Wolf Bradley enters the room dressed all black, sporting a Johnny Cash meets Zorro hat. It sits as a shadow around his sharp blue eyes in contrast with a minimalist style, a canvas that has given him creative freedom. It is overwhelmingly sweet and strong. His arms show years of ballet training. Fashionably late, Wolf arrives energized to perform, or rehearse as The Habits usually do. Their artistic, producer, writer and business side all hold on to the opportunity to share their music band’s story through words and lyrics.
The Habits practice in the renowned San Pedro City Ballet School, the same platform that first created and envisioned a career for Misty Copeland. It is quite unique but destined in many ways that after over a decade since Misty left her San Pedro beginnings, a new generation of artists: Wolf (vocal), Chance Famighetti (backup vocalist) and Andrew Matacao (drummer) would rehearse in the school’s costume room. As I wait for the doors to open, Misty’s Firebird image flaming red glances from the tinted windows that it adorns. It portrays the character that launched her career. In the back “studio”, soundproofed as much as possible, The Habits music plays as if they were live on their favorite radio station, echoing hopes, hard work and similar great beginnings.
Wolf and Andrew have been dancing for many years, but ballet is only a unique launching pad and tool as part of their creative journey. When The Habits play, whether it’s in rehearsal or for crowds at the Troubadour, their music instantly becomes everyone’s favorite song. The band’s ability to entertain goes past their age group, with friend’s parents’ becoming instant and repeating fans. So, what is it about The Habits that attracts and surprises a growing audience?
“It’s all about writing a song that people will want to sing forever,” says Wolf.
As a recurring theme in their songs, forever, comes as an invitation of joyful beats mixed with young melancholy. It’s a new generation playlist whose creative process aims to uplift spirits by simply being themselves. Wolf shares that a few times he has been called names too, like being “too confident.” The Habits ability to envision long term goals, after all is a characteristic, which raises their music and success rate to a different level.
“You have to envision [your dreams] happening,” says Wolf. “If you don’t see it happening for yourself, it won’t.”
In the back sitting by the piano is Chance, The Habits backup vocalist and producer. Enthusiastically, he’s ready and eager to share the band’s story as if he had been anticipating this moment for a long time. Chance is also Wolf’s right hand, sometimes coming up with new songs in ten seconds’ time and a text message.
“I have a grand piano at home. I’ll come up with chords, send them to Wolf on my phone. Literally in the next 20 minutes he’ll text me back: ‘cool, I just wrote a chorus.’ Send it to me back and I’ll start producing it on my laptop,” says Chance.
“Wolf is a songwriting machine. We build off each other.”
It’s that smooth for their ideas, feelings and hopes to come alive through music. It is also that simple, or so they make it seem, to sound effortless and come up with 30 songs after unexpected change in management this year. The Habits take no shortcuts either. Their first band name was the Ballherhinoes, with Wolf at the microphone and Andrew at the drums. Their debut: “The Drummer and the Singer” at Wolf’s Barmitzvah entertaining close family friends with Green Day covers. By the time Chance joined the band two years ago on New Year’s Day, Wolf and Andrew have been playing together for almost a decade.
Like a pilot at the forefront of his ship, by the drums, you find a calm, soft-spoken Andrew. The fascination of his drums goes beyond keeping track of beats. The other band musicians rely on his structure and leadership. While an extraordinary interior force bursts within him, it seems, like a true drummer, he saves it for performance. His dream is to play at Staples Center one day and hopes to free his schedule from having to juggle different jobs to keep that dream alive.
“I used to put a mattress up the door to silence the sound a little bit,” says Andrew, reflecting on a time when he first learned how to direct a drum set.
Cindy Bradley, Wolf’s mother and Artistic Director of the San Pedro City Ballet School, describes Wolf growing up as a “rich child” with a life full of possibilities. As a family and community, the Bradleys have built around them a supportive artistic platform. Their ability to showcase and promote talent in ballet, fine art and now music continues to grow as part of our cultural heritage. To add to the many inspirations in Wolf’s life, has been ballerina Misty Copeland. When she left the Bradley’s home and mentorship 20 years ago, Wolf felt as if he had lost a sister. This year Wolf attended her wedding and in some ways, such special event mended a broken heart from having said good bye too soon. Two songs as part of their repertoire are dedicated to her, “Favorite Song” and “Wait for Me.”
“When you live around someone that you see overcome so many odds and become what they’ve dreamed, that’s inspiring,” says Cindy.
“In Misty’s case it took an opportunity, opening doors and helping guide her through them in every aspect. Wolf was born into a world of possibility and that’s the difference, but the work is the same.”
Cindy today is considered one of the few visionaries in the world of ballet. Through Misty, she has opened the doors to a new generation of talent and appreciation for all art forms or professional dreams. The Habits are by destiny at the epicenter of her mentorship too, even if it is just through encouraging words. The Bradley’s new home overlooks the world and Pacific hues of the Port of Los Angeles. On a large two story terrace, Cindy shares the secret to launching a talent and following a dream to success. “The only obstacle is yourself and giving up, other than the things you may run into. There is always a route around it, I believe, and you too have to believe that.”
Photography and Video Credits by DIAMONDS MIRROR & Photographer JEREMY CONDAMINE – Starring THE HABITS video edited by ARMADILLO DESIGN concert location THE HI HAT – LOS ANGELES