His success was further buoyed by his first U.S. TV performance on The Late Late Show With James Corden and making his festival debut at Bonnaroo, as well as attracting co-signs from Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, Shawn Mendes, Hailey Beiber and more.
The 31-year-old grew up in North London and first took up the guitar at the age of 15, influenced by songwriters including Randy Newman, Bob Dylan and Billy Joel. After dropping his new single, “Tapestry” last fall, Major will launch a 2020 North American tour next month that will see the artist play his biggest venues to date, including stops at Brooklyn Steel in New York City and Los Angeles’ Fonda Theatre.
To celebrate his upcoming trek, as well as new music on the horizon in 2020, Bruno Major put together this week's #TBT Mixtape to share his early soundtrack with fans, including songs by Chet Baker, Nina Simone, Nick Drake and others.
Check out Major's track-by-track reflection about each song, and some throwback photos, below.
Chet Baker, "Embraceable You"
"This whole album was hugely influential on my sound. The vocal delivery, the instrumentation. If you took this song and added some analog beats underneath, you wouldn’t be a million miles from A Song For Every Moon."
Nick Drake, "Road"
"This was the album that made me want to be a singer-songwriter. I was in Warsaw when I first heard it. I was ill and spent a day in bed just listening to it over and over. I tried to book tickets to see him live and was shocked to discover he was dead and the music was so old. The music is that timeless. This song showcases his transcendent guitar abilities and flawless vocals."
"I’m not sure there has ever been a band that has consistently put out world changing music over such a long period of time. In my opinion, In Rainbows represents the zenith of a long sonic journey and 'Reckoner' is a personal highlight for me. I take influence from Tom Yorke’s falsetto vocal, the innate Britishness of their sound, and Nigel Godrich’s impeccable, subtle, powerful production. This album is the sonic benchmark for me."
D’Angelo, "Send It On"
"Hearing D’Angelo for the first time was something of an epiphany for me. Learning instruments and writing songs came very naturally to me, but figuring out how to record and turn those skills into a listenable record eluded me for a long time. When I hear D’Angelo, it sounds like he is breathing the music through the speakers. It sounds so natural and exactly how it is meant to be.
"I take influence from his arrangement, instrumentation and above all else, the effortless soul that he emanates. I learned to play bass by watching Pino Palladino play when we made an album together. His playing on this record is transcendent and every time I pick up a bass guitar, I think ‘what would Pino do.’"
Randy Newman, "The World Isn’t Fair"
"Nobody has shaped my approach to songwriting as much as Randy Newman. He is one of the all time greats. I learned through listening to Randy Newman that lyrics could be funny and intelligent, and about subjects other than love. Humour in music is important to me, and something I keep in mind at all times. Nothing is worse than an artist who takes themselves too seriously and if someone as mercurially talented as Randy Newman can self deprecate, we all can. This song is a letter from Randy to Karl Marx, explaining to him the failures of communism. Unbelievable. Only Randy Newman could pull this off."
Joe Pass, "How High the Moon"
"I feel like most kids learning the guitar idolise rock stars like Jimi Hendrix or Slash. I did too, but my biggest hero of all was a little old man with a moustache called Joe Pass. I spent nearly two years listening to nothing else. I would fall asleep listening to him wake up, transcribe his playing 6 hours a day, and fall asleep on my ES175, which I bought because that's what he played. He is the greatest solo jazz guitar player of all time, and I owe a lot to him. His licks and chords are all over my records."
James Blake, "Wilhelm Scream"
"Like a lot of musicians of my generation, I was influenced by James Blake and his game changing first album. It was impossibly minimal when it first came out. His symbiosis with synthesizers is remarkable, and his production is still fresh today, despite the numerous copycats that have since proliferated. I particularly was drawn to his authentic blending of American soul music and British soundscapes, something I can relate to in my own music."
John Williams, "Suite Espanola No.1, Op.47: No 5, Asturias (Leyenda)"
"I played classical music as a child, I passed all my grades with distinction. Classical guitar still runs though my veins and is the reason I play guitar with my fingers rather than a pick. I had a CD of John Williams playing Isaac Albeniz pieces that I would listen to all the time. It was weird going to school and hearing everyone talking about Blur and Oasis. I had no idea who that was, and I thought it kinda sucked compared to the classical music I’d been listening to at home. What a little snob. I love both those bands now."
The Nutcracker Suite, "Op. 71A, Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy"
"Seems like a curve ball, but my first memory of music was Disney’s Fantasia. I would have tantrums as a kid, and nothing would shut me up except Fantasia. My parents would put my high chair in front of the TV and I’d just stare at it in a trance. I still feel all those pieces of music very deeply. I have Fantasia on my laptop and put it on at night if I can’t sleep."
Peace Piece, "Bill Evans"
"My life changed when I experienced DMT. It taught me not to fear death, and cleared a fog that had been over me as long as I could remember. It was after this experience that I knew I had to make ‘A Song For Every Moon’ and that I had to be in sync with the universe, because I am the universe. We are all the sentience of the universe, little pieces of consciousness connected to a wider, collective consciousness that never ends and never begins. I think that universal consciousness is what some people call God.
"This song was playing during my experience. It has a really special place in my soul now. I felt at the time that Bill understood everything I was learning already, and was playing just for me. Wild."
Nina Simone, "Little Girl Blue"
"This whole album blows my mind into smithereens. I’m not sure there has been another person with more instrumental virtuosity, pure selfless otherworldly soul and emotional connection. Nina Simone is music and music is her. I feel that connection with my art and the sincerity and authenticity with which she expresses herself is something I aspire to achieve. What a human being."