Words by Keane Fletcher
'Ten past twelve and I'm back reminiscing again...'
Nostalgia. We all know the feeling. That wistful yearning for times past, that kind of heart-sick pull that makes us feel happy and sad all at once, happy because it lives on in our memories, sad because the moment is lost forever, irrecoverable. It might sound painful, but that's exactly the kind of feeling Atlanta-based musician Brandon Alexander wants you to have, tapping into our collective reveverence for the past with his brand of ethereal, 80's inspired dream pop.
'I grew up on nostalgia. My mother raised me on the most diverse palette of 80s and 90s music from Elton John to Spandau Ballet to Boys to Men... It’s just who I am and whether it’s healthy or not my mind is always lingering on past nostalgia.'
And what could be more nostalgic than a past love affair? After recovering from 'the biggest heartbreak of [his] life' in early 2020, Alexander began channelling his feelings into some hectic productivity, finally emerging with his debut EP Head Over Heels last June, a collection of cathartic yet catchy indie-pop gems that sound exactly like the inside of your head at 12am on a Friday night.
With the release of his new single - the aptly titled 'Nostalgia Kills' - dropping early next month, we recently sat down with Alexander to talk all things music, inspo, and making music to fall in love to.
Check it out in the interview below.
1- Where are you based at the moment?
I’m based in Atlanta. I grew up in southern California but Atlanta is home for now!
2- How would you describe your sound? What are your musical influences?
I like to think my sound could be the dream pop soundtrack of your favorite nostalgic coming of age or rom-com movie. My influences are a lot of 80s artists like George Michael, Phil Collins, Sting, and New Edition.
3- How does the songwriting process usually work for you? Do you have a routine when it comes to writing and recording or does inspiration usually take you by surprise?
Songwriting comes really organically and mostly out of nowhere in the most random parts of my day to day. A lot of the time I’ll be processing my thoughts and two words I use to describe how i’m feeling can trigger an entire line or a chorus! And I immediately stop what I’m doing and record a voice memo of if no matter where at I am.
4- Though you’ve been putting out a steady stream of singles since 2018’s ‘Drive’, Head Over Heels is your first official EP. How long did it take you to write and produce? What was the inspiration behind it?
I honestly had no game plan for my EP at the beginning of 2020. I was going to compile most of my previous singles and a new track and call it an EP. But I really hated that idea and thought my few but engaged listeners deserved a new and cohesively themed project. So in from February-April as I was fresh out of the biggest heartbreak of my life I put my head down and wrote everything I was experiencing into songs like 'Better', 'Hopes Up' and 'Fall Again'. I worked virtually with producers over FaceTime and when I lifted my head up in April I was like wow we have an actual EP, not just a half effort compilation.
5- Your songs bristle with a kind of bittersweet nostalgia. How do you go about creating this feeling? Is it something you aspire to consciously? Or is this just what the inside of your brain sounds like?
I grew up on nostalgia. My mother raised me on the most diverse palette of 80s and 90s music from Elton John to Spandau Ballet to Boys to Men and so beautiful on. It’s just who I am and whether it’s healthy or not my mind is always lingering on past nostalgia. Additionally I wanted to make music that sounded like what I was listening to when I fell in love, so that when that 'someone' hears it she remembers vividly how we used to feel.
6- How has the ongoing pandemic affected your creativity? Have you enjoyed having more time to write and record or has it been stifling? How have you been forced to adapt?
The pandemic was a catalyst for my creativity. All of my songs have been recorded remotely from whoever is producing it, so I’ve been used to recording sessions over FaceTime or WhatsApp. I made more music in the first 3 months of the pandemic than I had made in my whole life.
7- How do you feel the internet has affected your career as an artist? Do you believe it's important to have a strong online presence in the age of streaming?
The internet helped me see what I wanted to achieve as an artist by giving me people in my genre to look up to. Ultimately that began to hinder me because i didn’t have my own identity. But lately i’ve taken a healthy step back and grown into my own and can now be comfortable in my own skin on social media!
8- If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?
I would probably change the ideology of what skin colors belong in what genre. Often when a stranger finds out that I make music they ask if I rap, and that really upsets me. I’d like to see more representation/a fresh pool of African American artists in the alt pop genre.
9- What's next for you?
I’m releasing my debut single of 2021 called Nostalgia Kills on February 12th and I cant wait for people to experience all that it communicates and makes you feel!
Thanks for stopping by Hipland!