INTERVIEW: Brandon Jenner Discusses New EP ‘Oversized Soul’, Importance Of Family, & More

Recognized for his famous family ties, LA singer-songwriter Brandon Jenner has carved out his own path, and shows you can’t judge a book by its cover on his new EP, Oversized Soul, which dropped September 2nd.

The son of songwriter Linda Thompson and Caitlyn Jenner, along with his former stepdad being famed producer David Foster, Jenner has been steeped in music for much of his life. And since launching his solo career in 2016, he has made an impact on fans far and wide.

From connecting with the family of a Parkland shooting victim through his song “All I Need is You,” to penning the track “Life For Two” which was written for a woman with cancer who was leaving kids behind, Jenner tries to be an empathetic healing force through his songwriting.

With Oversized Soul, he boils life down to the most important things in life: family, compassion, and understanding.

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Over the 6-song project, he displays an array of moods and styles, from driving Americana rock in “Vibrations,” to lush country-folk in “One of a Kind“, with a little bit of blues to hold it all together in “Can’t Judge a Book.” The message of positivity and hope is evident throughout.

Jenner, the father of a 7-year-old daughter and 2-year-old twin boys, is a dedicated family man, and in talking to him via Zoom, seemed to relish in his role as a father. He kept things casual and comfortable in discussing his new record as well as the importance of family, including the values his father Caitlyn instilled in him.

So how has the year treated you so far?

So far so good. Do you have kids?

No I do not. I have dogs.

Not the same. (laughs) Everything’s good, just a lot of dad-ing. I just had a conversation with my dad as I was pulling up to breakfast, and she said, “Coaching soccer and doing those things- when you look back, those are the best times of your life.” For her to say that… so I’m just trying to be as present as I can these days with my kids. They drive me crazy too.

What are their names?

Eva is my daughter, and Bo and Sam are my twin boys.

So I read where you started making music in 2016, which wasn’t too long ago. Who or what inspired you to pursue this new path? 

Well solo music, yeah. I grew up around music. Both my parents are songwriters, and my stepdad is a producer. I used to hang out at the studio all the time. I always kind of sang, and when I went to college I started playing guitar. I had a buddy down the hall that was also a stoner, and he had a guitar, and we would just play all day and it was fantastic.

When you go to college you have that time to reflect on your life. You realize all these people are also trying to figure out what they want to do. Up until that point, with my last name being Jenner, I thought I was supposed to be an athlete. That’s what my peers told me I was supposed to do, and I was always supposed to be the star player of teams.

I went to school in Boulder with the intention of riding motocross and snowboarding a lot. Those were the things I was pursuing. I eventually realized music is something that could have an effect on peoples’ lives and has a lot more longevity. I dove in head first.

How would you describe your music and style to someone who’s wondering what Brandon Jenner is all about?

Music helped me get through difficult times when I was young, and a bulk of my music is trying to be vulnerable enough so that people find some healing and therapy the same way I did. That’s the goal I’m striving for is to help people process emotions. My musical journey is one of self-discovery, where every song I write I always try to be authentically myself and not create music with the filter of what other people’s opinions may be. I just try to make the music that I want to make. 

Have you found your family ties to help advance your career, or has it proved to be a bit of a barrier to truly get your individual artistry out there?

Still trying to figure that out, I don’t know. I would say that it’s been a wash at best. It can help you get your foot in the door, but it can be harder to be taken seriously. No disrespect to these people that I mention, but if I were to be perusing Spotify and see Paris Hilton or Scarlett Johansson pop up maybe I’ll listen, but I’ll be listening to it with a critical ear.

So if somebody sees my name, I don’t hold it against them if they approach it with a little bit of pre-judgement. I have to assume some of that exists. These are the cards that we’re dealt. As long as I stay genuine in my attempt to make the world a little bit of a better place with my music, it’ll all make sense and be for a reason. I don’t see it as a negative or a positive- this is the landscape in which I have to create. 

So you recently dropped your new EP, Oversized Soul. Are there any overarching themes or motifs behind it?

Brutal honesty, the thing that is very consistent that I do, is that I give myself the freedom to jump around stylistically. We’re not all always sad or not always happy. I have feelings where I’m sad or shocked about something I see in the world, and other times when I’m just dancing with my kids, so I want to write something upbeat and positive. I embrace the fact that I’m going to make music that is stylistically a bit different. Hopefully [the songs] all have a certain energetic quality that is consistent. I try to be as honest and vulnerable as possible. It’s an extension of where I’m at in my life, and a reflection of it.

Is there a song on the album that was the most difficult to write/record for one reason or another?

[Pause] That’s a good one. I think the one that means the most to me is “Lonely Road.” I changed the time signature late in the game and re-recorded it in a way I thought was pretty cool, and to where it felt artistic and unique. It took some effort where I thought it was something I was going to be proud of production-wise. I was proud of the song itself, the song was great on its own. It’s something I wanted to be proud of as a producer too, not just an artist.

What does a day in the life of your songwriting process look like?

It’s chaos. It’s all over the place. But you have to be regimented about it. People think inspiration hits you out of nowhere and it can, but you can also go out in search of it. Taking some space for yourself to read, meditate, etc. You can seek inspiration. And I treat it as work, and get into my own head. Carving out the time away from my kids is a challenge, though. When you’re a parent, your attention is required by so many people. You have to get into that space where the only person who requires your attention is yourself. 

What does success as a musician and songwriter mean to you?

So there’s a song I put out recently called “Life For Two.” I wrote it about a woman who was diagnosed with cancer, and was going to leave some kids behind. I was in Copenhagen when she told me her story, and she asked me if I would write this song. So I wrote it, and put out why I wrote this song. And when people wrote back to me saying things like, “thank you for doing that, I lost my dad” or “I lost my mom,” I saw that it helped them process their emotions you know, and it’s a good feeling.

You’ll never really know if you ever changed the world in any meaningful way, but you do know that – even a musician at my level – that you can change peoples’ lives and help them process emotions. That’s what success is to me. If there’s one person out there that hears something of mine and it helps their emotions they have bottled up inside get set free, then that’s success. That’s all I want to do and I strive for that. 

What are one or two pinnacle moments for you as an artist?

Good question. Well, one thing I’m really grateful for are the musicians that have faith in me and want to work with me. I get to work with incredible musicians who I very much look up to. They’ve always been so kind and generous with me, and they don’t need to say “no” to other things to record or play shows with me. They have other things going on, but they do this because I think they really enjoy what we do together, and I feel I’ve earned the respect of these musicians I look up to- that’s a thing in general I love.  

I also wrote a song called “All I Need is You,” and I wrote it after I saw this man Fred Gutenberg who was speaking at a candle light vigil the day after his daughter was shot in the Parkland school shooting. He told a story about how he couldn’t remember if that morning he said goodbye to his daughter at the breakfast table or not, or if it was one of the mornings he just snuck out the back door, and it was eating him up inside because he was never going to have another opportunity.

So I wrote this song and put it out into the world, and the victim’s brother reached out and said “thank you for writing this song, my dad would love to meet you.” To become friends with that family and to have made a connection with Fred who inspired me to write this song, and to sit across the lunch table with him a few days after releasing the song was just special. It’s that reminder that all the little things we do, no matter how small they feel to us, sometimes they have a bigger impact than we even realize.

Do you have a tour lined up post-EP release?

I’ll be doing some local shows and sticking around here. I’m coaching my daughter’s soccer team. It’s not the sexiest rock star thing in the world, but between now and the end of the year I’ll be doing some local shows on weekends. Right now I’m pretty stuck in carpool mode with my kids. I love getting out on the road and I look forward to doing that again. I love meeting people and connecting with fans, but right now it’s important for me to be here and be creating new music. That’s the most important thing. I can’t stop creating new stuff right now. 

Anything else you’re looking forward to this year? Get your daughter’s soccer team a championship?

They’re all 7-year-olds, I just want them all to have fun. No, my goal is just to start writing and just get in that vibe again. And to collaborate more. I’m looking forward to collaborating with people. So much of what I do is a solo venture, and there’s strength in that, but I’m looking forward to opening my studio to songwriters, producers, and engineers who I can learn from.

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