Q&A With Amir Brandon: Winner of National Singer-Songwriter Competition

Q&A With Amir Brandon: Winner of National Singer-Songwriter Competition

Q:  You grew up in the Ottawa area. What are some of your favourite local places or favourite memories of your youth?

A: My experience in Ottawa was probably a little different than most. I was raised in the countryside (Cumberland). My first best friend was my next-door neighbour; we loved to explore and play outside, and trust me, Cumberland is the BEST place for that.

My elementary school was very small. I knew the names of almost everyone there — it really did feel like a community back then. Living in Toronto now, I’m happy to have my eyes set on big things, but I still miss that open, free vibe that I got from living where I did.

In fact, my very first music video for my song “World In Color” was inspired by my childhood experiences. I got the chance to go back to my old street and film the music video there. I never had such a great connection to something I’ve written like I did during that moment.

Q:  When did you begin performing and how are you working towards developing a career as a singer-songwriter?

A: I’ll have to say that becoming a singer-songwriter was less of a decision than it was a way of life for me. I never really “decided”, I just became one. Listening to the radio and keeping up with pop music from a very young age, I soaked everything in.

I began performing at small community talent shows in Ottawa from a young age, maybe around the age of eight. I loved being in front of people. It was in high school when there was a coffee house that I performed at, that I finally realized, “wow, people really like this, and I really like it.” I carried on with performances in high school whenever the opportunity came around. In fact, I even wrote a song for one of my grade 11 chemistry projects. It actually wasn’t too bad!

Today, I’m collaborating with some great people in Toronto. I’m working with awesome producers and musicians, and we’re all invested in each other’s success. My goal right now is to create a lot of good, catchy, memorable music, and to get my voice heard. The challenge about this industry is how competitive it can become. There are so many other singer-songwriters that are working for the same kind of success that we often forget the whole reason why we write music in the first place: to share and appreciate it. All I want is for my voice to be heard, and the music will do its job from there. I know I have something worth listening to, it’s just a matter of putting 110% of myself into my work.

Q:  Can you tell us a bit about "Millions”, your contest winning song in the 2014 Singer-Songwriter Mentor Experience?

A: “Millions” is about being happy. Really. I wrote it during a stressful time, when I was so caught up (and still am) in trying to become “successful” and worrying about the future. As a singer-songwriter that kind of feeling goes through your mind ALL the time.

“Will I make it?” and “Am I good enough?” are just a couple questions that I have asked myself time and time again, and it’s driven me crazy. “Millions” is a song that reminds me to ease up and care a little less. To stop worrying about what I want but don’t have, and to pay more attention to the little things that keep me going.

Often we pay so much attention to our jobs and our busy lives that we forget about the little things. The road trips with family, the awkward but funny moments with friends. These are the moments that make us who we are, and we can’t take that for granted. “Not much in our pockets now, but from my point of view, millions are within you.”

Q: The contest prize offers both personalized songwriting mentoring sessions with Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter Luba, and music industry coaching sessions with Luther Mallory, co-founder ofBand Limbo and former Crush Luther frontman. What do you hope to learn from these mentoring opportunities?

A: Everything I can! I’m walking into this with no expectations — the only thing I can do is learn. One thing in particular that I’d love to work on with the mentors is developing a “fan base.” In such a saturated industry, it’s so important to find the listeners that will really appreciate what you have to offer. I hope that some day that will be on a global scale, but for now I’m ready to start small! And so it begins.

Learn more about Amir and his music by visiting his official website at www.amirbrandon.com.


OLM Contributor: Heidi Stock, Founder, Aspiring Canadian Writers Contests, sponsor of the 2014 Singer-Songwriter Mentor Experience.