Since scoring this interview, there’s one question I’ve been asked over and over again by friends online: Who is Breedlove?
It’s a fair question. Until this year, I’d only ever heard about or seen Breedlove in reference to his friends, the Rivington Rebels, which consists of pop superstar Lady Gaga and underground performance art friends. Other than that, all I knew Breedlove for was his hair (which is now gone, but look below).
The version of Breedlove that POPULOVE staff Amanda Greene, Corey Ware, and I met in New York City has a different look. He also has a sound (and it’s killer, in case you haven’t seen the Sex O’Clock video above). When he speaks, he’s soft and intimate. His presence exudes kindness, friendship, and love. In person, the cloud of mystery that hangs over Breedlove online is replaced with wonder. I hope this interview with Breedlove and Chew Fu leaves you wondering, too: wondering why you didn’t want to know more about Breedlove before now and wondering where to hear more of his music. Because this guy deserves it.
In 2003, Breedlove, then known as Craig, produced a monthly event in New York City’s East Village at a bar called Rififi with friend and collaborator Lady Starlight. The event was called “Freak Out!” and included gogo dancing to psychedelic music and visuals from the 1960s. Starlight is actually responsible for giving Breedlove his name.
“I needed a stage name. We considered ‘Oh! Ryan!,’ but then Starlight came across a shirt with a label that said ‘Craig Breedlove for Sears,'” he recalled, adding that Craig is his birth name. “Breedlove has been my name ever since.”
As Breedlove explained in our interview, Craig Breedlove is a record-breaking race car driver who had a clothing line at Sears in the 1960s. It wasn’t until five years later, in 2008 while unemployed, that Breedlove started producing his own music with the help of musician Boris Skalsky of Dead Heart Bloom.
“I was extremely protective of my songs and sound and wanted absolute control of everything,” Breedlove said. “I’m still very proud of those original demos. Boris and I captured some magic during that time, paying for musicians and studio time with my unemployment checks.”
Rather than release his music for purchase, Breedlove performed the tracks live once a week during his show Magic Monday at St. Jerome’s, a bar on NYC’s lower east side. Breed’s protection of his music included resisting the use of electronics. That all changed in 2011 when professional pop “refixer” Chew Fu made an appearance at Magic Monday.
“I really loved the vibe at St. Jerome’s and what Breedlove represents: a no rules, all love in music kinda energy, and Breed is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met,” Chew Fu told POPULOVE. “The combination really inspired me.”
“I was very excited and nervous that he was there. I knew who he was from his ‘Love Game Refix’ with Gaga and Marilyn Manson, which I was a big fan of. I put on the best show I could for him and made sure the bartender took very good care of him,” Breedlove said.
While talking after the performance, the duo discovered they share the same birthday and discussed collaborating together. Chew Fu’s background as a successful jazz saxophonist made him an exception to Breedlove’s anti-electronic preferences.
“It was terrifying handing over the first song for our attempt at a collaboration,” Breedlove said, “but he’s the only producer I would have done that with. The fact that he integrated live instruments and sounds really attracted me to him.”
The first collaboration was on “I Never Had,” a love song that fellow Rivington Rebel and Semi Precious Weapons’ frontman Justin Tranter assigned Breed to write. According to Breedlove, Chew Fu “beautifully reimagined” his work.
“When Chew had a draft finished, he’d remove the vocals, and I’d debut them the following Monday. We carried on like this for four years,” Breedlove said.
“After working on a few tracks together, we realized, hey, we have an album here!” Chew Fu added. “We began working towards that particular goal starting in early 2013.”
Two years later, goal accomplished. Their debut album, Magic Monday, was released this year.
You have to hear the result yourself to believe it. Magic Monday is similar to Lady Gaga’s The Fame in that it’s electronic, but unique, and simplistic, but addictive: a killer combination for a debut. The biggest difference between his music from 2008 to now, Breedlove says, is that people dance.
“I want that. I want my music to make people think or dance. Life is fun, life is tough, love hurts, but it’s essential to our existence,” he said.
“He’s always taking my words,” Chew laughed. “The message for me is that there are no boundaries; you can do what you want musically and not abide by societal expectation. The album is about self peace and love, heartbreak, and all those real emotions. We hope when people hear it they feel a connection to that individuality and feel encouraged to not follow in someone else’s footsteps. Everyone has their own rhythm, and thats what being cool is all about.”
Chew Fu is most recognized for remixing tracks and albums for pop stars like Lady Gaga and Rihanna, but not every artist he’s worked with has been as musically limitless as Breedlove.
“I love remixing for Gaga because she writes amazing pop songs, and there’s always such a breadth of musicality. She’s a super ‘hands on’ artist to work for. Alot of artists now a days take a step back and let their label handle everything, but that’s not the case with her,” Chew Fu said.
Lady Gaga’s tour with jazz legend Tony Bennett just recently ended, and buzz for the currently untitled “LG5” has begun. When asked what their favorite Gaga song is, both Breed and Chew had a surprising response.
“You haven’t heard it yet, and I’m sworn to secrecy,” Breedlove said.
“I havent heard this secret song yet,” Chew Fu said. “If I had to choose a favorite Gaga song… That’s so difficult, but right now I would say the song ‘Dope.’ I saw her perform it live, and she blew me away.”
Chew Fu is currently promoting Magic Monday and continuing work with bands/artists Fanomm, Wylie, Bootsy Collins, and Steve Clisby. Breedlove, on the other hand, spends each day performing to a live New York audience… from his window.
“I can be heard performing daily from the shower of my apartment in New York City. There’s also an album, Magic Monday, available now on iTunes, and when you listen to it we magically appear live at a little show in your heart.”
Breedlove & Chew Fu on Soundcloud