Blunt Force Comin’ At You From Austin: Festivals, Tour Life & Tacos [Artist Interview]

Blunt Force is the euphonious duo of Brian Gustafson and Deniz Baykal. The two fuse their unique instrumental talents with old school style sampling and heavy electronic production to create an infectious sound to make you feel good and move your feet all day and night. They have found a perfect mixture of funk, hip-hop, livetronica, dubstep and everything in between creating a force we DO want to reckon with. Blunt Force was conceived when Gustafson began producing out of his Freshman dorm room at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas in 2011. He found his niche with incorporating his rhythmic guitar over his ear-catching sample-based production and in February of 2014, released his first EP “A Brighter Tomorrow.” The live guitar sets definitely created an edge for Gustafson, who added some flavor to the drowned out world of laptops and upcoming producers in the electronic scene. Quickly following, Gustafson paired up with the now other half of Blunt Force, drummer and producer Deniz Baykal, whom he knew from St. Edward’s University. Euphoria Music Fest 2014 marked the debut of the new live set from the two and since then, Blunt Force has been in full effect.

Photo by Parker Witte Photography

After the two graduated from St. Edward’s in January, Blunt Force set forth on a twenty city national tour to showcase their newly evolved sound and style. We have had the pleasure of catching Blunt Force a time or two in the past few years, but our sure-fire favorite was their set at Euphoria last month. Deniz and Brian have curated a fresh, funky, and powerful sound that makes for a perfect day of blasting at your house or road tripping across the country, and a live experience we guarantee you never want to miss. We had the pleasure of conversing with Blunt Force about how they are composing themselves and here’s what they had to say:

CYM: Okay, so first, tell me how y’alls first tour was- 20 cities?!

Brian: It was such an amazing experience. In total I think we covered 8 states (CO, TX, FL, LA, AR, etc..) and drove something like 8000 miles. This entire first tour was truly humbling and taught us so much, both about ourselves and also what life on the road can be like as touring musicians. We definitely had our fair share of ups and downs, but this tour really brought the two of us closer together and more in sync as a unit. We made so many new friends and expanded our Blunt Force family to parts of the country we’d never even think we would be in the past. It was nothing short of amazing, and we couldn’t be any more excited for the future.

Deniz: Yeah, I feel like that tour was what we needed to really show everyone that we are serious about this project. It was also our chance to showcase the new sound and live set that people could expect us to hear from us starting this year, and the positive reactions we got throughout the tour has pushed us to work even harder on our craft here at home so we can go out and do it all over again.

Photo by Parker Witte Photography

CYM: What were each of y’all’s favorite moment, if you can pick one?

Brian: I think for both us it was hands down our two days in Fayetteville, Arkansas. We stayed at this beautiful ranch that was about 20 minutes outside of Fayetteville. After staying in hotel rooms, or sleeping on the floor or random couches for the past two weeks, the ranch really was a breath of fresh air (literally!) And the energy at the show that night was through the roof! Definitely one of my favorite stops on the whole tour.

CYM: I know that traveling brings lots of oddities, hilarious mishaps and amazing encounters. What were some other memorable happenings or unexpected places along the way that stoked the fire that keeps y’all doing what you do?

Brian: We had a few days off in between dates in the Southeast, which just so happened to be the week of Fat Tuesday. So of course we decided to go to NOLA. I’m sure I don’t need to elaborate much more, but let’s just say that drive to Baton Rouge the next day was tough.

CYM: I know y’all have played a handful of festivals in the past few years including Euphoria, Wakarusa, Summer Camp, Sonic Bloom, Art Outside, Head for the Hills and more…is there a particular one that really helped shape you guys’ sound and performance? I know they all probably did in some way, but is there that ‘one set’ that really stands out in the Blunt Force story?

Brian: I think we would both agree that Euphoria fits that description almost perfectly. This past year was our third straight year playing the festival and it really has become like a second home to us. We debuted the new live show (with Deniz on drums) there in 2014 and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

Deniz: The Euphoria team has been one of our biggest supporters these past few years, giving us a bigger and better time slot each year. It’s hands down our favorite festival to play just because we feel like we’re home. Our Euphoria set this year was truly memorable. We were able to kick off the entire festival at the Thursday Night Pre-Party to a rowdy crowd of nearly a thousand people, and were able to really help set the tone for the rest of the weekend.  

Brian: We have so much love for our Euphoria tribe!

CYM: What are you guys working on lately?

Brian: We’ve been hard at work in the studio working on our next EP, which we’re expecting sometime late-Summer. We’re really taking our time on this release, as we both are now involved in the production process as opposed to before where it was just me. It’s definitely been a learning experience in sharing the creative process with Deniz, but in the end has only helped our sound progress. I think you can really hear that in our last single we put out “Dreamer”.

Deniz: Fun fact about Dreamer, I created that track my freshmen year of college. It was my first original electronic song and i’ve always been proud of it… but my production skills were pretty bad at the time. 5 years later, we completely redid it, and this is what we came up with!

CYM: Any shows coming up?

Brian: We’re really trying to take it easy this summer in terms of touring to focus more on honing our sound in the studio as a duo. We have a few big shows and festivals lined up that we will be announcing soon, but our main focus this summer is definitely on writing new music.

CYM: Being an Austinite, I am curious to know your favorite place to score a breakfast taco in the city these days?

Brian: Hands down El Taccorido! That’s my go-to. But I will say Taco Joint comes in a close second. Their migas taco is unreal.

   Deniz: Taco Joint will never let you down.

CYM: Who are y’all listening to right now?

Brian: Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of reggae bands like Twiddle, Stick Figure, and The Movement. Perfect for those summer-time vibes.

  Deniz: I listen to everything from indie rock to rap to dubstep. I like to stay updated on new music across all genres. But I will say, I’m a huge Blink 182 fan, so i’ve been jamming that new song they released on repeat since it came out. Travis Barker has always been and will always be my number one inspiration.

CYM: Right on, fellas! Well thanks for chatting with CYM. We look forward to continue to follow y’all’s journey!

Photo by Parker Witte Photography

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