Beyond the Record
Music news, album reviews & interviews
BtR: Tell us a little bit about the beginnings of your musical project and how you were able to cultivate a following that you have today.
BM: I began playing my original music at open mics in Morgantown, West Virginia. I would play at local coffee shops like the Blue Moose, and bars like 123 Pleasant street, McClafferty’s Irish Pub, and Schmitt’s Saloon. Most of my following at this point are my friends and family. At first I was a bit embarrassed by my mom, sisters, and aunts being my biggest and most supportive fans. But now, I appreciate all the love and confidence they given me to express myself through art. I realize that many do not have that luxury and I feel very blessed.
BtR: Give us some insight about your latest release in 2016. What was the recording process like? Tell us a little about the art work.
BM: I recorded my album “Mando Tambo Mellow Banjo” with one microphone, one mixer, and Garageband software on my computer over a year in my apartment in Austin, Texas. The album name comes from the names of instruments that I used in many of the recordings; a mandolin, a tambourine, a melodica, and a banjo. For the album cover I made acrylic paintings of these four instruments, five of my favorite thinkers/writers, a self portrait and a portrait of my two sisters. These are all things that I love.
BtR: Some artists need to cultivate a love for music as they get older. At what point did you pursue your talent and love for music, and would you say you were born with this talent?
BM: I’ve always loved music and it’s always been the passion of my life. I’ve learned the difference between an amateur musician and professional musician is that when somebody says you have talent or likes what you do, you should say “Thank you.” However, I believe talent is overrated. I would take hard work over talent any day of the week. I live in Austin, Texas. The "live music capital of the world." Every bar has the most talented guy/lady you’ve ever seen in your life. The difference maker is who works the hardest. That’s what will separate those who will be successful. I will never be the most talented musician or artist, but I will strive to be the most passionate, dedicated, and hard-working.
BtR: Clearly you are passionate about the message in your music. Tell us a little bit about the overall message you convey to the world. What is the meaning in your music?
BM: Brace yourself. Here come the cliches. I think writing about love is my main source of inspiration. I also write a good bit about being a young man in my 20s and trying to find out who I am as an artist. In this era of likes and retweets I feel like there is something to be said about the lack of confidence young men have about the way they look, the job they have, and the car they drive. I think there is great honor in being a working class man who is a good, moral person who isn’t trying to impress everyone with his shoes or his car. It’s all about the Ego these days. Our society promotes competition with one another. I want my music to be a place where you can escape these things and just be yourself. Love your neighbor, and love yourself. Positivity. I also like themes of death, God, the Devil, Americana, and nature. Good topics to write about. Apologies if that seem pretentious.
BtR: After listening to the single In My Life and your other songs, I find it difficult to pinpoint you to one specific genre. I was getting a lot of different inspirations wrapped into one. Where would you say you fit in, genre-wise?
BM: Finding my genre has always been a challenge. My apologies for the cliche again, but I feel like I’m influenced by all music I hear. From Jazz chords, to folk lyrics, to hip hop beats, to television commercials, to film scores, to bluegrass instruments, I’ve never been able to pinpoint my music to exactly to one genre. Not having a genre has made booking a challenge because promoters like to book similar acts. But with my mantra of “play music for everybody, everywhere, all the time” I hope I will eventually find my audience. Also, my favorite artists from Dave Matthews Band, to Radiohead, to the Beatles all blurred genre lines. Okay I really have to name a genre? Okay I’ll do it: I’m an Indie folk rock singer/songwriter. There! ARE YOU HAPPY NOW MUSIC INDUSTRY?!
BtR: Which of your songs best defines you as an artist? Which are you most proud of, and why?
BM: I feel like lyrically So I’ll Go is the most accurate depiction of who I am as an artist. The song tells a story of me going on a road trip with some of my best friends to Nashville and then to New Orleans and discusses me living as musician here in Austin, Texas. To narcissistically quote myself in the song, “Along the way, some may seek the fortune and fame, but that’s the way to find myself alone and afraid, I’d rather live my life enjoying every day, and I’ll be better off a poor man happy than a sad man paid. Because maybe I’ve spent too much time, figuring out where I belong, I’ve decided I will go for the ride, and go ahead and live a little life, so I’ll go."
BtR: Every musician have a story. Take us to the lowest moments in your career. Take us through the highest moments as well. What have you personally experienced that makes you unique?
BM: When I went back home this past Winter and played some shows it was amazing how many of my friends and family came out to support me. I was incredibly humbled by that. A few months ago I also had my first paid gig in Austin thanks to my friend Dave Sollee of the Soulies here in Austin. Incredibly grateful for that as well. Those are two moments off the top of my head that come to mind.
BtR: Let's say you have the power to change the music industry. What would be the things you would change and why?
BM: My goal from the beginning was to support myself financially through my art. If I reach that point I believe my story will be that of a truly modern artist; completely hands on DIY (do it yourself). From my website, to my album design, to my recording, to my songwriting; I will have the final decision on all points if I’m successful. With that being said, collaboration is the key for me to take the next step as an artist. I can’t do everything myself. Everybody knows more about something than I do. Networking is boring, but knowing people is important. If Van Gogh or Edgar Allan Poe took a course on networking they would have been able to have success in their lifetime. I want to be able to call a violinist or a funk drummer on a Tuesday afternoon in Austin to lay down a track. Or call a videographer on a Sunday night to do a multi-cam live shoot of a show I’m playing. I have to build my own network and am working hard at the moment to do that.
BtR: What legacy do you hope to leave behind with your art?
BM: Legacy is a bit bold for me at this point. I’d just really like to pay my bills with music. If I can learn how to do that, maybe we can interview in 20 years about my legacy. Thank you for the interview! Great questions. Peace