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INTERVIEW: Brandon Markell Holmes

Brandon Markell Holmes, a "slow-burning vocal house giant" (Rolling Stone) releases new single, 'Fuller,' in anticipation of his second full-length album, due out in spring 2024, and on the final night of his three-show residency. at Brooklyn's Sleepwalk on November 10.

Described by Billboard as a vocalist who goes from “a slow burn to a boiling passion,” and who appears on Gorillaz's GRAMMY-nominated album 'Humanz,' Brandon Markell Holmes has quickly become a go-to collaborator for some of the most popular house producers of the moment. Brooklyn and beyond, since he moved from Chicago, where he was born and raised. His latest self-titled vinyl release, complete with toucan sounds, is a sell-out and features mixes from Derrick Carter, Dee Diggs, musclecars and more.

His latest single, Fuller, features his deep, soulful vocals and has an atmosphere that takes you on an emotional journey. The package includes a B-side, 'I Bet' with producer Liam Berkeley, and an expanded edition of 'Fuller' by label boss Robert PM, which acts as a deceptively simple DJ tool.

We had the pleasure of interviewing Brandon and this was the result.

Where in the world are you right now?

Brooklyn, NYC. But also outer space.

Where are you from, and how did you get into music?

I’m from Chicago, born and raised. I started singing at 4 years old. I didn’t know I could sing until my aunt busted me and told the entire family. After that , I was the walking song machine at every family gathering and for everyone’s girlfriend or boyfriend. I guess a kid singing was impressive to adults tryna find love. I wrote my first song at the age of 5.

Anyways, my late uncle, “Rockin The House Reese” - a Westside Chicago House / Hip-Hop DJ would often record me on mini-disc. My early recordings date back to when I was around ten years old. My uncle had all this expensive equipment and vinyls but never bought a mic pop-filter. We would use a wire clothes hanger and a sock as a pop-filter to record music. He had one rule : “Write your own lyrics” My Uncle pushed me and my sister to write our own Music.

How is your sound evolving?

When I began making music I was more of an R&B guy who dabbled in experimental art and mediums. My theatre background and multimedia experience naturally pushed my artistry into a multi- verse. I think now, I have a more solidified direction and positioning. I think working with a label and having a team is probably the biggest evolution that has happened to me as an artist. I think having people who are invested in my artistry is the biggest boost of energy any artist could ask for. I think eventually I will tap back into my roots as a multimedia artist coupled with my vision as a singer-songwriter.

What artists and genres do you like at the moment?

I really love anything electronic and dance related. I’m a big fan of DJ Swisha, Ace Mo , Dee Diggs, Toribio & Honey Dijon.

How do you feel your music influences or impacts your listeners?

I think my music impacts my listeners by giving them a snapshot into my world. Many of my students listen to my music. My hope is that it impacts them to focus on their artistry and education. I think what’s truly impactful is that my students are able to see me in class as well as see the work I am doing in the music world. My hope is that it would inspire them to invest and believe in their artistry and craft. I think having an artist as a teacher is very powerful. Your work informs your artistry and your artistry informs your work. My ultimate hope is that my music inspires young people to dream and create.

What projects are you working on right now?

I’m always working. If a project comes out of it , amazing. Currently I am working on my masters in Special Education at Brooklyn College , that’s a project I guess. I truly want to help students with special needs while inspiring them through music and art.

What can you tell us about your latest work, 'Fuller'?

I wrote and recorded it in L.A in 2021. I was unknowingly sick with Covid -19 at the time. The track is very ‘positive”- no pun intended. Seriously, it was recorded in Fairfax L.A with a producer by the name of Trevor aka WEV. We had the session and went to get ramen after. It was a very exciting experience because I was in LA for meetings and sessions and this was one of the few sessions that didn’t get canceled due to COVID-19.

How does life and music differ between Chicago and New York?

Chicago is home. NYC is my dream. I’m living my dreams in NYC. In NYC I'm first person with every source and opportunity. In Chicago, I’m an Artist. I’m an artist in NYC too but it’s way more fast tracked.

Has your sound changed much in recent years?

OMG YES!! It’s always changing. I have so many genres and records that the world may never hear because my sound is constantly evolving. I have albums of material that people probably won't hear for a long time if ever.

Do you feel confident now to play/record a more experimental sound?

I’ve always been experimental. I’m a performance artist , theatre actor, singer-songwriter and educator. I was born in the late 80’s : I’m weird!! I think I am more open to re-inventing my image and possibly changing my alias at this point.

We all know that the digital revolution has affected sales, but has it affected creativity? It has not affected creativity but it has affected how artists approach their art. I think artists have to work a bit harder to create because the demands of living, skills and surviving in a technological world has increased. I feel like artists now have to have both a hustle and create simultaneously. It takes a bit more energy I feel or maybe that’s just me cause I push myself very hard. I feel the executive organizational demands have increased for artists.

Can you tell us what your future projects might be?

My album in the spring.

Tell us about the New York shows you're playing around the release of 'Fuller’?

I’m playing at SleepWalk in Bushwick :

251 Bushwick Ave Brooklyn , NY 11206

Doors 7pm

Opener : Tara Tisch Wallace

9pm :Brandon Markell Holmes


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