BRAXI Bridges Divides with their “Musical Esemplastic”
Musicians often balk at the idea of having their work be confined in a singular genre. For years, it has been the standard industry practice to group different styles of music into neat categories to make the products more sellable. This practice may promote sales but it often stifles creativity, as many musicians do not view their work in such cut and dry terms, making it difficult to branch out once they’ve been put in a box. Some artists have gone as far as to create their own genres to house their work. Such is the case for the Dutch duo BRAXI.
The Amsterdam-based husband and wife team of Max and Brandi Himmelreich have a lofty yet clearly conceived vision for their work. In strictly musical terms, the easiest way to describe their style is “popera,” as they combine theatrical techniques with pop sensibilities. A more intellectual description, though, that gets at their philosophical views of their work, comes with their term “Musical Esemplastic,” which denotes the ability to take diverse concepts and unify them as one whole element. It’s an ambitious mission statement to be sure, but one that is welcome in our ever-evolving global music community.
This kind of grandiose musical credo could not be conceived nor realized by musical newcomers, and both Himmelreichs have spent time and effort cultivating their craft in different forms around the world. Brandi, who was born and raised in the U.S.A., spent her early years performing at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios in Florida before moving to Amsterdam in 2006. She is perhaps best known for winning the Dutch television show Popstars in 2008 and has been performing extensively throughout the region since. Max is Dutch and came up through the musical theater program at the Amsterdam University of Theater Arts. After the two met, they spent three years studying music abroad to hone the style they produce today in the form of BRAXI.
The duo’s most recent single, “Il Nostro Amore” (our love), is an apt example of their musical ambitions. Written by the Himmelreichs along with Swedish songwriter and producer Peter Hagaras, the song is performed in both Italian and English, highlighting the group’s multicultural tendencies. The lyrics represent the age-old idea that no matter how dark life may get, one can always prevail. The pulsing piano at the onset gives the track an undeniable energy that is passed on to electric vocal performances by the Himmelreichs. By its end, “Il Nostro Amore” swells in production and emotion, with its singers providing the vocal chops to match the music’s grand philosophical aspirations.
Having such a weighty philosophy for one’s music seems like it could be pretentious and burdensome. Neither appears to be the case with BRAXI. The duo has a clear, earnest vision for their work and they certainly have the skill and means to follow through on it. While not all listeners might be fans of either pop or opera, audiences from all backgrounds can get behind the idea of bridging our differences through the all powerful tool of music.