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Meet Brandon Carson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brandon Carson.

Brandon, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My journey through music got started I discovered drums and percussion in middle school. I loved hitting drums, and I continued to love drums in high school through drumline, percussion ensemble, jazz band, and steel band. One of my greatest teachers in high-school got me questioning the music I was playing in band and percussion ensemble and led me to eventually explore the world of composing my own music.

While studying classical percussion and composition in college, I was fortunate to have a few teachers introduce me to music from other places in the world. I traveled to Bali to hear some music and again, I found myself re-examining what I knew about music and continuing to ask for more. This led me to CalArts, where I completed an MFA performer composer degree in 2019. During this time, I learned from renowned world music and composition faculty, and further combined my love of playing and composing music.

I hope the exploring phase of my journey is never over because I’m always learning about new instruments and new musical ensembles. At the time of this writing, this exploring has led me to play harmonica, accordion, and mandolin on music I’ve written for dance. It has also led me to compose for gamelan and orchestra, build my own musical instruments, and create new sounds to share with those around me.

Has it been a smooth road?
Every journey certainly has a few bumps, and many challenges I’ve faced over the years have been internal ones. For example, being able to speak up and ask for things from people is not always easy. One thing I’ve learned from being a freelance composer is that when you’re out in the world working, you have to speak up and ask for things or you may not get them. I’m still learning that working with people is one of the greatest challenges we face. When working on a project, I have to walk a fine line between putting my ego aside and listening to what is best for others and speaking up and voicing my own concerns. It is a skill I will continue to practice as long as I live in music.

Can you give our readers some background on your music?
I am a composer, and I write music. I write music for the concert hall, contemporary dance, and for film. Music for dance is one of my specialties, and really enjoy that collaboration for dance. I am most proud of the people I’ve gotten to work with over the years, and I am proud of the work that is made when I collaborate with others. I think my work ethic and passion sets me apart, and well as skills I’ve learned about how to collaborate with others in a healthy way. I play a lot of instruments and make some of my own too, and I am always proud of that.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
One of the things I like most about Los Angeles is the mountains, I grew up never seeing a mountain in Texas and the landscape still amazes me every day. What always still amazes me about LA is sheer size. There is so much opportunity and life, and that is truly exciting. That same factor, the size, tends to be what I like least as well sometimes. Sometimes I get the impression I must be constantly busy to survive here and to be noticed and stand out.

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