He made it into our ‘Ones To Watch’ way back in January so we thought a catch-up with Jordan Bratton was long overdue.
We fell in love with Long island’s Jordan Bratton as soon as we heard the first three seconds of his track ‘Danger 3’ last year so it only made sense that we included him in our OTW’14 list which we curated in January.
His previous efforts, including his last release The Grey Area, has pioneered a whole new wave of ‘alt R&B’, with heavy comparison to Drake, The Weeknd and Frank Ocean. This summer sees Bratton returns to the throne with ‘Must Be’ – a musical collaboration with Fool’s Gold conspirator Durkin that takes the combination of intoxicated sentiments, a cut through falsetto vocal and breakthrough audio production colours to create nothing short of a special listen. We caught up with the young producer/singer/songwriter to get deep under his skin.
Give us an insight into your journey thus far and how you began writing and recording music?
I come from a very musical family. My parents and brother and sisters all play instruments and sing. I came up in the church and I have been playing, singing and performing most of my life, and began taking a strong interest in song writing and producing about 5 or 6 years ago once I got logic on my computer and a proper microphone.
Do you prefer performing as a singer / songwriter or behind the scenes as a producer?
I look at all them as one in the same when it comes to my own music. It would be like asking a chef if he prefers seasoning the chicken or baking it. They are both part of a process leading to an end result. There really isn’t a separation between them for me. Every song I write and produce for myself, it is with the intention of eventually performing them. I sometimes visualize the performance while I am actually creating the song at times. When I am writing and producing for others, it is a bit of a different approach, but I would say I would prefer performing as a singer/ songwriter if I was forced to choose that or produce for someone else.
Tell us more about your inspirations – what urges you to pen lyrics and create a specific melody / beat?
Years ago, when I first started writing, I would look for inspiration in people around me and movies. Maybe it was because I was younger and didn’t have a lot of life experiences to pull from of my own. Now my inspiration comes from my actual reality and how I exist in the the world and the relationships i have with people around me. I always look for my inner spirit to guide my creativity, and I know that is God speaking through me. When I make tracks, I focus on picking interesting sounds that will help me get my point across in the record and then work on drums. There isn’t really one process that I do when I create. Its pretty different each time. Sometimes I have lyrics and melody first, and others I have the track first. I just try to be in the musical moment and capture it.
We loved The Grey Area – can you tell us a bit more about it and the track selection that appear on it?
It was a cool process to create. It was my first time making an actual full project and I had amazing support from my management and team to make something that was true to my self. I was very shocked and humbled at the reaction, but it was really incredible to know that people were listening and relating to my songs. When I would see comments online of people recognizing The Notebook conversation in Grey, or finding a song like No Sin Allowed inspirational, it would mean the world to me. That song in particular is written about my grandfather who had died a few years back, so to know that it resonated to people out there made me feel great.
Do you have any personal favourite tracks of yours?
My favourite two songs would probably be Shakespeare and Danger 3. Shakespeare was a song that I wanted to be different from anything else that was out there are at the time. I realized that William Shakespeare had written the greatest love stories of all time, and I wanted to pay homage to him. I also really liked the raw piano riff I put on there, and my older brother played bass on that song. It came together well. We weren’t sure if it would make the project, and then were thinking maybe of including it as an interlude. Im glad it was the opener for The Grey Area, I think it set the pace just right. Danger 3 was a song I came up with towards the end of the project, and it was written regarding the darker side of glitz, glamour, nightlife and fame. A bit of a cautionary tale. Fabolous heard the song and loved it, and came by to drop a verse on it the other day. We are going to re-release that version of the song with Fab on it, and probably shoot a video.
Who have been the main influences behind the music and it’s inspiration?
At my church there was a man there that I always respected musically, he was the drummer. He was the one to first put it into my ear about writing songs and why I should write songs. That conversation changed my way of thinking and I booked a session the next week. My father is also very inspirational to me. He is a song writer as well.
If you could collaborate with any other artist, who would be your ideal choice?
Stevie Wonder hands down no question. Me and my friends call him “Song Jesus”. There is no one like Stevie. I would just love to be in a room with him making music and capture some of his genius energy. I find a lot of inspiration from Todd Rundgren, Jai Paul, Kansas, James Fontleroy, Kanye… but nothing compares to my admiration of Stevie Wonder.
What track by another artist do you wish you had written?
I listened to “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars and I remember thinking, “Damn why didn’t I think of something like that?”. Its a pretty perfect song.
What are the top 3 tracks on your iPod / iTunes at the moment?
“Loves in Need of Love Today” by Stevie Wonder.
“So Good” by A.K. Paul ft. Nao.
“Hello It’s Me” by Todd Rundgren.
What else do you have happening over the course of the year?
I am finishing up a new project right now and will be releasing it early fall, and I will be leaking the first song off of that in a few weeks. As I mentioned there will be a Danger 3 video on its way very soon and I am currently looking to tour in the US before the year closes.
Connect with Jordan here.
Words: Shane Hawkins