Brayden King Talks Friendships, Inspiration, and Vulnerability
written by Tara McDermott
On January 14, 2022, Brayden King released his first EP, “Live From the Road.” NSMZ sat down with him to chat about the highlights of this past year, the new album, and where he’s heading now. We first took note of King when he debuted as a solo artist at the Jeepfest BandAid concert in July of 2021. Shortly after, he released his single “Bad Night to be a Beer,” a summer party anthem. Speaking of parties, King released a music video for the song later that summer featuring a classic Saskatchewan lake party. The making of which was an experience that he looks back on as a “heck of a lot of fun” and a highlight of his summer.
Last fall he released an acoustic version of that same song. The unadorned version hinted at the direction he was about to take musically. According to King, while he has occasionally been lucky enough to play with a full band, it’s usually just him and his guitar. While still an upbeat party song, it reveals how truly talented King is.
One thing you learn quickly about King is that people are important to him. Whether they are friends who support him, artists who have inspired him, or the fans he plays for, he quickly acknowledges their support. Such as Brian Lee, the friend who produced his music video. King said the experience was very low pressure and captured the natural vibe he was going for. Obviously, that contributed to his fond memories of the project.
He’s also appreciative of Dead Levee, a popular Saskatchewan rock band. A highlight of his experience at Jeepfest was getting to take the stage with them and play. Since then, King has played other shows with them and is excited about the future plans they have to do more shows together. When asked if he thought they might record something together, he stated that he and the lead singer, Dane Von Hagen, had chatted about the possibility of the two of them working together. Von Hagen works on an outlaw country side-project that King thinks is something they might explore but there are no definite plans at this time.
Tanner Bolianatz, who produced the EP, is another friend that King spoke highly of and puts a lot of effort into recognizing across his social media channels. Inspired by the stripped-down live tracks by artists like Zack Bryan and Tyler Childers, and typically playing venues with just himself and his guitar, King wanted to create an EP of songs recorded how he’d play them live. During a tour through Saskatchewan, King had an evening off in Regina so he reached out to Bolianatz about the project and together they recorded the EP in one evening session. Each track is a single take recorded live off the floor.
That’s not to say that it didn’t take multiple tries to get a song laid down the way he wanted it. In particular, the final track of the EP, “A Song For Him”, took an hour of tries before he was happy with it. An ode to the grandfather who gifted him his first guitar, but who unfortunately passed away due to cancer, King describes the song as being the most important and most emotionally driven track on the EP. He feels that it was difficult to write, hard to record, and the “toughest one to perform” but believes it is very relatable to anyone who’s experienced loss in their life. Hearing that the song resonates with his listeners means a great deal to him and the song is sure to pull at your heartstrings.
“Never Wanted You” is another notable original song on the EP that will speak to the listeners. Especially those who have had the difficult experience of discovering that their affections were never reciprocated. King says that the song doesn’t have a specific story behind it. Describing it more as a collection of experiences where someone he was interested in was keeping him around for the attention but never wanted to pursue anything serious. Acknowledging that while it was a difficult time in his life, the process of writing the song was cathartic and came with the realization that he had moved past it. He believes it was a valuable lesson about where you invest your energy. "You can’t put energy into a relationship that's not really there. It just doesn't work."
Describing the recording experience as being very vulnerable, King asserts that the mature, stripped-back sound is “truly who Brayden King is” and he’s incredibly happy with the feedback he’s received about it. He believes that it’s meaningful feedback to receive when people tell him they feel like he is singing to them personally. Like he is right there in the room. They aren’t party anthems, they are songs you take in and experience.
Likely the most surprising track of the EP is his rendition of “Another Brick in The Wall” by Pink Floyd. While watching some older Tyler Childers videos he saw that Childers had covered “Time” and had made it his own. Specifically, he remembers the feedback on it where people talked about how artists usually imitate the song instead of adapting it to their own sound. He made a video of himself attempting to do just that with “Another Brick in The Wall” and sent it to his Dad who thought it was really cool. After that, he started including it in his live shows. The song has led to some notable memories for him. He’d intended to play it at Jeepfest with Dead Levee but the band who took the stage right before them played it. And they played it exactly as Pink Floyd does. So, they pivoted to “Rocky Mountain Way” instead. He fondly remembers a particular gig where he played it that turned into a very surreal experience of people stomping to the beat and going wild. One can imagine the energy in the room for that would have been palpable.
King would love to tour Europe. Particularly Belgium which has a place in his heart after spending a year there as an exchange student. King’s knack for forging friendships introduced him to a guy from California, named Scout Paret. King spent a great deal of time in Belgium observing his friend produce his own record. Paret also exposed him to other genres of music and helped him record one of his first songs, “Home”, which he says is completely different from what he does now. But the experience made an impact on him. “Down That Road” is inspired by another friend he made there, a busker named Andrew Cherneko, that he spent time with while in Brussels. As King tells it, busking is “how I made my beer money” but admired the fact that Cherneko was happy playing music in the streets every day. One day the busker sat him down and told him he could chase a music career if he wanted to. So, he attributes the lyric, “This path is yours to take. You can live it if you want to” to that conversation.
While in Belgium, King applied to MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta with the intention of pursuing music. A choir teacher he had back in Weyburn, Saskatchewan inspired him greatly and encouraged him to go there. At MacEwan University he learned music theory, voice management, and made a lot of great connections. Having since graduated with his diploma, King now pursues music full-time. He’s been planning tour dates across the prairies, but Covid has been delaying or cancelling some of those shows. He was set to tour in Manitoba, but all those dates were cancelled. He recognizes that making good connections in the business allowed for those dates to be replaced with shows in Red Deer, Alberta.
Even though Covid has impacted his tour, King credits Covid for his recent successes. The lockdowns forced him to buckle down and start writing songs for himself. “Not for a band. Not for anyone else.” If not for that, he doesn’t believe he’d be having such success as a solo artist as he currently is. However, he is looking forward to getting back into live shows.
An upcoming show he’s excited to headline has been rescheduled to March 11 at Cook County Saloon just off Whyte Avenue in Edmonton, Alberta. He hopes that the change of date will allow them to play the show the way they want to. King wants to see people dancing and Cook County Saloon often has excellent two-steppers on the dance floor. With a full band behind him, he believes it will be his biggest show as a solo artist to date and hopes he’ll be playing to a full house.
If King had his way, he’d be out there performing every single day. He thrives on it. For now, he’s planning shows in new locations, preparing new releases, and doing his best to be better today than he was yesterday.