Interview D.S. Bradford

I have been listening to the music of D.S. Bradford for well over a year now so thought it was about time I featured him here on My Random Jukebox. I was first introduced to D.S. when he got in touch with me in 2015 and asked if I would give his latest single a listen, which at the time was ‘Oceans’. As I’m always happy to check out new tunes I took a trip to his Bandcamp page to give it a listen. As soon as the song starts you are introduced to his guitar skills as he grabs the listeners attention with some killer riffs. D.S. then lets his vocals fly which fit the songs overall rock sound really well. I was liking what I was hearing and I’ve been a fan ever since.

So, let me introduce you all to the music world of D.S Bradford. This rocker/singer-songwriter like most other talented musicians started at an early age with encouragement from his parents. It wasn’t until 2007 when he began to write songs with his previous band and things started to move in the right direction for him. As much as things were going well, he took a step back to rethink his priorities and after a few years out he returned in 2014 with his single ‘Oceans’.

I was curious to find out more about D.S. so I decided to get him involved by answering some questions that I had about his music. Of course he was more than happy to do so and we talked about his beginnings, songwriting and a little more. This is what he had to say:

Was there a moment or someone that inspired you to become a musician?

Oh for sure. I’ve had many influences over the years. As my tastes have changed, as I’ve branched out of my comfort zone I’ve discovered many songs and styles that I integrated into the way I tell stories through songs. The first people who influenced me were my parents. I would listen to them sing and rehearse and I guess it sort of subconsciously stirred the creative part of me as a young child. When I was 12, my uncle gave me my first guitar and I started listening to a lot of bands of the grunge era. Back then, I had no idea what I was doing, but I learned a lot by practicing chord progressions, through listening to bands and learning songs by ear. It was all a part of becoming a guitarist. Years later, along with more life experience, I started writing poetry to cope with a lot of emotions and experiences I was going through at the time. I started setting some of those to music I would write and that’s when it all began. I never did anything with most of those songs. I was incubating. When I realized I was creating, it gave me a purpose and THAT’S when I really knew: I can do this.

Once this decision was made, were there any musicians who help influence your music and it’s sound?

In my youth I listened to a lot of Nirvana. I became a fan of Cobain’s style. Some would call it haphazard, but to me, it was what I needed at the time. The songs helped me with the basics of song structure and dynamics. A lot of bands; Foo Fighters, Tool, Linkin Park – taught me more about songwriting and lyricism and different tones and interesting offbeat arrangements. When I was really starting to take this seriously, I was listening to System Of A Down. A lot! Ask anyone who knew me 18 years ago and they’ll tell you that I had a t-shirt for every day of the week from that band. They still influence me. Serj Tankian, especially. I also compose music for a MMORPG video game called “Saga Of Lucimia”, so I have a lot of classical influences that find their way into the rock songs I write. Lately, bands like Coheed And Cambria inspire me because of how unique they are. My sound is a mix of alternative rock, with prog-rock influences, psychedelic rock, blues, and even a little bit of pop. I write music that is based on how I feel at a particular time or an idea that I’m trying to get across that can only be expressed a certain way. I play multiple instruments, so I’ve learned that there are no bounds for expression.

When you write new music what is the important part to your process and what helps you get passed writers block?

A song usually begins as a melody in my head. I sometimes have several happening, or bits of one. I grab a guitar and work it out and make sense of it. I don’t force anything, so if it doesn’t work, I move on. I have several songs recorded that are just ideas that I may or may not come back to at some point in my life. This isn’t the standard practice for me, much like when a painter tries a new technique or when a certain expression calls for something different. Their signature style is there, but the process can be different at times, or something happens that inspires an element that sets a particular piece apart from the others. The title track, “Elemental Evolution”, came about completely differently than the other songs. It’s a song with a basic pop/rock structure, but the lyrics came to me suddenly before the guitar parts even came to be. I was sleeping one night and woke up suddenly with the opening lyric and I wrote it down and kept writing. It was strange, and it might be odd to say, but I felt like it was being channelled through me. The power of that inspired me to make this song the namesake for the album and the story around all of these songs. I’ve never written a concept album or EP/mini-album, but this collection of songs is just that. Luckily for this album, I didn’t have writers block, but whenever I’m having difficulty, I learn something new, or seek to experience something that will inspire me like reading and exploring new things in the world.

For new fans out there, what singles/EP’s/Albums has you released so far?

I recorded an EP and an album when I was first starting out on my own 8 years ago. I no longer play them and decided to start fresh, regroup and, after a couple years off from music, I came back with “Oceans”. It was meant to be a standalone single, but it is on the Elemental Evolution EP. That song was released back in July 2014 and it sparked a lot of interest and awareness and the reception helped me gain the confidence in writing again. “Elemental Evolution”, as I mentioned in the previous question, was the follow up to “Oceans”. “A Call To The Stars II: A Home In The Sky” will be the next single.

From these releases which are your favourite songs and why?

“Oceans” will always be a favorite of mine and it is the fan-favorite when I perform it live. There is something about the energy of that song that stirs something within me and everyone who listens to it who have given me feedback about it. It’s a rocking song and as a guitarist, it has a lot of fun parts to play. Lyrically, it is special to me because it is the first song I wrote after making a lot of life changes and it marked a new chapter in my book that I can actually look back on and be fond of.

“Elemental Evolution” is another song that has a happy vibe and the song’s lyrics are introspective of our human nature and our gravitation towards exploration, internally and externally, finding a better way to live and changing the way we view one another and seeking to find peace.

“A Call To The Stars II: A Home In The Sky” is the longest song on Elemental Evolution. As the closer, I wanted to sum up all of the ideas from each of the other songs and drive the point I make home. This song is also favored among fans. The ideas are expressed as movements within the song and the lyrics touch on everything from my personal life and love and the condition of our humanity, all of the terrible things that have been happening in our world and what that means for our future if we don’t change the way we are. It’s about starting fresh, disposing of old ideology, finding the positive aspects of our existence, and waking up to the truth and living our life based on love. This song speaks to the soul of every person on this planet. The message is for everyone and it is simple: Love.

Is there anyone you’d like to write a song with, or collaborate with and why?

Well, as a composer I would love to exchange ideas with Serj Tankian from System Of A Down. That’s a lofty proposal, I’m sure, but I respect him so much as an artist that I would be remiss if I didn’t say that his classical music didn’t inspire a lot of the ideas and arrangements I’ve had for the classical music I have written. As a rock artist, I would love to write a song or collaborate with Vino Alan. A lot of people probably know him from being on X-Factor here in the U.S. Ever since, he has been writing and recording some amazing songs. He is a really gifted vocalist and songwriter and his style is interesting. We’ve talked over the past two years or so and I’ve done artwork for him. It would be cool to collaborate on a rock tune or even a blues/rock/spacey/ambient song. We’ll see…

What can people expect from your shows?

People can expect a lot of crowd interaction and good humour. I like to involve everyone and I tell stories in between songs. Sometimes I do covers or different arrangements of my songs. Most people have a great experience when they come to a live show. I improvise sometimes and always go with what I feel, so steering away from the set list and launching into a jam isn’t uncommon, if time permits, of course. All in all, I want everyone to have a great time and take something away that is special from each performance.

If you could plan a world tour, which two musicians/bands would you choose to go with you and why?

The first would be Vino Alan. It would be a privilege to see him perform and to be on the bill together. There is also a band out there right now named Owel. They’re from the next state over from where I live. I first learned of them last year and they are phenomenal. A completely different level of musicianship that I find to be astounding. I would love the opportunity to perform a show with them.

What are your future plans and goals for your music?

Right now, I am working hard to spread awareness of this release and performing in support of Elemental Evolution, as well as a video. I’m continuing to write songs and building material for another album already. It will take time and I have a lot of ideas, but I am excited to continue writing and releasing music.

Finally, is there anything you like to say to any new listeners out there or maybe to any of your fans who are reading this?

To all of my current fans, you know I love all of you. Thank you so much for your support, coming out to shows, and for continuing to drive my music to new ears. Word of mouth travels far and you guys are loud! To anyone being introduced to me for the first time, take a listen with an open mind and enjoy the music. I hope that you hear something you can relate to and that it moves and inspires you.

As D.S. mentioned during the interview, he has recently released his EP ‘Elemental Evolution’. This is a rock EP which is different to your usual mainstream rock sound, and to me this is a good thing. You can definitely hear the Coheed and Cambria influence throughout the EP as each song feels like a new chapter in the story that is ‘Elemental Evolutions’. Each song is arranged in a way to tell it’s own story and the layers in it’s sound adds so much. I really like his skills on the guitar as he delivers some great riffs but his work on the keys is also impressive. This can all be heard on my favourite song ‘A Call to the Stars II – A Home In the Sky’ which D.S talked about during the interview. His vocals are pretty good on this song but it is his music which steals the show for me. I highly recommend that you give his ‘Elemental Evolutions’ EP a listen in full to understand and appreciate what he has created. To do so, visit his Bandcamp page (click HERE) which is also a good place to make a purchase of the EP.

I have known D.S. for a while now and I know how much he loves creating music. He is someone who is also wanting to push himself as a writer and musician so you can expect any future releases to be even stronger. If you want to keep up to date with his music including future gigs then head over to his website at DSBradford.com or alternatively visit his social media sites at Facebook and Twitter. Don’t forget, if your a fan of the music you are listening to then tell the world all about D.S. Bradford today! Help support the music that matters to you!