From Punk Rock to New Wave: A Conversation with Malta’s Brikkuni

From Punk Rock to New Wave: A Conversation with Malta’s Brikkuni

Malta harbours a multitude of artistic thinkers and expressive beings. One example of this is Brikkuni, a Maltese alternative band that shares its perspective on all things related to life, death, love and politics.

 Local underground band Brikkuni present music that’s honest, relatable and pays tribute to the Maltese identity. Malta’s raw, vibrant passion is brewing on this island’s underground, and can be heard in Brikkuni’s sound. Infusing evocative Maltese lyrics with an array of stirring melodies and stimulating sounds that grasp the attention of both natives and non-natives alike.

We got in touch with these rascals (English translation for ‘Brikkuni’), to catch a glimpse at who they are, what they’ve been up to and how they somehow “managed to tap into some form of hitherto vaguely explored (musically speaking) aspect of the Maltese psyche” with their sound, as front man, Mario Vella told us.

Mario Vella/ Image Courtesy of Lyndsey Bahia

Check out all that Mario had to say about;  the band’s identity, how it’s developed since its take off in 2008, the Maltese language and what kind of music they’re bringing your way.

 If Brikkuni was a person, how would you describe him?

Resourceful, flawed, dependable, brash, infuriating, disappointing and self-destructive.

Who is Brikkuni?

An eclectic, uncompromising, confrontational, local band harbouring delusions of releasing half decent, engaging, brutally honest tunes. 

What kind of developments has the band undergone since it’s take-off in 2008?

We’ve gone through pretty dramatic changes in both our line-up and musical output. ‘Brikkuni’ started out as a rip roaring, havoc wreaking, politically engaged, genre-hopping, sonically dense punk rock outfit and slowly morphed into a more focused, sober, introspective, weather-beaten version of its former self.

Some say we’ve ‘matured’ but I’m not entirely sure they mean it as a compliment heheh. I prefer to think we’ve evolved and grown up. As one inevitably does. For better and for worse. Except for ‘The Ramones’ of course.  

You’re considered pioneers for Malta’s new wave of alternative music, could you tell us a little bit more about that?

This is always a tricky question to answer without sounding like the pretentious, self-absorbed twat that I sometimes am. I think what ‘they’ really mean is that we somewhat managed to tap into some form of hitherto vaguely explored (musically speaking) aspect of the Maltese psyche.

I’d like to think we provided a soundtrack to politically and culturally orphaned, free-thinking, liberal minded folk who bemoan our masochistic inferiority complex and destructive bi-partisanship. 

 Your songs are all mostly written in Maltese. What’s your opinion on the under-appreciation this native language experiences from its own country at times?

We have to be a bit careful in addressing this matter. While there are undoubtedly a lot of post colonial hang-ups to grapple with I am still inclined to think the Maltese do indeed appreciate their native language and work produced in Maltese. What we definitely lack are state and private broadcasters willing to consistently demand diversity and quality content. You cannot possibly grow when the bar is set this low.  

 Brikkuni/ Image courtesy of Sacha Kinser

How does “Il-Ħajja, il-Mewt, In-Nisa” (Life, Death, Women), your latest album, compare to
its predecessors?

It’s obviously better! haha. I think that thematically it sits rather comfortably near its predecessor (Rub Al Khali) since romantic strife and ageing concerns are again on display. They have become a thing during what feels like a premature mid-life crisis. I shudder to think what a fully blown one feels like. Musically, it is delivered with a ‘pop’ sensibility that was voluntarily eschewed on our last record – meaning we wanted proper verses and refrains this time round. 

 It’s been quite a creative year for you. You have also just launched a music video! What’s the message behind ‘Fomm ir-Riħ’ and how’s it connected to South Korea?

 There’s no ‘message’ really. I just felt like penning an ethereal song inhabiting an imaginary romantic utopia where parted lovers reunite. South Korea was merely a fortuitous coincidence. We had asked Director Franco Rizzo to shoot the video in June 2019. He moved to South Korea in September and we saw no reason why he couldn’t shoot it there.

Check out the music video here:

 Do you have any advice to give to young Maltese musicians and songwriters?

I am no sage but I’ll have a stab at it anyway. Well…don’t give a fuck about anything except your songs and try to live them as best as you can. 

Anything else you’d like to add for our readers?

Blessed be the man who can spot a Penguin’s asshole.