Protextor Meets Brother Bear

“Not Tonight” video previews political pop collaboration

Matt Puckett (top) and Adam Protextor (bottom)
Matt Puckett (top) and Adam Protextor (bottom)

Years ago, two young artists shared a day job selling nicknacks, doodads, and accoutrements at Toy Joy. Then, Matt Puckett and Adam Protextor occupied disparate realms of Austin’s creative universe, the former with indie orchestra Mother Falcon and the latter spitting underground hip-hop as P-Tek. Of all things, pop music proved their common ground.

“As with any retail or food service job, everyone sits around commiserating or co-dreaming about things they’re going to do when they’re not on the clock,” recalls Puckett, who works solo under the moniker Brother Bear. “For me and Adam, our main focuses were far apart, but we always shared an interest in pop music – what was coming out that we cared about, what had been out for along time that we’ve always cared about, or what we’re just discovering.”

Seven years after meeting, Protextor and Brother Bear have finally minted a collaborative work with the 10-song American Neon, a hybrid of Eighties/Nineties R&B-influenced pop and modern hip-hop, whose touches of disco and rock play out like Prince kidnapped Chance the Rapper. The album arrives on all formats Sept. 8 featuring guest spots from Chicago rap breakout Cupcakke and Austin R&B eclectic Mélat, and represents a musical evolution for both artists.

“This record benefited from the fact that we knew what we wanted to make: a pop-dance album that’s sexy and political – hitting you in the gut and in the head,” explains Puckett, who played various instruments and produced American Neon. “So the goal was to make you want to move when you’re listening to it with a group of people, but then to think, ‘Shit, what’s going on in the world right now?” when you’re listening to it by yourself.”

Protextor admits he’s tried his hand at being a SoundCloud rapper by issuing a constant stream of new music online, but admits that what suits him is the old-school album format, in which he can explore totally different angles. As such, American Neon finds him singing more than ever.

“As a young MC, I thought it was important to impose myself and my style on my songs in the sense of proving myself,” Protextor muses. “What I’ve learned from this partnership is you let the song tell you what it needs, not the other way around.”

Protextor and Brother Bear tease American Neon today with “Not Tonight,” a disco-influenced track about putting bullshit on the back burner and living for the night. The clammy clip, directed by Austin’s Zack Scott, arrives as a mixture of Xanadu and Mad Max.

“It’s a post-apocalyptic world, where things have gone really bad, and these are members of the resistance who are coming together to have this party and blow off some steam,” explains Protextor. “The album, in its entirety, is political in the sense that it’s calling out bullshit, but ‘Not Tonight’ celebrates self-care through escapism. It’s the idea that we’re overwhelmed and while it’s important to stay involved, it’s also okay and good to celebrate love and together and unity.”

Here’s “Not Tonight,” strap on your roller skates:

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