Thundercat is a well-respected Los Angeles bassist who is simply in a league of his own. Following in the footsteps of Weird Al Yankovic, the music producer and live performer paves his own path. He is not one to fear ridicule and infact lives entirely in the awkward pauses. “Entertaining yet strange” is how his critics describe his shows, and he considers that a high compliment. Despite working since 2002, he has produced only three studio albums, instead giving equal attention to collaboration with other artists and his live shows. In fact, the entertainer is on the road again, hitting clubs and theaters across the country. So grab Thundercat tickets and catch him in the act!
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No self-respecting parent would name their child Thundercat. Hence, Thundercat’s parents named him Stephen Bruner. ‘Thundercat’ is a stage name the bassist developed for himself when he began a solo trek. While many interviewers have asked him the reason for his chosen work-name, he really has not been able to provide a reason for it other than the fact that he loves cats. He has dedicated three songs to his own cat, the most famous of the three being “Tron Song”. The song’s background vocals are, literally, “meow” sounds which elicits a reactionary meowing from live audiences.
From Stephen Bruner to Thundercat
However, the bassist’s musical career began simply as Stephen Bruner as a part of his brother’s band called Suicidal Tendencies. Music ran in the family as their father was a drummer for Diana Ross. During the 90’s, he met with Shafiq Husayn who was part of the alternative hip-hop group, Sa-Ra. A long creative journey ensued where they would play video games and jam to songs for elongated periods of days. This is where he became a reputable bassist in the hip-hop community and he met Flying Lotus.
This was the beginning of a number of collaborations where Thundercat, Bruner’s now-adopted stage name, developed the sound and instrumentation for other artist’s albums. He worked on three of Flying Lotus’ albums and then Lotus convinced him to begin singing his solo works. Thundercat then began working on his own albums and became well-known amongst listeners of music, particularly in the Los Angeles scene.
To Pimp a Butterfly
The project that really launched Thundercat into the limelight was his work on Kendrick Lamar’s inspirational album, “To Pimp a Butterfly”. He worked on the sound and creative image of this album, helping Lamar in exploring jazz and bluegrass. Thundercat eventually won an Emmy with Lamar for this album and it is still considered his most inspired work since.
Thundercat has produced three solo albums on his own. The emphasis on all of these has been bass and instrumentation and the lyrics are purposefully absurd. His formula however has been praised throughout his career as he is considered one of the best musicians in Los Angeles. His longtime collaborator and friend, saxophonist Kamasi Washington says this about him; “He'll play you a piece of a song and you'll go, 'OK,' and then he'll suddenly add the melody in and it becomes this brilliant thing. It's like seeing a great painter with a canvas that looks like a lot of nothing, and then one little stroke goes and you're like, 'Wow you saw that the whole time?" He hears things in songs that other people don't hear." – Kamasi Washington, Rolling Stone Magazine
The seeming eccentricity in his lyrics and videos is simply a disguise for the clever music Thundercat produces. Thundercat has definitely gained a cult following with his albums “The Golden Age of Apocalypse”, “The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam” and “Drunk”.
Whimsical and meaningful at the same time, Thundercat’s poignant new album is being considered one of his best. With multi-genre influences and lyrics that seem to have fallen from the sky, the entertainer has pulled out all stops for the tracks on this album. EDM and jazz is combined to present the sickest drop-lines leaving an audience indecisive as to whether they should dance or groove. “Comb your beard, brush your teeth, beat your meat and go to sleep” is the flattering opening to this album which deals with graver subject matter than these lines suggest. It is a confrontation of the challenges faced by ordinary people trying to take on day at a time.
Thundercat’s latest album is becoming a chart-topping work and he is touring it across the country. Intimate concerts are set in theaters and clubs in notable cities, such as New York City’s 9:30 Club, where audience members have the ability to share in the singer’s experience up-close. Thundercat tickets for these shows are on sale now.
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