Special Interview: Brandon Duff

THEAUSSIEWORD.COM goes one on one with Aussie artist Brandon Duff.

How and where did it all begin for you? What drew your interest to the music industry?

I come from a very musical family, so I grew up listening to a lot of big artists from the naughties while driving around in the family Toyota. I think that’s where I formed my love of “pop” music, and why my music usually has a 2000’s flavour to it. Watching artists creating and performing music always seemed amazing to be, so at different ages I wanted to be the next Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Adam Levine, Patrick Stump and even Skrillex.

What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music?

There’s something so unexplainably fulfilling about hearing a new song with a great groove and sharp lyrics, I’m always trying to achieve the same for my music. Going through the process of writing and recording a song over many months or years, and getting to see other musicians and producers add their own character to it is an amazing feeling.

What are some of your biggest goals you hope to accomplish?

Obviously selling out 10 nights at Wembley stadium has got to be up on the list. As I’ve gotten more versed in the music industry I’ve realised how difficult it is just to make a name for yourself, so even being lucky enough to consistently play original music to rooms of people who want to hear it would be a huge accomplishment to me.

What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour?

More new music is coming soon! I seem to have a problem with sticking to one genre and this next track will definitely be following that pattern. I’m currently looking to book a string of shows for early next year, these will be around Sydney, The Central Coast, Newcastle and further up the east coast. I’ve been getting a set together with some super talented musicians from Newcastle, so I can’t wait to start playing live.

Tell us a bit about your latest release and how would you best describe your music?

I recorded Chase That High at Tommirock Studios in Newcastle. I wanted to bring out something upbeat and energetic after my last two releases, which were more acoustic and melancholy. It has big Fountains of Wayne vibes, writing it made me very nostalgic for the naughties. The lyrics are about chasing a high that used to feel powerful and dramatic, but doesn’t hit as hard anymore. Whether that’s a relationship or other things that are definitely not illegal…

Give us an insight into your creative process. What gets you writing songs?

Sitting under Killen Falls in Byron Bay, with an amethyst around my neck and an oat latte in my hand. Nahhh, I’m usually in a poorly lit room trying find a rhyme for the word ‘tangerine’ for 45 minutes. The root of a song comes very easily, like a catchy melody hitting me while I’m cooking spaghetti. Then the next 95% of the song is usually a grind sesh of frustration and despair. Trying to sit in the emotion or idea that I’m aiming to express usually helps me to keep chugging along.

Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music?

The best part of music is the hidden meanings! There are definitely double meanings to most of my songs, I love music that you can listen to in completely different contexts and it still seems to work. Even better if you can keep your lines vague enough that other people come up with their own meanings. I love hearing what people think I meant by a certain turn of phrase, usually they have a better answer than even I do.

Success, what is the secret to it?

If I knew I wouldn’t still be living with my mum. I think success looks different to everyone. It could be finding self worth in a world full of possibilities, or building beautiful relationships with people who support and cherish you. For me it’s like.. money and stuff.

What has been your biggest career highlight so far?

Having a mentoring session with Amy Shark was a big one. Getting to hear some advice from an artist who had just come into some huge success was awesome. When you have a big win like getting to sit down with her it boosts your confidence in your own music. It definitely made me start working harder at writing and recording.

Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring?

Anyone who writes, produces and performs their own music is super inspiring to me. People underestimate how difficult it is to learn production, and to have an ear for what will make a song evolve in the right direction. I wish I had the patients to produce my own music, but for now I’ll stick to my garage band demos. Artists like Bruno Mars who have evolved their sound and become even more successful for it also inspire me.

Are there any new projects in the pipeline?

I’m currently working with some awesome musicians at Messiah Studios in Sydney on a new song. It’s got smooth keys, strong base and some sexy sax riffs. This one has more of a chill white boy RnB feel to it, like if The Weeknd was born in Gosford.

What is your favourite and least favourite part about this line of work and why?

My favourite part would have to be the freedom to be creative and that you don’t have to fit inside a certain box or stereotype. I love being my own boss and having the option to choose which road to take. My least favourite part is that none of the roads have a clear path. There’s no one certain way to progress in the music industry, as there is with most other careers.

Name a few of your favourite Australian artists.

Gotye, Flume, Troye Sivan, Wave Racer, The Presets and some of Kylie Minogue’s new stuff is actually banging.

The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye?

It’s never been easier to release music than it is right now. It’s super accessible for anyone to create songs in their bedroom and release them online, which is a very exciting thought. At the same time there are tens of millions of songs on Spotify, which makes it incredibly hard to stand out of the crowd. Social media is a great way for artists to give their community insights into their daily lives, but it’s also an extra task you have to be constantly feeding if you want to build a fanbase.

How will you continue appealing to the international market?

Besides my Australian twang I think my music is pretty American Influenced so hopefully that’s appealing. Beyond that, if I don’t find international success in the next 5 years I will be starting a K- Pop band.

Do you collaborate with others? Who is on your wish-list?

I haven’t done a collaboration yet but I’m definitely open to it! I’d love to work with Flume, Galantis, C2C, Rick Rubin, any of the greats really. So if anyone has all of their numbers…DM me.

What advice do you give for other artists wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Do nothing until you’re in your mid 20’s and then decide to pick up steam. Better advice would be not to follow my footsteps and start writing and recording consistently as soon as possible.

A message for your fans. How do you best interact and respond with your followers and fans?

I will 100% reply to every Instagram or Facebook comment so spam me with your compliments and inappropriate jokes.

Any last words?

Go see some live music, preferably mine.

Facebook: www.facebook.com.brandonduff23

Instagram: www.intagram.com/brandonduffofficial