North

Hey Bruno: Why Yellowknife musician Carmen Braden wrote an ode to a local pizza joint

It could easily be interpreted as a love song. But a rocking tune that Carmen Braden plans to perform at NACC this weekend — called Hey Bruno — is, at its heart, an ode to none other than a Yellowknife staple: Bruno’s Pizza.

‘It’s always been in my neighbourhood…. It’s like part of the furniture,’ she says

Yellowknife musician and composer Carmen Braden is performing at the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre on Saturday, where her set list includes a tune about the local pizza joint Bruno's Pizza. (Hannah Eden)

It could easily be interpreted as a love song.

But a rocking tune that Carmen Braden plans to perform at NACC this weekend — called Hey Bruno — is, at its heart, an ode to none other than a Yellowknife staple: Bruno's Pizza.

"It's always been there ever since I could remember," said the Yellowknife musician and composer, who described visits to the local pizza joint as a special occasion when she was growing up.

"It had a real kind of treat quality…. But at the same time, it's always been in my neighbourhood," she added.

"It's like part of the furniture."

Braden is used to dabbling in different musical genres, and called Hey Bruno as one of the "most rock 'n' roll songs" she's ever written. 

While she often writes about personal experiences or relationships, this is her first piece about a place of business. 

"When I need you / I can always come to / our special place / at fifty-second and fifty-second," the tune goes. 

"Any time of day / And almost any time of night / You fill me up with love," reads another verse.

Sheet music for Braden's song Hey Bruno. The Yellowknife musician and composer plans to perform the tune during a concert at the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre on Saturday. (Submitted by Carmen Braden)

Despite Yellowknife's array of pizza venues, Bruno's is Braden's obvious favourite (she prefers ham and pineapple, despite what haters may say about it).

"It's strange. I'm not sure if it's because it has the best pizza, or if it's because it tastes like nostalgia," the musician said. 

"It's something familiar, it's something from my childhood, it's something that like … even when the slice of pizza's been on the little rotating thing there for a couple of hours, it still tastes good."

Double entendre

Braden wrote Hey Bruno in early 2019 while challenging herself to write a new song every day — even if it was about something small.

"I think I was driving by Bruno's and something just clicked in my head," Braden said. "One of the lyrics from the song kind of popped in and stuck there. So I think I actually pulled over and wrote down this one little lyric."

She finished most of the song that night, fine-tuning it over time, she said.

You always want ... something you can count on, to be there forever.- Carmen Braden, Yellowknife musician and composer

And while it's a song locals will certainly understand ("I think it was appreciated," Braden said of her audience's reaction when she debuted it at the Snowking's castle), she didn't just write it to be about a pizza joint.

"You could take it as a bit of a double entendre, that it's actually about a person called Bruno," she explained.

"It was the idea that you always want, like, somebody or something that's been a part of your life, and is something you can count on, to be there forever."

Concert live stream at NACC

Braden will be performing in a concert live stream from Yellowknife's Northern Arts and Cultural Centre on Saturday, where she'll be joined by fellow performers Andrea Bettger, Pat Braden and Al Bee.

She plans to break out some songs from her previous albums, and also introduce the audience to new ones she's been crafting over the last few years.

While some songs will be short, others "dig more into a story or an experience" based on her life experiences, she said. And you can definitely expect to hear Hey Bruno among them.

"I think it's a fun one. And I think it's always nice for an audience to hear their town reflected back," Braden said. 

"I'm pulling out some sweet synth sounds, and the band gets super groovy."

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