BFRND - new single - "Sunglasses at Night"


On Sunday 4th October during Paris Fashion Week, Balenciaga showed their Pre-Collection by way of a short film echoing the style of a music video. The music for this was composed by BFRND, and consisted of a cover version of Corey Hart's 1984 new wave classic “Sunglasses at Night”. The film was directed by award-winning film director Walter A. Stern, known for his iconic video for The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony”.

BFRND has been the composer behind every Balenciaga show since fall 2017, where he began his career in the fashion world by collaborating with Andrew Eldritch, leader of The Sisters of Mercy. Every season is a major milestone for the 28-year-old composer. Whether orchestral ensembles or thumping industrial scores, tribal techno or 160 beats per minute hardcore, he translates Demna Gvasalia’s vision into sound. Born and raised in a small town of southern France, BFRND is a self-taught artist and a one-man band, now enjoying the peaceful countryside of Switzerland near the city of Zürich with his husband and two dogs. For the past two years, BFRND has also been working on his upcoming album “Afterlife”, a cinematic journey revealing all the facets of his personality.

Back in March, as COVID-19 began casting its shadow over Paris Fashion Week, Balenciaga’s runway show served as an eerily prescient reminder of the various catastrophes facing humankind. Models walked through a shallow pool of water lit to appear as an oil slick, while the auditorium appeared to sink helplessly into the mire. The music accompanying it consisted of an urgent, shuddering string quartet; a timeless sonic backdrop for a deeply timely collection. Six months later, and Demna Gvasalia’s outlook – one that can always be trusted as a barometer for where fashion is moving next – appears altogether more upbeat. His latest show featured an array of Demna's typically eclectic faces, pacing energetically through the Paris streets at night to the exhilarating beat of BFRND'S new track.

From his home deep in the countryside outside Zurich, BFRND spoke to RE-EDITION to explain the full story behind this unlikely choice – and the album recorded during lockdown that he’ll be releasing soon.

LIAM HESS: How has the lockdown period for you been while working in Switzerland?

BFRND: For me personally, it was great. It's been a good moment to refresh my mind, and I actually composed an entire album during the last lockdown. It was really a creative moment where I could be just alone with my thoughts and feel really connected to myself, you know? It was almost like a long meditation.

LIAM HESS: I wanted to ask you about the choice to cover Corey Hart's "Sunglasses at Night" – was there something specific in the lyrics or the mood of it that felt particularly appropriate for the collection, and this moment?

BFRND: After this whole COVID situation, we wanted to do something about fashion that felt positive, since the last show was really dramatic and so apocalyptic in a way. We wanted to go back to the essence of fashion. Also Demna, for the first time in a few seasons, was not working with a precise theme, there was no narrative, it was just about fashion. We were looking for something that represented that fashion spirit, and we thought, what's more fashion than wearing sunglasses at night? [laughs]

LIAM HESS: In terms of your soundtracks for the Balenciaga shows more generally, they've spanned all sorts of genres and you have a really impressive versatility as a musician. Do you find it exciting to be able to experiment in that way with something new every season?

BFRND: For sure. If I work for myself, I stay in my area, I do what I want. Working with Demna is another thing because he tells me his mood, and then I interpret it in sound. I really like to be able to do different stuff, because it's a challenge for me, to do this, but also keep my signature. I quite like that challenge of trying to translate that idea but still within my universe.

LIAM HESS: I read that you're self-taught as a musician – do you think that has influenced your willingness to experiment at all?

BFRND: I used to work with musicians that studied at the conservatories in Paris, and I always struggled with those kind of people, because they were sticking to very old rules of music composition, where you have to rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. It wasn't spontaneous enough for me. Being self-taught, I just compose with my feeling – I'm not reduced to the grid, to the rules.

LIAM HESS: And when you moved from Paris to Switzerland in 2017, did that change your approach to making music at all?

BFRND: Oh yes. For me, Paris is a very stressful environment, it's very hectic. And also being what I would call a weirdo, for French people, with my way of dressing and being, I never felt that safe in France. I would say that the first feeling coming to Switzerland was that feeling of security and being able to fully connect with myself and to chill out, really. I live in the countryside, so I can really just concentrate and enjoy that lifestyle.

LIAM HESS: You're from the countryside originally, right? So does it feel like coming full circle?

BFRND: I'm from a very small town. I grew up by the sea and mountains. And so I feel like I'm closer to where I grew up by being in Switzerland. I'm more of a village boy than a city person.

LIAM HESS: Do you think the album you've made during lockdown reflects something different about you and your music that's different from your previous work?

BFRND: I think it's more precise. It's less complicated. Before, I would always try to please people, but these are people that are not present in my life, it was all in my head. And this new album is really more about connecting with myself.

LIAM HESS: You've been working on a bigger album project for around two years – what's the story there? Is it nearing completion?

BFRND: It says a lot about me, because I like a lot of different things. I like Gothic, industrial, but also pop and more cinematic style. So it's a big range of what I like. I also like to do sentimental ballads. It's all about how you interpret it. I like to try and touch on different music styles, as well as stuff that people wouldn't necessarily expect from me. Over the past two years, I changed a lot personally. I used to smoke weed, but I quit drinking, smoking, everything at the end of last year, and I realised that I was never fully myself until I was sober. My album was almost finished, but I noticed that everything I did until then wasn't resembling me enough. So I restarted everything during the COVID lockdown and I don't really know how to describe it, but I had a really big creative flow. For me, 2020 has been a year of embracing myself and feeling free. Before, I would always ask myself questions like, what will people think? Am I good enough? And now, I don't ask myself those questions, I just do what I like and feel good about it.

Interview by Liam Hess

On 4th October, BFRND released his 1st single “Sunglasses at Night”.


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