Meet Andrew - AKA 2Brain - AKA 2BrainOnTheTrack! We met him just recently through this interview and figured it'd be awesome to share it with you all! So 2Brain, World. World, 2Brain. Now I feel better, everyone knows each other...
I have to admit, on a personal level it felt like I have known 2Brain for years. As it turns out - our path in life has been incredibly similar, though leading to a different musical output. 2Brain, if you haven't guessed it already, is a rapper. Teaching himself all he knows from the ground up in true DIY fashion, over the years he has put together some skills that run extremely deep.
Complex, yet completely reachable - 2Brain's music and style are driven to make you think. There's incredible storytelling and gifted lyricism throughout his work and his gift for making videos nearly rivals what he can do on the mic. We've loaded this article up with links to all kinds of things 2Brain, so have a click or two and enjoy!
SBS: Alright 2Brain – if you’ve checked into what we do you’ll know I like to share my first impressions of whatever I stumbled across that catches my eye when first doing my research… With you 2Brain I hit up the video selection I could find from your Facebook and YouTube channels – I took in an intro (There’s a couple!) and no bullshit man – you got me instantly hooked on the music. You’re ridiculously talented man – you really have got what it takes to hold the mic. But2Brain – here’s where it gets a little embarrassing for me man – I instantly thought to myself, “White rapper with skills….Eminem…..” and on down that road before I slapped my own bearded face. Comparisons come so quickly to the eye – and certainly yes, comparison can be drawn to Em, but you’re got a much more hip-hop style lyrical vibe to them – at least to me.
Ok. Now I’ve seen in another intro of yours that you actually address this Eminem issue head on. This HAS to have come up many times in your musical journey….like…..lots…..
There’s a question in here somewhere 2Brain….I know there is….
Give me “the real” brother; how many millions of times have you had to hear that comparison? Compliment or Redundant? Unimaginative or Awesome – you don’t have to use those words but how do you feel when someone says that to you? Certainly someone out there has been able to cut past the “white rapper = Eminem” comparison – has anyone out there truly been able to pin-point your style closer to your actual influences?
2Brain: Well, I should start off by saying, it really is a compliment to sound like Eminem. I mean, that guy has certainly made a name for himself. But you have to consider the other hand, which is to ‘sound like’ anyone at all is less of a compliment. I pride myself on originality, and would rather hear: You sound so different!
And I haven’t ever heard anyone pinpoint my style, because, I think, as time goes on, I’m not sure I even know who influenced it. I feel influenced by SO many hiphop artists, and other musicians!
SBS: I’ll avoid a direct comparison myself – I think you’ve got a unique thing going here; but it does sound like you grew up on old school rap if you were to ask me. I believe you’ve combined two winning recipes here: That old-school vibe met with new-school lyricism. You say in your write-ups that you’re influenced by everything you’ve heard – so we’ll skip that basic-ass question anyway! Tell me about the first rap compilation you ever got or the first mix CD you would have ever made for yourself. Give us a timeline for how old you would have been and who might have been on it.
2Brain: My first mix CD, was for the girl I sing about in No More Goodbyes (Check that out here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hvw8mDPsgI8 )and it was hokey as all hell. Lots of love songs, a LOT of Billy Joel, and not a single rap song. If it had piano, and was about love, it was on there!
SBS: I should definitely address your Facebook write-up however – check this out….
You were “born with a love for music…” Indeed sir, so was I.
“…inherited from his dad.” As too was mine.
“From a young age he was learning piano…” This was the first thing I learned as well as a very young kid.
“…but quit due to his inability to practice consistently.” My parents split up and my teacher (dad) moved away. I too started to slump big time in the practice department, eventually down to none at all.
“Years later when he started up again…” It would be years for me too – but this time I would try guitar…then drums…then bass…then electronic everything…and so on…
“He also lacked vocal training…” Ha! I STILL lack that! Hmmm….wait a minute….
“So he turned towards his favorite part of the creative process. The lyrics.” Sir – once again, you are speaking my language…I’m a writer before anything else.
My apologies 2Brain – I know you’ve read half of that already…but you gotta admit – that’s kinda bizarre isn’t it? We’re leading parallel lives brother! Except I need to seriously work on my rhymes and you need to start getting your beard on! Though I was already listening to music and knew what I liked – I got my first ghetto blaster (Yup – TAPE deck) at 8 years old. It was then, and it will always remain the best musical gift I’ve ever received simply because it was the GATEWAY man. I learned half of what I know NOW from those tiny speakers. Tell me about the best musical gift you’ve ever received.
2Brain: I can say for a FACT (only because this was the ONLY musical gift I received) that my keyboard I had growing up was the best. You said gateway, and that is such the right word. I was able to transport myself into the music whenever I played that thing. I was never very good at it, but even when I started rapping, it would play tempo for me. It was all important to me being as musical as I am.
SBS: It just passed by the anniversary of the first show you ever played as 2Brain at a place called Red Eyed Fly. Now that it has been a full year since that show – what stuck with you from that night? What do you remember? How was the feedback?
2Brain: Oh man, haha, my first show was attended by a total of six people. Three were other performers for that night. I think that just made me realize how much of an uphill battle I was going to be facing. And still am, what stuck with me is how hard this game really is. You can put in your best and get nowhere. The feedback from those six people was great though!
SBS: A first show is a huge night for a slew of reasons. What did you learn about yourself as a performer that you were able to take with you going forward? What did you feel went right/wrong with that first show a year back?
2Brain: Performing is an art in a far different way from recording. There is so much more to think about, and I think I went into that first show thinking I could just rap it and be good. Not at all, and with a theatre background, I’ve been able to bring more performance to performing. If that makes sense. Energy is a big part of it for me. And responding to the crowd. And of course, better material.
SBS: Take us to the here and now 2Brain. If all that was you reppin’ live a year ago – what is the present day 2Brain show like? How has it changed over the course of a year and how often are you out on stage these days? Anything coming up?
2Brain: I’m looking to set up a show for the end of this month, but I’m not sure yet, still working it out. But shows these days have speed, energy, and a newfound passion. I bring that stage to life! I’m used to doing shows with not many people, and have learned to not let it affect the performance, so if even one person comes, they are getting their show.
SBS: I mean, there’s GOTTA be stuff coming up! Your album Stormy Weather dropped on May 25th – that’s not even three months ago! How has the response and feedback been from people?
2Brain: Stormy Weather went over a lot better than I expected. It was my first huge foray into self-production. I made all the beats on that mixtape, and mixed down everything myself. So I was incredibly impressed with how people were impressed! (You can check that out here:http://2brainonthetrack.bandcamp.com/album/stormy-weather-2) For me it was a growing process, but I found quite a few new fans in that process.
SBS: Tell me about cohesion. What ties this album together making it an album and not just a bunch of “singles” thrown together to make an album?
2Brain: Themes. There has to be a reason. The songs may not even sound the same, or be even the same genre sometimes. But the theme carries it. My new EP I’m working on is themed around the stages of anger. It has ups and downs, but it carries each song to the next.
SBS: Now, you clearly make this music you make cause you love it. My interviews are long cause I love to write too! In a couple of questions throughout this interview I’ve asked you how the response to this or that has been – but how important is that validation to you? To me, it’s clear that you’d still be making music even if no one was listening…but c’mon 2Brain, still nice to get the love isn’t it?
2Brain: It definitely is, but truth is I make a lot of music that nobody listens to. And that doesn’t make that music less important in my mind. I mean, the attention is a sign you’re doing something right, and that always feels good. But I’ve just rapped my material to an empty room on hours, because I love to do it!
SBS: What about the man behind the mask? On your homepage you have a blog spot…where we have a chance to get to know you as Andrew. What I’m NOT going to do is give you a hard time for not updating your blog since April…my own is only slightly more updated itself; but what I do want to know is – what lead you to define these two personas as the separate entities as they are rather than simply go with the one public persona of 2Brain?
Andrew: Oh man, I have not touched that website in a while. It’s more of a preemptive strike. If I ever start skyrocketing in popularity, I have some template prepared. I really should put some more work into that. 2Brain isn’t a persona, as much as it is a facet. People have so many different sides to them, and their personalities are never constant, so 2Brain is my constant. One part of me that lives its own life, but doesn’t really change on whimsy. You could say he’s pretty strong.
Andrew: 2Brain On the Track used to just be something I would say. Every song, I’d start with ‘2Brain On the Track!’ And slowly it developed into being the ‘full name’ of 2Brain. I don’t think there’s any real difference between them, at least not one that they’ve told me.
SBS: Oh! My DEAR SWEET BOY ANDREW! Now brother…you see…here’s the thing… Our research “department” at SBS is second to none. We SCOUR the internet looking for clues and identifying traits to your personality…if only in effort to simply do OUR job better…we’re not here to TMZ anyone down, you know? HOWEVER…if you think for a second that my team isn’t going to notice a RAPPER who lists their likes as Billy Joel and Jason Mraz you’re CRAZIER than I am!
But wait! There’s MORE! Hehe…yeah…you KNOW there’s more coming here DON’T YOU 2BRAIN!
If one were to google search your exact name WITH Billy Joel...(I know, I know…we’re sick right?) you can find an audition file of someone that looks very similar to what might have been a younger version of you… We have this correct Andrew? Cause I’m thinking yeah brother – too coincidental NOT to be you. Confess!
Andrew: It is a younger, and much more stupid version of myself. I have nothing but regret at the fact that I’ve lost the password to that account (No link for you! Go find it yourself!) (*Editor's Note - We DID Homie!) But it does serve as a GREAT reminder to make sure you have your stuff together before ever putting anything online. Once it’s out there, it’s not leaving.
SBS: Sometimes I wonder about people that have the talent you have, you know, how they got it, how they got their confidence etc…but your write-up revealed a much more real side to you. You didn’t always feel like you had the talent you have now. Tell me about the work you put in over the years to make yourself what you are now.
2Brain: Rapping was more natural, but performing in general I have been working towards where I am now my entire life. And as far as rapping goes, I put in HOURS a day. Even when I’m out with friends, I’m working on raps. If not on paper, in my head. (Sorry for ignoring you all!) People get too focused on the method too! I would try and copy a few of my favorite rapper’s methods, but the point is WORK. It doesn’t matter how - the result is what you’re looking for.
SBS: Along the way, did you ever encounter disbelief? Either from your own self-doubt or from others – was there ever a struggle to identify this as a legitimate part of yourself? Conversely – where did the support and love come from? Who’s always been in your corner?
2Brain: Everyone doubts. Everyone, and almost all the time. But what feels great is putting out a great song and seeing their expression change. Knowing you gave their doubt doubt. But it’s definitely difficult when nobody really believes you’ll make it. There’s definitely support though! I have a few friends who want the best for me even if they aren’t sure I’ll get there!
SBS: Your videos are well-shot and edited, and it’s also noted here that you have an intense interest in all things FILM as well. I’m a writer – a BRUTAL, remorseless internet pirate – and a rabid fan of all things music. It’s through this combination that truly led me on my path to doing what we do now on our show SBS Live This Week. Self-taught in all of those areas as well. What led you to film brother-man? What aspects of film do you like best or appreciate most?
2Brain: I like to entertain, and a lot of ideas I have can only be done through that medium. Film is how I get a lot of visual concepts across. And luckily I went to an arts school. So even though I was a theatre major, I could take film classes. And I would actually skip all my classes to just sit in the editing suite and practice making day into night, for a project I had worked on.
SBS: If you had to choose between film and music – would you ever truly be able to walk away from the other? If you like – you can choose the honorable third option – death by your own hand by falling on your samurai sword…
2Brain: I’ll pass on the sword! I would always choose music. Without even a second thought. But film completes music. They’re so complementary that it’s hard to separate. These days people want a face to go along with the voice they love so much. It’s about idolization, and as crazy as it all is, it’s fun too!
SBS: What is mainstream rap missing these days? Or is it doing fine?
2Brain: I feel like that’s a trick question. Haha, it really depends on where you look. There’s some real quality mainstream. It’s just sad how terrible some music is, and still gets passed off as decent. And becomes popular! But as long as artists keep working hard and showing talent, I think mainstream will be okay.
SBS: I’ve got other homies in Florida! Big shout-outs to Andrea & Aaron Wagner who recently got married and our main man Drazah Backwards – he’s in the rap game as well, check him out! There’s gotta be more talent in that state of Florida than I could have imagined! How connected to the scene are you 2Brain – are there other indie talents in Florida we should know about?
2Brain: I’m not going to lie. I haven’t connected to many people in Florida. I have a couple pals who I sometimes rap with, but mostly my connections are online. Florida has talent, it’s just a matter of where. And around here, not so much hiphop.
SBS: There are live links to all kinds of your pages and videos throughout this interview – but just in case we missed anything – where SHOULD the fans be looking for you online? Got a particular video you want them to see? Take a moment here to shout out all things 2Brain!
2Brain: http://2brainonthetrack.bandcamp.com. Without a doubt that is the best place to find and download official music. https://www.youtube.com/user/2BrainOnTheTrack is great for videos. I would link to the new EP, but there’s still a little work that needs to be done before that drops.
SBS: Being relatively still new (Bio states March 2011) to the music scene – how have you found that you’ve been able to use the internet to your advantage? You’re part of a unique period of time where the creative consciousness of the world is actually WAKING UP and more importantly SPEAKING UP through the valley of malls and zombies… Yes you can post videos and music etc…but at the heart of it all – what is the REAL advantage or benefit to doing any of it? Are we getting lost in a sea of internet postings or do the right things happen to the right people eventually in the world of the internet?
2Brain: Not at all. The internet is FAR too easy to get lost in. And everyone seems like they’re trying to do the same thing. Standing out is so important, but if nobody ever sees you, then you’re pretty screwed. I’m hopeful that over a few years the opportunities will pop up if I keep working like crazy, but there’s no guarantee.
SBS: 2Brain/Andrew – I want to thank you BIG TIME for your patience and your time in taking this interview with SBS. As I have said to you over messages before – you seem to BE me (Or vice versa) – only in rap form! And we’re far from done with you – you and I have already arranged the sequel (Interview remix?) via video for later on this year – stoked for that man! We’re definitely doing our best work right now through these new unique video opportunities and we’re really looking forward to doing one with someone that can match that same passion for film. We’ll make something incredible for ya brother – can’t wait! In the meantime – here’s that point in the interview where we say goodbye, and thank you once more & offer you the opportunity to say anything else at all that you’d like – have at it!
2Brain: I just want to say thanks! And support independent and underground music! We need the love more than anyone knows!