Discover more from Volatile Weekly
Interview with Brian Walker
Berklee College of Music alum Brian Walker dropped his first single “Conflicted” at the end of 2018. Since then, his music has been featured on 92.5 The River, as well as Spotify’s “Fresh Finds”, “Fresh Finds Pop”, “New Music Friday Indonesia”, and “Fresh Finds Indonesia” playlists. His single "My Letter", a collaboration with Redbull 3 Style World Champion Eskei83, was released on 10/1/21 and is up to 90,000+ streams as of 11/8/22. His single Ring Ring came out on February 4th, 2022, and features a huge music video that was filmed in New York City with actors, extras, hotel suites, hotel pools, limos, etc. Walker directed and edited the video himself. Walker's latest single, "Lookin' Like My Wife" was shot at Hampton Beach in Hampton, NH. Walker also directed and edited this music video, came up with the storyline, hired actors, and booked a luxury Mustang convertible for the shoot. In addition, Walker wrote, produced, and mixed this song by himself.
Walker played over 120 shows in 2021 and has played over 500 shows since he started gigging professionally in 2017. Walker has traveled all across New England playing shows as far south as New York City, and as far North as Lubec, Maine. He has performed at the Berklee College of Music Performance Center, Mohegan Sun's Novelle Lounge, the House of Blues in Boston, MA, the Deerfield Fair, and many other places.
Walker produces, writes, and records his music in his bedroom-turned-home studio. He draws inspiration for his lyrics from his own personal experiences. Walker's brand of pop music combines catchy melodies and groovy beats with deep lyrics about his personal experiences. Numusicnews.com describes Walker as having a "polished tone and delivery in his vocals with a smooth finish like a good cabernet sauvignon."
Walker grew up on Monahan Farm, a family-run fruit and vegetable farm in the small town of East Kingston, NH. He started playing the piano at the age of 5, by performing melodies he had heard on the radio by ear. Walker is a DIY artist, producing, writing, performing, and mixing many of his own songs, and often doing all of the video editing, story development, and directing of his music videos by himself, while simultaneously acting in them.
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I was always into music at a young age. I started getting into music when I was about 5 years old and playing the piano by ear. I would hear a melody on the radio, and then pluck out the notes on the piano. As I got older I started teaching myself classical piano by watching YouTube tutorials. Then after high school, I got into singing, songwriting, music production and mixing, and eventually making music videos. I played sports growing up and really enjoyed that competitive environment. Our 4x800m relay team broke our school record in track. I was considering pursuing a career as a professional athlete at one time. I also always had a love of acting. I acted in a play in 5th grade and really enjoyed that experience, but kinda left that behind through middle school and high school to focus on sports and school. In college, I rediscovered my love of acting and nearly got a degree in acting. I took many acting courses, performed in plays and musicals, and used to watch Inside the Actors studio. I also read a lot of books on acting, and really had a passion for it. I wrote a play called “Ones and Zeroes” that ended up being one of three winners of the Undergraduate Prize Plays awards and was performed for a live audience as well. During my college experience, I was back and forth on whether I was more passionate about acting or music. Ultimately I decided on music because I felt like I could be my most authentic self and express my feelings and emotions. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been especially excited about making music videos since it combines all of my loves. I get to write and produce music that expresses all of the emotions and feelings I’m experiencing. Then I get to come up with this story for the music video that sensationalizes the song, and I get to perform in the video as well. I’ve really embraced the whole music video process, learning about frame rates, color-grading, directing, camera angles, lighting, etc, and it has become a new passion of mine to go along with music. So going back to the original question, I’ve always had a passion for the arts, and I can’t really see myself doing anything other than being creative.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I go to the gym every day, and I enjoy hanging out with my friends. Going to the gym helps keep me in shape for my music videos and photoshoots, and just living my everyday life gives me more stuff to write about. I also watch Netflix before I go to bed to unwind, and sometimes the stories in the shows I watch help fuel new song ideas.
How long has music been your career?
I’ve been writing songs for about 10 years, and I started releasing them on Spotify back in the fall of 2018. I started gigging professionally in 2017, and have played over 550 shows as of today (12/15/23)
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
I’m based out of East Kingston, NH. I don’t think my location has had a huge influence on my music. I’ve always been a fan of Top 40 songs and artists.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
Hmmmm. Well, when you play over 500 shows lots of things can happen good and bad, and you learn from all of those experiences. Some of the worst shows I’d say are when you can’t really hear yourself so you don’t really know how you sound to the audience (I’ve learned from those experiences and how to use a mixing board with in-ear headphones). It’s also not always fun to play for empty rooms. In some cases, I’ve played sets for only the bartender, and then they leave the room to go clean, and the room is literally empty. I try to play every show with the same effort level though, just because it’s good practice for endurance, and also you never know if someone might walk in mid-song, and then become a new fan. Some of the best shows are when it’s a packed house and everyone is there just to listen to the music and give you 100% of their attention. I remember playing open mics at The Grind at the University of New Hampshire, and that audience was amazing. Everyone is silently watching you while you play, it’s always packed, and they applaud and support all the performers. Earlier this year I played out my song “Ring Ring” at a gig in Rhode Island, and two guys at the bar started dancing to the song, and by the time the final chorus hit, they started actually singing the hook with me. They told me after my set that they wanted to come back and see me perform again. It’s the best feeling in the world when people dance to your music, sing along with you, and seem to be genuine fans. When I was first getting started, I had shows where I was like “hmm.. let me try out this new song tonight” but I didn’t practice it enough, and that’s always a recipe for disaster. I don’t play out new songs anymore unless I feel super confident in them and can play them with my eyes closed. A few years back I was selected to play an original song for John Mayer at Berklee College of Music in the Berklee Performance Center and got to use one of Berklee’s big grand pianos. I was also one of six artists selected as part of Kara Dioguardi’s boot camp class at Berklee and performed an original song in the Red Room for her and the class on a big grand piano. I love those high-intensity, adrenaline-pumping gigs. I feel like when the stakes are high, my brain kicks into high gear and I perform my best shows. Since piano was my first musical passion, I also love any time I get to sit at a big grand piano and play. Everything just sounds and feels better to play on a real grand piano.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I think my favorite venue I’ve played at was the Berklee Performance Center when I performed my original song for John Mayer. Everyone was there to hear John and his feedback on our songs, and the stakes felt super high, so I really enjoyed that rush of adrenaline. The Red Room gig for Kara Dioguardi’s boot camp class felt pretty high stakes too, so that was a thrilling gig. Other than that, I’ve also performed at the Deerfield Fair, which had a super fun vibe. I played at Mohegan Sun’s Novelle lounge and that was super cool too. Mohegan Sun is a beautiful place, and it just felt kinda ritzy, so I enjoyed that experience. As for venues, I’d like to play that I haven’t yet, the list is super long. Some that come to mind; Gillette Stadium, Fenway Park, the House of Blues Boston, MA, Bank of NH Pavilion in Gillford, NH… The Leader Bank Pavilion in Boston, MA is also a beautiful venue since it’s right by the water. I’ve seen some of my favorite acts there, so that would be a special one as well.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Charlie Puth is a big influence of mine because we both went to the same school and had the same mentor. He was the reason that I first got interested in producing music. Opening up for him would be a pretty amazing experience. I’ve also seen Coldplay and Ed Sheeran perform at Gillette Stadium, and I haven’t seen Taylor Swift live (yet), but I imagine opening up for any of them in a stadium show would be a thrilling experience. I saw a show in Boston, MA as a kid where the Script opened up for OneRepublic in Boston, MA. Seeing Ryan Tedder and Danny O’Donoghue sing live was probably the biggest influence on the way that I sing today and that’s still one of my favorite shows I’ve seen. They both have incredible voices and were super inspiring to see live. Being on the bill with those two acts would be kind of a full-circle moment for me as well.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
Work hard and do everything. There’s no shortcuts. I’ve found a lot of things I’ve done have helped other things — I get more gigs because of my music videos, performing covers helps pull people in for my original songs.. you can’t do just one thing. Just stay on the grind and keep getting better and better and be patient.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Be patient and pace yourself. It’s not gonna necessarily happen because of one song or one video or one show. It’s a marathon.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
My song “When I Start To Care” means the most to me because it feels the most “me”. I feel like I really get vulnerable with the lyrics, but also it sounds like a pop hit to me. I also wrote and produced the song by myself, so I’m proud of the fact that I was able to execute it. This song is not out yet though, and won’t be out until probably around March of next year. I think “Red Flags” is a close second, because I also wrote and produced this song by myself, and it feels the most like a Top 40 song of anything I’ve written. I also really enjoy the music video where I get kidnapped by one of my fans — I think the video concept is special. Of my songs that are already released, “Ring Ring” will always be special to me just because it was my first big music video that I directed myself. I lost like 10 lbs for the video, bought a bunch of new clothes and revamped my image, rented luxury hotel suites, hired actors, and shot the whole video in New York City (I live in East Kingston, NH). I just jumped into the deep end and had no idea what I was doing. I ended up needing to get a lawyer to figure out contracts with film locations and waiver forms for actors, and I definitely was feeling like I bit off more than I could chew at times. But I also live for those high adrenaline, high stakes types of situations, because that’s when I’m at my best, so there was some enjoyment in that as well. Overall I feel like these three songs all the same vibe and would be the lead singles off of my debut album if I was planning on releasing a full album. They all feel really “me”, so I love all three of these songs.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
I enjoy playing “Ring Ring” just because it seems to get the best reactions consistently at my live shows right now. “My Letter” is super fun too; I love when the hook kicks in with the “na na aye” part; people seem to really dig that and EDM songs are always fun high energy songs for the live show. “Lookin Like My Wife” is also super chill and fun to play. Of my original songs, “Ring Ring” currently gets requested the most by far. I’ve had bar owners request it, as well as people on my Instagram Live feeds when I live stream my shows. I also do a lot of cover shows and get requests for songs by Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, and Coldplay a lot.
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
Lately I just write hooks in my car while I’m driving to gigs (lyrics and melody at the same time, no chords). I record them to voice notes on my phone, and then if I like the hook enough I write the rest of the song and make the beat. Real emotions are what inspire my music the most lately. When I first started, it was all about trying to be cool and sound cool. Now it’s all about trying to figure out what I’m actually going through and feeling, and what fits the most with my sound.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
For me, it’s all about what I’m feeling. Lately, I’ve been trying to tap into my vulnerability and hoping that my music will resonate with other people feeling the same things.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
Collaborating is definitely a tricky art. I’ve done a lot of collaborations on songs through my Berklee days, and many group projects in school growing up. One thing I’ve learned is that it seems like no one likes to hear “no”, “you’re wrong”, or “that’s a bad idea”. When you say things like that, it seems like the collaboration becomes more about whose idea is better, and less about the work itself that you’re creating. Most successful collaborations seem to say “or…”, “what if we did this instead?”, etc. By suggesting an alternative, the person you’re working with usually gets the hint that you don’t like their idea, but it’s presented in a softer way. Also, you’re offering an alternative that hopefully will make the song better as well. Sometimes you just have to compromise though. And at the end of the day, you can decide whether it was a successful collaboration, and you’d consider working with them again.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
My “Red Flags” music video drops on January 6th. I’m super excited about this song and music video. The song was mixed by DJ Swivel and mastered by Chris Gehringer, so I think it’s my best-engineered song. I think it’s also my hookiest, most Top 40 song I’ve ever written. The music video is super fun too. I hired an actress from Los Angeles, CA to come into Boston, MA, and play the role of my super fan. She kidnaps me in the music video, and I think it’s a super fun story. I also have another song “When I Start To Care” that will be coming out soon after. Purely from a lyric and melody standpoint, it’s my favorite song I’ve ever written. I think this song taps more into my vulnerability lyrically. The production also matches the sonics of my songs “Ring Ring” and “Red Flags”, so I think it will be the perfect follow-up. I shot this music video in NYC this past fall and I’m in the process of editing the video and wrapping up the production. These are the biggest two projects I’m most excited about!
BRIAN WALKER SOCIALS
Instagram ▸ https://www.instagram.com/BrianWalkerMusic
Facebook ▸ https://www.facebook.com/BrianWalkerMusic
Sign up for Brian's Newsletter ▸ https://BrianWalkerMusic.com
Soundcloud ▸ https://soundcloud.com/BrianWalkerMusic
Twitter ▸ https://twitter.com/bwalkofficial
Apple Music/iTunes ▸ https://music.apple.com/us/artist/brian-walker/1440100429