Brandon Jenner held a small gathering at his Malibu home Saturday evening to celebrate the release of his new album, "Burning Ground." The backyard provided a rustic ambience complete with whimsical twinkle lights, cozy couches, hot cider and an all-organic food truck. Later into the night, he showed a few of his music videos for his new songs and described his inspirations and creative process for the album. His brother Brody and his father Caitlyn were in attendance as well as numerous friends. We sat down with Jenner, who was more than happy to have a casual chat with us about his new album.
Shea Lenniger: First off, did you know when you wrote "I Believe" that you wanted to do a music video for it? Or did that come after?
Brandon Jenner: Well actually, not when I initially wrote it. The only part of the record that I wrote a couple years ago was the chorus. Then I finished the song six or eight months ago and wrote all the verses. So initially, no. But when I decided to do a record I wanted all of the songs to have videos because I felt like having a video would only accentuate the message and the story that I was trying to convey with each song. So I've made a video for all five of the songs on here and I really wanted to get that done before I even started releasing things. So yeah, I mean "I Believe" turned out really cool and the other videos are really great too. "I Believe" is really special because it includes other people, which is pretty awesome.
SL: So with that being said, do your songs have a message that you want to send to your fans?
BJ: Getting to know yourself as good as possible. I can use writing music as a tool to get to know myself better and to not operate on, you know, this level where we're thinking about what other people think of us. I'm just trying to express how I feel at the time so I hope that my album encourages people to get to know themselves better, to take time for themselves, and obviously just that the music itself makes them feel good. You know when you hear a certain song or the sound of a guitar or something that just brings up this feeling and you kind of well up with emotion? I've always really appreciated that in music, so I hope that some of what I've created does that in other people. That's my big wish.
SL: Do you find that you have a special or specific place where you like to write your songs?
BJ: Writing music and getting that initial idea comes whenever. I can be inspired by something that I see on TV, even though I don't watch that much, or something I see on the Internet. So the initial idea mostly is spurred from just kind of random moments. But when I know that I have to do more of the busy work, sometimes lyrics flow out and sometimes it takes a long time. Sometimes it becomes work in a sense where you have to just sit down and go. Whenever I do that I love it in the sun. There's something about sitting in the sun that makes me feel, I don't know, it might be a sense of euphoria or something. You know how it is. So I really like writing lyrics and just expressing myself and letting the the stuff flow when I'm sitting in the sun.
SL: What made you decide to go solo?
BJ: Well Leah and I, before we started playing music together, had our own things. I had a band and she had a band, then we were in bands together and then we were in bands apart. So it's just something that I've always planned on doing and so is she. She's actually been writing a record and she's just about to start recording it and it's awesome. So it's also good for us to just have our own outlets so we can come together and be real positive. So we have just been encouraging each other to do exactly what we're being drawn to do. And right now ironically enough we're both being drawn into making a solo record of our own.
SL: Do you record here at your house?
BJ: Yeah, I actually recorded most of it in my house in the living room right there (points behind him) and then did some overdubs and some vocals at Tony Berg's house. He has a studio out in Brentwood. He's wonderful, I can't speak highly enough about Tony and Jorge Vivo. I recorded a good amount of stuff; some guitars, some vocals, over at his house.
SL: So we know you play the guitar but you just mentioned recording other sounds, so how much do you do by yourself?
BJ: You know I do a little bit of everything. Yes, well I do a little bit of everything if need be. But I always love being inspired by other people's incredible musicianship. So for instance Gavin played drums on the whole record. Whenever I'm going to go record something, I always send him the tracks and say "Dude what would you do on this?" Because he just has a much better knack for that I do. I always defer to great musicians that I really like, because I appreciate their opinions and their expertise. Then typically I take things and I overdub to supplement things on my own but that's part of the process when you produce records. Any producer will know what I mean when I say that you have to learn a little bit of everything.
Tanya Mardirossian: Just for fun, who's your go-to inspiration as far as musicians?
BJ: Lots. Lately I've been listening to a lot of older stuff. Obviously Leonard Cohen passed away and I'd been listening to him for a long time. I listen to him a bunch and I just really appreciate his songwriting. Ray LaMontagne, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, they've been putting out some things that I really like. You know anybody that I feel like has a message they're trying to send. I listen to a lot of Bob Dylan. It's not always lyric based but I always gravitate towards people that are storytelling. I appreciate listening to something like Justice every once in while, and if you don't know who they are it's like real aggressive E.D.M. stuff. I like that but that's more just kind of background. If I'm going to sit down and listen to something I'd like to hear somebody that has something to say.
It was very clear just how passionate Jenner was about his music when speaking with him. His good heart and genuine care for others is evident within his inspirational song, "I Believe." His entire album, "Burning Ground," which includes five tracks, can be found on iTunes and Spotify.
Watch the music video to "I Believe" below:
Reach Staff Reporter Shea Lenniger here.
Reach Entertainment Editor Tanya Mardirossian here.