NEXT UP: Brandon Alexander
Origin: California / Atlanta
Indie Pop. Acceptance. Love, but most importantly, vulnerability. I believe these things define the interview itself but it also defines what Brandon Alexander brings to your ears. Check out a snippet of the interview on our IGTV / Youtube or read the full interview below.
Let's start by talking about yourself, as in what you do, who you are. My name is Brandon Alexander. I'm from California but I've been living in Georgia for the past four years almost. I moved to Atlanta with my mom right after high school and didn't really have any plans and ended up here and started working and making music and doing marketing and focusing on trying to figure out what I wanted to do with music because I started singing when I was like 15 or 16, but those were rough years with my voice because it was changing. I like keeping a lot of stuff to myself, but I really wanted to start expanding and doing stuff. So what pushed you to make music in the first place? It was September of 2017. My best friend, at the time, and I went to go see this band called LANY and it was just the most amazing out-of-body experience. And we're driving home and he's like, dude, you need to start putting music out. And I was like, I know. And I wrote a song and a couple of months later called "Drive". I kind of kept it to myself and refined it over the months and put it out a year later. Mostly "Drive" for me was expressing my feelings cause I had gone through first love and a first heartbreak all within that range of fall 2017. I really wanted a way to preserve that memory some kind of way. And so I made songs that made me feel like I was there in those good times and they kind of helped me get through the day.
It's funny that you mentioned LANY because when I was listening to your music especially "Drive", it literally gave me a LANY "vibe" and I hate that word but you get the point. That was definitely the inspiration at the time and I was writing and trying to not use them as a reference, but it was all I knew at the time, it was what I was so obsessed with and it was the soundtrack of that time in my life. So it only felt right to use that as inspiration.
So what is currently inspiring you? I'm really inspired by the eighties and nineties romantic comedies, like Tom cruise movies, "Top Gun", "Cocktail". I actually just put out a lyric video where I put together all of my favorite eighties - nineties movies. And those are the things that inspire me because I love the scoring from those timeframes and I want to ultimately, whatever body of work I put out first like an EP or an album, to feel like you're in one of those movies. When you're listening to it, I want to make soundtracks for people. Do you have any favorite songs that have impacted you as a person or as an artist? I'll give you three: "Let Me Know" by LANY because it's one of the songs that resonated with the community because the best part is "let me know if you ever change your mind. I can't promise you I'll be waiting, but for you, I'll leave anything behind". And I'm one of those people that's all about that one love during your life and doing everything to fight for that person and not settling for whatever comes next and that stuck with me because I didn't know many people thought that way. I thought I was crazy for thinking that way and I thought that was really cool.
"Get Used To It" by Justin Bieber: That was kind of an alternative song compared to most of his typical tracks and had that baseline of the 1975 and I wasn't into alternative pop at the time, but at the time it was really sick and I was living back in LA and the Purpose album was like it.
"Mystery of Love" by Sufjan Stevens: It was the soundtrack for Call Me By Your Name with Timothée Chalamet. I never saw the movie, but it was like on the soundtrack basically. It's a really soft, beautiful shock about love, but in the mystery of it and how people form together. My ex-girlfriend put it on a playlist that she made me at the beginning of our relationship and it was incredible.
What are your views on the "pop" genre? I was heavy into pop all throughout high school mostly people like Justin Bieber. I really like Zayn, but now ever since I got into alternative pop and indie pop, pop to me is too much noise. I love the idea of minimalism and words that compliment that well and that's why I like alternative pop because you listen to LANY's first few EPs and its the most minimal tracks with layered vocals, but it kind of plays the background at the same time. Pop to me is too much noise. It's like over-saturated and it's easy to become successful. And that's what I've debated with is I want to travel and let my music spread so I've thought about just doing pop, but to me, it's a little bit too common and conventional. I like things that are more unconventional and experimental that only certain groups of people that might not feel they're represented. I try to make music for people that are a part of not marginalized groups but smaller groups of people that are hipsters, indie, and all that.
So is there a message or emotion you strive to convey to your listeners? I think I try to convey being vulnerable because, especially for men, not a lot of guys have a way to identify with their feelings in the form of music because most men don't make music that is emotional and vulnerable and that's why I love like Harry Styles. I love people that put their hearts on the line and don't really put themselves in a box because it makes people like me feel understood. I'm very emotional like I think I've cried once today already. I'm very sensitive and I love listening to women's music but from another dude's perspective, sharing a heartbreak with a girl or feelings for a girl, it's really cool because it makes me feel more understood and more comfortable in my skin to be able to express those things so I try to express vulnerability and convey that as a message and then not giving up also when it comes to people, relationships, friends unless it's completely toxic. I think you should fight to the end for the people that you love. It's like Lana Del Ray. One of my favorite quotes from her is "One dream, one life, one lover" in that song "Venice Bitch" and that stuck with me 'cause that's my anthem. Like one person, one life, forever. That's really a cool concept to me.
What's next for you? Something cool that I did a couple of weeks ago with my friend Brett. He's an independent artist here in Atlanta. We had a listening party and that was super cool because that was the first time I'd ever played music for people in front of them. It was like 20-25 people there and I didn't know more than half of them. And I put a bunch of movies together and played it on a projector and played three songs of mine, "Blue", "Drive" and then "Favorite Sweater". And that was so cool because just watching people react to music in real-time was really awesome and answering questions. I want to do a lot more interactive things this year. I'm putting out an EP in the spring/early summer and I'm going to do a listening party plus a performance and do a Q&A and try to engage with people about the music. Also, I'm doing some music videos, probably two music videos, for the six tracks on my EP that's coming out called "Head Over Heels". Music videos are super exciting to me because I love movies so to be able to put it into something visually, I'm really stoked for that. So that's all I have planned right now.. the EP called "Head Over Heels", release party, performance, two music videos.
What are you currently listening to? -Blake Rose, he's got this song called "Lost" that I really love.
-The Japanese House, her latest album. I have it on repeat all the time.
-LANY, I'm always listening to them.
-Nightly is a really good duo. They're a two-person band and they're really good.
I went to a rap concert when I was in Virginia a couple of weeks ago and I saw DaBaby. I'm not a rap person at all, so I sound really lame right now, but I've been listening to him and Gunna. I was listening to Gunna before this to get hyped up.
-Jaden Smith's last album. He's really cool. His latest album is really awesome and he's a great performer too. He's also one of those people too that is mainstream but wears his heart on his sleeve and Jaden and Willow are like geniuses. They're so talented.
-A lot of my unreleased stuff, I'll do a song, and then I'll promise myself that I won't burn it out in my head. When I record a song, I'll listen to it probably 30 times a day just to over analyze it and then I get tired of it. So I just did a song last week, I'm probably gonna put it on the EP. So I'm in the point right now where I have enough songs for an EP and I'm just trying to narrow it down to what fits the theme and making adjustments sonically that might make it all a little bit more cohesive and not abstract because I kind of need to tell people who I am right now. I'm not in that space to just be doing a bunch of random stuff. I'm trying to make something that's a clear message of who I am, but not something that puts me in a box. And speaking of "The Box" by Roddy Ricch.
Don't forget to check out Brandon Alexander on Instagram!
Interview by Dreina Bautista. Photography by @loren_stolin.