A Conversation with the Links
by Monica McCafferty
Spending time in Logan Bruhn’s home studio is always a treat - passing around a homemade blunt, listening to unreleased music, syncing with Logan’s iconic head bob—it's a vibe. Although Logan produces music for various local artists here, it is very much The Links Studio. Tyler Sexton and Logan Bruhn have been making music together since their days at AMC @ UCO, where instructors quickly saw potential in the duo and encouraged them to make music together. For their very first meeting, Tyler says, “We both put on music and traded songs for like two hours and just bonded over music.”
Logan and Tyler both attribute much of the acceleration of their careers through ACM to their mentor and now colleague, Mitch Bell. “I didn't get my degree because I met Mitch and would skip most of my classes and go to his office and pick his brain. Then we would just end up making music”, says Tyler. The first song that Tyler ever released (You Got), Mitch produced, and was the first song that he and Logan ever worked on together. Connections with other musicians through ACM are also reflected in cameos that The Links songs showcase today- artists like Stems and Josh Fudge, who were early collaborators with Tyler and Logan.
Living together was a catalyzing next step for Logan and Tyler and is how they built a habit of making music together every day, “I feel like we kind of have never stopped since then”, says Logan.
Backgrounds begin to blend with current philosophies, as the duo reflects on how their music has evolved over the years and where it is headed:
Logan: “We got in the habit of making things but not being super emotionally attached to them; getting over all these crazy artistic boundaries that we had”.
Tyler: “I learned a lot about letting go of whatever you make”.
Logan: “Artists are really sensitive: This thing I made, what is it in relation to my identity as a person? There are all these heavy identity complexes that you take on to your own art. It really restricts people from just creating freely and expressing themselves. This is just an aspect of life, and I’m not worried about it being fully me, fully authentic, or perfectly real”.
“Early on I would write things that were very emotionally, heavy, or psychologically deep in some way. Then I went into making straight-up pop, top 100-type songs, not because I was trying to make some Logan Bruhn masterpiece, I was just practicing - my goal was to just make 20 songs in a month, and maybe one or two of them would be awesome”.
Tyler: “I kind of just wanted to be a pop artist. I made one EP that was experimental/indie pop, a few straight-up pop, and some pop dance songs”.
Logan: “Then we just made a dance song, and it was interesting because, at the early stages of making any genre of music that you haven’t made a lot of, you almost have an imposter syndrome: Am I mimicking what I think dance music sounds like, or am I just creating something?”
“It was a good time to get past that. We just made a lot of songs, and eventually a year or so later when we were way more developed in our craft, we made some dance songs that became the first of The Links”
Tyler: “It was always our, we don’t have to think about anything music”, says Tyler- they definitely knew that a project was developing. Their first single, Light Years was soon followed by Odell, which they made with Mitch and Josh Fudge and realized, says Tyler - “Oh, this pairs with Light Years, and there is something magic about it”.
Which, if you have ever seen them live, you can attest to. Odell is often the opening number, with its first line repeated into the anticipating air.
Man, I feel so high never in my life have I felt so free to be me. Different state of mind read between the lines. I never know what’s real or what’s not (Odel)
Logan: “I show people a lot of music, all the time -just sitting in rooms listening to music I've made with people. And every time, everyone says this is just fun, fun to listen to. That's kind of what dance music is- it's a certain thing, always very satisfying”.
Tyler: “As it has developed, I've had a realization of my relationship to this project and how much healthier it is than the relationship I have to my own solo music, where I end up obsessing about every little detail to the point that I lose all focus and context. I also bring out all of my sadness in the way I write. Whereas with this project, it’s always positive. I don’t really think about it that much and it always comes out beautifully. And there is a lesson to be learned in that of not overthinking anything.”
Logan: “...especially with dance music…it's all about simplicity and keeping things very, very close to what they were when they first were made”
This is an obvious parallel to the application of dance music: dancing. Which, to be fully enjoyed and expressed, must also be approached with a sense of intuitive creation.
Tyler: “It's the facilitator for you to just not give a fuck, which is kind of what everyone is searching for.”
“...I feel that the way I approach writing for The Links is the complete opposite of my solo project. It's more about: what are the things that I just really appreciate about life, and celebrate about life? What do I find beautiful about life? And how can I say that in like three words? I think that's the beautiful part of pop music; you're able to condense all these emotions that you have towards life into just a very short thing. And that's kind of what I try to do. We both do this to an extent, make existential thoughts about life, but in just a more positive way…”
Logan: “And then the next song, light years…It’s very dreamy, psychedelic, and just about an aspect of being in your early 20s, coming out of all the crazy ways we were raised, and of all the different ways in which you can feel like you’re not doing the right thing or don’t really know how you are allowed to live your life going into adulthood. The Links kind of became a bit about that; just being young people and not super experienced in life, but very open to enjoying our lives; just seeing what life has to offer”
Got me on a summer high, watchin’ light years go by. Baby got me right where you want to, trippin’ on the moon tonight (Light Years)
Tyler: “Life is very rich, its as rich as you want it to be”
Logan: “Yeah, and I think The Links is very much about freedom and physicality. Those two things are very interchangeable; in a lot of ways. When you’re the least in your head and the most in your body, there is a lot of clarity in that. And it's why there’s a lot of beauty in club culture that people who judge it would like, never understand. And it’s a cool little subculture, that iykyk - this is actually a very freeing environment.”
“Another beautiful thing about dance music is when something is repeated, it's like a motto. Sometimes it’s ‘man I feel so free to be me’ - a beautiful thing like that. And sometimes it’s just like ‘I feel hot’. Some of the best dance music is like Kim Petras ‘treat me like a slut’ - just being able to allow yourself to enter into [different] mind states and own parts of yourself very confidently. I love that aspect of dance music, condensing things down. And the darker side of dance music too - that is kind of where our music is heading in a way. We’ve made a lot of music that’s been heavier recently; darker aesthetics, a little more anxious and heavy.”
You’re way too in your head, just act your age. Too late, anchor the weight you cast away.
Take a long look at yourself and saturate. The mirrors and mazes will keep you awake (Cast Away).
Tyler: “It’s the perfect yin-yang situation with the other side of music...having both of those sides and being able to pull at them”
Logan: “..In a way, it is a very light-hearted form of grief to the heaviness of life - the lightest way that people can lean into the aspects of life that are almost scary, dark feeling, and painful.”
Tyler: “But it makes me feel fearless”.
Logan: “We also have these emotional dark songs…about internally not being at peace, and it sounds kind of heavy, but then it has a very drastic switch up halfway through it.” Logan
Tyler: “The headache goes away”
Logan: “And it's the same beat but it feels a bit beautiful, then has a little weird voice in the background that repeats, ‘keep living, you keep living without it. keep living, you keep livin’ without it…’ And it's a weird song about just being okay with being not okay.”
Tyler: “But I still vibe though…got to”
DJs fulfill an important role within the culture of music, dance, and spirituality; creating wisdom-filled sound, and injecting it into an environment where its essence can be integrated. Logan and Tyler bring their musical talent and gifts of deep songwriting to The Links project, creating one-of-a-kind tracks that are healing and fun. The Links are set to release music in July 2023 on streaming platforms and can be found on Instagram @itsthelinks.