Originally from the heart of rural America but now based out of a studio in East London, Atomic Bronco is the creation of producer and songwriter Kyle Nuss. Battling through the crippling effects that lockdown had on the once-thriving London music scene, Nuss has just released his new single, “Cruel,” so we had a chat with him about the song, his journey from the States to London, and what lockdown in London has been like from his perspective.
Thanks for your time Kyle, how is life treating you at the moment?
Kyle Nuss: “Life is good! Seems like everything is starting to get back to normal, and with all the excitement of releasing new music, I don’t have anything to complain about!”
Tell us a bit about Atomic Bronco and how it came about…
“I’ve been making music since high school, dabbling in different genres here and there. During grad school, I was able to do some open mic nights and sort of finally found my singing voice, so since then, I’ve had this idea of creating the music I’ve always wanted to make, but maybe wasn’t ready vocally before. I think Atomic Bronco is a great project to combine all of my different musical interests, grungy guitars with dance beats, or breakbeats with wild synth sounds; I think there’s a lot of space to explore with a project like this.”
I believe Atomic Bronco is a one-man rock band. What are the pros and cons of being a one-man outfit?
“That’s correct, Atomic Bronco is all yours truly. The pro is that you get to make exactly the music you want to, without having to compromise, and you get the satisfaction of knowing you’re responsible for that song. However, on the flip side of that, you don’t get the luxury of getting to blame any disappointments on anyone else! It’s also a little tough trying to get a groove and the timing of certain songs the way you want because you’re not actually playing all the parts together like you would in a band, and I’m still trying to figure out the best way to present Atomic Bronco in a live setting.
All in all, though, I feel like the pros outweigh the cons. I’m happy with this arrangement now, but if I found the right person with the right musical sensibilities, who knows what could happen…”
Tell us about some of your inspirations then…
“I tend to get inspired by the littlest details in songs; a drum fill here, a guitar tone there. When you really listen in, even the simplest songs have a plethora of detail to explore. I love creating songs that are trying to tell you something with the music, even before the vocals come into play, and I would even say that the musical compositions that end up becoming Atomic Bronco songs inspire me to write lyrics to match those feelings.”
You started in the States and have ended up in London. Can you tell us a bit about your travels?
“I grew up basically on a farm in Kansas and then moved to Denver where I worked as an electrical engineer. After a few years, I became pretty burnt out and wanted to make a change, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to move to the UK to pursue a graduate degree at Oxford University. Afterwards, I liked London so much that I decided to stay, and so here I am! It’s been a weird and wild journey, but I think it’s given me a bit of a unique view on the world.”
From rural America to the chaos of London, what aspects of that journey have you drawn on for inspiration?
“I do definitely feel like geography plays a part in what you end up creating. I’m not much of a country music fan, but I do still find myself incorporating western and folk elements into my songs from when I grew up listening to George Strait on the radio in Kansas. So it’s honestly been incredible getting to create my brand of music here in London because there has been so much history here, and I do feel like my guitar playing has changed to more of a UK sound since I got here. Walking down Denmark Street still gives me chills thinking about all the famous rock legends who have been in those same shops.”
You’ve just released your new single “Cruel.” Can you tell us a bit about the story behind the song?
“‘Cruel’ started as just the acoustic riff that sort of felt like it had this attitude, and I liked the idea of writing a song about an unapologetic jerk, and they just seemed like the perfect match together. I’ve weirdly always admired that sort of attitude, probably because it’s like the complete opposite of how I actually am.”
Is it a good indication of what we can expect from your Spectrum EP?
“With Spectrum, I set out to cover a range of genres and sort of explore sonically a bit, so while ‘Cruel’ is a pretty good representation of the core Atomic Bronco sound, the rest of the upcoming EP sort of uses ‘Cruel’ as a jumping-off point and branches out a bit, but in a good way!”
The London music scene has been hit particularly hard during lockdown. What has kept you going?
“Yeah, it’s been pretty rough watching the whole live music scene just shut down for 15 months, but hope is on the horizon! Like most artists, I just tried to use that time to write as much as I could so that I’d be ready for when we can get back to normal.”
Going back to America, can you tell us about the music that inspired you growing up there?
“I remember getting a copy of Nevermind by Nirvana and The Best of Cream probably within a month of each other when I was 13 or so and I wore those CDs out. Both of those trios really influenced the core of my musical style, but I feel like I’ve also drawn inspiration from artists like Interpol, The Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys, Disclosure, Calvin Harris, The Shins, Pink Floyd, Queens of the Stone Age, and probably many others. I sort of pulled from everywhere. I do think being a Nirvana fan in my formative years helped me become a better producer. The lyrics were pretty ambiguous and didn’t make sense to me, so I realized that aspect wasn’t why I enjoyed the songs, and I started dialing into the music instead and noticed all these little details that I still obsess over today.”
Being in lockdown as a solo artist must have given you plenty of time to work on music. Has your sound changed much and what can we expect in terms of new music after the release of Spectrum?
“I don’t think my sound has made any drastic shifts, but I do feel myself bringing in more dance/house type beats into some of my newer songs. I was lucky to be able to write quite a bit of new material this last year, so there should be at least a few songs after this EP that will be released this year.”
Once the EP is out and life returns to a new normal, what can we expect from Atomic Bronco in 2021?
“Number one item on the agenda is bringing Atomic Bronco to a live setting, so be on the lookout!”
Thanks again for your time. Over to you for the final words…
“Thanks so much for the interview, and I genuinely appreciate the support! Head on over to atomicbronco.com to check out some merch and follow on your social of choice to stay up to date.”