Thundercat: "I’ll try anything, even if I hear something I don’t like. I’ll go for it. There’s no wrong way"

Stephen Bruner of Thundercat performs during the Newport Jazz Festival 2019 at Fort Adams State Park on August 02, 2019 in Newport, Rhode Island
(Image credit: Douglas Mason/Getty Images)

It’s impossible not to notice Thundercat. In a comic-book world, he’d be the stocky, bearded black superhero wearing flashy socks with sandals, low-slung black jeans, a smart piece by Rad Hourani or Dries Van Noten, and a knit cap with Ewok ears; onstage, he might sport a Native American headpiece atop his custom-made Dragon Ball Z suit or perhaps a black T-shirt, shawl, and red satin shorts. You couldn’t miss him if you tried.

In the last few years, however, it has become just as unlikely that you haven’t heard Thundercat’s music. Thanks to his soulful falsetto, distinctive bass sound, and stellar work with high-profile artists equally comfortable in forward-thinking R&B, jazz, and hip-hop, 32-year-old Stephen Bruner’s appeal has grown far beyond the circle of bass nuts who’ve worshipped his gorgeous Ibanez archtop 6-string and dazzling chops for years.

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