Alongside Silly Insta Posts, Singer-Songwriter Brandon Duff Also Showcases Seriously Good Musical Chops

Brandon Duff is a singer-songwriter from the Central Coast.
National Music Editor, based in Brisbane, Australia.
'Passionate about true crime docos, the Swannies, golf and sleep, I’ve been writing about music for 20-plus years. What I’ve learnt? There’s two types of music – good and bad.’

Emerging country-pop singer-songwriter, Brandon Duff has already received a host of industry accolades.

The NSW artist, who resides in Central Coast, had his first major break in 2014 when he was selected to Ricky Martin's team on 'The Voice Australia'.

The experience emboldened the young musician to pursue a career in music, which developed further in 2015 after winning the SeaFM Discovered competition that secured him a recording session with acclaimed producer Rod McCormack – a relationship that continues to this day.

Then in 2018, Brandon entered the Platypus Shoes Discovered competition, taking out first place and a one-on-one mentoring session with Amy Shark.

Fast forward to this year, and Brandon entered a demo of his current single, 'Crystal Eyes', as part of APRA's Songwriters At The Rocks competition where he was a finalist.

"'Crystal Eyes' is an emotional coming-of-age song," Brandon says. "It explores ideas of youth and young love, drawing from experiences of finding someone new in your life and sharing your past heartbreaks to grow closer."

The track features harmony vocals by Reigan Derry, adding a rich female contrast to the melody.

Your new song 'Crystal Eyes' is a love song of sorts; what did you want to capture lyrically as well as sonically with this release?
I wrote 'Crystal Eyes' to describe a feeling a lot of us have in new relationships. Being excited to have someone new in your life, but with melancholy undertones knowing it may not last.

There's a beauty about finding someone new that makes you feel refreshed and loved, but it can also resurface past feelings of loss that have never really left.

I drew on experiences of youth, drinking in parks and staying out in Newtown, trying to find where you fit in the world. I have fond memories of going out with friends in the city and feeling larger than life; I wanted to capture that within the song as well.

For the sound, I decided to build from just me and a guitar to a huge soundscape of strings and drums. I think that plays well with the story of the song – small experiences can form strong, emotional memories that stick with you for life.

The song was also a finalist of APRA's Songwriters At The Rocks competition; that must've given you an awesome dopamine hit? What did it also mean to gain that industry recognition?
I'm so appreciative of APRA for picking me as a finalist in the recent competition.

Having such a tough time over the past 18 months during the pandemic, it was great to have some positive recognition for my music. APRA is obviously such a prestigious name in the Australian music industry, and to be able to perform for a panel of APRA representatives was amazing.

Having Crystal Eyes recognised as a strong piece of music by the panel gave me confidence that I needed to get straight in the studio and record a polished version of the song.

You recorded 'Crystal Eyes' with the much respected Rod McCormack; what did he add/ bring to the song that elevated it to the finished product?
I've know Rod for quite some time now; he has definitely been a mentor for me in the music industry.

When I sent the song to Rod it was just a rough demo with vocals, guitar and piano. He was able to create a cohesive piece that captured the emotion of the song perfectly.

I knew when I wrote 'Crystal Eyes' that he would be the perfect producer for it. With his experience in the world of country music I couldn't think of a better person to create this song with.

By the time people read this, you would have played a live show in Newcastle after NSW's extended lockdown – having a major aspect of your craft paused indefinitely, how have you focused your creative ideas into other areas? And how was the show?
It has definitely been a hard time for musicians during COVID. Music is always the first thing to leave and the last thing to come back when restrictions come into place.

I'm so glad to be back playing in front of audiences and seeing my mates get back to work. The show in Newcastle was great, it's awesome playing at venues that support original music. There's nothing better than a room full of likeminded people eager to hear what songs you've been working on.

I kept writing music during lockdown, trying to use the experience as a chance to reflect and find new ideas. I also went a little bit crazy and started posted ridiculous videos to Instagram, showcasing my slow decent into insanity. Check out my Instagram for a few laughs at my expense.

Your next confirmed show isn't till Feb; what's the plan on this front? Touring if borders allow it?
I'm super excited to play at Lizotte's Newcastle (9 February). Lizotte's has always been a fantastic venue for original music; I've been playing there since I was 15.

I'd love to go on tour around Australia and further spread the new song. In the meantime I'm already finishing up the last touches on my next song, so hopefully I will be back in the studio soon and recording some more music. Watch this space.

You've had a number of experiences on reality music TV shows; what was it like to be around the likes of Ricky Martin and Kylie Minogue, to have them critique your work?
It's a crazy experience to be on any music reality TV show; you learn a lot about the music world and the TV world. It's a huge confidence boost to be recognised by such big names in the music industry.

I'm very grateful to have gotten as far on these programmes as I did, #teamricky. Considering how prominent the judges have been in the entertainment industry, any advice they give you is massively beneficial. You definitely take their opinions onboard and try to evolve from the experience.

The best thing I took from it was more confidence to perform in front of large audiences; shortly after appearing on 'The Voice' is when I became a full-time musician. Now playing at weddings, events, pubs and clubs is second nature and I'm so lucky to have music as my main career.

You were the winner of the Platypus Shoes Discovered comp earlier this year, earning a mentoring session with Amy Shark; firstly, how was that experience, and secondly, the confidence you gained from that exposure, how will you direct that into your next projects?
I was super grateful to be the winner of the music pillar of the Platypus Shoes Discovered Competition.

There were some amazing artists who took part, so to be picked by Amy Shark as the most worthy applicant was incredible. I flew to Brisbane to have some one-on-one time with Amy, and even the severe travel sickness couldn't stop me from having the BEST time.

She was very humble and excited to hear about where I was in my music journey. I received some great advice from her about navigating the music industry and putting my best foot forward.

Sometimes one experience really can boost your confidence for miles. It can be hard to keep your head up when you aren't getting where you want to be in the arts industry, but hearing someone as successful as her complimenting your work gives you a massive kick to keep going.

I was straight back into writing and recording after that experience, trying to better find my unique sound and create music to showcase it.

Arts and performance run in the family, with your grandmother an opera singer and your mum and sister also having performing arts backgrounds; was it a natural progression for you to follow that path; and how integral has your family been to your development as a performer?
My mother has always been incredibly supportive in my music journey.

I'm sure it wasn't easy when I was 16, in my room slamming out 'I'm Yours' by Jason Mraz on my guitar at 1am. If it wasn't for her dressing me up in little costumes and throwing me on stage as a four year old, I'm not sure I'd be doing what I am today.

Being from such a musical family it was hard to avoid the music bug; I remember riding in the car as a kid listening to everything from Stevie Wonder to Britney Spears, (name a better duo). I'm the only member of my family to have music as a career, so I like to think I broke some sort of mould in that sense.

The idea behind your Gladys clip on Insta; was it about having some fun; reactions?
I think we all felt the warm embrace of Gladys during the daily 11am press conferences. She became like a life partner to all of us. . . I hope, it wasn't just me right?

I wanted to express the mental instability we have all been slipping into during lockdown, with the help of a stock photo of Gladys on an iPad, (think Tom Hanks and the volleyball from 'Cast Away').

I'm really not political, so I'm definitely not looking to start a war on whether she was a good Premier or not. I just grew accustomed to her phenomenal presence. Seriously, if you haven't been on my Instagram you're missing out on absolute lunacy.

Your Insta page also reveals a clip of you DJing... is that something you do just for yourself/ friends or do you play clubs etc?
I used to DJ at clubs every weekend here on the Central Coast, (RIP Pulse nightclub). There's nothing better than going out with your friends, having one too many vodka raspberries and being trusted to get on stage and entertain a crowd using equipment that's so expensive it's worth more than you are.

Now I mainly DJ at weddings and events, which is a little more structured and well lit than the clubs I once frequented. It really is an awesome feeling playing around with songs you know and love to create something new and exciting. I love the improvisation of DJing and mixing songs together that feel like they were made for each other.

From one fellow bearded man to another, how do you keep your chin locks looking so clean and healthy?
*Blushes virtually*, well I'm glad to be interviewed by such a noble specimen. I've always had a bit of stubble, but this year decided to grow a full man-sized beard.

Beard shampoo and balm is a must, along with a trustworthy barber. I've actually just had about five inches of it chopped off out of lockdown. I am having severe separation anxiety, but I was starting to look like a Sasquatch and scare small children so it was time to lose the natural face mask.

From my generation (child of the '80s), thanks to our parents double denim was a big no-no; but you rock two-tone double denim no less on the regular; well played you; what current fashion trends do you think future generations will shake their heads at?
Double denim is BACK baby. Maybe not the full 2000s Justin Timberlake head to toe denim ensemble, but dark denim jeans with a light denim jacket ain't hurting nobody.

It also took me wayyy too long to find a denim jacket that fit my tree-length body, so I will be wearing it often and indefinitely. As to what current fashion trends might not last, all I can say is I hope my ear stretchers will still be in fashion well into my 80s.

Actually I've just been told they went out of fashion in 2012. Well nobody told me.

Thanks for your time; anything else you'd like to add?
Whether you're into Gladys, double denim or just great music, you definitely want to look up 'Crystal Eyes'. I'm always up for a chat so slip into my DMs and let me know what you think of the new track.

Brandon Duff plays Lizotte's Newcastle 9 February, 2022.

Let's Socialise

Facebook pink circle    Instagram pink circle    YouTube pink circle    YouTube pink circle

 OG    NAT

Twitter pink circle    Twitter pink circle