As an enthusiast of alternative electronica the name ford. (aka Luc Bradford) has crossed my path on multiple occasions in the past, however when I experienced tracks such as "Dawn" and "The Feeling" for the first time back in 2020, I knew his name would firmly be cemented into my memory bank - I even remember what I was wearing the day I heard his rendition of "Dawn". Apart from his deeply emotive brand of electronica laced with Hip Hop, EDM, and Lo-fi elements, ford. is also well known for being a Grammy nominee and the youngest member of ODESZA's Foreign Family Collective. Have a listen to "Fruit&Sun", one of the lead singles off his lauded sophomore projectThe Color of Nothing which features stellar artists like Barrie, Verzache, and Ayelle... After you've taken a moment to listen to the track, I'd also like you to take a moment to grasp the fact that HE'S ONLY 21.
Something that is admirable about his discog is the fact that we as the audience can hear the progression in his craft with each project he puts out. He's mentioned before that the making of The Color of Nothing was quite a turbulent period in his life where he learned a lot about himself as an artist, and as a person.
It’s been a chapter wherein I found myself having to grow up quickly. I moved across the world, entered and then dropped out of school, experienced loss, struggled personally, started touring, met new friends, and decided to pursue music full time - ford.
In this interview ford. opens up about what he learned from that period, how the deluxe version of The Color of Nothing differs from the original, working with Barrie, and much more. If you're based in North America, you're in luck because he's announced his debut North American headline tour! Follow him on his socials to stay updated.
After one has heard your music, I would imagine your age generally surprises the listener - well at least I was flabbergasted. What have been some of the factors that have helped you become incredible at what you do at such a young age?
Um I don’t really know honestly. I mean all false modesty aside I feel like there are still so many things that I feel like such an absolute novice about when it comes to making music. But I guess I would attribute my success in music to my parents and friends that continuously reinforced my love for it at a very early age. It’s always been the one thing that I have a very distinct connection to.
You've mentioned before that in high school you had a shift in musical taste which, eventually influenced your sonic direction immensely. So what kind of music were you making before and what influenced this shift in musical taste?
Hahaha yeah early ford. days were really something else. I think it’s safe to say that my story of how I got into production and writing music is pretty synonymous with other friends and musicians that started around the same time I did. Around early 2010-2011 was when the modern day EDM was really making its way into the mainstream culture and at the time that was huge for a lot of us at the time. It opened our eyes to the possibility of being able to make your own music from your own bedroom. That was middle school for me. Once I had hit high school I had already made two big moves with my family and was now in Germany. I don’t know if it was the change in friends, growing older, or just being in an entirely new environment but I noticed a shift in my taste which got me interested in seeing where it would take my music. The rest is history :)
On the subject, I'm curious how you managed school and your music career simultaneously? That must've been tough...
To a point, yeah you could say that. I was no straight-A student or anything but I did come from a family of academics so I guess the expectation was always there —even if that wasn’t their intention. Regardless there were times that I noticed I would much rather be working on a song than be in this assembly or get called out by my math teacher because I was working on a beat in the back of class instead of paying attention.
Something I really appreciate about your catalog is the fact that you can hear the growth throughout the projects, especially on The Color of Nothing. I'm aware that there was a lot going on in your life during the production of the project too. What were some of the lessons you learned about yourself after creating The Color of Nothing.
That's a good question. I think that this album was just so good for me. I know it sounds kind of odd to put it that way but with the first album I was just this aimless kid that knew he wanted to make music, wasn’t sure where he wanted to take it, but just did it anyway. This one, on the other hand, was so much more personal. It really made me take a long hard look at myself and put me in a position where I was faced with ideas of purpose and identity in my music. Funny thing is I don’t think I would’ve had that same experience had we not entered Lockdown. That isolation was something that forced me to confront the music personally and head-on. I think that was ultimately really enriching for me and gave me a clearer sense of where I want to go musically.
The bedroom rendition of "4:38AM" with Barrie is so comforting! How was it like when you guys first met, and what was it about the instrumental that made you think Barrie would be well suited?
Well funnily enough, Barrie and I have never actually met in person! Despite having written the song over what I think was 2 years or so(?), we’ve done all of our collaborative work remotely. Initially, it was a result of our tour dates not lining up and then COVID hit and we were forced to work like that from there on out. Overall working remotely was my only real way of collaborating in High School so it was really nice to go back to that method when we worked on this. Real full-circle kind of moment.
So the deluxe version of The Color of Nothing just dropped, and we'd love to know how the mood and vibe of the deluxe version differ from the original?
I would think of this album as more of a companion piece. Different perspectives on the original songs from artists that I have both admired for years and artists that I believe genuinely understand and respect the music for what it is. There are also stripped versions of a couple of songs and some unreleased ones which didn’t end up making the final album. I wanted to create a Reprised album that served to bring the listener further into the world of the record.
What are your thoughts about minimalism and constraints, and in which way do you incorporate those into your craft?
I think that minimalism can be great, but there is a catch and that is that there is a big difference between minimalism and selective minimalism. Anyone can make a song using very few elements but that doesn’t necessarily make it a great one. I think that the musicians and producers who I have seen garner the most respect are those who understand minimalism in production and use it in an effective way, not just for the sake of making a minimalist song. Madlib and Dilla are some of the best examples of producers who could make a song seem so minimal and simple in its construction when in fact, every little detail was intentional and placed with purpose. I guess I try to adopt the same mantra when approaching a song in that sense.
I think this is a question many producers will appreciate - how do you prefer to start and build a song? Is there generally a pattern you like to follow?
It can vary from time to time. I think that one is pretty subjective because people gravitate to difference instruments and such. But more often than not I will start with the drums. Building grooves and pockets that you can build other sounds around has always been one of my favorite ways to start off an idea when I’m struggling. But for the most part, don’t limit yourself to trying the same method every time you hit a block. Sometimes the best way to get out of your head with those things is to either take a step back from it for a bit or approach it from a different angle.
Mental illness in art tends to be very romanticized by virtue of the slew of great artists who struggle with it, and with that being said, what sort of effect do you think your struggle with mental illness has on your craft and your ability to make music?
I wouldn’t try to pretend that my experiences with mental illness have been as intense as they really can be for some but I would say that anxiety and self-doubt are a big factor in struggling to finish a record. You ask yourself lots of questions and put yourself down like “Is anyone even going to care about this? This music is pretty garbage, am I just wasting my time?” Stuff like that. I guess its just very easy for your insecurities and doubts to leach into the creative process, especially when Its just you with your own thoughts.
You must be stoked about your debut headline North American tour coming soon. What are some of the things that performing gives you that producing can't?
I think performing really is just so fulfilling but, such a different sense of the kind of fulfillment you might feel from making a record. Performing really is that moment where you can share your music in a way that is tangible, visual, and helps you understand and appreciate the music so much more.
The most awkward that's happened at a show?
It was a really emotional part of my first show ever, and I really mean my first show ever. I had never even so much as rehearsed my set in front of anyone because I was so nervous and right at this very emotional moment when it got real quiet and it cut back to just the piano chords my dumb ass hits a button on my beat pad triggering a loud “GRRRRAAA” Desiigner adlib that cuts right through the emotional tension. Needless to say people laughed it off but I’ve never forgotten that moment since.
So... 1) An artist/band you would have a D.M.C (Deep Meaningful Conversation), 2) An artist/band you’d love to party with. 3) Artist would like to be your mentor? You're welcome to pick from artists/bands who are retired/dead.
Oof okay these questions are always tough. I think anyone at this point would love to have a D.M.C with Rubin but thats probably outplayed at this point. Maybe James Blake, I feel like he’s a person I could talk to for a while about certain things, it’d be interesting to pick his brain. I’d probably want to party with Demarco or Kaytra, that would probably be a good time. As for a mentor? Maybe Madlib or Kevin Parker would be up there. Influences are always changing.