Rodney Branigan has become known worldwide for his unique ability to play two guitars at once. While quite a spectacle in itself, the meat and potatoes of Rodney’s music is his ability to pen emotive lyrics and deliver them with a voice that is honest and passionate. One Seed is the first song of the upcoming album, The Clever Kid Cartel, and is a fair representation of his passionate, sincere and emotive style.
Can you tell us about yourself? Where you’re from and what you’ve been up to over the past few years?
I’m Rodney Branigan. I grew up in Amarillo Texas, lived in Austin, LA, and Nashville and then moved to London in 2007. I now live in the British countryside in Somerset. I have been writing music and touring an ever-expanding percentage of the globe for the last few years. It’s not always rock and roll and great after parties, but sometimes it is. Some know me as the “two guitar man” which I used to hate. I became quite fond of it when I realised it’s a very elite group of people that can play two guitars at once and that doing so would take me around the world (literally).
How would you describe your music?
I call my music progressive folk as a great catch all. Some songs have a more (of a) blues feel, some an acoustic rock feel, and some are influenced heavily by flamenco and Latin jazz. Recently I’ve written some tunes with Indian folk overtones. Folk music is a great genre for its variety. The idea of folk music changes dramatically from culture to culture. Balkan folk music would be completely foreign to a listener of English folk, but they both come from a similar place. It’s a community-driven form.
Can you tell us a little bit about your influences?
My father was my first real musical influence. When I look back at the pivotal moments that made me decide I want to play music, it was the satisfaction I saw on his face after he finished playing a show. No matter how bad things were in real life, performing brought a smile to his face. Stevie Ray Vaughan was the biggest influence for what kind of performer I would become. I loved how he made performing such an engaging and visual experience with his passionate playing.
What are you currently promoting?
I released the single “One Seed” on July 21st. It’s an American Folk song that I wrote about my hometown. I’m very proud of how it turned out. My full album “The Clever Kid Cartel” was released in September.
Have you got a particular song you’ve done that you’re particularly proud of, one that might define you?
My current single, “One Seed” is one that I am very proud of. I feel like the imagery is universal especially to anyone that grew up in a small town.
What are you currently listening to?
I’m a bit of a mixtape listener. I’m going through a phase currently that alternates between chilled electronic based tunes and rap. I am exploring the possibilities with syncopated lyrics. I’ve also been spending quite a bit of time with Indian Classical music, the Indian slide guitar in particular.
And your favourite album of all time, the one you couldn’t do without?
Dogman by King’s X would be my very favourite. This album was released at the end of 80’s hair bands and at the start of grunge and recorded by 3 very talented fellow Texans. The lead singer Doug Pinnick has one of my favourite Rock and Roll voices ever.
What are your hopes for your future career?
I would like to headline Glastonbury, sellout the Budokan, and play Carnegie Hall. Not necessarily in that order.
If money were no object what would be your dream project?
I would love to write an album produced by Rick Rubin with Steve Gadd on drums, Nathan East on Bass, Mike Powell on Piano, and Sheryl Crow on backing vocals. Co-written by Ryan Tedder, that would be my dream team.
What’s the best thing about being a musician?
Nobody ever says to me, “So you work music?” They say, “So you play music?” I have been making a living for almost 20 years at something that is very enjoyable. Sure, sometimes I have bad nights. But I’ve never had such a bad night that I woke up the next day and thought, “I would prefer a 9 to 5 to this.” I love almost every part of making music. I spend most of my time creating something from nothing. And then I go out to sell what I created to people that are generally appreciative of my efforts. And I travel the world while doing it. That just sounds like awesomeness covered in awesome sauce to me.
And the worst?
The music industry is quite a fickle mistress in this day and age. The income streams have taken a big hit with the rise of streaming platforms and music production technology has made it incredibly easy to fake your way to proficiency. With things like Auto-Tune, easy drummer, and instrument samples, it’s getting much more competitive but the competition isn’t other “musicians.” It’s people in front of a computer with a mouse and an USB microphone. I taught a lecture series for a music college on composition that I always introduced by saying, “I can give your Nan a MacBook with Garageband and teach her to make drum and bass music in an hour. I’m here to teach you to write songs.” I most likely offended a few EDM producers but I think that statement makes a valid point.
Finally, have you anything you’d like to say to the readers of Americana UK?
Keep supporting the music you love. After the tech giants create the Artificial Intelligence to make believable music based off of algorithms, it’s going to be difficult to find honest music. For me, music is about people not algorithms or formulas. Keep supporting the people that make good music. Your children’s children will be grateful.