Brandon and Leah [Brandon Jenner and Leah Felder] are not just a singing duo. They are a couple in love, and their happiness is expressed in their music. In our interview, we talk to Brandon about the couple’s background and upcoming album. “We feel very lucky that we’re able to play music together. We wouldn’t have it any other way.”
[By Monica Harris]
Tell me about your video for Showstopper. How long did it take to film and how did you get it all in one take?
We were going to do a lyric video for Showstopper, and I didn’t want to do something that was generic and typical. So I thought it would be kind of cool to write the lyrics on my body and Leah’s body. Considering Leah is a much better artist than I am, she drew it on my body, because I can’t draw on my own back. So I ended up being the one to bear all the words except for some of it on Leah. We did it in one day. Probably took two to three hours to draw everything. We only did about 5 takes, I would say, and one of them had Gus, our dog in it, so we had to use that one, because at the end he was dancing with us. Any opportunity we have to do something fun, we will.
You currently have 4 singles out. When will you be releasing an album?
This year is the very first year that we’ve been putting any music out. So we wanted to do it a single at a time, and do a cool video for each song. And get some content out there, especially on YouTube. We wanted to focus on the songs individually, and get good videos for them that express our personality. The first collection of songs is going to be an EP, and that will be at the beginning of the year.
How long have you been playing guitar and writing music?
I’ve been writing music as long as I could remember, really. I grew up in a musical family. Everybody was playing music around me. I didn’t start taking instruments seriously until I was in college. I started playing guitar. The guy across the hall in the dorms had a guitar and taught me how to play “Sweet Home Alabama” and a switch went off in my head and I started playing 10 hours a day, all day everyday. It’s kind of been my life since then. And as soon as I started playing, I started writing. I didn’t care to be a great guitar player. I just wanted to write cool songs. So I started writing immediately. Same goes for Leah. She’s been doing it her whole life. She started singing as young as she could remember.
Did you and Leah meet in school?
Yeah, we did. We both grew up in Malibu, so we knew each other. Brody, my little brother, was actually good friends with Leah so she was over at the house a lot when they were kids. Then as we got older, Leah and I started joining bands together. We’ve been in a couple different bands growing up, with some of our other friends. And the rest is history. We decided to do a project with just the two of us and it’s been the best musical experience for both of us so far.
Some couples that work together say it gets difficult after a while, working on projects together, and they start butting heads. How do you make it work?
Me and Leah both love being around each other. If we didn’t work together, we would want to be together all day, every day, anyway. We get along really well. Fortunately, we were friends first. We’ve known each other for so long and we’ve shared so many memories together already, that we want to be with each other, we want to create more memories. Working together has always been pretty easy for us. We’ve had some ups and downs. You spend so much time together and there’s a lot of emotion that gets put into songwriting and playing shows; its personally very emotional doing those things. So it’s not without its challenges, but it’s gone really well and we both wouldn’t have it any other way. We feel very lucky that we’re able to play music together. I think if we just focus on how lucky we are to be able to play music together, all the rest of the stuff, the problems, seem so small.
Your songs are happy and upbeat and you come across as really positive people. How do you deal with obstacles in life and stay positive when problems arise?
Everybody has had big problems in their lives. You know, certain things that have happened with their health or their family members. It’s important to stay even-keeled through the downs and also the ups. I think it’s a good thing to know – it’s important not to get too down when things are bad, but also not to get too happy when things are going good, and get self-confident and too cocky. I think it’s important in life to stay even-keeled, keep a good head on your shoulders. Always important to stay positive and try to spread love to the people around you. You know, I’m a big space nut. I love anything that deals with space and the universe, and I think that helps me to keep things in perspective, you know. Just how small things really are. It’s important for everybody to have a good understanding where we are at, our place in the universe. I think it’s really important for people to have that perspective because all of a sudden people stop looking at each other’s differences. I think that we should focus more on having a bigger perspective on things. I think that’s a good thing for the world.
Growing up did you feel like you were in a competitive household? I mean, it’s a lot to live up to, you know, your father being an Olympic Gold medalist (Bruce Jenner), your mother (Linda Thompson) being an award winning songwriter.
My mom is not competitive at all. She’s extremely laid back. And my dad wasn’t around from an early age. When I was 4 or 5 my parents got divorced, and my mom started living with David, who is my step-dad, and he is not competitive at all either. My dad, Bruce, he’s a big golfer, he flies his RC helicopters. So he does take things seriously and it might seem competitive, but he is competitive in a very loving way.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up and how do you think it influenced your music?
In the ‘90s I listened to the beginnings of rap and I listened to a lot of the funky, older, 1960s stuff. The same goes with Leah. Leah’s a big Bill Withers and Billie Holliday fan. She listens to a lot of older stuff. And I’m all over the map. As long as something sounds honest, you know, even if it’s pop, if it sounds like it’s a well-written song, that it was written from a true place, then I like it. There are some things out there that feel very manufactured. Some songwriting is manufactured, the production is manufactured. Those are things that I don’t listen to very much, just because it doesn’t draw much emotion from me. But anything that draws emotion out of me, I’m a big fan of. I also listened to a lot of Ben Harper growing up, a lot of Beck, Jack Thompson, Bob Dylan, the list goes on and on.
What’s next for you? You mentioned an album in early 2013?
We have a couple private shows that we’re playing between now and the end of the year. I don’t think we’ll play a public show until after the EP is released, maybe an EP release show.