From the surburbs of Whitby, Ontario, now living in the big city of Toronto, Ontario, comes Brandon Williams, the well-dressed and silky long-hair-don’t-care 21 year-old behind Hometown Beatdown. What started out as skipping school and fooling around on MySpace has turned into a music career and being signed by Warner Music Group.
We hit the “Gold & Denim” singer up yesterday and talked about hot dogs, things that pop, looking inside himself for inspiration, and how he gets his beautiful mane to flow the way it does. Check out the rest of the interview after the jump!
(Bestfan): You started Hometown Beatdown while you were still in high school, did you expect it to get this far?
(Brandon Williams): Uh not really, like I just posted shit i made on the internet to show ex girlfriends how much cooler I had gotten, which totally didn’t even work
It was me and my pal Tanner, and my friend Margot would come over, my friend Norman would come over too, who ever wanted to come over, would come over, and we’d just tweak with sounds on my computer and post songs on the internet, on the Myspace account we had set up called Hometown Beatdown
I was accepted into university but didn’t want to go, so my Myspace music player hits was the excuse that I used on my parents. It barely worked, but i haven’t gone to University yet so it’s cool (laughs). R.I.P Myspace (laughs)
I guess some labels were feeling it and Warner was the coolest fit for what I was doing, they liked my shit and said they wanted lots of people to hear it. I was like “I’m cool with that, I think commercial success is hilarious looking, looks like fun to me”. So I’m having a go at it and my friends and I are all having fun, it’s not weird or anything – I still get to do my thing and be myself, or else I’d be creeped
(Bestfan): And what do you want them to feel?
(Brandon Williams): Not sure, I don’t think it’s really up to me to dictate that for people. But I think, hope, people do feel something. Like, I feel something when I listen to my favourite band, Copeland, and I don’t think Aaron Marsh, who wrote those songs with his band, thought “this guy in Toronto, Canada is gonna feel this way from the song that I’m making in Tampa, Florida,” I don’t think he had any plot for what course he wanted his song to take for the listener, it just takes it when the song is good.
I think he sings from what is inside of him and puts it out and people have reactions of all sorts. I’d hope people feel something when i sing what’s inside of me also. Like sometimes I write and sing fun songs, so maybe people will feel fun in the vibe or whatever.
(Bestfan): How have you, as an artist, experienced change or growth in the last year?
(Brandon Williams): Way more than any other year . Before this year, I never really looked inside myself for inspiration which is the most horrible thing for an artist to do – to just ignore what’s right there inside them the whole time. There’s 21 years of me and I’ve never really sang much about it, and I’m only starting to sing about it and write about it now. So I think that’s a pivotal thing for me and my music.
I’ve learned so much this past year, and now I’m writing the best songs I’ve ever written. The one’s that I’m most proud of.
(Bestfan): On your Twitter it says “Gold and Denim” was inspired by The Virgin Suicides movie? Can you tell me how you guys came up with the idea?
(Brandon Williams): There’s an actor in that movie, AJ Cook, who went to my high school, Anderson Collegiate in Whitby. She came into my drama classroom to talk to us, but I was a shitty teenager and didn’t want to watch her films. But this summer, Joel Stouffer, who I was writing with, was like “Dude, you gotta check out Virgin Suicides,” so I did and I’ve watched it like five or six times since then, I like it. The movie is about a dude and 4 sisters, and that was the inspiration for the music video, just a dude and 4 girls. (laughs)
The song lyrics are sorta just about flexing, it’s just me talking about things that pop, things that like.. imagine actual pop art from elementary school. Like I say “Illuminati” in it, that word pops to me, “gold” and “denim” both pop, like in pop-out books, y’know? So it was just about flexing and about power a little bit, I guess it’s a powerful thing to have 4 cool looking girls around you. We went with it and I think it turned out cool.
(Bestfan): What was your favourite scene from the shoot?
(Brandon Williams): Maybe the hot dog scene, we were all hungry so getting food helped us look cool.
(Bestfan): People are always speculating about celebrity membership in the Illuminati and you actually shout them out in your single “Gold and Denim”, what’s that all about?
(Brandon Williams): (canned beverage opens) Just my buddy Brody cracking a brew in the background here (laughs) People should take BrodyWhite.com for a spin, my roomate’s a cool-guy-photographer.
I like to watch documentaries, and I think that all the frenzy about the illuminati is really awesome. I wrote the line down in my phone and I just put it in a song because it popped, and again, it was all about the pop-out book vision. People can read into it, but there’s not much to it at all, it just pops.
(Bestfan): What’s an unforgettable tour memory you’ve experienced with the rest of the band?
(Brandon Williams): I love playing shows, obviously that’s the coolest, and I feel so lucky to be able to do that. But I think the down time with my friends is kind of the most memorable. I come home after tour remembering what we did in the afternoons, not necessarily what we did in the evenings. Me and the boys just walking around seeing different shit in different cities. The audience in the evening is cool also, I do remember that. Just travelling, seeing different cool places.
(Bestfan): Favourite city?
(Brandon Williams): California somewhere, not sure favourite city there yet, but geographically the west side of the states (laughs). I was born in Ontario and I’m here, still. But I think I have some surfer in me. (laughs) I think I just like the sun, like the past couple of days in Toronto has been gnarly – blue skies, I’m all about it. Plus degree celsius weather, I’m all about it. I’d like to have palm trees and guaranteed plus degree weather year round.
(Bestfan): Where did you draw inspiration from while working on the new EP and how is this forthcoming album different from Piece of That Peace?
(Brandon Williams): For Piece of That Peace, I wrote 5 songs and put out 5 songs. For this EP, i’ve written over 30 songs, and it’s gonna be cut down to 5 songs. I consider this EP I’m about to put out my debut EP, as much as Piece of That Peace was kind of like an intro to me, this one’s THE debut. I want a bunch of people to hear this one
So far in 2012 alone I’ve written 14 or 15 new songs for this EP. They’re sort of all over the place. They’re like inner perspective, my experiences. I wrote a song yesterday called “Break My Bad Habits”, one called “The Weekend After Next” just about going away with a girl you like when she likes you back, and one called “Union Jack’s Son and Beverly Hills’ Daughter”. I’m still writing so something that I write tomorrow or tonight might be on it and those 3 that I said might not even be on it.
(Bestfan): What’s up for Hometown Beatdown in 2012?
(Brandon Williams): I’m gonna put out the best music I’ve ever written. Then we’re gonna go tour to play the new songs for those interested in seeing it be performed. I definitely want to make more visuals for the internet, so cool-people can have cool-stuff to look at while listening to the music.
(Bestfan): What was your favourite cartoon from the 90s?
(Brandon Williams): Winnie The Pooh – “Summer Squash Scene” is f*cking hilarious, YouTube search that.
(Bestfan): What was the last thing that you bought?
(Brandon Williams): Caffeine.
(Bestfan): What do you usually order from Starbucks?
(Brandon Williams): Cafe Misto.
(Bestfan): Do you have any tattoos?
(Brandon Williams): I have a shitty tattoo on my chest. I went with my friend, Coady McCormack, while we were in Phoenix recording Piece of that Peace. It says “already am, always was, and I still have time to be” which I’m cool with, it’s written by this beat poet named Anis Mojgani, he’s really cool I want to meet him.
(Bestfan): What’s your hair routine?
(Brandon Williams): (laughs) Ummm.. I use Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and it makes my hair look way cooler than any other shampoo that I’ve used in the past (laughs). I don’t stank, I wear deodorant, but I don’t shower everyday because I don’t want my hair clean looking all the time. The day-after-washing look is the coolest.