For our How’d You Do That? series, we take a bit of extra special time to ask professionals to tell us their story -- this could be starting a small business, self-defining success, thriving as a freelancer or making waves in their respective fields. This month, we had the pleasure of speaking with hip hop musician, author and podcast host, Brandon Reed.
Brandon Reed is a multi-faceted creative with a seasoned outlook and zeal for forging his own path. As a musician, podcast host, and author, he is not only sharing his own passions, but also using what he has learned to support other creatives like himself.
He describes his journey as one of “curious exploration” where he is able to “connect the dots along the path”. Brandon began making music in the closet of his college apartment as a creative outlet, after having been fired from a new job. 7 mixtapes, 4 albums, a podcast and book later, it is clear he was not only able to connect the dots along the path, but make each one incredibly worthwhile.
Can you start off by telling us a little bit about your background? Your music, your podcast, your creative and career pursuits, and how the work you do came about?
When I first started making music back in 2010, in the closet of my college apartment I had no idea it would become what it has today. After being fired from a job after two weeks of working there, I decided to spend 100 dollars on a microphone and record the music that I’d been writing over the years. It was my creative outlet and I had no intention of pursuing it as a career, it was simply a little hobby of mine.
Following a lay off in 2012, and being fired in 2013, I decided to take one year off from formal work to “find myself”. I took myself back to school to learn business, music, entrepreneurship, and whatever else I could get my hands on that would spark some inspiration for where I wanted to take things.
In 2015 I decided to do a crowdfunding campaign for my album Progress is a Process. Progress is a Process Volume 2 would release in 2017, and Part 3 in 2018. The intention wasn’t to have a series, but that’s the way it turned out.
While all of this was in motion, I realized how much the slogan “Progress is a Process” resonated with creatives from various backgrounds, and it inspired me to create the Progress is a Process podcast, where I sit down with creatives and have them share their stories.
The podcast further cemented what I speculated - the connectedness of our creative paths. How we all experience much of the same emotions - be it our fears, uncertainty, or whatever else - when it comes to creating our art. Understanding the challenges that come with blazing your own way, I felt it was only fitting to write a book about it and so I did, Progress is a Process: Lessons for Aspiring Creators.
What inspired you to pursue music and creative entrepreneurship? Did you always know you wanted to do creative work?
As I began to break away from the traditional ideas of success and define life along my terms, being able to create allowed me to develop the self-awareness and see what it was that I valued and cared about. I’ve always been good with words and presenting, hence my early aspirations for wanting to be a teacher. Music allowed me to discover my purpose which is to inspire through creativity.
Music is what introduced me to the world of creative entrepreneurship. I never really wanted to be an artist, I feel like life chose me- as corny as that sounds. I’ve been following my curiosity and inspiration and it has been presenting opportunities that I would have never imagined.
My name Habit came from an article I read that sits on the idea that we are what we do, not what we think about. Therefore if we are to change our lives we need to develop healthy habits. BLCX stands for Believe, Love, Create and the X is for the unknown- because it’s up to each of us to figure out what it is we want to create.
In my search for success and fulfillment, I often thought of success as this destination that we one day arrive at. I saw success as this straight line that required me to have a plan and made not knowing a bad thing. Progress is a Process reminded me that the journey is where the beauty is and to appreciate it. The process has been a path of self-reflection and development and the creative work that I’ve produced has simply been an ode to that.
What are some of the reasons why you’re passionate about creative entrepreneurship?
I’m passionate about living life to your fullest potential. I believe we all have something special to offer with our gifts and there’s someone who can benefit from it. Creative entrepreneurship is a tool that allows me to share that message.
How do you personally, as an artist and entrepreneur, stay fresh and creative?
If you could identify 3 things you did to establish your current work, what would they be?
What is on the horizon for you and your work?
Progress is a Process book is tentatively set for release in March of 2020, I’m releasing a new EP called “Swimming in Winter” sometime soon, and Season 3 of Progress is a Process Podcast is returning in March of 2020.
What are some helpful hacks, tips or tricks, resources or tools you’ve found helpful in your experience, your craft and doing the work you do?
Write it down. Like pen to paper. I keep a notebook called my “idea book” where I house my creative ideas, notes on things I read, listen to or whatever it may be.
I see writing it down as a way of clearing space in the mind and making your ideas that much more tangible.
What is one golden nugget of advice you could share with someone looking to pursue music (or any art form), producing a podcast, authoring a book - essentially taking a risk on their creative passions?
Give yourself a chance to be a beginner and remember that we all start somewhere. That gap between your taste for what you want to create and your actual talent for it can only be bridged by doing the work. Be patient with yourself.
What’s been your spotlight moment? One moment where you felt the most proud-- of yourself, your craft, your work?
Finally completing my book, Progress is a Process.
Life, as a creative journey, begins with understanding that it is exactly that - a journey. It may not always be the path we envision or even the one we thought we would take, but once we simply start where we are, it becomes exactly where we were meant to be. Thank you Brandon for reminding us to be patient with ourselves, discover - and stay true to - our calling, and that within all of us, is something invaluable to offer.