There are few artists as elusive as Brandon Can’t Dance. He’s been lauded by those in bigger spotlights. In 2015, Alex G, noted most for his stunning solo work and contribution by way of guitar for Frank Ocean on Blond, said the artist was one of his favorites to listen to at the moment. He’s hidden from the spotlight, as well. Or, rather, found the low light of Philly’s DIY scene more comforting. There’s a shroud of mystery even when listening to a Brandon Can’t Dance project. Perhaps, because it feels as if a shrouded figure itself is following you around. Lurking like a nag behind you, closing in, tempting you to explore the other side, wherever the fuck that is. The artists’ music asks you to reach back your hand and let the creature take you; out of your comfort zone, free of snark about the days polluted zeitgeist, into a safe space of weird and wonderful creation.
The following is an exchange via email because I’ve been told AOL/AIM is not an appropriate form of communication. Brb. LOL. Enjoy.
Brandon Can’t Dance Interview
Shows I Go To/Sarah Schumaker: How are you? How have you been feeling since the album came out?
Brandon Can’t Dance: I’m ok, a little tired, and currently in the waiting room for an appointment for my Grandmother. She’s good, though. Been feeling good as far as the music goes and post album release. I’ve been recording a lot of new stuff I’m excited about since then and hope I can release that sooner than later.
SIGT: What about making Graveyard of Good Times was different from your previous projects?
BDC: I think I went through a lot of changes throughout the period I was recording on and off for that album. I was living with 9 of my friends in a giant old house in the suburbs near West Philly that eventually went sour because of an issue with one roommate who had been my best friend and band mate forever. It was also the longest time I had been living on my own but in the end, I decided to move in with my Grandma to help take care of her and finished the album there. I didn’t really set out to do anything different than what I usually do, which is, whatever sounds good and vibes with me. I’ll roll with it and make it a song regardless of how different it might be from the last song I recorded.
SIGT: What kind of equipment do you use when you create? What’s the first instrument or program you go to when you have an idea?
BDC: I’ve used Tascam Porta Studio/ digital recording devices since I recorded volume 5.
I’ve had and used the same Roland SH-201 synth since High School, which is where I get all my tones from.”
SIGT: What kind of space makes you feel the most open to create? Internally or a physical space/place.
My bedroom is the comfort zone for sure for music. I keep everything in there and that’s where I spend most of my time too. Unless I’m super overwhelmed or in a bad headspace, I can usually record for hours on end everyday and work at it as much as possible.”
SIGT: You’ve grown up in the local Philly music scene, what’s your favorite thing about being a part of it?
BDC: Yea, I’ve been playing in and around the Philly underground for 11 years now. For me, I love checking out new venues and DIY spots. There are always new ones popping up so it’s fun to meet the people who run it and also run into friends, which is very common in the scene around here much like any other.
SIGT: What’s the most difficult part of it?
BDC: Most difficult would be not being ousted lol. Once a rumor circulates, you’re done; without people really knowing the full story or where it came from, who said it, what happened etc. Now that my name is out there a little, there are always people who want to tarnish your reputation.
I feel like I’m walking on glass sometimes and I’m not the only person who feels like that. It can be an overly sensitive. If I’m not playing, I’ll just stay home, unless a close friends’ band is playing.”
SIGT: One of the best D.I.Y. venues in Orlando was recently shut down because of area gentrification. Do you see that happening often in Philadelphia?
BDC: I see gentrification but I don’t see venues getting shut down because of it. Most times ’cause of angry neighbors or too many incidences where people have felt unsafe. I’ve only played one show shut down by cops and maybe attended one where that happened, which is pretty good, actually.
SIGT: What do you do as a musician to help preserve the integrity and artistry of the scene?
BDC: I support the artists I like by attending shows and buying merch and they do the same. If a touring band needs a spot to crash, I’ll try and hook that up. I think letting touring bands know they’re welcome and that they have support here is good for any scene. I see a lot of bands and artists moving here because it’s a great community.
SIGT: What is the community’s role? What can they do to help?
BDC: As far as the outside community goes, you have to have the okay from neighbors and let them know what’s up. If you’re running a spot that’s in a house, or near houses, they’re will probably be a lot of loud people and music. The community is supporting by just being cool with us having shows.
SIGT: On the other side of the spectrum, you want to take this music you created and give it life in other cities, as well. Touring is such transience. You’re there, you play, and you leave. How do you connect?
BDC: On tour I try and talk to people as soon as they get there, meet and greet, “hey what’s up?“, talk to the promoter, people running the show, “want a beer?” Little things like that go a long way before you even play. Chances are they don’t know you and they’re more likely to come see you next time or buy some merch. On stage, you want to talk about something relatable or something you did in the area like, “we grabbed food at…(wherever)” and if you like that spot, say it.
SIGT: What do you travel in when you tour?
BDC: Usually van, sometimes a car, hopefully teleportation soon.
SIGT: Do you feel creatively productive on the road?
BDC: Sometimes, after I opened for for Alex g on tour, I got right back to recording when I got home. There is a lot of down time in the van, so I had a few ideas I wanted to work on when I got back.
(Ok, I’ve thrown a lot at you, sorry! Just a couple more:))
SIGT: What is your musical fail safe? Something; a memory, song, a favorite show, that never fails to pick you up in tough times.
I had a great group of friends in High School that had the same drive as me with music and we made great connections in the Philly scene at a young age and had our own little thing going for us. Those good old days pick me back up usually. It is really new and exciting to finally feel like I fit in somewhere.“
SIGT: What’s up next for you? What’s on the horizon for Brandon Can’t Dance?
BDC: Next up is this week and a half tour in April with us and TOP Nachos. My video for “pop queen of the teen scene” is ready to go and will be released end of Summer/Fall probably with a new EP possibly, too. I’m always recording so hopefully a new album soon too. I’ll be doing some shows and festivals in Europe and U.K. this Fall too.
SIGT: If you could have 3 artists play at your funeral, alive or dead, who would they be?
BDC: Jimi Hendrix, Ian Curtis, Al Green.
Catch Brandon Can’t Dance coming through town w/ TOP Nachos(NY), and St. Pete’s own FayRoy, and Poster from Tampa at Will’s Pub on Thursday, April 27th. This is a don’t miss kind of night. This is your chance.
INTERVIEW: Brandon Can’t Dance by Sarah Schumaker
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