Brandon Jenner Talks New EP, 'Plan On Feelings,' Catching The Feels With Ben Harper & More

Brandon Jenner


Brandon Jenner Talks New EP, 'Plan On Feelings,' Catching The Feels With Ben Harper & More

"I feel like I'm kind of putting energy back into this thing that gave me so much. So, I sit here today feeling like I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be," the L.A.-born singer/songwriter tells the Recording Academy

GRAMMYs/Jul 26, 2019 - 04:35 am

L.A.-born singer/songwriter Brandon Jenner has used music as an emotional outlet from a very young age. To that end, he is genuinely grateful to now be writing songs that not only help him process his feelings, but his fans' as well. On June 14, he released an especially heartfelt project, his appropriately named third solo EP, Plan On Feelings.

Jenner recently stopped by the Recording Academy headquarters to go in-depth on his new music and the therapeutic process of writing it, finding inspiration in connecting with his fans and how he's learned a lot about himself from teaching the next generation of songwriters at a recent GRAMMY Museum Summer Session at the GRAMMY Museum.

You recently released a new EP, Plan on Feelings. How did it feel to share that project?

It felt great. It feels like a big weight off. And then as soon as it's out, I just want to make another one and put it out. But I put a lot of vulnerability into this one, I really allowed myself to just say what I was thinking. So, it was definitely an important one for me to put out. I didn't know how it would be received, but it's been received so well and I think people appreciate the honesty and vulnerability.

The songwriting feels very personal. Can you speak to the creative process and journey of it?

A lot of it is a personal journey... kind of creative writing exercises. Sometimes I'll sit down and I'll write something that I'm embarrassed to write, and that's the point: to sit down and write something that I wouldn't want people to know about me and then put it into a song. Lyrics are really important to me. I love music. I love groove. I always have. But the music around what you're saying is just kind of a platform for you to be able to say whatever you want in those three minutes and have people listen. You kind of have this license to say things that you wouldn't normally say in conversation, and I think that's a beautiful thing. Honestly, I can't wait for the next record so I can be even more vulnerable and say things that embarrass me even more.

Do you feel like making music is a therapeutic or cathartic process for you?

Absolutely. Always have been.

And the video for the EP's lead single, "Death Of Me," is amazingly cinematic. [Actress] Margaux Brooke really draws you in. Can you explain the vision behind the video and how it came together?

I knew that it was a really great song and I wanted there to be a great video for it. Nowadays, you really need visuals with releases, we live in a very visual world. So, I reached out to a good friend of mine, Z Berg. I sent her the song and said, "Hey, would you?" in the hopes that she would consider giving me some ideas for a video. She said, "Absolutely. We've got to do this. I have to direct this video."

She sent me a whole script, basically a treatment for what it would be, what she envisioned. So, from the moment that I contacted her, she pretty much took the reins and worked with her longtime directing partner, Drew Fuller, who brought so much to the table as well. And pretty much just the two of them created this video for me that I couldn't be more proud of.

How did it feel then seeing that song in that visual representation?

Well, it was great because I believe strongly in the song itself and the way people react to it. So, I knew that it needed a video that had an equal quality to it. So, it just feels like a complete package really at this point. It's the video that the song deserves. A lot of other videos, not that they're bad, but in the past it's me always trying to create and not waiting on people around me. I'm always a do-it-yourselfer kind of person. I shoot videos on my iPhone and stuff. I didn't want to do that with this one, I wanted there to be something with a little bit more thought into it. I wanted it to look great and be a bit more cinematic. I think we achieved it.

I feel like I'm kind of putting energy back into this thing that gave me so much. So, I sit here today feeling like I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, and I'm inspired to continue to write not just for my myself, but also for others.

What music did you love when you were growing up, and who are your biggest influences to this day?

When I was young, music always really helped me get through difficult times. I would be going through a break up or something when I was in high school and would listen to Ben Harper, some of his early songs where it's just real simple stuff, and find myself just crying and letting it all out. But then at the end of the song or the record, I would always feel so much better. I would feel lighter. I always saw music as this form of release. It's a way to help process emotions, pent-up emotions and stuff.

So, music did that for me a lot when I was young, and I really gravitated towards a lot of soul stuff like Al Green. Lately, I've been listening to a lot of Sam Cooke and some kind of soul-funk stuff. I listened to a lot of '90s rap too when I was young. That was kind of the it thing to do, and it was just so unique at the time. I really loved it, my brother and I did. But now music has kind of begun—learning how to write music and learning how to open the channel between whatever it is and my voice and my playing has really kind of turned the therapy. So, songwriting has become that therapy for me.

And then I get messages from people that say that my music has helped them through some kind of a tough time, and it just kind of completes this weird circle that I feel like I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing. I feel like I'm kind of putting energy back into this thing that gave me so much. So, I sit here today feeling like I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, and I'm inspired to continue to write not just for my myself, but also for others. I'm happy.

That's important. And that's a great segue into the I Believe stories on your website, that I think were fans' messages, and felt really powerful. Can you explain the backstory on that a bit and then how sharing other people's messages felt for you?

I had an idea to make a music video for the song "I Believe" that was on my first solo record, and it was kind of scary to make this Instagram post of just a video of me saying if there's anybody that would like to be in my next music video, you can email me and I will get back to you. It was scary because you're really putting yourself out there, you don't know if anybody's going to email you. But I got what ended up being thousands of emails from people saying, "How can I be a part of this?" Basically, I wanted them to use the words "I believe" in a cool, creative way, and wherever you were in the world, you could participate.

And some of the stories that I got from people, a little bit of the backstory on their life, was just so—I mean, I would sit at the computer reading some of these people's stories and was just crying, weeping, thinking what an honor to have this person that's been through these struggles want to be a part of this music video. So, some of them, I just wanted to share on my website so that other people could get an idea of what it was like for me to go through it. I really spent the next couple weeks doing nothing but being at my computer replying, I wanted to do it myself. If somebody writes something really profound, I didn't want to just say, "Cool, well here's the info" kind of a thing. I wanted to really respond.

So, it was a big chunk out of my life, but it opened up my heart in a way where there's things that happen in your life that remind you that the world is full of amazing people. The vast majority of people are kind, have a great capacity for empathy and want to treat others well and are selfless. It was just another reminder that that was the case.

Do you think it's important for artists to use their platform to either share other people's stories or to highlight issues that are important to them?

Yeah, if they can, if that's part of their journey. I think it's for each his own. So, if some people feel like they're more of an introvert and they feel like the energy that they put into their music is giving enough to the world, then that's okay with me. I'm somebody who would prefer to look for other ways and other avenues to be able to give back and inspire in different ways. I like using my platform for stuff like that, but I don't hold it against somebody that doesn't. A lot of times, people thread the line too, the political line and stuff. They don't want to kind of be on one side or the other because they don't want to alienate people. I don't really subscribe to that, but I think I understand why other people do.

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Look, mom!! Turns out, you were right all along!

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You recently led one of the GRAMMY Museum Summer Sessions. What was the biggest thing you learned from talking with those young aspiring songwriters?

It was interesting because it was a moment where I got to kind of regurgitate a lot of the things that I've just learned in my life. I haven't really sat down and had an opportunity, especially with younger people, to talk about what they can expect in the coming years and what they might find in their journey of self-exploration in writing. I learned a lot about myself.

I learned that I have had a lot of experiences and I have had a lot of "a-ha" moments that have led to things that have helped me in the process of creating music. So, I got to share that with them and I think it really inspired them and it made me realize that I have, in my time, figured out some things that they could use as shortcuts. I can be of service to people that are trying to figure out how to write better songs and come from a better place. So, that was the thing, and I enjoyed it, I had such a great time. It was really wonderful.

I think sometimes we don't realize how much we know until people starting asking questions.

For sure. Especially in this field, something that I've spent so much time working on, is learning how to be more open and not being somebody that shies away from failure or mistakes, but somebody that welcomes them because that's where all the growth comes from. So, I've kind of lived my life as much as I can like that, and it was just a great experience and I think I left at least some of them somewhat inspired.

What would be your biggest piece of advice for young people looking to break into the music industry?

I mean, no matter how great you are, any of that stuff, nothing will happen for you unless you work hard and you sacrifice things. You have to sacrifice your own ego a lot of times. Hard work is something that is irreplaceable. Sometimes you have to do the things you don't necessarily want to do. It's a lot of fun for me to just lock myself in the studio and create tracks all day, right, and it isn't necessarily the most fun thing for me to sit down and write lyrics to pull all that stuff up. But if I don't set aside time and I'm not structured about it, things will never get done. I'll just have a hard drive full of these beats.

Sometimes you have to do the things that you don't want to do, or sometimes you have to take the path of the most resistance in order to get to where your goals are. I would just inspire people to look at your artistic expression as a whole, figure out where the weak spots are, figure out where you can spend your time most efficiently, and be a bit of a business person in that regard.

>>>Don't forget to check out on our YouTube page for a longer version of the video, as well as other recent Up Close & Personal episodes.

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Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More



Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More

The Nigerian-American singer and actor sat down with the Recording Academy to talk about what inspired his latest album, 'Walk With Me'

GRAMMYs/Jul 8, 2019 - 10:04 pm

In 2015, Rotimi stepped into the New Orleans Superdome for the first time to experience the magic of ESSENCE Fest. Four years later, in 2019, the "Love Riddim" singer returned to the celebration as a performer, something he said was spoken into existence.

"Last year me and my manager had a conversation and I said, 'Listen, I'm going to be on the [ESSENCE] mainstage this year. 365 days later, we did it," Rotimi told the Recording Academy at the 25th annual ESSENCE Fest.

Rotimi, also an actor on Starz' "Power," has evolved since his last album, 2017's Jeep Music, Vol.1. The singer said he really hit home with its follow-up, the recently released Walk With Me, a project he worked hard for, putting in hours in the studio after filming on set.

"Walk With Me is the first time I actually felt like I was giving myself as an artist, and personally I feel like with everything else I have going on I wanted to show people that this is really what I do," he said. "I wanted people to understand who Rotimi is, who Rotimi was before, who I want to be and just understand my growth and the journey and my passion for what I do."

Part of why the album felt like such a representation of him is because it embodies beats of his African roots, something he said was very present growing up Nigerian-American. 

"I grew up with a lot of Fela Kuti and I grew up with Bob Marley," he said of his musical roots. "But I also grew up with Carl Thomas and Genuine and Usher, so there was a genuine mixture of who I am and what I've grown up to listen to. The actual Walk With Me project was a mixture of influences of Akon and Craig David."

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam

Photo: Kevin Mazur/


Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it

GRAMMYs/Feb 13, 2019 - 04:05 am

Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.

McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award

The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.

"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."

With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.

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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Glenn Danzig

Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images


Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show

Dark punk legends to play first show with Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only since last year's Riot Fest reunion

GRAMMYs/Aug 22, 2017 - 05:28 am

There's big news today for punk-rock fans aware that the Misfits made much more than just T-shirts.

The massively influential punk band announced a special show touted as the "only 2017 performance in this world… or any world" and billed as "The Original Misfits" in Los Angeles at the Forum on Dec. 30.

This will be the first Misfits show featuring original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only with long-time guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein since the band reunited for a pair of Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver in 2016. Last year's Riot Fest gigs, which featured drummer Dave Lombardo, marked the first time in 33 years the original Misfits members played together.

"OK Los Angeles, you've waited almost 35 years for this, here's your chance to see the "Original Misfits" in this Exclusive L.A. only performance." said Glenn Danzig. "No Tour, No BS, just one night of dark metal-punk hardcore brutality that will go down in the history books. See you there."

Tickets for this "one night only" show go on sale Friday, August 25.

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Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

Lady Gaga

Photo: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images


Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

GRAMMY winner pledges support for those impacted by hurricanes this year through Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program

GRAMMYs/Oct 12, 2017 - 11:03 pm

On Oct. 10 Lady Gaga announced she is devoting her $1 million donation in support of those impacted by the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and the earthquakes in Mexico, to a specific cause — the mental and emotional well being of children and youth.

Gaga announced on her Born This Way Foundation website she will support Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program, which uses a variety of tools to help young people deal with trauma in the wake of natural disasters.

"Through a curriculum that includes cooperative play, discussion, art, meditation, and mindfulness practices, young people learn to recognize and understand their emotions and develop healthy coping skills," Gaga wrote. "Tens of thousands of youth have benefited from the program since it’s development in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Save the Children is working to bring it to hundreds of thousands more in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico."

The announcement came on World Mental Health Day, and the Fame Monster has invited all of us to step up and consider making a contribution to the Journey of Hope program to support to mental and emotional needs of children.

"Mental health is just as vital to our wellbeing as physical health. That’s true for each of us, everyday, but it’s especially important for those coping with disaster and recovering from trauma," wrote Lady Gaga. "We must do everything within our power to support the full, vibrant recovery of these communities, from meeting their immediate needs to helping them to rebuild sustainably."

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