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Interview: Phillip Brandon

Published: 2013-12-19
Phillip Brandon Q: Your music is a hybrid of various genres, namely funk, jazz, and rock & roll. How did this style come about?

A: It's an amazingly beautiful thing when you set out with a vision, and then have others share in that vision without purposefully persuading them to do so. When I started this project, I wanted to infuse music that spoke to me. When listening to music, I never feel bound by a particular genre. Therefore, when creating music, I tried to take the same approach. I was watching Richard Marx in concert some time ago where he mentioned that we, as artists, have to start in somewhat of a selfish place in our approach to creating. The meaning that I took from this was that we have to create from what we feel in our hearts, with the hope that someone else feels the same way. With that being said, I love beautiful melodic lines encased with meaningful lyrics, I love rhythms that make me move, and I love to have a good time.

Q: When did you become interested in music?

A: Well, my gorgeous mother is a singer who used to tour with Ray Charles as a “Raylette," as well as tour and work with many other artists and bands. My father met my mother on one of her gigs, married, then came me. Though he is not a musician, he loves and appreciates great talent. Needless to say, music was definitely a part of my life from birth. My earliest memories were when my father bought me my first record in the late '80s. I'll never forget it. It was Ashford & Simpson's “Solid as a Rock" on a vinyl 45. I didn't know much about what was being said in the lyrics; I just knew that it was catchy and made me want to move.

Q: What instruments do you play?

A: I can tickle around on the piano enough to get an idea out for writing purposes. I'll then quickly turn it over to someone who can finesse it.

Q: You have a striking baritone. Did you ever receive any formal training in singing? How did this develop?

A: The interesting thing here is that I actually received my degree in marketing from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. However, while there, I did receive a partial scholarship to sing in the official singing organization of the school, The Morehouse College Glee Club. The scholarship afforded me the opportunity to receive some vocal coaching. From there, it was just experience, trial and error, and faith.

Q: What is your role with The Trans Siberian Orchestra?

A: Ironically, my main role with TSO is the Narrator. Aside from a few backing vocals on a couple recordings, I primarily get a chance to utilize my acting chops. It's so refreshing to be able to draw on all aspects of my artistry.

Q: How did you become involved with The Trans Siberian Orchestra?

A: I definitely have to thank technology for this one. I was actually scouted on YouTube. I was doing “The Lion King" show at Disney over in Hong Kong when I got the call. I've got to admit that it has definitely been very cool rocking out on a sold-out arena tour!

Q: When did you decide to record an EP?

A: I actually began the writing process back in 2011. After the entire creative process was complete, it was literally a matter of finding that perfect intersection of time.

Q: What artists influenced you the most and why?

A: Aside from the aforementioned, artist such as Earth, Wind & Fire
Earth, Wind & Fire
Earth, Wind & Fire

band/orchestra
, Luther Vandross, and Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald
1917 - 1996
vocalist
have been very influential. All have crossed boundaries and taken risk because of either an individual vision, or feeling. They all have had the ability to invite you in by simply creating and walking in their own truth.

Q: What are your plans for the future as far as your musical career goes?

A: Immediate plans are to continue touring, writing, and completing the full album. I would also do a collaborative project.

Q: What advice would you give musicians who are just starting out?

A: As cliché as it may sound, there is never any room for doubt when it comes to pursuing your passion. When I was just starting out and unsure of which route to take, my father told me that “you are never stuck." Even when things seem as though they may be stagnate, there is always another route to take. Just stay in a forward motion and continue honing your craft while seizing every productive opportunity possible.


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