Southern California multi-instrumentalist and producer BARDZ dropped his newest project Burn Bright this week, and we’re taking a deep dive into the four-track collaborative project to learn about all things BARDZ, who’s made a name for himself as one of the hardest working producers in the game.
I first learned of BARDZ through another of my favorite producers, Chicago-based ALIGN. BARDZ, real name Tyler Bardzilowski, keeps a strong creative circle. He had ALIGN out for a packed show at Tempe’s Shady Park, and to an enthusiastic crowd, BARDZ was shredding the guitar over an eclectic mix of originals, remixes, and genre-jumping jams. I was intrigued enough to follow, and that follow has been worth its weight in gold.
BARDZ keeps the creativity flowing nonstop. Over the past year and change, the producer has debuted a song-from-scratch series called Bit x Bit, notched a remix for RUNN on Seeking Blue Records, and collaborated with a long list of creatives-turned-friends with his label Black Swan Collective for stunning live stream events.
His newest release, the four track Burn Bright EP, is a mix of his latest and greatest: part singer-songwriter pop-electronic like on the title track “Burn Bright.” In collaboration with Dan Turley and Austin Ryan, BARDZ showcases a contrast of dark and light on the tracks “Skin Deep” and “Concrete Jungle“. We had the chance to catch up with the producer to chat Burn Bright and the many avenues that led the producer to this point, and where he’s headed next.
Check out the exclusive Q&A with BARDZ below and give Burn Bright a listen!
RB: “Thanks for chatting with us BARDZ! In my opinion, you’re such an impressive creative — for new fans, you have a wealth of amazing stuff out there — live streams, your Bit x Bit series, and now your new EP Burn Bright. How would you describe where you are in your musical journey and how that plays out on Burn Bright?“
TB: “That means a ton, thank you! I think for myself and so many others, quarantine had a huge impact on creativity and overall life. I think the past year was actually the best thing to happen to my musical direction though. Prior to shutdown, I was playing shows and was sad to see that stop, but it opened a window for me to really sit down and experiment with my sound.
When life was normal, my routine was somewhat normal – make music, build sets, play shows, repeat. With the huge shift and staying stuck at home, I put a much heavier emphasis on songwriting and storytelling, without any thought to how this song would play out in a live setting. I also dove into experimenting with social media content to give my songwriting and singing more reps, and had more time on my hands than I knew what to do with.
That’s where Burn Bright really got its inspiration; Centered around the topic of creativity itself. It’s a 4 part story, told from the very real experiences from myself, Dan, and another writer on this project, Austin.
“The journey follows a creative who has lost their spark, and their journey to recover meaning. It felt very cathartic to create this story during such a strange and difficult time for so many of us.”– BARDZ
RB: “Daniel Turley is your right hand man on Burn Bright. How did his talent and input help bring the EP to life?”
TB: “Hands down, Dan is one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met. Also hands down the best singer I’ve ever met. The guy is a national treasure, and I couldn’t think of anyone better to voice the story. It all started when he agreed to sing ‘Save Myself‘ back in February, which at the time was nothing more than a demo written by Austin Ryan and myself over a beat I made just for live shows. I knew this was something special, and it became the basis of the overall story.
Being the book-end, I worked backwards until there was a beginning, and Dan sang it with total conviction all the way through. I’m convinced that Dan’s emotion and delivery guided everything – from production choices to cover art, everything. It just felt so natural and truthful.”
RB: “He’s one of a long list of talents in your creative circle. You recently started your label Black Swan Collective and just put out a 1/1 NFT release with Carter Juncal.. you’re everywhere! Can you give us an overview of all the projects you’re involved in?”
TB: “Totally; so another bright side to quarantine was the genesis of Black Swan, a creative collective started by my friends Brendan (Covex), Debjit and Andrew (Shae District), Hudson, Mason and Carter. So much has come from this collective and I’m so grateful for it.
We constantly bounce ideas off each other and connect people from inside and outside the group within our Discord to create so many works, including livestreams, releases and other audio-visual projects. It’s really all about community, and it’s been a great place for creatives of all disciplines to come together and collaborate on ideas, concepts and the occasional meme sharing lol.
I entered the NFT space with Carter Juncal on a drop centered around our album art for Burn Bright. This particular drop was a continuous loop of the tree for ‘Concrete Jungle‘, the second single off the release. We plan on doing one for each release, as there are 4 unique installations so stay tuned on Zora!
Aside from BARDZ related involvement, I’ve been really diving into music on other fronts. I recently scored a documentary called ‘We To Me,’ and this was the first full length project I have ever written music for. It’s a really incredible film by the team over at 1890 Productions, and they’ve been absolutely sweeping awards since it premiered.
I’ve also been doing a lot of songwriting, singing, production, guitar work etc. for other artists’ projects. It’s been really rewarding and challenging, but I love it. You don’t always flex creative muscles the ways that are asked of you when working to realize someone else’s vision, and I think it’s made me a better artist because of that.”
RB: “That’s an incredible list! Pre-pandemic, your live shows were always a cut above the rest, and your live streams over the past year have been no exception; I’m just always super impressed by all the ways you harness your creativity. What inspires you and pushes you to keep raising the bar?”
TB: “Thanks, I appreciate that a ton. Honestly I just get bored if I do the same thing the same way for too long lol. I’ve had a lot of fun trying out new forms of content lately, and usually it’s the result of me testing out new techniques, gear, demos in progress, etc.”
“I think it stems from a deeper feeling of wanting to surprise myself, but I also am so inspired by other artists and my peers. They keep me going when I feel like I’ve hit a wall, and I’m really grateful for all the friends I’ve made through music.
Social media sometimes feels like a stressful burden when trying to keep up with content, and it can truly be a challenge to delineate art from ‘content’, if I’m being honest. I have to remind myself very often that they are separate things, and music (art) needs to always come first. I think quarantine tipped the scale heavily towards social media this past year because we were all stuck inside with nothing to do. Hopefully things will balance out again soon!”
RB: “Totally understandable, and I think most would agree. And these days, you’re back in your native Southern California. You touch on downsides of that on “Save Myself”, but has that change of scenery been helpful at all?”
TB: “Definitely happy to be home. I’d be lying to say I don’t miss Arizona though; There’s an amazing music community there, and it’s truly where I found my place as an artist. I will say that being back in California makes this all feel full circle, and was certainly needed during the weird year we had in 2020. Looking forward to playing shows back in AZ though!”
RB: “We’re hopefully heading into a new golden era for music after a really tough year for so many of us. Reflecting on the past year, what are you looking forward to most?”
TB: “SHOWS. And honestly just normal life, like I wanna sit in a movie theater and watch trailers lol. I also can’t wait to listen to everyone’s music that’s bound to be released from writing last year. I can only imagine how many creative projects grew out of 2020 and what they’re going to have to say.”
Featured photo courtesy of artist