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INTERVIEW – Brandon Mills

Brandon Mills has experienced more than most as a warrior, a poet, a servant, and an artist. After serving in the Marine Corps as a Recon Marine and Scout Sniper with tours to Iraq and Afghanistan, Brandon began questioning the systemic issues that control many of the world’s citizens. With strong conviction and a wealth of experience, Brandon’s voice is stable and powerful, evoking belief and hope that problems can be solved and divides can be narrowed.

Speaking from the soul, Brandon’s music is all about keeping people connected through positive vibes, conscious living, insightful lyrics, and challenging the status quo.

We talk to Brandon about his music, journey so far and his hopes for the future.

PW – Hey Brandon! Welcome to Pastel Wasteland. For those who aren’t familiar with your work quite yet, how would you introduce both yourself and your sound?

Thanks for having me.  Honored to share my story and music…I usually tell people that I’m a man that’s lived many lives.  I am a special forces combat veteran, global traveler, and seeker.  I’ve transitioned to a seasoned war fighter to a conscious warrior of peace and healing.  I use my music as medicine to heal, to provoke deeper levels of thought, and bring joy and courage to those that listen.  I consider my music to be Folk/Americana with a neo soul element.  I’m not much for labels, and my music can be a bit difficult to fit into any one genre.

PW – Your journey to music has been quite an untraditional one, what can you tell us about your background, and how you reached the point where you are at now?

Most of my victories have come from being prepared and saying yes to new and unique opportunities.  I joined the Marine Corps at 19 years old and have been traveling and exploring ever since.  I’ve lived across the globe, from Hawaii to New York City, Israel and Africa, and places in between.  I have a strong desire to learn, grow and experience the newness and mysteries of life. I feel so much of life is meant to be lived on the edge of fear and courage.  There’s no better way to do that than pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and saying yes to exploring the unknown.

PW – What is the main lesson you learned from your time in the Marine Corps, and how do you apply that to your musical career and journey?

The Marine Corps proved to be a swift kick in the ass and one of the most rewarding decisions of my life.  I am honored to forever hold the title of United States Marine.  I had the honor to fight alongside some of the bravest, most badass humans on the planet.  And fortunate enough to be in an elite unit, where the men I served with were intelligent, compassionate, driven, and humble.

I learned the value of self discipline, the art of pushing your body and mind to the extreme.  I learned how to overcome obstacles I never thought were possible. I also learned what it truly means to serve, to risk your life for others, to heal, and to protect. I also learned the horrors of war, and the lengths evil will go to to inflict harm and fear on others.  And most importantly, I learned how to love more deeply and lead with empathy and compassion.

PW – Do you find the process of creating music cathartic in any way? What does the process look like for you, from idea to delivery?

Absolutely.  I remember sneaking into the chapel in Iraq and Afghanistan on our days off to pen songs and write out the challenges of what I was facing at the time.  Music has always been my greatest healer and outlet to express.  I don’t know where I would be without it.  I recommend everyone to find an artistic outlet.  It makes life a lot more alive…

As far as my processes, there’s no one way I create.  Sometimes I’ll be driving down the road and get a unique melody in my head.  I’ll sing it into my voice memos for a record.  Then I’ll revisit it and attempt to put lyrics into the song.  Other times, I drink a mezcal or two and just start freestyling with my guitar.  I’ve written a few songs that way.  It’s nice to get into the flow state and just riff from the subconscious.  I notice I have a better time doing that when I’m playing guitar.  The words just start to flow.  I rarely keep much of it, but sometimes a line or two of gold gets sung straight from my spirit.  I keep those and build songs around them.

PW – Lockdown has been tough on everyone, and the lack of live events/ opportunities has made things even more complicated as an artist. What are your main hopes and plans for 2021?

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time writing and recording this past year.  I’ll be dropping quite a few singles this year and a full length later in the fall…I’ve also had more time to explore the amazing state of Tennessee and the surrounding areas.  It’s been nice to feel more home here in Nashville.  I’m also playing virtual shows every few weeks.

The amount of support I’ve received has been humbling beyond measure.  It’s amazing to see my community come together and help one another out.  My plan is to continue to play around here in Nashville and continue to tour in backyards, pop up venues, and anywhere conscious people are gathering to build community and share life together.

PW – What can you tell us about your experience on “The Bachelor Presents: Listen To Your Heart.”? Did you find the process positive?

I choose to find every experience positive.  That season and experience was challenging for me.  There was quite a bit of manipulation and misinformation, like most mainstream media, but I think we did our best to make the most of it.  More than anything, I learned how to continue to be sovereign over my internal space.  I also met some of the coolest people in the world on that show, many of whom I’m still close with to this day.

PW – What is your favourite way to relax away from making music?

So much.  Music is just one part of the abundant life I live.  I enjoy daily meditation, breath work, yoga, mountain biking.  I love exploring the earth and humanity.  I’m an avid reader and consumer of knowledge and wisdom.  I love to paraglide and paramotor too.  It’s a great new perspective on the world.

My favorite thing in the world would probably be exploring the outdoors with a few close friends, pushing our bodies to the extreme while exploring the deep expanse in Mother Earth and Her wisdom.  I’m also an avid fan of psychedelics and have been using plant medicine to heal from trauma and explore my creative side.  It’s a beautiful journey…

PW – In terms of the creative journey, in this kind of industry, it can be tough to feel like we’re moving forwards sometimes. How do you battle these feelings when they come up, and do you have any advice to other people who might be struggling in a similar way?

I meditate daily on the fact that our lives are abundant, even if we don’t see the fullness of our dreams yet realized.  I tell all artists with this struggling mindset to keep going, keep moving, keep learning and exploring.  Show up for yourself everyday. It took me eight years to write, record, and produce a song that was truly me, fully authentic. Be kind to yourself and your process.

Read Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art”. He speaks all about resistance and how to overcome it.  Meditate with Dr. Joe Dispenza and change your energy so you can change your environment.  Talk to people that are living the life you want to live, ask them how they did it.  Learn, grow, make mistakes, laugh at yourself, and most importantly, enjoy the journey.  Life is short, but it’s so damn sweet.  Give of yourself to others.  The beauty of generosity will always come back more abundantly.

PW – And finally, where would we find you on social media, and do you have anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks so much for the questions.  I’m always happy to share what I can.  Big love!  You can find me at @brandonmillsmusic and brandonmillsmusic.com.  Also, please consider being a part of my tribe through patreon.com/brandonmillsmusic.  Share your light, and as you do, you’ll give permission for others around you to do the same.

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