Brandon Evans

 

Today I am thrilled to bring you an interview I conducted with Brandon Evans. And I have to start things off by telling you how nice and refreshing it was to spend some time with this terrific, talented, young man.

He was soft-spoken, thoughtful, and incredibly gracious with his time and attention as we spoke. There is no sign of insincerity from himÖ as he would listen to my questions, pause in consideration, and often cover a tremendous amount of ground with his replies. And for those that know himÖ those that follow and interact with himÖ and, in my case, for those that know his familyÖ none of his personality is a surprise. He is the genuine article. Incredibly pleasant, and when talking to you, always seemingly happy to be right where he is and not distracted by anything else.

I just so happen to have known his mother, Robin, for many years. She is about as even-keeled and grounded as they come. An easy enough image of her can be created by how many people associated with Brandon and his sister refer to her simply as Momma Evans. Itís appropriate, and lovingly offered.

The talent in this family is spread all around. His mother has sung and performed. His sister, Briana, participates in cheerleading and dance competitions across the countryÖ and wins.

Then thereís BrandonÖ which is where we were headed all alongÖ

As I sit to write this, Brandon has more than 25,000 likes for his music page on Facebook. Head over to Twitter, and youíll find he just passed 275,000 followers. You donít need to be heavily involved in either site to know those are pretty impressive numbers.

Then thereís YouTube.

Brandonís channel on YouTube has more than 90,000 subscribers. His video for ďCanít Wait ForeverĒÖ 122,000+ views. HeckÖ his cover of ďWrecking BallĒ has passed 119,000 views. People are watching -- and people are enjoying -- what this young man is offering.

In June of 2013 he released a new song -- ďDonít run awayĒ -- which has a video you can check out, or better still, head over to YouTube and check out all of his material. (Trust meÖ not only is there a lot of it, there is also almost always something new to enjoy.)

His complete presence on YouTube includes a terrific selection of covers and some high-quality productions of several songs. As we noted, he is amazingly active on the social media platforms, quite often posting comments, thoughts, and suggestions. And he interacts with his followers at a dizzying pace.

In short, not only has he earned this high level of support, he also works very hard to maintain it.

On the afternoon we met, Brandon and his sister sat with me for about an hour. I would like to thank both of them for their time and consideration.

Also, since we first worked on this project, Brandon has been incredibly busy. Heís been performing live and touring, and started 2015 off with the release of ďSky RiderĒ, a brand new single. In addition to the links at the end of this page, you can find out more about his material by checking out:

Sky Rider at iTunes

Artist page for Brandon Evans at iTunes

Sky Rider at Amazon

Artist page for Brandon Evans at Amazon

And nowÖ letís get to itÖ Brandon EvansÖ

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Iíve heard that some of your first memories involve being on stage, singing with your mother.

(Laughs) Yeah, thatís true.

Iíll guess that I was probably 3 or 4 at the time I can first recall. I can almost hear my mother singing ďCircle of LifeĒ as my dad helped me up and I walked onto the stage while she rehearsed.

That developed into a regular thing for me. Mom would be at a rehearsal, and Iíd be there stealing her microphone.

Was there ever a moment where a thought -- like ďthis is for meĒ -- was in your head during those days?

I donít know if it was back in those first memories, but it wasnít too long after. The simple truth is, as much as I can remember, I have always been singing. It could have been on stage back then, or when I was 6 or 7 and in the car, or, really anyplace.

As far as knowing it was something Iíd like to do, that probably came about when I was maybe 10 or 11. That was when I started expanding things. Even today I still work on covers and mimicking vocal styles and efforts from others. But about 8 years ago was when I recall not just being fascinated by melodies, but also the writing of music and lyrics, and the process of creating music and songs and expressing things on my own.

It was probably around the same time that I became aware of the idea of being a performer as a profession. Iím fortunate to have so much technology available to me, because it made finding out about record companies and the industry easier. I could also follow things, in and out of the mainstream, in ways that just werenít as simple twenty or thirty years ago.

I can understand that idea. When I was younger, you might have to wait three or four or more hours to hear a particular song on the radio, even if it was one of the most popular songs that week. And now, you can hop on the internet and find even the rarest and most obscure songs within one or two search efforts. Is the internet one of your major sources then?

(Nodding) Absolutely. I find a lot on the internet.

And yet, itís funny, because even in just a few short years so much has changed. If you go back to those days when I was 10, 11 and 12, Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber hadnít really done anything yet. Myspace was still big.

But even as it grows and changes, the internet is still the biggest thing. Everyone has to be there, posting on it or viewing what has been posted. All of the biggest artists are on it, using it, and often are using it in ways no one ever expected it to be used.

In the early days for me it was Michael Jackson and Usher. And being able to not only hear the music, but to see so many great performances just added a level thatís hard to explain.

Does that make it difficult? Meaning the internet. So much of writing music, especially lyrics, can come from a personal place. And then here you go, sharing it with the world, and in a format where it can be seen over and over again.

I really like writing my own material, so Iíd say yes.

A lot of artists donít write their own material. And itís not easy, especially when you are reaching into very personal areas for inspiration. Often the most personal thoughts, which can be very scary and difficult to share, can produce the best results. Plus, there are thoughts and events and themes you simply donít want to touch.

Demi Lovatoís recent stuff comes to mind. I like it. I like it very much. And yet look at everything she has been through in the past year or two.

To your question, everyone is watching, and sometimes no matter which direction you go in people want to critique it immediately. These days, the speed and ease of technology means the response can be instant and very public.

The thing is, and this may be a bit off from what you mean, I love interacting with people. Itís great. So an added element is that once out in public, many times you donít know who you are interacting with. People want to be friends on Facebook, and yet you donít know for certain who it is that you are responding to.

And there you are, potentially in a lightning rod kind of situation.

Exactly! I want to believe itís really rare, but an example would be the person you think is your age or older is actually just 10 or 11 and knows enough with computers to click the right boxes and open an account, and then they want to be your friend. Take that concept and go to extremes. It can be very scary.

The thing is though, honestly, itís very important for me to connect with people. That means an exchange of trust. I really appreciate my fans. I want the fans, and even their parents, to feel they know who theyíre supporting and who theyíre with. I think if I stay true to myself, working hard and delivering the best efforts I can, that level of trust will create a great connection between myself and an audience.

And thatís something Iím aware of when it comes to producing my material. Iíve worked on 90-100 different songs, and to this day weíve only released 13 tracks.

Whatís been the hardest part so far?

Getting started. (Laughs)

I think it was probably around 2010 when I started posting some covers on YouTube. Basically, I had seen others doing it, and figured if they could, then so could I.

I covered a Jason Derulo song. The very next day I was thrilled to see it had more than 20,000 views.

The reality is, Iím still pretty young and learning about what I enjoy and want to do. Seeing those views, and then having reactions on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and so on, it is really great seeing the support grow. And yet, Iím outside of the party and dance music. I really appreciate a soulful voice, and the comeback of cool music. People like Gotye and Justin Timberlake.

Early on I worked with Kevin Wales. (Editorís note Ė with the song and video ďCanít Wait ForeverĒ) I will forever be grateful to Kevin for what he taught me. I am blessed to have worked with him. Lately I have been with Dave Brown, and we released ďDonít Run AwayĒ earlier this summer.

I guess what Iím saying is, if you want to be successful, itís all hard and all different. And I want to be involved in the entire process.

Different labels, different markets, work on things like sales of albums and singles. Some people only hear, or only record, two or three songs and donít even have a full album of material. Itís hard to get music played on the radio, even when you have a great fan base already in place.

Talent can only get you so far in the process. You have to constantly be working on things, moving forward, and, sometimes, be in the right place at the right time.

So, in one way of describing it, youíre looking to be more than just the singer, and you want to think long term about your efforts.

Yes! Thatís exactly it.

Whether you enjoy their music or not, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga are involved in all aspects of their careers. That trust, that honesty I mentioned a few minutes ago, thatís what you get from them. Everything done for their careers, from writing to performing to promoting, involves their efforts and input. You can say some of it is image and branding, but it still has their stamp of approval, that honesty behind it. And you can see how respected their audiences feel, and how loyal they are in response.

People donít see this as a career. Many donít appreciate the long run. I donít want to just jump in. Iím doing this because I absolutely love it, and I want it as a long term career.

Song writing. How does it work for you? Music first or lyrics?

For me the melodies come first. I add the lyrics to that.

I find that the melody is the deeper feeling of the song. It creates whether the song is dark, light, happy, and so on.

Itís a process though, like anything. I would guess I usually have 10 or 11 melodies floating around in my head trying to take on a real form that I want to use.

Do you play any musical instruments?

I approach my voice as my instrument. I am learning how to play the guitar, and I used to play the violin. I can also play the piano a bit by ear.

All of that said, it is my singing that I focus on. I practice my singing and take voice lessons. So I do work on my singing all the time, the same way a guitarist would pick up a guitar and practice.

Considering how many levels of the industry are available, would you be happy focusing on one aspect more than another? For example, more songwriting and less performing.

(Pauses) Itís an interesting question, but itís not the way Iím thinking about my future.

Songwriters get to do a lot of different things, and often things an artist canít. A successful mainstream artist can find it very difficult to change out of an image, and create a new personality or perception.

And some people simply donít want to be viewed as role models.

So for whatever reason, there are going to be people that are attracted to certain parts of the business, and they arenít as pleased with other parts of it.

For me though, Iím really blessed to be in the music industry, and doing what I like. So that focus you mention is wide open, on a career from working on my own material all the way to performing it. There might be some things that I like doing more than others, and even some things Iíll eventually find I donít like. Right now I view them as part of the work, and part of taking chances to improve and get better.

And honestly, when I get to interact with people, thereís nothing better than seeing people smile and have them tell you they enjoyed something you worked hard on.

Do you ever wonder about how a song will connect with its audience as youíre working on it?

Sure. I mean, itís not something that I use to force a song. I donít find it determining what lyrics I use and so on.

You hear all the time about how people say that a song, because of the feeling it created or how the words connected, made them feel better. And Iíve had people say things like that to me. Itís great. I really do enjoy making people happy.

When Iím working on a song though, Iím trying to almost sculpt something. Iím using music and words to create it, but the general concept holds true. Iím giving something form, and doing that with my thoughts on presentation.

That means crafting the music and the lyrics, yes?

I donít know if I can really explain it, but I really believe that in a song a note and a word can both have the same effect for someone listening to it. A person can just as easily not understand what a musician is trying to create with the music as they can miss the idea of a phrase or lyric.

A good portion of songwriting is expressing yourself, but youíre also really looking to connect. You want someone to listen to what you have to say. You want someone to listen to the song.

You might change the beat around, or try different instruments. Youíre the artist. If you want to use a kazoo because it breaks the tension with a bit of humor, or because you think it makes the absolutely perfect sound you want in the song, go for it. Do what you need to do to find that hook.

Youíre very active in social media efforts. Do you find the marketing of your music, of your brand, to be difficult?

Iíll say itís different. And at times it is work. But I donít know if difficult is the right word.

For me, the social media efforts fall into a few different categories. Obviously some of it is marketing. I want people to know what Iím doing, and to be aware of what Iím working on. Thatís the business side. But I am equally interested in just talking to people. I want them to know I appreciate their time and feedback on my work.

When it comes to recording though, marketing is such a different world. Sometimes the label might not like what youíre working on, or they prefer to focus the attention on a different song than the one you think is the best one. Itís tough because sometimes the business world doesnít relate to the artistic world.

Plus, I think sometimes that growth and development becomes a part of the marketing. Someone like Gaga is already making different music than what she started out with. Often an artistís first experiences are designed at pleasing anyone else except the artist. Itís that attempt to do whatever you need to do in order to make it.

Iím still trying to break out as an artist. And yet, I still want to be comfortable with who I am. So that marketing, that brand, itís really important for it to reflect me.

Does that make you nervous, about what you say or what others want to do with your career?

Scared. Nervous. All of the above?

Hereís what I know. Iím willing to work hard. I feel Iím smart and aware of my strengths, and willing to take critiques and suggestions about how to improve the things I might not be able to do as well.

As a songwriter, the process for me involves putting in a tremendous amount of work, and also a tremendous amount of emotion. But the biggest things about all of itÖ the marketing, the performances, the musicÖ is that 20 years from now I want to still be excited about what Iím doing today.

Youíre writing music, staying in touch with people on Twitter and other platforms, and doing so many other things for your career. Do you ever have time for you?

(Laughs) Not really. But Iím young and motivated, and doing what I enjoy, so Iím definitely not complaining.

Iíve adjusted to the pace for the most part, and I do find some down time.

This will sound a bit sappy I suppose, but Iím always focused on making myself better than who I am today. And I mean that as a performer and as a person.

I really do believe that support builds on a personal level. As an artist, I need to make a connection that people understand as ďthis is for youĒ. Itís not just doing covers and posting videos. Itís not just posting tweets. I really want people to look at me and say ďI like this kidĒ.

I want to be honest with people. I hope theyíll respect that, and in turn stay with me for a long time.

Iím not sure how to phrase this, but I find that really interesting since the media, and even people in general in this post-it-all-online age, have a way of building a person up only to tear them right back down.

Isnít that sad?

Iím not going to even try to defend people that are doing dumb things. Unfortunately there are people that get money and attention and fame, and in whatever example you want to look at they donít know how to handle it.

But sometimes the incidents get blown way out of proportion. It isnít fact-based reporting. Itís jealousy. There are people out there that only seem to find their happiness when other people fail, which is sad.

I try to push the negative away. Some people give it too much attention.

Look at someone like Johnny Depp. To me, he always seems nice and approachable. He tends to keep his personal life private as much as thatís possible.

In this business, there has to be a certain amount of understanding about what youíre getting into. No one gets perfect reviews on every project. And there is going to be an increased spotlight on things. I just want to do the best I can, appreciate and respect those that assist and support me, and as I said, always be a bit better tomorrow than I am today.

So, whatís next? How can people keep up with you, your work, new releases, and everything else?

Iím working on an album, and really hope that soon Iíll be able to share some announcements.

There is a section for my material at YouTube, where people can see my videos and hear the songs.

Facebook and Twitter are also fantastic places to look for me. For Facebook, I have a page set up as a musician under the name Brandon Evans. And my Twitter account is @bevansisme. If you Like or Follow those, youíll not only be able to get all of the latest information, but I can pretty much guarantee youíll see it as soon as it comes out.

And Iíd like to thank everyone that has been supporting me. Itís great to hear back from people that enjoy what I am doing, it means a lot to me and I really appreciate it. It definitely makes me want to work even harder on new projects.

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I want to thank Brandon for sitting down with me, and for working on this interview. I sincerely hope youíll take the time to check out his efforts.

Brandon Evans web site

Brandon Evans at YouTube

Brandon Evans on Facebook

Brandon Evans at Twitter

The pictures you see in this article have been provided by Brandon Evans for use with this project and on the In My Backpack web site for associated promotional purposes. All rights to these pictures belong to Brandon. They cannot be used for any other purpose without the permission of Brandon Evans and/or his authorized representative(s).

The material in this article was originally posted at In My Backpack in April 2014. Unforeseen circumstances created a need to work on the material after that, so we did some research, reached out to Brandon, and updated the effort for re-posting in April 2015.


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com