Local Love: H*Wood wants to define what it means to be Colorado with the release of its "Elevation EP"
What often flies under the migration radar is the availability of world-class musicians developing movements right here in our own backyard. We’re more than just turning up at Red Rocks every concert season to popular DJs — we also have an acclaimed indie rock scene, a genuine jam culture and a burgeoning hip-hop sphere that’s set to break out soon.
What hasn’t happened yet, however, is any one of them defining what it means to be Colorado with song.
While hunkering down in his home studio, polishing off finishing details on the “Elevation EP,” lead vocalist/main songwriter Brandyn Bordeaux says he’s finally ready to unload the powerful fusion band he’s been working on for the past few years — H*Wood — a band he hopes to develop into that defining regional image.
“It’s time man, it’s about time,” he says. “I’m excited, I think we have — I don’t know how all this happened — but slowly and surely we assembled an awesome team. The last two years everyone knew I had a band, but I haven’t put out that official release about it yet. Until now.”
The bands current lineup consists of himself — a well-known and driving force in the local hip-hop industry already — and five others: Yasi (vocals), DJ Five8, Scott Walker (guitar), Shawn Briardy (bass) and Joe Chudyk on drums. The progression to filling in his prowess with a full band is something Bordeaux says was always on his radar, but issues with his previous labels in Los Angeles and timing always rallied against him.
“I‘ve always wanted to have a live band at the shows, and they just didn’t really want to go with me down that path,” he says about his LA labels. “Which I understand — it takes a lot of money, a lot of patience, a lot of time. So I let my contracts expire out, came back home and built the band. For me now I can do what I want to do, play how I want to play and represent my favorite place in the world with five other people.”
“As much as I love making records on my own I’m at the point in my career where I feel like I’ve done a lot with the H*Wood brand as a solo artist,” he continues. “The band is a dream; it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. It’s why I came back to Colorado, is to be doing what I’m doing. I can’t bring the same energy by myself, all six of us bringing the music that we bring is the best feeling. It’s the best way to do it.”
The two-song “Elevation EP” is a simple precursor to something promised to be bigger and better for the act. What Bordeaux wants to do is introduce the band to the industry, let listeners get acquainted with the hip-hop/rock/EDM musical salad its created, and hopefully build a structure that defines Colorado culture as a whole. He credits the vision of artists such as Dr. Dre, and other west coast rappers, forming their sonic characterization of LA in the ‘90s as the band's catalyst.
“Dr. Dre was able to attach a sound to a city and that city had its own culture no one really knew about,” he says. “I’ve lived in LA for four years and every single time a Dr. Dre or Snoop Dogg song comes on the radio, you feel California. That concept basically is what I wanted to do with this band. It’s not always about representing Colorado, but I also want it to be a sonic indication. No one has really shown what our culture is, and the only way to do that is through music.”
H*Wood, says Bordeaux, is the prime example of what it means to be Colorado because of the entire band’s eclectic mix of race, backgrounds, ages and musical styles.
“In Colorado you get a bit of everything,” he says, “and that’s what we want to do with our sound. I have to use my lyrics and my shows to really be up front and let people know this is a part of Colorado culture, and educate people about how we’re open minded and real chill and laid back — and everybody out here can do they own thing and not have too much judgment about it. Nobody out here is trying to pop a thousand bottles in the club. Everyone wants to go to a bar and a Rockies game and stuff like that.”
To garner what he feels is that perfect regional sound, the band employs the help of One Republic’s Eddie Fisher for production. Bordeaux says he’s been pivotal in the evolution of the whole, and one of the main reason the band went from its previous “H*Wood X The Elevation” title to the current “H*Wood.” The elevation aspect of it, however, is still important to the entire package, which is why the EP and forthcoming album will cater to that idea.
“Elevation is about lifting people up while we’re on stage,” Bordeaux says. “We lift people past all the drama and the problems and the stress and the Instagram likes and the Facebook whatever — if even just for that 45 minutes to an hour. That’s why elevation is such an important part to me, and obviously because when you think of Colorado you think of elevation — it’s a constant.”
So while it’s a lofty goal to try and define a city or state with a not-yet-turned-trend sound, Bordeaux and his band mates feel the position is there for the taking. In an area wrought with rampant migration of many different backgrounds and cultures, the defining tone will need to be something complimentary to the masses. And as far as H*Wood is concerned, its blend of hip-hop, rock, EDM, soul and R&B — and whatever else gets tossed in — may very well be what the city needs for sonic identity.
If not, Yasi belts out the perfect preemptive strike to the downers with a stunning vocal attack on her chorus of the lead single “Work (Never Settle)”:
“I ain’t worried ‘bout these hoes middle fingers to the haters!”
Enough said ...
Watch H*Wood take on UFC fighter Brandon Thatch in RoosterTV's episode of The Feast!
Photos: Trevor Brown // Instagram: @TrevorBrownJr