Friday, March 6, 2015

Artist Spotlight – H*Wood



Brandyn Bordeaux is the hip-hop vocalist who brought all of the musical pieces of the band together. DJ Five8 (aka Alton Coward) is the resident noisemaker with the turntables, Yasi Azimi is the singer, Shawn Briardy, the bassist while Scott Walker holds down the six string guitar and Joe Chudyk keeps the rhythm with the drums.

1.) What attracted you the most to music? What elements and/or characteristics made you say to yourself that you wanted to do music for a living?

Brandyn: I fell in love with music as a listener first. I knew I wanted to pursue music as a career the day I found out I was having my son DJ. I had already been involved with the industry as a college radio on air personality, a nightclub DJ, Artist Manager and songwriter. My son was the push to take the next step of becoming a professional recording artist.

Scott: The thing that attracted me to music was the amount of freedom and energy that you can bring to an audience. It’s something that can be enjoyed no matter what your life circumstances are. It creates an environment to move and inspire people. Music always came naturally to me.

Shawn: It was just that I loved doing it. It expresses what I feel, playing with CD’s, or writing or jamming with fellow musicians, just expresses truth. I wanted to do it for a living because of the doorway for expression it opens. If I can express, then so can anyone, and I hope people who listen to my music can feel and do whatever they want, while they rock out all the time.

Yasi: Music just makes sense to me. Everyone has a way of expressing themselves and to me that’s what I got through music. I think after hearing Kid Cudi’s Man on The Moon I I realized how music could change your perceptions. That album was that first time I sat back and got to reflect on how I felt. The album made me feel so comfortable and helped me realize I wasn’t alone and I bonded with a lot of people because of that album. I finally felt that there was a positive way to express my thoughts through music. So after that, I got serious about writing and I never stopped.

Alton: The first thing that attracted me to music was the release I got with it. It was like the feeling you get when you have the perfect comeback. I love that music can be calculated and mathematic, but it can also be very emotional. The fact that it is evolving and will always grow, even when it’s recycled, is what made me want to do it for a living.

Joe: I started studying music at the age of three thanks to my parents and I have been at it ever since. It’s been my whole life and will continue to stay that way.

2.) Did anyone influence you to do music? If so, who? Influences? Role Models?

Brandyn: My mother, who was a gospel singer/songwriter and my brother were both early influences for creating and performing music.

Scott: Both of my parents played guitar and encouraged me to begin with Piano as a strong foundation. My parents then taught me the basics on the guitar. They took me to my first concert, Fleetwood Mac, in the mid 90s.

Shawn: My first influences were my friends, the ones who loved music and wanted to write songs with me. We did metal… Amygdala and Terminus. Fun! My parents have always been out to support me too, the whole time in any way they could. Thanks Ma and Pa 🙂

Alton: One of my biggest influences to do music was my mom. She raised me to take pride in whatever I ended up wanting to do, but when she saw my passion for music she made a lot of sacrifices for me to protect my dream. I think she saw a fire in me that I wasn’t even seeing yet and it pushed me to believe in myself and my creativity a lot more. As far as role models, Dr. Dre hands down. That man did everything to get his foot in the door and created his own sound when he did it. Not to mention the incredible business decisions he has made.

Joe: No one. It came naturally to me before I could even form memories.

3.) Unfortunately the music industry is full of talented individuals who just don’t get any recognition for their talent and/or work. What do you plan to do to make sure you stand out and get noticed?

Brandyn: Recognition for our music is the benefit of our hard work and faith. We bring a different perspective to the music industry, that’s what makes us special.

Scott: I plan to be a voice for the music in as many avenues possible in order to inspire young people.

Shawn: I will try to stay aware and attentive of the music scene itself. Listen to the artists making waves with music. The vibrations are unique from the environments of the writers, we communicate across space and time.

Yasi: I don’t think there really is a definite plan in anything. You just have to make sure to surround yourself with individuals who push you to a higher level and friends that will be honest and help you push your music. There are a lot of things that are changing in the music industry. But it’s all about making quality music. So I guess a plan is to remember that you’re making this music to share with people, your listeners are the most important thing.

Alton: I plan on being the sound for Colorado music. It won’t be long before Colorado is hard to miss, and I plan on being a big part of that, at least sonically.

Joe: Make music my life from the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep; if that actually happens! Constantly make and develop relationships with people that have the passion and drive that I do.


4.) Do you think that the traditional music industry model as we know it is dead? Why or why not?

Scott: Somewhat. It seems to be less about the music now and more about production and social media. Delivery of music has also changed so much that has driven some of this change. There are also so many more musicians now that the competition is fierce. It’s less about the music you create and more about the movement/trend.

Shawn: It’s still there to grandfather in the new system of music business. Its historical pull has connections social media users could never get, but it isn’t turning its back on the new sharing system, it would be a losing battle.

Yasi: Yes and no. We have labels because they push your music to the mainstream. But the Internet has really changed how we do things. I mean looking at my Soundcloud I have people listening from the States to Russia. It’s unreal that a song (that I made at a friends house) can reach people all around the world just by clicking around. It’s awesome and it’s exciting to be apart of a music industry that’s changing so rapidly.

Alton: I believe that just like the creative and social side music, the industry is evolving. Its easy to say its dead because the ability to interact with fans and network has never been more accessible, but at the end of the day if business is involved I think the current model still holds its ground. I do believe one day, when money is not as involved in music and its strictly creative, it will die.

Joe: It depends on which period of music you are talking about. Every period has had a different model. It’s an evolving industry. There is no “traditional.”


5.) How do you think the internet and social media affected the music industry and how musicians are able to market themselves?

Brandyn: Social media has expanded the global reach of music. Musicians must learn how to engage with fans not only in the studio or on stage but also via social media. It’s a required additional step to becoming a professional. The answer is within the artist.

Scott: It has created a more simple way to expose all types of media to the masses. Rather than hitting the streets to pass out fliers and demos, you can reach people more efficiently. Likely not. Social media is where most people go now to understand the latest news and products that are available.

Shawn: Everyone has a chance to get on the mic, and say what they want to say. The social-media age invites free speech and self-expression into the public atmosphere. Where colleagues, friends, families are made. It helps create a larger network for the major industry players to connect with.

Yasi: There’s pros and cons to the social media. It allows you a glimpse into people’s lives (most the time) from their own mouth and everything’s so instant. But at the same time there are people who are more about their image than their music. On the flip side though there’s a lot of musician’s I found just by seeing a tweet and then checking out their music.

Alton: Most of what big labels could do for you before you can do now with a few taps of your finger. That’s pretty powerful considering how many people used to get paid to do what your finger just did.

Joe: It’s huge! I make a lot of connections through Instagram and find a lot of my work through social media and online sources.

6.) Social media is obviously an extremely important element in today’s world, especially when it comes to business, branding, marketing, etc. With that being said, do you think an artist will be able to survive in today’s music industry if they’re not social media savvy?

Brandyn: Whatever business industry you’re involved in you must have a social media presence. Whether it’s the artist who’s savvy with it or they hire a specialist. Social media is the foundation these days.

Scott: Likely not. Social media is where most people go now to understand the latest news and products that are available.

Shawn: It would be difficult, because your actual audience is there, and that’s who you are playing for, so you must connect with them. Connecting the larger community of friends, music fans, walkers of life everywhere, inside and out is good for humanity, and it’s what we want!

Yasi: I mean I understand why some artists are hesitant, but it’s free marketing and a place for you to speak to people that want to hear what you have to say. You don’t have to tweet 24/7 but just having a Twitter or an Instagram allows your fans to stay connected with you when you’re about to release something.

Alton: I do believe an artist can survive without being social media savvy, even though it’s not efficient in today’s industry. They do however need to be seen or heard on social media so it all really depends on the people around you and who you network with in my opinion. For example an artist won’t need a twitter account to have Complex or Rolling Stone tweeting about them and their music.

Joe: No way.

7.) What made you want to get into the music business in the first place?

Brandyn: I started my own college radio show as a freshman. My brother was and still is an artist so I started managing him. Everything else after was just momentum.

Scott: It is a way to more efficiently/effectively share my talents and inspire other to find happiness in music. I compare playing live music to scoring a touchdown in football. There is nothing quite like it, and everyone strives to make a living off of what they love.

Shawn: The music business is the natural progression from learning and loving music. Live shows are the first step in business. Getting your feet wet is a major part of the growing into the business side, you find out you actually have to bring your friends out and pump it up make it exciting to see. Then you play a show and this intense rush flows through you. Going back again and again to feel it and one day hopefully make it your business.

Yasi: I always wanted to be a musician so it just naturally happened. My parents wouldn’t really let me go to college for just music, but then I heard about the music business program at UC Denver. It’s my second year in the program and it reminds me everyday why I love music and the business surrounding it.

Alton: Making money doing something I love, knowing that I can put so much more time and effort into it and dream bigger. Now I’m on the journey with faith that the time and effort that I put in will come back in my favor

Joe: I started studying music at the age of three thanks to my parents and I have been at it ever since. It’s been my whole life and will continue to stay that way.

8.) Would you rather be on a major label or would you rather stay independent? Why or why not?

Brandyn: I want to get our message of Doubt Kills out to as many people as possible and be able to use our success to create hope in a hopeless world. If signing with a major is the answer then so be it. If remaining independent works then cool. Either way I’m committed to making it happen.

Scott: No preference.

Shawn: Major labels help push where the independents can have a tougher time. It’s okay with me if we get some major label help!

Yasi: I think it’s important to build a strong foundation before you sign with a major label. So to me it’s where the road takes you and your career. Do I think you need a label out the gun? No, but maybe one day.

Alton: It depends on what the label had to offer for future growth. Staying independent is a grind but if it means putting out music that I believe in I’m willing to sacrifice.

Joe: That doesn’t matter to me. I want the music to be appreciated and in the hands of people that want to listen to it and share our passion. Major or Independent, whoever can make that happen.

9.) What is the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in life and has that had any effect on your path to becoming a musician and if so, why?

Brandyn: Self Doubt has been my biggest adversary in this life. Which is why I believe in our Doubt Kills message so much. It’s a battle that I go through personally. I understand people who deal with doubt.

Scott: One of the most difficult things I learned about myself early in life was that I was an introvert. Our society seems to look down on this trait, but music showed me that this is not necessarily true. By channeling my inner creativity I was able to create a different kind of connection with people. It also showed me that we have 2 ears and one mouth for a reason.

Shawn: It’s been tough just payin’ the bills. I never kept a job very long because putting in hours at a grind hurts my soul. I work very hard and when a job became something I couldn’t believe in I left. So I never got ahead of anything. Just scraped by. As long as I already had the equipment I needed, it didn’t hurt because I’ve had the time to practice. Lots of practice.

Yasi: Doubt and confusion has probably affected my path with music. My family wanted me to be a lawyer, doctor or engineer and so it was hard to convince them to let me do music. But I realized that making music made me happy and that’s how I wanted to live my life. After being persistent, my family’s on board and I stopped doubting myself.

Alton: The most difficult thing I’ve ever had to endure was losing my mom. As I mentioned, she was a huge influence on what made me want to begin the journey in the first place. Losing that support took a toll on my confidence for a while, but it also helped me understand the spiritual aspect of my creative process much better.

Joe: Most difficult thing? Life. There hasn’t been an easy day since I was born. When it feels easy, something is wrong.

10.) If you could compare yourself to an already established artist, who would that be and why?

Brandyn: I’d have to say our band reminds me of the Black Eyed Peas with a dash of Rage Against the Machine.

Scott: As a group I would compare us to RATM.

Shawn: I’ve been told I sound like Cliff Burton, from Metallica, because I play melodically and up on the neck. I wish I could say I play like Dan Briggs from Between the Buried and Me. He plays a bass so mean and beautiful it makes me believe that ANYTHING is possible!

Yasi: Eh this is rough question to answer. I wouldn’t compare myself to anyone but I’m definitely inspired by a lot of artists.

Alton: I would compare myself to 40, Drakes producer, because he went into it with the mentality to create a sound that is still years ahead of current music, but is extremely under rated and over-shadowed.

Joe: I don’t want to and can’t. I don’t compare myself to other artists. I look to them for inspiration.


11.) Since a lot of popular artists are forced to conform in order to please the general public, is this something you plan to do in order to make money or do you feel that you can be successful by just staying true to who you are?

Brandyn: Let’s just say I’ve been that route and what is best is staying true. There will be adjustments along the way so keeping an open mind will be helpful but having a plan is essential.

Scott: I believe I have a good ear for what music has potential, and I believe if you make good music the rest will follow.

Shawn: I plan to keep an open mind. I don’t know the true level of what other artists have had to conform to. It’s a conundrum. I realize that being yourself attracts real people and makes fans, but that the big players have large access to many many people. I can smooth some edges to extend my own reach if it’s that simple. In the end though, of course there are a few hard lines that can’t be crossed.

Yasi: Yeah there’s a good amount of artists that conform, but I wouldn’t say that’s the entire game by any means. There are so many artists out there, making a good living, that are making music they love.

Alton: I believe that staying true to what I am is what popular artists will eventually have to conform to in order to make money. Putting food on the table is important to me, but that is not my measure of success.

Joe: Money has never been a motivator for me. It’s all about staying true to your heart and doing what drives you. I’ve been successful in what I’ve been doing. Maybe that will change one day, maybe it won’t. It depends where the industry is going.

12.) When you do music, what do you think your listeners get out of your music?

Brandyn: Hope, strength, and faith. That’s what I put into my music so that’s what will be received by listeners. All good vibes.

Scott: Different types of energy and inspiration. Music is so powerful that if done correctly can inspire an array of different thoughts and feelings. I believe listeners feel our music.

Shawn: That I love what I do, and that I’m genuine. It’s a place and time to have fun, or relax, or headbang, or dance, or whatever. I play to the emotional energy I feel, and whatever I feel at the time I play something, I think, it translates into genuine emotion for the listener, but I play mostly still for myself.

Yasi: Music is subjective. I just hope whoever’s listening to the music finds what they were looking for whether it’s something to listen to while doing homework to or to help through a situation.

Alton: I can go all day about what I hope they get, but I think the listener gets a story that either just began, or is continuing from previous chapters they know. It just depends on when they started listening.

Joe: Excitement, passion, happiness, drive.


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