Brandon Rowan : Buzzfeed, Urbanity And NYC’s Scene
The story when we discovered about Brandon Rowan was pretty much a spontaneous thing. It started when we saw a video “Everyday Things You Never Knew Had Name” by Buzzfeed on Youtube. The video (and its content) is pretty interesting, but what really caught us is the music. Luckily, Buzzfeed put some credit about the music so we can easily track the producer of the very catchy tunes. When we checked out his page on soundcloud.com, we were pulled to some dimension where it took us to the Urbanity atmosphere. So, we decided to do an interview and try to dig more about him.
Can you tell me about how did You end up being picked by buzzfeed?
Sure. To be honest, I don’t really know. I woke up one day two weeks ago with a well-above-average number of new subscribers and plays on my Soundcloud profile. I shrugged it off and figured that my profile got linked on some blog somewhere. I didn’t really think twice about it. But the next day it grew even more, so I Googled myself and found a link to the Buzzfeed video. They hadn’t asked my permission or even notified me at all, and they still have made no contact with me. And they’ve used three of my songs now, in just under three weeks. Well, at the same time, they credited me very officially, and linked to each of the songs.
How long have you been doing this?
Well, I’ve been producing since my senior year of high school, so about 2 years. But I only really started doing hip hop last spring. before that I was just experimenting and getting to know the program I use- Logic Pro 9 – without any clear sort of goal.
Have you tried to promote your music before? (I mean beside on souncloud), Like sending them to some club or lounge there? or?
Nothing very public. I’ve sent my EPs to blogs before, but I know I still have a lot of work to produce before I start “shopping” beats. But what I’ve recently been doing is making beats exclusively for some rappers – pretty well-respected and locally famous ones – and hoping that they’ll also be a great platform for getting some publicity/promotion. So I’m going the producing-beats-for-others route for the time being. I like doing that because it’s not only a good way to get my name out there, but also because I can form some sort of an artistic alliance with the rappers I’ve been working with. If there’s a mutual respect/appreciation for one another’s music, it can lead the way to a serious working relationship, which is something I’m aiming for.
So NYC has influenced most of your work?
Definitely. All the music on my soundcloud (all the music that’s public) was made within the last year, and this is nearing the end of my second school year in NYC. Originally I’m from New Jersey, but I always dreamed of going to school in the city. Even when living out in the suburban areas of New Jersey (actually closer to Philadelphia) the vibe of the city always enticed me and inspired my music.
I can say that all is pretty much about the urban stuffs? are you trying to explore on another thing? Or actually those tracks have their own meaning?
It’s not necessarily about ‘meaning’ per se. For me, it’s about imagery and ‘vibe.’ I know it’s very hard to define those terms, but I want my music to subtextually convey images of urban life. Meaning is ultimately left up to the listener – I don’t want to impose any sort of strict interpretation of my music. It’s fairly unobtrusive, and I like that. But at the moment I’m all about urbanity.
What actually brought you to urbanity stuffs? Tv series? the city culture?
You know, I’m not really sure. I know that TV and the general hype surrounding the whole “Bright Lights, Big City” idea probably factored into it. I think I’m more fascinated by the concept of living in close proximity to millions of other people, because where I grew up was very spread out and I lived in the woods. There was farmland everywhere, and it was somewhat boring. I always had so much fun every time I visited the city, and I think it probably grew from my desire to be around people all the time, to be in a place where art and professionalism thrive, not just a place where there are horse farms everywhere.
Any ritual or stuffs that you do in finding the inspiration? like walking on a pedestrian walkway or nightwalking
I definitely love walking around at night. It’s a very thought-provoking process for me. I don’t really do it as a ritual though–I walk all over the city just to get from place to place. But I’m always looking around as I am, appreciating everything around me. It’s really special to be able to live here. Every once in a while, I’ll stumble upon a scene that really strikes me. Like emerging from the subway and seeing that the city is covered in snow, and it’s quiet… that’s beautiful. And I got a lot of that this winter. But it’s not a specific correlation – I don’t have an experience and then produce a song about it. I feel that my songs are rather reflections of my personality and of all the things I love, but it’s very subconscious. Each song represents a different shade of who I am and what I love, but not necessarily on purpose. It just happens.
What does “stay gold” represent you as?
That’s the thing, I don’t really know. It’s a very interesting song, I think. It combines a lot of happiness with this really melancholy sort of tone. And since I work with samples of other artists’ work, and rearrange them into new musical ideas, each song I make is dependent on the songs I choose to sample. but that’s a different story.
Did you conclude that stay gold is pretty much a spontaneous work?
In a sense, yes. Every song I make comes from small samples of other artists’ songs rearranged into new musical ideas and new textures. If you listen to the original song that I sampled in “stay gold,” it sounds nothing like my song. And the process by which that comes about it somewhat random, and somewhat based on chance, and somewhat based in my own musical sensibilities. So it’s a combination of spontaneity and my musical influences at work.
Let’s talk about the music scene in NYC. how is the hip hop scene in NY?
Hip-hop is not bad, it’s still popular in brooklyn and the bronx. There’s a deep appreciation for the history of the genre here, as it started in the south bronx. The indie hip hop is fantastic, I think, but it’s not easy to find necessarily and it’s not a huge crowd, at least from what I’ve seen
Have you tried to do a remix version of some well known song?
Oh wow, that’s a big deal. No, I haven’t really done many remixes. There’s one on my soundcloud, but it’s not a very well-known song and I made it for a beat battle (like a battle of the bands but for producers) in Brooklyn a few weeks ago, which I won. It was very exciting. But for now, no remixes. I just sample and make new arrangements, which is similar, but not the same process.
What’s your long term goal? do you consider being featured on buzzfeed as one of the nicest accomplishment that you have ever got so far?
Well, yes and no. My long term goal is to be able to make a living making my own music for myself as an artist and for others. I’m a producer first and foremost, and I love collaborating as much as I love making my own music. The Buzzfeed videos are a cool thing to brag about, but I think that getting a few of my beats placed with some very prominent NYC rappers is the biggest achievement so far.
Anyway, who is your currently favourite musician?
I really like Flying Lotus, he inspires a lot of my music. Bonobo is excellent, so is Nujabes (RIP). I think those three are probably my favorite/biggest influences.
Well,any message that you wanna deliver to people who listen to ur work?
I guess just let the music speak for itself.
If you’d like to listen to more of his work, you can easily check them out on his soundcloud page below :