Instrument Talk Levelling up with Max Bramley - NZ Music Month Feature
Levelling up with Max Bramley - NZ Music Month Feature
New Zealand Music Month is an amazing annual event that celebrates local music and musicians. For KBB Music we see this as the perfect time to celebrate making music and encouraging Kiwis to take their musical talents to the next level!
In the spirit of levelling up your music, throughout this month we are also profiling the amazing staff of KBB Music. These are the incredible helpers you will meet at our stores who have also have vibrant musical backgrounds. Through the process of a quick-fire interview, we were interested in finding out how they levelled up their music journey and the instruments they recommend to budding Kiwi musicians.
“Music has always been a massive part of my life.”
Before he even learnt to walk, our staff member in the spotlight today was introduced into the world of music.
As a young child, Max Bramley’s grandfather started teaching him the piano. Despite his best efforts, Max found interest in the guitar instead. Now having mostly played for himself for the better part of 6 years, Max has joined a jazz combo playing the bass.
This was one of the first times Max truly felt passionate about what he was doing with his music.
Throughout his high school years, he played with a variety of jazz and rock/metal bands. As well as these groups, his involvement in the music department lead to his role in backstage management. Max became the Head of the Sound Department and regularly set up and operated live performances – both music and theatrical. Not only this, it also gave him the opportunity to play with other like-minded musicians, pushing him past his comfort zone and to try new genres and instruments he wouldn’t have otherwise. Before joining the jazz combo he never would have thought to play jazz, or even listen to it. Today, Max is finally able to have a jam with his grandad and still listens to his ’music lectures’!
Thinking back on your musical journey, what were the breakthrough moments that made you the musician you are today?
There are two notable moments of my journey that stick out to me as being the most important parts of my career, the first being joining the jazz combo.
That was the first long-term band that I was a part of. It was the group that gave me the drive I needed to become a better musician, the group that broadened my perspective on music as a whole, and it’s the group that gave me connections and friendships all over the music industry.
The other moment that stands out to me is when I took part in the ‘Stand Up Stand Out’ competition in 2018 as a solo instrumentalist. Much to my surprise, I made it through all the way to the national finals and got to play at the Vodafone Event Centre in front of thousands of people, (and broadcast on live TV!). That performance was one of the few times where I wasn’t nervous before a show, even though I absolutely should have been.
It was after I had finished my piece, standing before the crowd, that I realised just how far I had come and what I could accomplish if I just went for it. It was an extremely gratifying moment to see my progress in that moment and I’m really excited to see where I could go next.
Now thinking about your gear: what is the one instrument that you will never part with?
I don’t think I need to go into how utterly draining and difficult it was for musicians and the music industry in general over the past year going in and out of lockdown. During the first lockdown, I had really started to lose motivation to practice and create. However, recently, that spark inside me has been reignited. I got my hands on a Manson MA EVO Red Santa Guitar.
With the Sustainiac neck pickup and an onboard fuzz factory pedal, I can really make some weird and experimental sounds. I had the dumbest grin on my face when I first opened the case. It was like a scene from a movie. The red glitter finish sparkled in the quickly fading orange sunset. Light glistened throughout my room. After plugging it in and making what I imagine alien communications would sound like for probably 20 minutes, I realised how much potential this guitar has to make to awesome music. For the first time since lockdown, I had the inspiration to start playing properly again.
The Manson MA EVO Red Santa Guitar
What instruments would you recommend to other keen musicians?
One of my biggest regrets as a musician was that I didn’t start learning the piano earlier. So, much of what I do on the guitar links up very closely with the piano. As well as this, I feel this theory makes a little bit more sense to me when I’m looking at a piano. So, for beginner players, I would recommend the Casio CTX700.
Not only is this a great instrument to start learning the basics of keys, but the display that shows what note is where on the stave when you hit a key is definitely going to help beginner players make the connection between what they are seeing and what they are hearing.
This beauty packs all of this, AND you can connect it to a digital audio workstation (DAW) to start creating your own music from the start.
Intermediate and Professional Recommendations:
Once I started playing live in a band setting, I wish I had invested more into a decent amp - something I could practice at home with while still being able to crank up when I needed to perform.
That’s why I recommend a Boss Katana 100 MK2, which I understand is an extremely popular amp - but it’s popular for a reason! Since it is a combo amp, you can easily take it to and from venues. Because I was playing in so many different genres, I needed an extremely wide variety of tones and effects to choose from, which the Katana has been perfect for.
While working as a sound operator for my school, we had to use the schools sound desk. That was great until we realised that because we were students, the school had blocked a lot of functions from the desk - including the EQ on some channels. It was moments like these that made me wish I had an AER Pocket Tool Colourizer 2. The ability to change tonal qualities as well as the EQ would have made life so much easier working as a sound tech - and resulted in a lot fewer headaches.
Keen to chat with Max further? Come visit him and the KBB Music team at our Albany store!