Interviews

Q&A: Brutus’ Stefanie Mannaerts

Belgian post-rock trio, Brutus, know how to create an impact. Their debut album BURST which released in 2017, is a thirty-seven minute long, intense, rollercoaster. With their second LP, NEST, dropping later this month, LOCK spoke to the band’s vocalist and drummer Stefanie Mannaerts.

Hi Stefanie, The new Brutus album is out this month! How excited are you for the public to finally hear it and what challenges did the band face when recording it compared to recording your debut BURST?

I think the three of us are very excited. We put a lot of work into this one – we had a lot to prove. I think the main difference between Burst and Nest is that we really thought things through, over and over. We’ve put a lot more effort into broadening our sound.

The writing progress was slower than on Burst. We’ve put a lot more time into the arrangements, and rewrote a lot. We took what we loved from Burst and merged it with another energy. It’s a more honest album as well. We worked with how we felt and the vibe we were in at rehearsals, sometimes really energetic, sometimes just fed up with everything and everyone.

‘War’ is the lead single from NEST, what was the idea behind releasing the live video of the track first, rather than a music video for the studio version?

When we started playing War live, way before the recordings, it felt like we were finally the band we had always wanted to be for so long, in my opinion. Also with Brutus, the album energy is hugely different from the live experience. We wanted people to literally see and feel what this band is all about. The way the three of us have been feeling since the start. On stage there are never arguments, on stage we are a one-piece. I love the energy we created in the live studio video. And also, we thought why just release another video with the same audio as the album? We think this live video shows an extra dimension to the band.

As you are the vocalist and drummer of Brutus, do you feel that there is enough respect given for bands that have the drummer as lead vocalist? Unfortunately it feels like there is no spotlight on this sort of band lineup. It’s not easy to sing and play drums at the same time, so surely bands that do this should get the credit they deserve?

I speak for myself that I feel like I get enough credit, especially from my bandmates. It is the same as playing guitar and singing in some way? Maybe drumming and singing is difficult breathing wise and it’s pretty hard to keep a steady beat and a solid vocal performance. But there are so many singers who are also lead-guitarists, playing totally different lines. I think every band or person who has the balls to get themselves on a stage, deserves credit. Live music is bringing feelings to the stage. Everyone is naked at that moment.

Is there a track from the new album that you are particularly excited for fans to hear?

Yes, ‘Sugar Dragon’ is definitely one of my favourites. The lyrics mean a lot to me and, like ‘War’, it is a song that gets another dimension by playing it live. It feels like a closure-song. It’s a song that ends a difficult time I went through. Nothing feels so satisfying as closure.

Brutus – photography by Eva VLONK.

If you could headline only one festival in the world, which festival would you pick and why?

Difficult one! Well … Headlining is not such an important thing for me, if there are a cool bands and cool people, it’s all fine.

What musical instrument did you take up first?

I started playing the piano when I was six. It runs in the family and I was super eager to learn it. When I was older, about fourteen, I started playing drums. It was then only when we started Brutus a few years ago that I started singing.

Any personal career highlights so far?

The release of the song ‘War’ was one of my personal highlights. I am beyond proud that the three of us were in such a good place when we were making that song. It felt like magic. Everything was suddenly all so clear to us. You know when it is right. And of course, seeing all the positive responses warms my heart.

Brutus will be coming to Leeds, Glasgow, London, and Brighton very soon. How have you found playing to British audiences compared to audiences in your home country of Belgium?

To be honest I am always in another world during a show. I can’t tell who is standing there, if people were cheering or whatever. The last time we were in the UK, we felt very welcome and people talked to us after the show at the merch desk, talking about the show. We felt super welcome and we are looking forward to playing there again. It is always a blast.

If you were not in music, what do you think you would be doing career-wise?

Definitely an animal doctor. I am obsessed with animals and super vegan haha. I love everything about them and in another world I would definitely be a vet.

Name three female musicians that inspire you..

Karin Dreijder Andersson (the Knife, Fever Ray)

Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac)

Emma Ruth Rundle (Marriages, Emma Ruth Rundle)

Finally, what advice would you give to someone who wants to learn the drums and pursue music?

Look for a band. If that is your goal. I mean, I learned everything playing in a band. I was so bad. I had only been playing for six months when a local punk-rock band asked me to join them because I had a lot of time haha. When you are the worst musician in the band, you learn the most.

NEST is out March 29th.

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Featured image by Eva Vlonk.

Q&A: Brutus’ Stefanie Mannaerts
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