EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Brennan Villines

Brennan Villines is an exciting rising talent whose latest single ‘Better Than We’ve Ever Been’ is really making waves. 

The track is his latest offering since leaving the Fox talent show The Four.
Here we talk exclusively to Brennan Villines to discuss his latest release, contesting on The Four, future plans and more:
Can you talk us through why you chose to enter The Four?
I was actually scouted by the show because of a good friend of mine Nicole Boggs, who was on season 1 and told the producers about me. It wasn’t the first time that I’ve been scouted by one of these reality singing shows so, I was familiar with the process and I particularly liked the format of The Four.
Tell us a little about your experience on the show?
It was amazing. It was my first national television debut. Everything went very smoothly and I was able to maintain my own artistic integrity which was very important to me going into this process. I got to work with some titans of the music industry and was able to share my story on a national stage. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it past my episode because I was eliminated after my second performance. If you are familiar with the show format, you see that I was forced to go up against the long-standing member of The Four, Sharaya J because all of the other seats were locked. Being that we were from two completely different genres (pop and hip-hop/rap) it was difficult to compete not to mention, she had been on the show from the from the get go. However, the response from the audience was incredible and the producers allowed me to play the piano, which had never been done before on the show. I received amazing feedback from all three celebrity judges and was flooded with messages from fans. I believe my short stent on the show was a great success and I was able to achieve exactly what I wanted to going into it which was to have amazing performances and be 100 percent authentic.
What’s the biggest lesson you have learned from The Four?
Being on the four showed me the value in being 100% me. I shared some very intimate details about my life to a national audience and I was able to present myself the way I wanted with no interference from producers or the network. Authenticity sometimes lacks in the entertainment industry and if anything, the show solidified my confidence and artistry.
Who are your personal musical heroes? 
This is a tough one. Growing up a classical pianist, I listened to a multitude of music. I listen to a lot of jazz, soul, and of course pop music but, honestly everything. I’m particularly fond of Sting, Robert Glasper, John Mayer, Marvin Gaye, Lady Gaga, Tom Misch, Phil Collins, Tears For Fears, Nat King Cole, and Frank Sinatra all for their trademark delivery of their artistry and their undeniable distinctiveness. Also, (because I’m a piano nerd) composers like Debussy, Ravel, Gershwin, Eric Whitacre, and Hans Zimmer.
How would you describe your own music to new listeners?
I would say my music is very “musical”. My bassist, Neal Bowen fabulously describes it as “sophisticated pop”. I think it is very pop based but, you will find some more complex elements that i think reach farther than your typical top 40 trends. Pretty much everyone that has worked on this album comes from an intense classical or jazz training background and I believe that shows. Although complex in certain ways, I feel it is just as easy for the every day listener to digest and understand.
Your EP Make It Work will be released soon, what can fans expect from the record? 
I’ve been in the Music game a long time now and this project is very special to me because it is a collaboration between myself and my producer and long time friend, Benny Reiner. The project also prompted my move from Memphis, Tennessee to New York City. Benny is a former drummer of mine from our college days. He visited Memphis about two years ago and saw me perform at one of the venues we used to play. He hadn’t heard me in a while and after I was done he said (lovingly) “Man, what the f**k are you doing here?” From that moment on I started to look at my life and career a little more seriously and wanted to free myself from a stagnant but comfortable life and take my artistry to the next level. This project is a reflection of some hardships that I have endured over the past decade  including a 3 year battle with meth, an abusive relationship, and an HIV positive diagnosis. I call the project my “litmus test”, because each track is pretty different and I think there is at least one song that everyone can get into. This project has many different vibes. I like the fact that each song is pretty different but, the project as a whole is a pretty cohesive package in terms of telling my story.
Can you tell us a little about what inspired each song on the EP?
The order of the tracks on the record takes a stab at explaining the last seven or eight years of my life or so. It starts off with a track “Nothing to Lose” featuring some of the members of Snarky Puppy. That track is a feel-good song about meeting the love of your life basically. Personally, It’s kind of a mixture of a few relationships that I’ve held in the past. The rest of the record has ups and downs. The title track “Make it Work” is about my addiction. Kaleidoscope is a trippy chill-wave song about coming down off drugs. “Bad Habit” (my first release) is a sexy soul-pop tune about well…falling into a bad habit with someone. Finally, “Better Than We’ve Ever Been” is not only an ode to my own personal life but, it was actually written from a political standpoint. I wrote it after participating in a very historic Black Lives Matter rally in Memphis, Tennessee and right before the unfortunate election of Donald Trump. The song is a glimmer of hope in that, no matter how divided we are, things generally get better when we all come together and face things head on.
What do you hope fans take from the Make It Work EP? 
I personally believe that everyone can take something away from this record. Not only in its lyrical content but, also musically. I’m very proud of the work that we have done. I’m all about spreading love and positivity, and even though this record tackles some deep stuff at times, I hope that listeners see a little bit of themselves in each track
Do you have any touring plans lined up? 
We are working on that at the moment. As soon as the full album drops (mid October), we plan to put together a somewhat regional tour in the Northeast region of the US and perhaps some in my old neck of the woods, Memphis.
What are your long term career goals? 
Like anyone who does this for a living, obviously I would love to make a ton of money touring the world and have millions of fans haha. That’s what I’m supposed to say right? But, what’s more important to me is that I make good music PERIOD. Right now, I’m focused on doing just that and expanding my career more. I believe the duty of an artist is to reflect the times that we live in and make a meaningful impact in peoples lives and give them something to feel and relate to. I hope that aside from making great music I am able to touch and change lives. Besides being a solo artist, I would love to one day possibly score films, and produce and write music for others. I used to do a lot of theatre and there was one show in particular called “Title of Show” about struggling creatives in NYC. My character sang a song at the end of the show that put a lot of  used to do a lot of theatre and there was one show in particular called “Title of Show” about struggling creatives in NYC. My character sang a song at the end of the show that put a lot of things in perspective and became a mantra that I live by. It goes, “I’d rather be nine people’s favorite thing, than a hundred people’s ninth favorite thing.”
Make sure you follow Brennan Villines on Twitter @BrennanVillines to keep up to date with all his latest music and tour news?
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Written by Laura Klonowski

Qualified music journalist! Writing single/album/live reviews, feature articles, interviews, and news pieces.
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