Interview with Brandon Rivers

The ever-changing music scene is primed to embrace amazing new talent. Ready to take industry by storm is Hampshire-born Brandon Rivers, who just so happens to be a family friend of mine. I cheekily scored an interview with the rising star…

Brandon Rivers, it’s very exciting to get to speak to you about your music. Despite knowing you since you were born, after I relocated up north, I didn’t get to see you grow up, into the artist you are today. When was it that you realised music was the path you wanted to follow?

“Hey Immy! It’s crazy, right? I think music has always been a constant in my life. I’ve been obsessed with sounds and rhythms ever since I was young, which I guess just escalated to adulthood on a more refined level. However, I do often question whether I’d still be a musician if my circumstances were different. But then I always remind myself that I have literally begged, stolen and borrowed if I’ve ever found myself in a situation where I couldn’t play an instrument or listen to music. I guess if you want something that badly, you’ll move mountains to get it. 

But, to answer your question (apologies), I don’t think it was ever a conscious decision to pursue music — it’s a talent (probably my only one, I might add) and that basically cemented it.”

We’re often heavily influenced by icons or role models around us. Who have you always been inspired by musically?

“Without sounding too pretentious or clichéd, growing up,I never had many idols or people I looked up to, as there weren’t that many people (or I simply hadn’t discovered them) that represented me or even looked like me.

The artists that I feel have shaped my sound, both musically and lyrically, are 2Pac, Prince, Kendrick Lamar and the Manic Street Preachers. Although all four are different, they all have equally contributed factors to my sound. 

David Bowie is still someone I look up to on a regular basis because of his versatility and ability to change at any given moment. I want my music to be appreciated by people of all walks of life, be it race or gender, and I feel David Bowie was one of the earliest people to have a cross-cultural appeal. Black audiences loved him just as much as white ones did.”

When was it that you realised you were a left-hand guitarist? Was that just always most comfortable?

“My Dad bought a guitar when I was around seven or eight — one of those cheap ones that come with the amp. He never played it; he left it to sit in his annexe. So, naturally, being me, I snuck in there every now and then, and played and posed with it in front of the mirror, holding it upside down. I think that was when I realised. That was both a gift and a curse, in that that being a lefty has set me apart from the crowd, but it’s also harder and more expensive to find decent guitars.”

Obviously you’re really making waves musically at the moment, with some killer singles that are getting more and more listens on Spotify! Where do you record your music? Are you still based more in the New Forest or now in London?

“I record all my music everywhere and anywhere I’ve got my laptop. It seems to be split completely between London and the New Forest at the moment, as I travel back down fairly often. In terms of where I’m based, it’s more London now.”

With the music industry being so heavily impacted by Coronavirus at the moment, you’re hosting live sessions on your social media. Are you also spending a lot of this lockdown time on writing new music?

“It’s funny because I had the idea in my head of doing live stream shows while in bed one night. I woke up in the morning, looked at my phone and, already, a large number of much bigger artists (Coldplay, etc) had already done them. So there was my ‘original’ idea down the drain…

In terms of writing new music, I’ve been making a lot of beats recently, but not many lyrical ideas. I have about four new songs written that I need to demo in order to take them to the studio to record properly, as my equipment isn’t good enough quality for a full studio recording as of yet. But I’m very excited about them and two will probably be the next singles to follow ‘you’re so bad’, which is the title of my next single.”

How is this situation impacting on the gig and festival scene for you generally? 

“I had shows booked in Brighton, London, Bristol and Birmingham, which were obviously cancelled due to the outbreak. In terms of festivals, I was one of a select few put forward by BBC Introducing to potentially perform on the Introducing Stage at Glastonbury this summer, which is now not going ahead. So, it’s been a great shame, but I’m pretty much ready to get back on the bandwagon as soon as the restrictions are lifted.”

Once this pandemic sorts itself out and we resume some sort of normality, do you have any plans to go on tour or do a few gigs in different parts of the country? 

“Certainly, I had planned headlines in Birmingham and Brighton, which I’m currently trying to reschedule. But I’d love to come up to Leeds and even Manchester to do some shows. As for a tour, I have nothing booked as of yet, but once my next single drops, I’m hoping to get out on the road.”

Do you still manage to spend time with family and friends? 

“At the moment, yes, because I’m back in the New Forest. I’ve seen friends occasionally, but its mostly through apps like Houseparty that I’ve been chatting and connecting with people.”

Can you tease any new music? 

“My next single is titled ‘you’re so bad’ and it’s probably the most sensual thing I’ve ever recorded — it tops ‘GIRLPLAY’. We’re currently in the process of getting things together to record a music video for it, but, due to COVID-19, we’ve had to push things back. I think I’d be surprised if the track wasn’t released around June time, but it’s out of my hands unfortunately. Regardless, yes, this hit is different.”

While everyone’s on lockdown and feeling on the miserable side, it’s worth remembering that music’s always there to lift your spirits. So, if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read and want to hear his tunes for yourself, you’ll find Brandon Rivers on Spotify. Don’t forget to follow him on Instagram too, for more live content, gig updates, new release drops and more — he’s @iambrandonrivers.

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