Mo Brandis shares his new EP ‘8’, explains the symbology of the number and talks about almost’s and maybe’s.
The word ‘patience’ is especially meaningful to a London-based singer/songwriter, Mo Brandis. His dad’s early advice to be patient stuck with him through all of his ‘almost and maybe’ opportunities to succeed as a solo artist. The moral of the story is of course that it paid off. Mo hung in there through moving from Germany to London, chart success as a songwriter, being the lead singer for Incognito to releasing his solo debut ‘The Undercover EP’ and an upcoming EP entitled ‘8’ on 17th August.
Mo was always surrounded by music. His dad’s band had their rehearsal room in their basement. Mo recalls, “As a kid growing up in Swaziland (southern Africa), I always sang along to Bob Marley and Lucky Dube, using a tennis racket as my guitar and a toy ice-cream cone as my microphone. There’s actually a really funny video of that on my Facebook as proof!”
It was a gradual journey of how Mo got to where he is today. Some days bumpier than others. At the age of 8, he started playing the saxophone, two years later, he also started playing the piano. He was always singing, but songwriting became a thing for Mo when he was 13. At this time he used to record over 20 hours a week for five years with a producer who discovered Mo at a school choir performance in Hamburg. “This eventually led to a major label deal with Sony Music in Germany when I was 17. But after two years of development, Sony and BMG merged, and I was dropped along with lots of other artists before releasing anything”, Mo speaks on his first ‘almost’ moment.
Even though it was an ending to one chapter, it was a new beginning for Mo Brandis as a solo artist. “Yeah, I was obviously super disappointed at first, but looking back, I’m really grateful that I was given more time behind the scenes to develop and grow as an artist, songwriter and also as a person. Having major success in this industry too early can really destroy you, there are so many examples for that, like the tragic death of Avicii just recently”.
Following Mo’s departure from Sony, the label stated his music was too soulful for the German market at the time, which encouraged Mo to move to London and work on his craft. “I wrote a lot more music for myself and other artists, and then started touring in over 40 countries as a lead singer with Incognito. There were a few other “almost’s and maybe’s” along the way, but I never released anything as a solo artist, and last year I felt like I was really ready to start stepping out on my own,” Mo shares more of his journey to succeed as a solo artist, following Top10 releases in over ten countries as a songwriter.
Listening to artists like Michael Jackson, Donny Hathaway, Pharrell Williams and Anderson Paak, Mo has definitely also picked up the best of pop music. Moving to London was only a step forward in Mo’s career as he is constantly exposed to inspiration. “When I first came here, I was like “okaaaay, back to work mate!” I remember walking up the hill on my way home from the studio literally every night at around 2 or 3 AM. It was just so inspiring and motivating to be among so many like-minded and talented people. I also love how multi-cultural London is, I mean almost 50% percent of Londoners are foreigners! My studio is in one of the most multi-cultural neighbourhoods, and I just love that vibe. There are so many different influences and always something or someone new to discover in this city”, Mo only confirms that London never disappoints as a stepping stone for creative minds.
It wasn’t only patience that his dad has taught Mo. After years of convincing, Mo surrendered to the power of meditation. Learning to meditate and to be patient also came handy when Mo was in the process of making his debut ‘The Undercover EP’. During the two weeks long studio session with Mo’s co-writers Bea Munro and Harry Tarlton, they’ve undertaken ‘the 20-minute approach’. This technique is as easy as setting a timer for 20 minutes to come up with a new song idea that leaves the habit of overthinking at the doorstep.
“It’s just pure vibes and you know you get to try something completely different when the 20 minutes are up. We’d record everything and come back to all the raw ideas with fresh ears the next day – and only finish the ones we were still really excited about”, Mo talks about his first experience using this approach.
Later on, Mo releases his single ‘Think’ that has a different vibe to it. This transition from funkier to electronic sounds came naturally from trying out new sounds and going with whatever felt good. It is not your ordinary summer hit song. It’s the most real and honest translation of any sun-kissed alcohol-enhanced and encouraged feeling of lust we have all experienced.
“The lyrics for ‘Think’ were actually inspired by a conversation I overheard in a bar in Venice Beach. It was obviously a first date and it went from blatantly awkward to very confident, all thanks to the waitress bringing over more and more drinks. Gotta love a little bit of Dutch courage! We wrote it in January but took more time to finish it because we’re always working on several songs at the same time”, Mo reveals the real meaning behind the song.
Following the success of ‘Think,’ Mo releases another hit song ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ that promises the love story with a happy ending for a change. Mo elaborates: “‘Smoke & Mirrors’ is about someone who finds it hard to let go and open up to a new relationship, even though everything feels great and exciting. She’s basically expecting to be let down again, thinking it’s just another illusion of something perfect and I’m trying to convince her that it’s actually different this time.”
Mo’s latest release is a bold and seductive track that underlines his vocal capacity with a robust, captivating production.
But not to worry, Mo is not done there. He is coming with his second EP called ‘8’. This number is extra special and here is why:
“When ‘8’ drops I’ll be eight songs in as a solo artist and 8 has always been my favourite number. It also stands for infinity and new beginnings, and every song feels like a new beginning. You never know what’s going to happen with it – it may never see the light of day or be heard by millions of people around the world. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience both and for me it’s that kid-like excitement for new music that will always bring me back to that beginning.”
‘8’ will be released on 17th August on Mo’s own label Double 8 Records. Mo describes it as a soulful electro-pop sound that is inspiring him at the moment.
Mo Brandis is no rookie, as he has picked up substantial support across multiple taste-makers and earned his place on several Spotify playlists. With his ability to flawlessly grasp what a successful pop/R&B style sounds like, it would be no surprise if Mo appeared on more Top 10 charts with his second EP ‘8’. Get ready for it!
Karolina Kramplova | WRITER