Brandon Lew

Musician and Writer in Los Angeles, California

Listen to my music

“Okay, now why don’t you sing something over this?” I stared puzzled at my guitar teacher, not recognizing the song that I was supposed to be singing. Realizing my confusion, Brian chuckled a bit, “It’s not a song yet, we have to write it!”

This occurrence took place in the fourth month of my guitar-playing career. That’s how Brian taught me, tossing me into the fire, hoping I wouldn’t burn. It was a musical upbringing that, I recently discovered, was completely unorthodox. A mixture of rudiments and creation, opposed to the more common technique of rudiments and examples. And while I distinctly lack a library of classic rock songs to play “off-the-cuff” at bonfires, I have been fostered with a unique blend of musician and songwriter.

Conceivably, this accounts for my determination to stick with the art form. Through my life, I have never been known for my perseverance. Sports had a simple goal, school was a system too easily circumvented, and friends were hard to come by. But music was different; there was no definable good, no easily attainable success. I quickly dove into the music, learning new chords, scales, and harmonies always to serve my songwriting. I hungered to write like the greats, Dylan, Lennon, Springsteen, and Wonder constantly filled my ears. I guess music was the one thing in my life that never felt like work, the first and only thing I truly wanted.

Even as I grew in my songwriting, staying on par with the best of my peers, I could tell there was something different about me. Grabbing a beer with Aaron, a long time friend and mentor, I began to understand the disconnect. “You’re just too smart, and not the good kind.” He sighed, holding up his hands as if to brace my pride from the fall, “You’re looking ahead. At the money, at the family, those things are irreconcilable. They’re the determent for good people in this profession.” I picked up my IPA, allowing the bite of the hops distract me as the warmth of the alcohol filled my chest.

Perhaps Aaron was right. The ever-elusive American Dream had struck another victim with its seductive premise: “You can have it all.” It’s something we all grow up with, “Just follow your dreams,” or “You can do whatever you set your mind to.” And that seems like a fair sentiment as child, but it’s the shattering of this belief that leads us into our adult lives.

It’s this premise that I seek to tackle in my music.