Joe Bruce, a.k.a the Waterbearer, discusses re-entry to the music scene and staying true to himself in his interview with BRU.
When Joe Bruce the Waterbearer walks into the room, the ambiance changes immediately; everything is brighter. It’s this energy that permeates his entire essence and makes him so captivating. He talks about his music and what led him to where he is in his career with ease, describing his arrival to rap almost as something that happened to him. “I wasn’t a little kid saying I was always going to be a rapper,” he shares. “I always loved music. But circumstances just became perfect for it.” Yet dismissing his hard work as mere chance is reductive. His well earned status as a high-quality, talented musician isn’t a fluke. Bruce has been working towards his goals from a young age. He “started music probably in middle school” with his lifelong friend Inkwell while chilling in the lunchroom.
Though his music career has been long in the making, Bruce says that he took a six year hiatus after turning 18. “That’s the story,” he says, and it’s true; his hiatus and comeback seemed to be full of changes and big events for the local star. His best friend Ink went to New York, and Bruce started his career and had his daughter. He started studying up on everything of interest to him, became an investment banker, and then moved into Uber driving. One random Uber ride one day is what set him back on the path of music making. “This dude just like flagged me down like, hey, if you bring me to Worcester I’ll give you 60 bucks…he was cool. I told him I made music, and he said, ‘If you tell your story, there will be enough people that identify with something similar.” What happened next was a whirlwind for Bruce. He called up his DJ almost immediately and got back in the game. He describes getting back on the scene as difficult after being out of touch for so long. “It was a good nine months before the world even knew we were making music again…I had to make an Instagram. I never had an Instagram before.”
But the momentum Bruce has gained since his return to music has been by-and-large successful, and this is due to Bruce’s incredible outlook on growth and development. “I understand the power and necessity of evolution,” he says. This perspective keeps him from getting stuck in a rut or getting caught up in forcing something to work. It’s a way of being that’s entirely go-with-the-flow. He allows himself to restart, change, modify, correct, or whatever he needs at any point in the process depending on what suits him. Bruce, in understanding the process of evolution, has been able to adapt to the music scene to which he returned. “I came up as like a boom-bap punchline rapper, and the game is not that at all. So when I came in, I didn’t even want to get on a track,” he confesses. The adjustment was understandably challenging. Yet, Bruce in his own right understands the need to change his mind and style. “I definitely need the freedom to wake up and want to do something completely different than I did yesterday. Anything I’ve ever been happy about music is started with something and grew into something completely different.”
Joe Bruce is flexible, and his willingness to play things by ear can be credited for his series of recent releases during summer 2019. All of the tracks combined he plans to turn into an album titled Clementine, inspired by the germination process of the fruit and how seeds that are planted in the winter — when times are hard and trying and everything is under wraps — bloom in spring. It’s an ode to summer, to the cyclical nature of time, and it’s the Waterbearer’s testament to sewing seeds of self growth, which for him is the most important seed to plant. “Earth is moved in late winter, seeds are sewn in the spring, but not until the summer does that blossom become fruit.” This process is quite literally how Clementine was, and will be, produced. Work began in the winter months with the intention of getting content out in the spring. Of course, Bruce wouldn’t have forced content that he wasn’t proud of, but the timing proved perfect, as themes in the lyrics are incredibly in tune to the vibes of summer.
These themes of growth appear everywhere in his work, but particularly on his website where he adopts the persona of the waterbearer. When asked about the origin of the name, he responds “the obvious thing is my birthday is January 22 and the sun was in Aquarius.” For those who aren’t into astrology, the symbol of the sign Aquarius is a water-bearer. But the significance of being the water-bearer runs deeper. “Being a water-bearer is being a truth seeker and a truth speaker, regardless of what that entails from someone else.” It’s the ultimate form of “you do you” and staying true to oneself in the most honest way possible.
Joe Bruce’s ideology supersedes his music. It’s a testament to himself that appears in his raps, gives him the edge and pushes his creativity. He’s a wealth of knowledge and constant improvement. He’s up front and open, with himself and all those who ask. “Who am I to think everyone is gonna like me, I just got to do me” is a reminder to himself and us that changing to accommodate other people is a waste of time. Some people will like you; others won’t, but staying true to yourself in a world that asks you to do anything but is the most bold way to live, and Bruce does it all naturally. “I feel like I’m just trying to go to these places that the average man doesn’t want to go and learn these things and then bring it back to you,” he says, and we’re grateful to behold the souvenirs he brings back from his adventures.