Brandon Calano: Finding New Life and ‘Becoming Young’
The events that occur in our lives can inspire us to great changes. Just the same, the people we meet can blow us wide open, help us to unlock new perspectives, and lead us to find our voice.
In the case of Brandon Calano, the recent Nashville transplant’s journey from his native Boulder, Colorado – and the mixed bag that comes with wholesale personal transformation – is reflected in the evolution of his musical project, Becoming Young.
Like most up-and-coming musicians, Calano has had a long-term love of music. However, it wasn’t until college that he began taking his endeavors seriously. As a student at CU Boulder, Calano uncovered a desire to record some of his original material. A battle of the bands competition led him to producer John McVey of Boulder-based Coupe Studios, which opened new doors by introducing him to the world of engineering.
“Throughout college, I worked there, as well as the Boulder Theater and Fox Theater,” Calano recalls. “I was in the scene, soaking up a lot of music. I got so deep into the engineering thing that when I got out of college I was like, ‘This is what I’m going to do.’”
Calano dove so deep into the engineering world, in fact, that he came to realize he had neglected to focus on his own music. From there, he re-shifted his priorities and overcame a sense of self-doubt, resolving to finish a long-standing project that would become his 2018 album, Circling the Flame.
“It was really more of a mindset thing, of deciding, ‘I’m good enough to do this,’” Calano said. “I just felt like throwing spaghetti at the wall and learning. I finished that, sat on it for a while, and decided I was going to put it out.”
Around the same time he released Circling the Flame, Calano’s major life changes began. These included the end of a serious relationship, which helped the singer-songwriter to see Boulder – a place he had lived his entire life – in a fresh light.
“It brought me to this state of presence, where I was seeing everything with a sense of newness,” Calano said. “It was kind of a fun thing for me, living in the same town I had grown up my whole life. Everything was different from that moment forward.”
That included the music he would be put out from that point on. Previously residing in the indie rock space, Calano decided to shift Becoming Young to an accessible pop sound, while retaining the authentic storytelling of his previous work.
“I just wanted to make something fun, that I’d want to hear on a Friday night, but still with a sense of lyrical depth and commentary about the way things were,” Calano said.
The first sign of that is Becoming Young’s new single, “Trippin’.” Calano drew inspiration from a real-life situation with a woman he was seeing – one with whom he felt an immediate connection, but to whom he struggled to reveal his true feelings.
“I was just so guarded emotionally. I was dating around, seeing a bunch of people at that point, but I would never be real with my feelings,” Calano said. “There were all these games that I was playing. That’s where that came from lyrically, that idea of ‘I’m thinking about you, but I’m not going to tell you about it.”
The narrative comes through in the song’s accompanying music video, which was released digitally on October 4.
“These two people have this chemistry that’s so apparent, but then, you see them both out with other people. The world flips and they’re in these neon spaces,” Calano said. “She’s out at the bar with some other guy, he’s out with some other girl, but then they’re back together, and you see the friction of these two worlds.”
The real-life friction that inspired “Trippin’” eventually led to things not working out. The emotional impact was far-reaching for Calano, who took that as his cue to step out into the unknown and, ultimately, move to Nashville to pursue music at the epicenter of the industry.
“I always knew that I wanted to get to a real music city and give it a shot,” Calano recalls. “When that was over, it was one of the realest things that I had ever felt. I was like, ‘OK, if the universe is telling me that this thing is not right, I need to cut all emotional ties, get out, and move.’”
From there, Calano reached out to a former production client this past April – at the time, his only Nashville-based contact – who offered to let him stay with her while he explored his prospective new city.
By June, after a couple months of back-and-forth between Nashville and Boulder, he was in Music City for good.
Feeling at home
“One of the things that I love so much about being here specifically is that there’s a lot of country out here, but everybody is very receptive to other genres,” Calano noted. “When I play out, I’m already different than what half of the other people are doing. That’s a good feeling, because I had contemplated moving to LA, as well. But out there, everybody’s different, so everybody’s the same. Nobody stands out, because everybody is trying to stand out.”
Equipped with his own sound and look – you’ll see him donning a signature leopard print jacket whenever he plays out – Calano has sought out Nashville’s bountiful performance and networking opportunities to kick start his career. These opportunities led him to the Top Writer Series at True Music Room.
“I was trying to do rounds and open mics seven nights a week. In the process, I got signed up for a service that sent me an email about the Top Writer Series,” Calano recalls. “I got an email one Tuesday when I didn’t have any rounds, and figured I’d go down and check it out.”
Calano would win the preliminary round, advancing to the Series 2 Showdown on August 27.
That night, he would be crowned the Series 2 winner.
“What I love about Nashville is that you get a lot of opportunities to play, and you get to figure out what songs are going to turn the heads of industry people, what songs are going to have an impact on people emotionally, what songs are going to work in a quiet room, or in a noisy bar where nobody’s paying attention,” Calano discerned. “I feel like I’ve started to get somewhat of a grip on that, and decided on the spot to play a couple of my new songs. The judges seemed to like them.”
Taking the journey forward
The winding and, at times, difficult path that led Calano to Nashville has borne the fruit of more artistic opportunities, beginning with the release of “Trippin’” and continuing with his plans for forthcoming releases.
“The times when I was playing games and not being honest led to all kinds of craziness and regret. But, at the same time, it was all kind of perfect as well,” Calano recounts. “I’ve written a ton of songs about that whole journey. I’m really excited about those songs.”
Those looking forward to the new music can expect raw honesty, as Calano’s holistic vision for Becoming Young’s look, feel, and sound continues to evolve.
“I’m excited about ‘Trippin’,” but it’s also trying to throw something out there than can appeal to a wide group of people,” Calano said. “From there, I’m going to narrow it down, not to a niche thing, but to where I’ve found what my heart is saying, and I’m able to put that into songs.”
Part of that, of course, involves the muse that brought him to this point of the journey – the same woman who inspired “Trippin’.”
“It’s crazy to me how you can meet somebody in your life, and they completely change the direction of where things are going,” Calano said. “She had an enormous impact on the things happening in my life – from the things I think about when I fall asleep at night, to the music I listen to, to the way I see the world and the approach I have. To finding more softness, being more wholesome with myself, and learning to love myself in this journey.”
“It’s definitely the vibe,” he concludes. “These are songs about my life.”
Watch the video for “Trippin’” below! (Warning: This video was, at one point, deemed too steamy for social media!)
Pingback: LISTEN: On ‘High,’ Becoming Young Details the Love that Changed His Life | Underground Music Collective