Brian Carrion - you can just call him BC - is not a fan of garden-variety pop music. He'd rather be doing something you haven't heard before. That's how he's mixed alternative rock, hip-hop and more into his technically pop sound. "I'm trying to approach it without taking the substance out of it," he told BFTV on Monday, just hours before the release of his new record heART. "Where actually the songs have meaning and the lyrics are real. There's a happy pop song, but there's a legitimate beat to it, an authenticity. Part of what I'm really trying to do within the industry is change it."
Describing what we're about to hear, he explained, "It's only five songs but every song has kind of its own personality. Every song is different. Part of what I do that is different then most artists out there is, I can do many different genres. You don't know if I'm going to sing or if I'm going to rap, or if the song is going to sound more hip-hop or soul. I like to keep it fresh and eclectic. I've been told I have to stick with one genre but I can't. That's part of who I am."
Which of the tracks would be the best for someone who hasn't heard him before? "On this release, I would say 'Fascinating', that's like the pop track. That's the one that's the easiest to understand," he continued. "But my favorite, it would be the last song, 'Open Up Your Mind.'"
He also told us that there's a spiritual side to the record as well. "I haven't always been the most spiritual person. Growing up Baptist and later becoming an atheist, my opinions on meaning were quite confused," he said. "But within the past two years I've gone through a metamorphosis; life, God, consciousness, source, truth, beauty, wisdom, whatever you want to call it, has revealed itself to me. Throughout the process of this recording it has manifested within my songs, between the lyrics, guiding the melody. It has given me the courage to be completely honest with myself. Music can be an incredible and sometimes life-changing experience if your ears [and] mind are open."
BC is taking his mission to broaden music's horizons on the road this month, leaving Nashville for select dates across the country that will finish with a late September performance at The Mint in Los Angeles (show dates are listed on his website). What makes his tour different is that he's traveling solo - no band, no crew, just him and his gear. As you can imagine, it's not easy. "Being by myself, it's devastatingly lonely," he admitted. "But the redemption is showing up to a club, loading up all my gear by myself, playing my show, and most of my shows go over really well."
What does he do to pass the time while he's traveling? "A lot of books on tape, a lot of Spotify, and whatever I can do to keep my mind occupied," he said. "What I like to do is put my headphones in my phone and just call all my friends, and say, 'You can talk, because I'm driving.'"
Check out a video of one of BC's live performances with this article.
The new record and the tour are the next steps in what's been a long and sometimes rocky career. "I've been a musician since like 19. I just turned 31 in August," he explained. "I've been on the stage my whole life. Unfortunately my early 20's was spent in bar bands, and I think around 26 or 27, I realized that I was doing the rock star in reverse. I realized I was doing too many cover songs and not really creating music. At heart more than anything, I'm a performer, I'm an entertainer. It was just something I've always done."
His refreshed outlook on life led BC to his philosophy of taking the proverbial bull by the horns and becoming much more hands-on with his career. "[It's] all from like my room," said the artist, who personally handles everything that he possibly can. "I have one guy who does all my artwork and website. Everything is super in-house. And I think it helps give my music and my brand a very unique style," he continued. "That to me is the only option in music these days."
Unsurprisingly, for someone who's decided to work around the traditional music industry machine, BC doesn't judge himself by commercial numbers. "I realized this about myself and it's part of why it's taken me so long to even kind of simplify my music - my success is determined on what my peers think," he reflected. "I want them to like it. I want them to like it more than someone who's just a music fan. And that's strange, it's something I kind of need to get over.
"I'm not looking for a lot of commercial success. I play and write music for a living, I'm not ashamed of it and I love it. That's more than anyone can ever ask in their life," he continued. "When I get the respect of my peers, that to me is everything I want. I want people who are badass musician singer-songwriters to think I'm a badass musician singer-songwriter and we can share the stage together."
BC knows that the type of music he makes, and the way he does things, might not catch on with everyone, but he's happy to be working outside the box. "I feel like I'm so multi-faceted at times that I'm very hard to pin down. And I like that about myself. I don't like to give in to some kind of brand or someone's image of me or whatever label," he told us. "I want to be different because the status quo is boring. Writing the same song twice is boring. An artist should always make something new, try to be progressive, and try to change someone's life."