country star BRELAND talks about his new hit with Keith Urban, “Throw it backon Michael Franti stay human Podcast. The duo also discusses the “cross country” genre, BRELAND’s growing musical influences, and more.
Growing up almost exclusively around gospel music, BRELAND didn’t acquire his true “musical exploration” until high school. There he was exposed to what his peers were listening to.
“I never really had the freedom or even really the desire to just dive in to understand the history of some of these other genres and styles and music that I hadn’t been exposed to,” BRELAND begins. “I’m like, ‘Wow, there’s an incredible amount of music that exists in the general consciousness of the American public that I don’t know about, I have to find out about that first before I can start trying to do that. .’ So all through high school I was just listening to stuff and trying to see how certain things related.
He believes this period of “musical discovery” was a catalyst for his genre music, which he calls “cross country”.
“I want to be able to identify cross-country songs that exist in the ether that we didn’t have a name for yet. For me, Rihanna is’love on the brain‘ Where ‘Higher‘ or even ‘To stay‘ could all be considered cross-country songs based on how they’re written. But we don’t recognize them as such, because we don’t consider Rihanna to be a country artist,” he says.
“Cross-country is about how a song is written, and how a song feels and is performed,” BRELAND continues. “So I started to really identify cross-country songs that I had heard before that I didn’t know exactly how to categorize. Then I started thinking about my own music and finding the different intersections that I could play with.
His willingness to play and take risks is what makes him the next wave of country. Not only that, but he shares how he’s grown to be proud of how black people have influenced the genres he loves and how important that is to consider as a black creator himself.
“At the time I put”my truck” out, it was just something that felt good to go out into the world. But I quickly became aware of that history and some of the contributions that black people had made to the genre, and then some of the ways that the genre has changed over the years and who have succeeded in the genre. I just became aware of a lot of this story and started getting messages from people on both sides. The people who messaged me and said, “I’m really inspired by what you’re doing because XYZ” and the people on the other side, who were like, “I hate that you’re doing this, you’re ruining this thing that I like.’ What I realized was people on both sides were reacting to me doing something different,” he says.
Adding later, “I have the opportunity here to be a cultural bridge between two cultures that have been segmented historically, by systems that want to separate people”.
In this way, his music serves a larger purpose.
BRELAND delves into all of this and more throughout the episode. Check it out on Stay human.
Photo by Nolan Knight.