I had the pleasure of sitting down with Warner Brothers artist, Brandyn Burnette, to discuss his newly released single “Thanks For Nothing” from his much anticipated debut EP “The Couch Surfing Chronicles”, set to release Fall 2014:
When did this journey start for you? Did you always know you wanted to be a professional musician?
I actually wasn’t really interested in music to begin with, even though I grew up in a musical family. My sister was an amazing singer, and my dad was an artist on Capitol Records. But when my grandmother gave me my first keyboard at age 7, I learned the entire song bank by ear. When I was 13, I wrote my first song about my sister going away to college; that’s when I unlocked something inside of me. In high school, friends would be partying and I’d be on my keyboard for 8 hours. Everything changed when I got a full ride to NYU for theater. I auditioned on a whim and got into their program. But I can’t dance, and you’re essentially preparing yourself for Broadway in that program, so in the middle of a ballet class I said “screw this”, I’m gonna be an artist. I felt like it was a universal moment that said “I can do this now”, and I knew I didn’t want to go down the musical theater route; it just clicked. I walked out of that ballet class and went straight to student affairs and took a leave of absence. As I pursued music, I couch surfed with my friends in NYC, figuring out my next steps. 6 months turned into a year, and I traveled everywhere from Oslo, Norway to LA for meetings with publishers and record labels. I eventually signed with Warner Brothers. Several years and a few couches after that ballet class at NYU, this is where I am now. My first single “Thanks For Nothing” is finally out, and I feel like within my experiences and exposure to a variety of musical sounds, I’ve found a way to do my own thing and keep that young 13-year-old in the room feel about my music.
What is your favorite part about your life as it is today?
I woke up this morning to a text from my friend saying, “I heard your music in the mall” in the UK. For me to be signed for this long and feel like I’ve had this song in production for years, it’s great to see “Thanks For Nothing” get the circulation it deserves. You never really know what a label does for artists as far as exposure until it happens. The possibility of hearing the song outside of my own phone/headphones/car is so exciting, I can’t believe it. I got signed and my music got released – those are the dreams.
You just spent several weeks in Scandinavia. What can you tell us about your trip?
When I left NYU and went to Norway for the first time, it was because my manager had another artist over there. The publishing company I met with then is still involved in my career today, which is why I went back. My deal with Sony/ATV flew us out to Sweden for 7 days, and then on to Norway to continue building my radio profile. I’m trying to really establish myself as a songwriter in the down time between releases, and in Scandinavia I explored writing in many styles, from R&B to house to indie folk.
Is there anything you would have done differently on your journey?
I wish I had never stopped acting. There was something special that those theatrical moments brought to my music. Being onstage is extremely emotive and inspirational. I feel like if I were to practice acting even more now I could tap into that for my record. I really miss it.
What do you think has been the key to your success?
Patience. My journey has been so unconventional. People could call it wasting time, but those couch surfing moments were a part of making me, me. You’re always evolving and I think success can be a hindrance that keeps you from getting to the next level. Having patience and remembering to enjoy what you do – that is success right there. There’s such beauty in feeling that every day is a success.
What are some of your end goals?
I want to travel the world and perform. Music videos and studios are so much fun, creating the song is great, but if I can’t deliver it live there’s no point. I’ve never been comfortable just being a songwriter – performing the songs is such a great payoff, you’re reliving that moment. I also want to do film and television earlier rather than later, because I want people to know that my artistry is 360. And I want to put my mom in a house. She’s supported me so much, 9-5. I would love to be able to take care of my family at this point.
What piece of advice would you give to fellow aspiring artists?
Don’t give up. Know how good you are, because lots of people have opinions in the industry. If I listened to every one I don’t think I would have gotten to the point where I feel comfortable enough to unlock my potential. I feel its very intimidating to do something with your life when people are telling you “no”. I didn’t let anything discourage me. I think that even trying in the first place is so important. After that, persistence is key.
The lyric video for “Thanks For Nothing” will come out very soon, with the official music video to follow. As a songwriter, Burnette also has singles for other artists coming out in the near future. His 6-song EP “The Couch Surfing Chronicles” is slated to release Fall 2014. You can catch Brandyn at Hotel Cafe in Hollywood every two weeks, with the next show on Tuesday, June 10th, at 9pm.
You can purchase Brandyn’s new single “Thanks For Nothing” at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/thanks-for-nothing/id881336801?i=881336827.
For more on Brandyn Burnette, and for links to his social media, head to www.brandynburnette.com.
Drea Dorman is a singer-songwriter and music enthusiast living in Los Angeles, CA. Learn more about Drea and her music at www.dreaofficialmusic.com.