Brian J.A. Cullen, a.k.a. Bjak, has been moving dance floors world-wide for well over a decade. Born out of Chicago’s booming early 90’s Deep House & Loft scene, the energy and influence of these time are clearly apparent in both his production and turntable compositions. His passion for “all things music” lends to his moody and eclectic musical palette, often blending elements of early House, Techno, Disco, Soul, Reggae/Dub, Funk New Wave and Punk Rock, to create an “Electronic-Jam-Funk-PunkClash-ConjunKtion of OmniEthnicSolHouse & RareDisKoElektrika”.
Working throughout the years under the Soul Foundation shield, Bjak has held down numerous residencies at some of Chicago’s hottest clubs and has toured throughout the US & Europe. Through his experiences, Bjak has shared the turntables..
The energy of Chicago’s loft party scene inspired a great many musicians and DJs. Brian J.A. Cullen a.k.a. “Bjak” is no stranger to the sound of deep house, a signature element at the time. He is a long-standing member of the renowned group of Chicago house DJs known as Soul Foundation Kollective. This alliance, and their control over several Chicago venues and a number of tours, helped cut his teeth as a DJ, and ever since he has been moving dance floors worldwide with sets of percussive, soulful house music.
Throughout his career, Bjak’s sets have been diverse and the trend continues unabated. Never fitting a particular mold, he seamlessly incorporates disparate elements of classic dance music—even the occasional dub or Pixies tune—with a sound that’s unmistakably deep, vocal-fused house. With a range that includes Latin grooves to percussion-laden warehouse stompers, a Bjak set works the dancefloor by taking listeners far outside the box.
Bjak’s attention to the deeper side of these genres helped him craft a vision that culminated into WAXaddict Records, a Chicago-based, online record store that specialized in known TOP-CHOICE house music and cutting-edge techno, alongside ultra-rare disco and classic electronica. A physical store in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood matched the diversity of online offerings. Years on the business side of the music industry led Bjak to renew his focus on production efforts, and he channeled this energy into studio work, resulting in an oft-praised vinyl-only release on labels such as Eargasmic Recordings (Chicago) and Deep Explorer Music (Madrid, Spain).
Bjak tracks employ atmospheric grooves, dubbed-out vocals, and bouncing basslines, layered over relentless percussion. His music has been discussed in the same breath as legends like Larry Heard and Kerri Chandler, with strong ties to the sounds of Prescription and Strictly Rhythm, but Bjak feels his approach is a subtle update to the loft party vibe he has cultivated for well over a decade.
During this cultivation, he recognized the lack of deep house offerings and knew that creating such an outlet was the logical next step. In 2008, with fellow Foundation member, Julio Bishop, Bjak launched RealDEEP Recordings, which provides him and his growing roster with a platform for the loft party sound they champion. The label’s releases have seen much acclaim, and Bjak is encouraged about upcoming projects.
Beyond RealDEEP, Bjak has been adding new and interesting layers to his already diverse sound. His recent involvement with the band, Velophone, infuses indie and traditional rock elements with downtempo grooves and sultry vocals. Singer Janet Cruz and Bjak share songwriting duties for the group, and the pair provides live guitar, bass, and keyboard accompaniment atop digital percussion, resulting in a neo-soul-meets-house-music jam band aesthetic.
After sowing the seeds of success through Soul Foundation DJ gigs and WAXaddict, Bjak has fused his influential histories, finding a musical and spiritual home at RealDEEP Recordings.