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A Dirty Dozen with BRAYDBUNCH – January 2023

| 21 January 2023 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “Any real artist can attest that the functionality of music can vary from person to person. Music can be entertainment, an agent for change, and also a source of strength. For the New York based Trans Non-Binary artist known as Braydbunch, it’s a combination of all three. Braydbunch is an artist that holds no punches with their work, as they are making more than just music; they’re building a movement. A movement that goes far beyond their work in music, sports and education, creating a community of acceptance for them and the people around them breaking down barriers for others who share similar life experiences to Brayd. Recently Braydbunch did just that when she became the 1st ever Celebrity Boxing Non-Binary Division Champion. Now Braydbunch is following up that success with plans to drop their latest single “Snakes & Gates”. This is an aggressive rap driven single that finds Braydbunch tapping into their rock roots to create the perfect pump jam for the grueling training they have undergone over the last year in preparing for their Celebrity Boxing debut.” We get Braydbunmch to discuss new music, influences, and more.

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

So what has me so excited about my upcoming release “Snakes and Gates,” is that I believe it fully encompasses the sound that I’ve been searching for all along. As many of my fans know, I’m part hip hop, but I also produce music. Through this process I was always searching for the sound that I truly wanted to make, for myself as well as  my fans. Many people may not be aware but my die-hard fans know that my musical journey started many years back in the rock world. In high school I was part of a punk band. Even more so those that have been following my musical journey since the beginning will know that I credit David Bowie as being one of biggest musical inspirations. When I was producing music working with the youth of New York City, I often found myself hopping on tracks with the artists, trying my best to fit their style. Very often, when those artists would hear the very recognizable Braydbunch growl, they would tell me that they felt like I was meant for the rock world. To tell you the truth, I would agree with them, except that I also grew up as a true Hip-Hop head. What a lot of people are going to realize is this latest release encompasses, both my rock roots and my passion for Hip-Hop. I now finally have a track that I’m proud of, and a sound I believe I was meant to make.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

That’s an interesting question and I feel like there were so many important moments in my life that led me to music. If you were to ask me this question a month from now, well I might point out different moment but there are quite a few milestones or things that stick out off the top of my head. As a kid I was nonverbal, but used music to communicate with those around me. A lot of my family loves to tell stories about how I would grab a guitar and even though they couldn’t understand the word of what I was saying, I would sit there and bang on the strings and put on a show for my friends and family. Fortunately by the time I hit elementary I gained the ability to talk and that’s where my love of music continued to grow. Being a lifelong insomniac, I often say that some of my biggest musical inspirations were my late night baby sitters when I couldn’t sleep. It was very common for me to be glued to MTV or VH1 or watching classic concerts on cable when I couldn’t sleep at night. I found myself hypnotized by the images of Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder, or The Red Hot Chili Peppers, who were creating some of the greatest music in the 90’s. I was also the kind of kid that woke up extra early because I had to catch Yo! MTV Raps every morning before heading to school. My happy place has always been music, I could always just go up into my room and turn on my music when I wasn’t in a good mood and it would make me feel better.  The one moment that impacted me the most was in 8th grade when some friends and I entered a local battle of the bands contest. This was around the time that the world was just starting to learn about Eminem and bands like Limp Bizkit were at their peak of popularity. I’d say as a whole these are two of my biggest influences. For the battle of bands we entered as a hip-hop trio performing our own original song. I think my real passion for wanting to be a musician started that day when me and my two friends won that battle of the bands contest. Another interesting moment that helped motivate me to be a musician was the fact that I graduated from the same high school as Mariah Carey, when I was in school she came back and performed for the students. That experience lit a fire in me and showed me that if Mariah could chase her dreams and become a world famous superstar for her music, why couldn’t I do the same, since we came from the same high school.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Winning the battle of the bands with my friends is what really set me on the path to be a musician. Funny enough for that show, I went up dressed as one of my biggest influences Fred Durst with his classic red hat and white tank top. And now as my sound has evolved into its latest form, that tends to be the most frequent comment I get from people, is that I sound like Fred, which to me is a huge compliment as he was so influential to me early on in my musical journey.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

That’s a very interesting question. It might be hard to pick one person, so I’m going to start with a serious comment. But I’m probably going to name two or three. But first  I wish I could resurrect Mac Miller. To me, Mac Miller was one of the greatest artists on the planet. It’s such a shame that he died as young as he did and as tragically as he did. Mac Miller taught me a lot of lessons about this music game. I watched him grow as an artist over the years and at the end of his career, he wasn’t just hip hop. Go listen to his last few albums. It’s hard to put a label on such a gifted and talented artist. Very often when I’m working on my music, trying to develop my new sound. I think about some of the things he taught me. Not everyone’s going to understand my concept right away, but I know they will eventually and I have to thank Mac Miller for that. He had me pushing myself, pushing my sounds. And even to this day, when I get down I put on some Mac Miller and it changes the way I’m feeling, he was a true lyricist too. But unfortunately I can’t do that unless you could point me to a witch that can make this happen. But as far as an artist I could actually collaborate with at this point, I would love to collaborate with a legendary band like  Rage Against the Machine. Not only because I love their sound and style, but I love the messages that they deliver in their songs. Unfortunately, I think a lot of kids today don’t really know about Rage Against The Machine, but if some of them went back and listened to their early stuff, it might change the world. I want to be a part of music that brings emotions as well as a message that can help make the world a better place and to me Rage Against The Machine is one of those bands.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

I think a lot of fans are aware of this already, but I’m a huge advocate for self-care and different forms of therapy. For me that therapy is training and martial arts / combat sports. There is no better feeling for me than getting to get some anger or emotions out on a microphone or boxing pad. I compete in boxing and just won my first fight with Celebrity Boxing. I’m also training for my first Muay Thai match as well as training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu all leading up to what will hopefully be my historic first MMA fight against another Trans competitor. I am currently training in these different arts at least 6 days a week and to tell the truth if I didn’t have that in my life, I’m not sure where I would be. I also really love my dogs, and love to just throw on some music and take them on a nice walk or let them run around at the park. When I’m doing this I can forget about the troubles of life and just focus on my dogs that do nothing but give me unconditional love and support.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

I would describe the music that I have been making lately as aggressive, high energy, pump up music, whether it’s just for a workout or fight type music. A lot of people when they first hear my hip hop sounds, with my screamo vocals say that my energy blew them away. I’ve performed in so many different places, I’ve walked into a core hip hop show with my aggressive screamo / metal sound which definitely throws some people off. To me there is no better feeling than walking into a room of strangers and being very different from most of the other people performing and still getting positive feedback from the fans in attendance.  I know that my sound is different than many others , but people are still loving it. Something that was cringe to me early on but I have learned to accept now is that people automatically compare me to other white rappers, especially those that have a more angry/emotional sound like Eminem, Insane Clown Posse, or Limp Bizkit.  Early on I felt like those comparisons were used in a negative way, but now looking back on it, I see it as those artists like Eminem who had a big impact on me, so they influence my sound. And there’s no problem in acknowledging your early influences that created your sounds, Eminem just did that himself when he thanked a long list of artists during his Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame induction speech.

7. As far as your creative process, are you normally the driving force or do you normally let the producers or other take control.

I like to have a lot of control over my musical projects. Early on I was making music with so many different people, often also producing the tracks, booking the studio, and helping the careers of the younger talent around me. Looking back I think that I was probably too nice at times in the process and would give up too much of the creative control or was trying to make my sound fit with their music which didn’t feel authentic. So nowadays, I have a better understanding of the sound I want to make, and know that I need to have control of the process in order to make that sound happen. Lately I have been trying to find musicians/ producers who can help me bring some of my ideas to life ,but even then I still like to have a hands-on approach to creating music, staying in touch on a daily basis with them to make sure I have a hand in how the song grows or changes.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Sadly I’ve had the disappointing experience of meeting some of my former ideals or superstars that disappointed me based on what I had previously thought about them. To tell you the truth I don’t get very starstruck these days, I’ve been in the same room, or right next to some of the biggest legends on the planet from sports, to music, to Hollywood, but at the end of the day I started to realize that many of these people are just normal people. There is really no reason to be so starstruck, all of these people are flawed humans just like the rest of us, some are better than the rest, but at the end of the day Americans put too much power on celebrity status.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

For me, the best part of being a musician is being able to have a dream or a vision and then being able to bring it to life. I imagine it’s almost like being a painter.  If you think of the greatest artists throughout time, they had to start with an idea in their head and were able to express it through their art. As many of my fans know  I have a background in counseling and teaching, so if I wasn’t a musician I’ve always thought about one day opening a mental health clinic of some sort or jumping back into the world of education to help grow the minds and help people heal.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I’ve seen a lot of silly interviews with other artists in the past and I love when interviewers throw certain curveballs out to make us learn more about an artist. I’m very much an open book. I’ll probably answer almost any question. For me one question I would love to be asked would be something outside of the normal information that I have put out there, for a journalist to take the time to do a deep dive and research me finding a topic or something that I have never spoken about publicly.  One thing I’m tired of answering is the same old questions about my gender identity. Being Non-binary and Trans, in my opinion is nothing new or big. There is so much more to me as a human than my gender identity, and although I want to help change the world and make it a more equitable place for people like myself, I don’t want it to be the thing that people solely remember me for. I would rather be remembered as Braydbunch the Rockstar rather than Braydbunch the Non-binary Trans musician.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Yes, like many people I have quite a few regrets. But fortunately, I feel good about them because I think a lot of my regrets stem from misperceived by others. Early on, when I started producing music and was making hip hop with kids in New York City, even though I had a dream of having a professional music career I still wasn’t taking it very seriously. So a lot of my music from that time period that’s unfortunately still out there ,that I have been talking about pulling down, comes from those earlier days where I was just releasing a lot of music that was barely mixed or mastered. The main focus for me at that time was to create music to help motivate my students to make music. Unfortunately , when I started sharing this music  I was posting ridiculous things to get my kids attention or make them laugh. As many may know earlier this year I was set to open for Tekashi 6ix9ine at SXSW at this time I started to get more notice from people on social media. Around this same time I started my relationship with Celebrity Boxing. Around this time I took on the role of “heel” like a Pro Wrestling bad guy, in order to be heard in the Hip Hop World and to sell tickets for my fights. Unfortunately , I wish more people saw these kinds of interviews where I explained the reasoning and timeline associated with my art. It was around this time I decided to go all in with the entertainment industry while stepping away from education. Regretfully so, I think a lot of people still just see me as that “heel” and not me as a real person. A goal of mine from now on is to let people know who the real me is as artist as well as the person behind the art.  I think that the steps that I am currently taking, doing more in depth interviews will help people forget the past and focus on me as a person.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

For me it would be Mac Miller and his album Swimming.  As I referenced earlier it was the later Mac Miller that really impressed me most because that’s where he grew to be bigger than just hip-hop. And that’s where he had tracks and songs that in my opinion, sounded more like they were put together by an orchestra than the typical Hip Hop producer. I wish I could have been a part of witnessing the whole process in person. His follow up album Circles was amazing, but I know that unfortunately I will always wonder if Circles was completed exactly the way that Mac would have wanted it. We will never truly know.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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