For the young and musically gifted, it can be easy to feel you've outgrown the typical high school experience. This is why musician Brandon Wilson can't wait until he reaches college to begin his career in music and production. Wilson, an 18-year-old Lakewood Ranch High School senior, has just released his first EP, titled Wilson Branded, and will perform a variety of his songs with Music Compound on Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. in a livestream concert. The album, which reflects on some of Wilson's middle and high school experiences, will combine his love of R&B, soul and hip-hop beats that he produces himself.
"In fourth grade I started playing the recorder, and then moved on to saxophone and piano in fifth grade, where I learned more of the basics," says Wilson. By the time he was in seventh grade, Wilson's family had bought a new Macbook computer, equipped with the music producing software called Garageband, which he began playing around with for fun.
Little did Wilson know he'd be quite talented at mixing beats, producing music and finding his own artistic voice in the music industry. This led to his first EP, created under his stage name Wilson B., which he began working on in August of this year in his home studio.
"I felt I could do more with producing, which is when I really started writing my own songs," says Wilson. "I've always gravitated toward trap, soul and R&B music, but mostly hip-hop." Wilson has gained inspiration from artists like Ne-Yo and Usher, who managed to combine smooth R&B rhythms with a hard hip-hop bass. His EP, , a play on his name, features five songs where Wilson sings and plays various instruments. Each song took anywhere from two hours to two days to create.
"My songs are about taking chances in life, believing in yourself and getting through tough moments to see the beauty in everything," says Wilson. His favorite tracks on the EP include "Faded Love," about the concept of leaving toxic relationships, and "Loveless Interlude," which talks about his perspective moving through middle school as the "nice guy," who befriended his school crushes. His sound is unique, yet reminiscent of early 2000s R&B.
In an effort to navigate the music industry on his own, Wilson created his own production company called Pure Talent Entertainment, where he hopes to collaborate with fellow musicians and sell his beats. So far, Wilson has worked with artist Boogie10x, who is featured on Wilson Branded, and other friends from his hometown of Kansas City.
While still in high school, Wilson has had the opportunity to intern at the Music Compound, where he's taken piano and voice lessons for three years, and Drummer Boy Entertainment, a local production company where Wilson learned about becoming a music producer. He even took classes from Berklee College of Music during the Covid-19 pandemic. "I've had so many opportunities to perform and learn from mentors along the way," says Wilson. "They've given me advice on how to play the music industry game while never losing sight of who I am."
Wilson plans to attend college and study music production, and has plans for writing and producing more songs in 2021. For now, he hopes to charm audiences at his livestream concert on Friday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. on the Music Compound stage. Tickets cost $5 per device, and Wilson will be accepting virtual tips on his GoFundMe page.
"I hope audiences connect with my music, especially teenagers trying to figure out who they are," says Wilson. "My generation can see showing emotion as a sign of weakness, but this album proves it's a strength."