I discovered Allman Brown by accident. Opening Spotify late one night I noticed that my friend, who had been using my computer earlier that evening, had been looking at Allman Brown. So I played the first song on the list. It was “Sons and Daughters.” I was enthralled. Little did I know that listening to Allman Brown was somewhat of a badge of honor among my indie music–loving friends.
Allman Brown writes what he calls “chilled out folk pop,” and his music certainly has a very relaxing feel. Nevertheless, he paints a very realistic picture of life—both the inspiring and the mundane.
Ethan Weitz: How did you get started writing music?
Allman Brown: I had always been singing in one form or another throughout school in choirs and shows and things but when I taught myself guitar at university I began to write songs. There was a real freedom to be able to express my own feelings and ideas through the simplicity of using the guitar and my voice over singing other people’s work.
Emily Cardé: What are your biggest musical inspirations? Are your songs based more on personal experiences or on things that you’ve read or heard?
Allman Brown: My core inspirations at the beginning were people like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams, and Feist—the usual crowd—but now my inspiration changes regularly. I will always love Bon Iver above all, though. I think Justin Vernon really gave a lot of people confidence and inspiration.
My songs are largely based on personal experiences, but I frequently draw material from books and films too. A good story will usually leave you with a feeling or vibe. I try to distill that feeling into a song. For example, I wrote “Foolish Love” after watching all of “Lost.”
Ethan Weitz: When you’re writing songs, do you try to center the lyrics around a specific concept or are they more stream-of-consciousness?
Allman Brown: At the moment, I like to write a bit more specifically; I’ll choose a theme and then roll with it. “Sons and Daughters” began because I wanted to write a song about a home and all it contains. Sometimes, though, a song can grow from one lyric that just pops into your head.
A good story will usually leave you with a feeling or vibe. I try to distill that feeling into a song.
Ethan: How would you describe your musical style? Is there a specific mood or feel that you’re trying to accomplish?
Allman Brown: I guess it’s sort of chilled out folk pop, but I really can’t say—I don’t want to box myself in. As for trying to accomplish a specific mood, I don’t think about that at all, because then the songwriting process is not organic. I just try to write the most honest song I can and have fun doing it. The only thing I want to accomplish is for people to connect with the song in some way. That is the joy for me: when someone totally random comes up to me and says he really loved a song of mine and it made him feel something.
Emily: Romantic love is a big theme in all your music. But there seems to be a contrast between how it’s characterized in “Sons and Daughters” and how it appears in other later songs like “Hollows.” Has your understanding of love changed at all since you started releasing music, and if so, how?
Allman Brown: Wow, big question. My understanding has changed, yes, but it is different for everybody. I am always interested in writing about the connections that exist between people.
Basically, “Hollows” was a throwback song really about one night stands! I wanted to explore the bittersweet nature of being intimate but without any real intimacy.
Ethan: Of all your songs, “House of Spirits” is a particular favorite of mine. What is the story behind that song?
Allman Brown: Thank you, Ethan! That is actually the first song I ever wrote. I finally got around to recording it on the last EP. It’s about my relationship with my father, but I put it into a mythic landscape. At the time, I had been listening to “Nebraska” by Bruce Springsteen, and I always think of “House of Spirits” as my Boss song.
Emily: Are there any other underlying ideas that you try to communicate through your music?
Allman Brown: At the moment I am fascinated by the concepts of memory and time. I also love to write songs about particular moments or memories and then write something sweeping that attempts to encompass entire lives.
Ethan: Out of all the music that you’ve written, which song is the most meaningful to you, and why?
Allman Brown: Every song has a special place in my heart, but if I had to choose, the most meaningful song would always be “Sons and Daughters.” I think it is the first song I was truly proud of, and the first song I really believed in. It also marked a real turning point in my career.
Ethan: What is the most rewarding part of writing music, for you?
Allman Brown: The most rewarding part is just having the privilege of working with talented people and making music. Having the opportunity to be creative is a real blessing. It makes all the sweat and toil working other jobs to support myself worth it.
Emily: What can we expect with your next project? Are you touring in the U.S. anytime soon?
Allman Brown: My next project will be a full length album! I am recording it right now. Four new songs are in the can and more are on the way. I would love to come to the U.S. I’m working on getting out there hopefully next year.
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