| interview : dj
introduce yourself and where you're from?
My name is Bryan "Braille"
Winchester. I'm part of a group called Acts 29 and we
just dropped an album titled "Underexposed" on Syntax
Records. I'm currently living in Portland, OR and hope
to be here for awhile.
what have you been up to since your first album "Lifefirst:
Half the Battle"?
a span of 3.5 to 4 years. I was recording that album
between the age of 16 and 17. When it dropped I was
living in New Jersey. During my senior year of high
school though my family went bankrupt so they all moved
back to Portland. I stayed for awhile to finish out
high school and then moved back as well. While living
in Jersey I linked up with Ohmega Watts. Me and him
formed a group called Return to Sender. He was living
in Florida but for a whole year we would meet up at
least once a month and record tracks together. We built
a really close friendship in just about every aspect
of life. When I got back to Oregon I was kind of a nomad.
Spent a lot of time traveling. Toured 30 some cities,
lived in L.A. for awhile sleeping in garages and stuff.
Working on music with Johnny5 at the time but after
the tour (with Fros'T) I settled back down in Oregon.
Ohmega moved here so we did our own little bit of backpacking.
hehe...borrowing cars...sleeping on floors.
Things are going really good now though. Ohmega has
his own place. We are both youth leaders at the New
Beginnings Christian Center and we're both staying very
busy with music. So basically, I've really been working
hard on music. I soaked in all the criticism from "Lifefirst...".
Recorded 3 albums of material with Ohmega. Recorded
a handful of solo tracks. An album and a half worth
of material with Ethic. Half an album of material with
Johnny5. Pretty much recorded non stop over the last
4 years. Aside from that just trying to grow and learn.
was it during your last year of high school, did the
other kids know you had an album out or did you just
keep that to yourself?
Kids didn't really
find out until towards the end of my senior year. I
was really quiet about the "Lifefirst..." album. I was
pretty quiet once I moved to New Jersey in general.
Most kids thought I was a druggie...hehe. I'd be up
until 4 in the morning working on music and then would
fall a sleep in class a lot. The word got around slowly
after I started doing some shows and was featured on
the major radio station. It was kind of strange though
because nobody really knew me by name. I was just that
'rapper kid' or 'Braille'. I was the poorest kid in
a rich preppie school. So it was just a weird year.
Me and my dad were living in a hotel part of the time.
Hehe. I remember once freestyling for an hour or so
strait. There was a lot of interest going around. I
really kept to myself though. Performed at the talent
show and would have random deep conversations with random
people during lunchtime and stuff. I actually am not
still in touch with one person that I met during high
school. Most of my closest friends I either met through
music or through New Beginnings.
were the artists in hip hop that influenced you to just
pick up the mic and spit?
My first favorite group
was probably Wreckx-N-Effects. Hehe naw. I had really
got into Tribe Called Quest. Pretty typical for the
era I grew up in. Tribe, De La, and a lot of the native
tongue stuff. Music was like a driving force for me
during high school. I was one of those kids on the bus
with headphones on. Walking in the hall with headphones
on. Up late at night with headphones on. So I'd get
down on the karaokee, ya know? Rocking the "Chief Rocka"
instrumental over and over again. I've been listening
to tapes and I just recently realized that I was never
meant to make hip hop music. hehe...it's like I forced
myself into it. It probably took me a couple years just
to learn how to rhyme on beat.
talk about the future, is there a new solo album in
Well, it's so hard to
say now. Hehe. There is one in the works for sure. I've
got some amazing production coming together from many
different sources. DJ Kno, Profound, Celph Titled and
many others. I'm just being really selective. Plus,
I'm going to keep my group/family at the forefront because
I feel like greater things can be accomplished through
units then individuals. So, I'm most definitely working
on a solo album right now. I'll be recording the first
track soon, but I can't say anything about when it'll
release. I have no idea. There are huge things going
on with Acts 29.
it looks like we'll see producers who were on the first
album and new producers as well right?
Yeah, a mix. I've stayed
in touch with most of the producers from the first album.
Some I've slowly lost contact with but it was a great
experience being able to work with so much talent. I
got love for em all.
can fans of "Lifefirst..." expect from this new release?
For one, improved vocal
presentation. That's something I spent a lot of time
working on after "Lifefirst...". A big part of music
for me is communication. So through experiences and
human interaction I'm just trying to communicate my
thoughts as clear as possible. Just to really connect
with listeners. Sharing things from my life. Things
I've went through, things I've seen, things I've heard
about. Things that inspired me or helped me get through
difficult times. There's just a certain power to music
that I can't ignore. On all scales, mainstream and underground.
Music has a huge influence on our society. It can often
set the tone for the world. In the same way the world
sets the tone for it. It's like they react and respond
to each other. My vision for music is very extensive
as far as where I want to go. Right now my physical
music is about 3 years behind the music in my head.
I don't have the resources or talents to create what
I hear in my head yet. More then hearing it, a lot of
it is just images in my head that I'm trying to translate
musically. GOD is really opening up some big doors.
I'm seeing things come to pass that seemed so far away
and I'm really speechless about it. Even though I talk
way too much. Hehe.
with the Acts 29 album just coming out, lets talk about
that. Who is all in the group and what producers did
you work with on that?
The group consists of
myself, Ohmega Watts and Soul Plasma. I've already said
a bit about how I met Ohmega and what not. I met Soul
at church. Me and him were creating two totally different
kinds of music at that time. He had a lot of passion
though for writing and getting things done. So we would
hook up every now and then and just write. While the
studio we record in was being re-built Return to Sender
had a couple months downtime. During that downtime Soul
was talking about putting together an Acts 29 album.
Acts 29 is actually the name of the youth program we
are all a part of. We were supposed to finish it within
one week in the studio. It ended up taking close to
4 months. Things got really thick for us as a unit...which
was not expected at all. Ohmega Watts did most of the
production on the album. I did a couple tracks and K
IV (K4) added parts to a lot of the tracks. Cody Johnson
also did one beat for the album as well. We also worked
with some instruments and vocalists on this album. It
was our first all out studio album. It taught us a whole
lot. Just having a more professional set up gave me
new outlooks and insights.
by Braille, that leads into another question. When did
you start up producing, I believe you didn't have any
productions on "Lifefirst..."?
I co-produced "Homesick"
and "I Am Who I Hate". I'm more of a concept producer.
I've worked hands on with 15 plus producers. I've also
worked on songs with over 50 producers by now. I just
soaked in information and tried to apply it. I don't
think it's something I'll end up taking extremely serious.
I still can't do my own basslines. I don't know notes
well enough. Hehe. My style is limited to chopping up
some notes and replaying them in a similar (yet more
repetitive) pattern then however it was when I sampled
it. I was very close to getting an MPC but it didn't
work out. I think I'm going to stay on the concept side
of the production process. I originally produced close
to half of the album, simply because Ohmega was so busy.
Most of my beats got replaced by much better ones. This
album as a whole was an experiment production wise.
We tried new things. After doing this album, we now
know how to do these things more effectively.
that things are taking off with Acts 29 and your next
solo album to be recorded soon, where does this leave
the recording of Return to Sender (Braille and Ohmega)
Hehe. That's all I
The Return to Sender album "Needles In The Hay" is already
two years in the making. It's going to be one of those
albums people will cop two copies of. One with vocals
and one with just the instrumentals. We really aren't
going to be able to sit down and focus on it until we're
at a point where we can push 100,000 units or something.
At one point I will be able to focus on only recording,
but right now I need to make moves. Make sure these
projects get out there. It looks like we are actually
going to be taking the "Underexposed" album back to
the studios believe it or not. The concept/vision was..."the
WORLD is not receiving enough light to develop a clear
picture of who GOD is". So now we are regrouping and
embracing the opportunity to shine. I mean, in the last
year I've featured on like 10 albums. Cunning Lynguists,
Lojique, Fashion Expo, Redcloud, Man of War, Night Owls...and
I'm currently finishing stuff for 5 or 6 other releases.
My dad frames all the CDs I'm on so we have this dope
"Braille" wall put together. It's even got Urb magazine
clippings from the "A Piece Of The Action" compilation.
Right now we are just taking time to get a lot more
professional as well. We got the joint bank account.
Invested in some stock. Getting our LCC so people can
write direct checks to us. All those things. Getting
life in order.
was your favorite track from "Underexposed"?
My fav. tracks are
"Blank Minds", "Smoke Clears", "Statements", "Come On",
"Family Life" and "Posse On Burnside" probably. "Deja
Vu" goes on that list as well.
track means the most to you from any of your released
Probably "Come On".
I was writing that late at night. It was actually after
a studio session we had on September 10th. It was about
4 in the morning when I was writing that song though.
Western time. Which was around 7 in the morning eastern
time. The planes were literally in the air while I was
sitting and writing that song. I want to perform that
song live with someone on the piano, a string section,
someone on the drums, someone on bass and a vocalist.
Actually, a pianist and someone on the organ as well.
The day I tried to step in the booth to record that
song my jaw locked up really bad. It's still messed
up. The whole thing is locked on the left side so my
jaw is all crooked. After the song was done files would
get deleted. Ohmega had to re-lay down the piano 3 times.
Plus we spent probably 4 or 5 full studio days on the
mix. We would finish the mix but then when we went to
bounce it levels would just change from what we set
them at. It was a trip because that didn't happen with
any other song.
I also made a Christmas song for my mom in '99 but nobodies
really heard that one. But yeah, "Come On" had the hairs
on our necks sticking up when played at the right volume.
There's like this perfect mid volume where you get the
right amount of thickness and a my voice is fully audible.
It just hits you...or hits me...or it did when we first
did it ya' know. Hehe.
there a website for people to read more about you or
hear some of your music?
Kind of, syntaxrecords.com
has some info. And you can also catch some info here
and there at sphereofhiphop.com.
The crew is in the process of putting together our own
website in the very near future. You can check out some
tracks at mp3.com/stations/braille
and we are going to have a listening station put up
for the Acts 29 album very soon. Most of the tracks
at my MP3 page are dated but you can check out "Butterflies",
"Blank Minds", and some other tracks that are pretty
guest appearances to check you on or compilation appearances
The Locke album. The
hiphophotspot.com compilation. Some stuff with Johnny5,
the Nutsons, Zak Morris, DJ Flick, Fab and Sev. I have
a lot of stuff in the works. Once it's all completed
I need to slow down though.
have you been listening to in the CD player?
Beat CDs, hehe. I got
a copy of Deepspace 5 and that's pretty dope. An old
SFC album called "Illumination". I'm really getting
into worship music lately and that's the honest truth.
It's like...I've been hearing MCs rhyme so much that
I don't even like hearing myself when I practice. Hehe.
So when I'm not rapping (which is very seldom)...I enjoy
listening to things that change the pace. Stuff that
satisfies me in a different way. I really enjoy the
Lojique album that dropped recently. It's called "Language
Arts". That's available through Syntax Records as well.
for the interview, any final comments or shout outs?
I'm helping my fiancée's
baby-sit right now, hehe. And so right now I have a
baby of some sort kicking the keyboard while I type.
Oh, by the way, I'm engaged to be married. And no, this
child is not mine or hers. Hehe. Just baby-sitting for
real. The official date is the 29th of June. Okay, I
just got relieved of my duties. Final comments? GOD
has become very real to me. Right now I'm just trying
to focus my energy towards completion. The completion
of goals, the completion of my purpose. Aside from that,
just letting this music thing go as far as it wants
to. I'm feeling like it wants to go really far right
now. It's a good feeling but it's also challenging.
I'm realizing that what I want isn't really important
in relation to what other people need. So I'm focusing
on the needs of this world rather then the wants of
my comfort. It'll be a process though. I'm just letting
it all soak in and praising GOD for life. Acts 29 "Underexposed".
It's just begun I guess. Peace to all. Thanks for the
interview and thanks for all the help and support you've
given. GOD bless.