The creative collaboration of Stephen Hero and Brydon Crain just keeps getting better. Check out the latest single/video – ‘It’s a Beautiful Thing”.
Saint John hip hop artist Stephen Hero and Motherhood guitarist Brydon Crain began collaborating back in the early days of 2020. In July, with the release of their first single, the unique qualities of this creative partnership quickly became apparent. This wasn’t going to be a standard hip hop project. And it wasn’t just going to be a music project either. There would be videos, each as interesting and revealing as the project’s beat-based poetic compositions.
The video for It’s A Beautiful Thing, the latest single from the Hero/Crain partnership, is a nostalgic romp, a bit like if The Wonder Years were set in the mid-2000s. Except it’s all very real, a montage of amateur video starring Hero myself, 15 years prior. There are pimply faces, baggy getups and cheap highs – like cough drop cheap. All this set to a melody that rolls along with a neverending climatic phrase, a perfect reflection of all this project has become.
“It’s pretty crazy to watch this footage now, my life could not be more removed from what it was like back then,” said Hero. “I’m glad I have some evidence of that place and time. That apartment on Elliott row was pretty crazy. That was a year of pretty heroic drug use, which I think was largely a product of never feeling safe and not really dealing with any emotional issues that I had, just kind of distracting myself with intoxicants and feverishly writing all the time. My pals and I decided we should borrow a camera from the school and take it with us on a DXM trip, and basically this is all the footage I could cull from it without implicating anyone but myself.
“The footage inside the apartment is the most evocative for me, just because it really puts me back in that place and mindset of just struggling to eat, struggling to sleep, walking over people sleeping in the hallways, my downstairs neighbour getting murdered, just a crazy time in my life, and one that I am often guilty of romanticizing.”
Crain’s beats are a big part of what makes this project trick. Known primarily as a guitarist and a singer, his tenure as a beat producer is a limited one, but his knowledge of how music works from a rock perspective is incredibly well rounded. As a member of the Fredericton art rock trio Motherhood, Crain’s ability to craft catchy melodies from awkward structures has helped the band gain a loyal following of listeners who appreciate music that doesn’t necessarily provide immediate return. You can hear this in the beats he has composed for this collaboration. They are not built to be standalone bangers, but instead created with plenty of room for Hero’s harbour city poetry.
Like the video for It’s A Beautiful Thing, the song itself involves a healthy dose of sentimentality.
“I don’t really look back at that time with much regret, although I did make a lot of pretty stupid decisions,” said Hero. “The only stuff I really regret is putting people besides myself in danger. Everything else, I think I knew even at the time I was doing to have the story later. For better or worse, I’ve always thought of my life as something to be written about, and I’ve made a lot of sketchy decisions based on that principle. I mean if future me had showed up and told 18 year old me that if I didn’t go so ham on the drugs and alcohol I might have less intense panic attacks later, maybe I would have toned it down a bit, but honestly it’s hard to imagine listening to anyone’s advice at that age. I suffered from a mean combination of knowing absolutely nothing and thinking that I was super super smart.”
Expect more music from this collaboration in the coming months. After a bit of downtime over the past few months, the pair are once again actively creating, writing the next episode of their partnership.
“We’re looking to put out a lot of stuff in the summer,” said Hero. “Brydon keeps getting better and better so it’s fun to try to challenge myself to do the same.”