ultimately it comes down to you and your camp to try and make an impact. Standing out is difficult but the people who really have made it paved their own way.
You’re half of 909 Till Infinity. What are you and MANIK up to these days? Is there new music in the pipeline?
Yeah, we have a few more releases coming out. I just got the report back on who’s been supporting our last release on W&O Street Trap and it was super humbling. Our thing with 909 though is that we never write music over the internet. S0 if I’m on tour and hit CA we carve out some studio time … and if he’s on tour in CO then we make time as well. It’s just a fun thing we love to do together because we’re close friends. And the music always comes out on point so I think we’ll always make time for the side project.
I know it’s sometimes tough to look ahead, but do you have any specific goals for your music and TheHundred?
Goal-wise TheHundred is already the goal haha… I don’t have any plans on growing it. We just keep it to a hundred people and do cool stuff together. Looking forward to doing more stuff outside of music with it, actually. But that’s about it. As far as my music is concerned I’m on a little wave right now so I’m just looking forward to creating more and more music. It’s inspiring when your music actually gets supported and heard around the world so I’ve been having a lot more fun in the studio. Hopefully I’ll be writing the best stuff I’ve written in the near future ^_^.