Bray is a songwriter / performer who currently lives and works in San Francisco, CA and is our latest Sonicbids feature artist competition winner. Listening to Bray’s eclectic rock style we were impressed and were delighted when he took the time to answer a few questions for Song Revelation. Read the full in-depth interview below where Bray discusses his creative influences, what music he enjoys listening to and what he hopes to achieve over the next 12 months.
Q: Who are you called?
My parents named me Brayden. Growing up, people always screwed my name up: “Hey Brenden.” What’s up, Brady.” So, I thought… I’ll just go by Bray. That will make it easier. Wrong. “Hey Gray.” How’s it goin, Dre.” But by this time, the unpronounceable symbol I was considering was already used by Prince, so I just stuck with Bray.
Q: If you could use a tagline of less than 20 words to describe your music and who you are what would it be?
Quirky cinematic songwriter and performer with elements of 70s AOR, 80s pop, and today’s border-bending rock.
Q: What is your musical background?
I grew up marveling at the Renaissance men of pop – Bowie, Prince, MJ… watching their videos and being entranced by their all-encompassing work. They seemed to create a whole multi media world around their messages and performances. This excited me because I was an illustrator who liked to dance and do impressions. Maybe there was a way I could incorporate all the things I loved into an arena that might inspire people to love and create and inspire others the way I’d been inspired.
Q: How have the last 12 months been for you?
I like the sound of that question. If I am to answer honestly, though, I would say tumultuous. I guess as humans we are in transition all the time, but the past year has been particularly transitory. I spent a great deal of time working with cover bands and exploring new personal territory as well. I’ve experienced a lot of pain, but I’ve also learned a lot and had a lot of fun. One of my greatest lessons has been that you cannot trust everybody. I am someone who wears his heart on his sleeve, and I am prone to trusting people on instinct. Many times, I’ve been right… but this year, I was bitten.
Q: Who inspires you musically?
Nearly everything I hear inspires me. Rarely do I say something sucks. My biggest inspirations change periodically. I go through phases of listening to an artist’s entire catalogue for weeks. The past couple of years have seen phases of Morrissey (perfect for the old pained heart thing) and Elvis Costello. I love the strummy twangy quirky songwriters.
Q: Which modern day artists do you look up to?
Another good question. I admire different people for different things. I think Cee-Lo is a bad ass singer and wonderful lyricist. Looking through my iPod, I like Arctic Monkeys, MGMT, Yeah Yeah Yeahs… I also like Frank Ocean.
Q: Is there anyone you would like to collaborate or gig with?
I really love collaboration. I’m open to all kinds of things.
Q: What songs are you listening to at the moment?
“Float on” by Modest Mouse. “Tiny Demons” by Todd Rundgren. “Latte and Macaroon” by Towa Tei
Q: What is your creative process for creating a track?
As I always say, it’s different every time. The best songs come as a complete vision in my head, before I even touch an instrument. Otherwise, I usually hear a melody while jogging or in the shower. Other ideas come from just jamming around on the guitar, arranging drum samples in the computer, or doodling on a piece of paper in some waiting room.
Q: What’s more important, melody or lyrics?
I wanted to say they are equal, but damnit I don’t believe that.
Melody is way more important. There is meaning and emotion implied within a melody that words may never capture. Traditional songwriter-type songs that have hardly any melody but include a long descriptive narrative, don’t usually interest me. Rap is a totally different thing, though. I do like a lot of rap songs.
Q: Where are you based?
I was born in Vallejo, CA, but I haven’t lived there since I was a kid. I claim San Francisco as my home town.
Q: What’s it like being where you’re from?
Here in the bay area, we are spoiled in a lot of ways. It is one of the most liberal places in the world, which is great, but it is easy to forget that most of the rest of the world doesn’t think the way we do.
You can also find any kind of food you can think of here in San Francisco. There is so much to see and do, all crammed into this tiny magical city.
It is expensive to live there, though, so I see that adds a certain stress to the things we do. It may even effect our motivations.
I could not live anywhere but a major city. There are nature boys and city boys. I’m a city boy.
Q: What are you currently working on?
On December 8, I released a brand new album (“The End Is the Beginning”) that has been over a year in the making. Since then I’ve been working hard promoting it.
After that, I have lots of things coming up. We’ll be making more videos for the songs from TEITB, and in March, my brother and I will be performing a stage adaptation of the movie Dumb and Dumber. We did it a couple of years ago, and it was some of the most fun I’ve had in my life. Just laughed the entire time. Gotta do that again. OH! I’m also lucky to be involved in another project: Glass Dragon. This is a Japanese-themed collection of songs produced by a cat named KDubbs and myself. It leans more to my R&B roots, but is also pretty creative and interesting. There are songs about forbidden love, the art of zen, and even skyscrapers.
Q: What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
A handful come to mind. The first big show we did in France (at the festival des musiques d’ici et d’ailleurs) was amazing. Then there was the time I met Dr Fink from Prince and the Revolution. That turned into collaborating on about a dozen songs, and more importantly, a great friendship. So many things, I’m thankful for. Recently, I performed at Bimbo’s in San Francisco. Every time I get to play there, I feel super lucky. That place is very nice.
Q: What are you hoping to achieve in over the next 12 months?
Happiness! I also plan to solve world hunger and reduce the national deficit.
Oh, you probably meant “professionally.” Well, in that case: Happiness.
Q: Do you have any gigs or shows that you’d like to tell us about?
I’ll be at Hotel Utah in San Francisco on January 19, 2013.
Q: What do you do to relax?
I like reading or watching a movie. Something I can get lost in… I recently finished reading the 1,200 page epic Shogun, by James Clavell. There was plenty to get lost in there. It turned out to be one of my very favourite novels.
Q: Where would your favourite holiday (vacation) be and why?
I’m a total Europhile, but I really like visiting places I’ve never been. For the past couple of years, I’ve felt a strong draw to Greece. I see dancing on a veranda among the white buildings in Santorini. Now wouldn’t that be nice? Also, riding a moped around town to view the ruins and to stop at the beach for a swim.
Q: If you could give a little piece of advice for new or aspiring musicians what would it be?
I really think the most important things are to work hard and be yourself. These words just roll of the tongue and past one’s ears. “Yeah, Yeah… I know.” But, no. Take each of these things to heart. They are all you need. Remember to clearly visualize what you want to accomplish in your life. Visualize it with love, not wanting. Every detail. It will happen.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to let our readers know about?
There’s a great farmer’s market in the ferry building in San Francisco. Go on a tuesday or thursday. Less crowds and all the beautiful colours and smells mixed with your breezy weekday hookie attitude… you’ll find a smile spread right across your face.
Editor’s Note: Bray already has a strong following and at Song Revleaiton we can see why. His effortless charisma and cultured songwriting is a winning combination. Definitely one of Song Revelaiton’s artists to watch!
If you’d like to check out some more of Bray’s tracks or get in touch just follow the links below: