Catching Up With Singer-Songwriter Amir Brandon
Photo courtesy of Alyssa Balistreri
Since winning the 2014 Singer-Songwriter Mentor Experience, a contest for unsigned Canadian singer-songwriters, what have you been doing?
Amir: Writing, performing, making YouTube covers, and writing some more. A lot more! Since last summer, I’ve been working on a new album with a fellow musician and great friend of mine. I love what we’re working on. When writing a collection of songs, I like to make sure that each one can stand alone as a single. It’ll be my best work yet.
Over the past couple of months, I stepped out of my comfort zone as a songwriter. Before writing this album, I’d focus on writing just one song at a time. Since then, I’ve learned to create deadlines and juggle several songs at once.
I started doing some co-writing. I have a lot of pride and ownership over my original music and getting a second opinion from another writer tended to make me feel uncomfortable (I’m still working on this!). I’ve learned how valuable it is to get someone else’s perspective. There is no right answer when it comes to songwriting, so getting input from different people is always welcome.
I released a new original song last month titled “Love Me Better”, which I wrote and produced with Doug Stronach. We experimented with a few sounds I’ve never used before. I love the direction it took!
Getting noticed as an unsigned artist requires more than vocal talent and songwriting ability. What have you learned on your path as a singer-songwriter?
Amir: Here’s what I learned: there is no formula. Some of the biggest artists in the music industry today have been discovered through anything from a high school talent show, to years of networking and gigs, to a viral YouTube video. I’ve learned that nothing should be anticipated in this business. It could take a hundred YouTube videos before you have a hit or a thousand unanswered emails before someone gets back to you. Or it could take one. All we can do as artists is our best. Step out of your comfort zone, make mistakes, and create the best material you can. Never be settled with what you’ve accomplished, always be hungry for more. People tell me that the music will speak for itself…I hope they’re right.
What are your career plans for the coming year?
Amir: I want to finish this upcoming album by late Spring. I have so much to share with my fans and I’m so eager to share it! Aside from this album, I want to grow as an artist during the coming year. I want to become a better performer and to give more of myself onstage. I’m often so critical of my work and have to remind myself to just live in the moment. I’m so excited for the next chapter in my career and I hope everyone enjoys the ride along with me!
The 2014 Singer-Songwriter Mentor Experience thanks contest judges Katie Rox, Lesley Pike, and Melanie Durrant. Special thanks to contest mentor Luba (who released ICON, her greatest hits remastered for CD and iTunes, this year), contest judge Theo Tams (2008 Canadian Idol champion who released new Christmas tunes), and semi-finalist judge Luther Mallory who provided industry mentoring sessions to Amir Brandon.
By Heidi Stock
Founder, Aspiring Canadian Writers Contests, sponsor of the 2014 Singer-Songwriter Mentor Experience, supported by Songwriters Association of Canada. Photo credit: Alyssa Balistreri.