By Thomas Dunlap
Under the quirky moniker of Brad Stank, Liverpool native Bradley Mullins creates “sexistential” lounge-funk that is both infectious and relaxing. In each of the few tracks he has released, Stank effortlessly combines pleasant melodies with funky instrumentals to create a woozy but energetic experience for the listener. Stank’s jazz and jangle pop influences are clearly present in his work, placing him near other sensual and downtempo artists such as Bane’s World and Jakob Ogawa. Even though Stank has only released five tracks, he has managed to insert himself into the music libraries of many avid bedroom pop followers.
The track “Daddy Blue” begins with a groovy riff that sinks into the listener’s ears, hooks on to their attention, and reels them on to a shoreline overgrown with twanging guitar licks and flowing bass lines. The rhythm and lead guitars spiral into each other as the solid percussion rocks back and forth accompanied by stuttering bass notes. After an instrumental intro, Stank begins to gracefully croon the lyrics “Baby I’ve never been a fan of reviews, but I’m a fan of everything that you do.” Usually unimpressed with the constructive criticism of others, Stank finds himself unable to resist singing the praises of his significant other. Stank’s simplistic, romantic, and relatable lyrics continue throughout the song and go hand-in-hand with his laidback and provocative instrumentation. The climax of the song is consummated with the lyrics “She took me to her room, a tender rendezvous,” ending with the titular line “and called me daddy blue.” This track supports his musical strengths and defines his specific sensual sound, making it the quintessential Stank selection.
The musical and lyrical themes of “Daddy Blue” continue throughout the entirety of Stank’s limited discography. “O.T.D,” a track about realizing and dealing with unconscious feelings, carries on the thoughtful sentiments that Stank expresses in his lyrics. Stank’s recent release, “Condemned To Be Freaky,” reflects his more romantic lyrical references and expresses his musical versatility with its uptempo speed and energy. Stank’s most popular track is a stripped-down and funky song by the name of “Pond Weed.” His “sexistentialist” style is epitomized on this track. The lyrics “always acting lazy, still got time for making you cry” accurately define the tone and mood of Stank’s specific brand of alternative indie pop. These sad and introspective lyrics, which are obviously inspired by some of Stank’s personal experiences, compliment the sensual and suggestive musical arrangements that persist throughout his music. Stank’s minimal collection of singles, which would hardly take up much shelf or digital storage space, is completed with his foggiest and drowsiest track yet, “Flirting in Space.” This track is filled with piercingly smooth strumming and an equally as soothing vocal delivery. The five songs that accumulate into Stank’s short but solid library are all thoughtfully constructed pieces of music that work together to create a moody yet affectionate atmosphere.
Stank’s only visual endeavor is an emotional and dimly lit music video for his track “O.T.D.” The video is comprised of shifting shots depicting either a solitary Stank lazily strumming his guitar or intimate images of an attractive and comfortably dressed woman, presumably Stank’s love interest. The scenes displaying Stank in his isolation are barely made visible by deep blue lighting, a possible nod to his confidential nickname mentioned in a previously discussed track. Alternatively, the shots of Stank’s significant other are lovingly illuminated by pink lights, allowing the viewer to observe her through the same rose colored glasses as worn by Stank. The video, directed by Stank and Charlie Myers, is a calming and enjoyable experience from beginning to end.
I contacted Stank through his Instagram account (@br4dl3y) to see if he could be reached for comment. After a quick and friendly conversation I was able to deliver my questions, to which he returned his answers less than 24 hours later. The following is a transcript of our minimal, yet educational back-and-forth.
I see that you have an upcoming show with Clairo, have you and the boys prepared anything special?
Very excited for the show with Claire, unfortunately we don’t have anything super special lined up as I have Sidonie from the Orielles subbing on the drums and we haven’t had the time! So it’ll just be our plain old sexistential set.
How do you decide which songs are smooth and sensual enough to belong on your playlist “sexistentialism 101?”
There’s not any kind of criteria really, it just has to feel right. The great thing about sexistentialism is that it’s pretty genre-less and is more of a mindset or a feeling. If a song is lonesome, horny, devotional or metaphysical in its lyrics or vibe then it usually fits.
How are you and the guys from Her’s? What is your favorite track off their new album?
Met them in our first year of uni and I consider myself extremely lucky to have watched my boys bloom so magnificently over the past four or five years from up close ;~). My favourite song off the new album (hard Q) is probably Blue Lips or Easy Breathing.
What do you do to keep yourself busy when you’re not performing?
I’ve become addicted to chess over the past few months; I f***ing love it. Also, thinking, reading and doing the dishes.
Could you please run me through your creative process? Do you record everything yourself or do you take advantage of a conventional studio?
I record everything myself, yes. Apart from the drums which are normally just samples. My creative process usually starts with finding a cool name for a song. Then stealing a drum beat from somewhere (you can find everything I’ve ripped off in the sexistential 101 playlist) and going from there, adding chords and melodies and all that.
How does having a solo career compare with being in a band?
I don’t know if I’ve had much of a solo “career” yet! This still all feels very new and strange to be the face of something, after a few years playing drums in Trudy and the Romance. It’s a bit more stressful I think, but in a good way, and I love it
The few songs you have released as of yet, are they stand-alone tracks or are they singles from an upcoming project?
Both! Condemned to be Freaky will be on an EP coming very soon, but not soon enough.
Is music your only form of artistic expression? What other ways do you express your creativity?
Yes. I’ve never been any good at painting or any of that stuff. I like taking photos with old cameras but there’s not really anything artistic I try to express with that. I’m a music man from head to toe!
Be it either his catchy chords, loving lullabies, or interesting instrumentation, something about Stank’s style and sound keep encouraging me to leave his tracks on repeat. His tunes are currently available on all streaming platforms and in very limited physical supply.
Featured photo courtesy of Bradley Mullins. Calligraphy by Thomas Dunlap.