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Bran Van 3000 Biography

Last updated: 08/26/2010 12:00:00 PM

If video killed the radio star, no one told BRAN VAN 3000. They seem quite happy being both.

So much has happened since BRAN VAN 3000 released their debut CD, GLEE. They've watched as their first single, Drinking In L.A., became a staple at stations like ENERGY 108 and climbed its way to #3 on the national campus charts. Shortly after, the video went straight into medium rotation at MUCHMUSIC and later, graduated to heavy.

It was enough to make most bands swoon, let alone an independent vehicle like BV3 - but it was actually only beginning. Drinking In L.A.'s video garnered the band three nominations - and a chance to perform - at the 1997 MUCHMUSIC VIDEO AWARDS. They ended up scooping two of them for Best Dance Video and the Videofact Award. They've been featured everywhere from the NEW MUSIC to the cover of EXCLAIM, with CHART calling BV3 "Canada's best new band".

Not ones to stand and admire what's already happened, BRAN VAN 3000 looked ahead and released their second single from GLEE, Couch Surfer, a silly beatbox ditty laced with kazoo and Bran Man's distorted rap.

In addition, the BV3's lineup has expanded from the core of vocalists James "Bran Man" Di Salvio, Jayne Hill and Sara Johnston with programming and sampling by E.P. to include drummer Rob Joanisse, guitarist Nick Hynes and bassist Gary McKenzie. Other full-time passengers in the BRAN VAN are MC Liquid and vocalist/diva Stephane Moraille.

Just two years ago, Di Salvio was pursuing his calling as a filmmaker and music video director -- a career that began when he was a teenager. Suddenly, after years of flirting with music as a DJ, a remixer, and a commandant of clips, Di Salvio got hit by something called BRAN VAN 3000 -- a full-on musical monster of his own creation.

Thing is, Di Salvio couldn't help but think of his music in terms of film. He took on the role of director, and over the course of a year and a half assembled a cast of some 20 Montreal musicians, producers and rappers, all of whom would help give shape to the recording of these songs. Everyone got involved from singers Johnston and Hill to local lo-fi legend's SHINE LIKE STARS! to soul singer Moraille and, DOUGHBOY, John Kastner.

BRAN VAN 3000's debut album, GLEE, is the joyous result of these sessions. Its pop songs, hip-hop breaks and sampledelic swirl walk a line between the raw charm of indie rock and a beat-driven future. "All I knew going into this was turntables and DJ culture," says Bran Man. "But as I was doing the album, I met all these people along the way and I realized that I really do love guitar bands as much as I like trip-hop, hip-hop and ZZ TOP."

It's all here too. The first single, Drinking In L.A. flips back and forth between soul lady vox and an inebriated flow by Bran Man. Call it beer hop. Exactly Like Me nods to naive rock with violin, acoustic guitar and the sweet-femme vocals of Johnston backing Di Salvio's lead.

Di Salvio decided to take the plunge into music during a stint in New York where he was directing a video for jazz star Branford Marsalis. "It gave me some money", says Bran Man, "so I called my friend Electronic Pierre (E.P.) in Montreal and we went to 42nd Street with $10,000 in cash on the subway and bought some studio shit". Together they came up with BRAN VAN 3000. Videos will now have to take a back seat to the BRAN VAN.