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Conversations with Joseph Braun

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joseph Braun. 

Hi Joseph, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
“It all started as a youngin’ My daddy singing, grabbed his guitar and started strumming 

Really he was pulling on the strings of my heart 

The chords struck a chord and ended up leaving a mark” 

I wrote those lyrics for a song I’m working on detailing this very question. 

Growing up, music was always something you participated in, not just listened to or watched. Everyone in my household (two sisters, mother, and father) each had their own different tastes and practiced music in some fashion with my pops being the most prominent. He was a musician whose usual weapon of choice was the guitar but also played piano, saxophone, and flute just to name a few. 

When I was in the sixth grade, I was gifted my first ever electric guitar. Along with my pops giving me some basic lessons, I would spend hours messing around with it, teaching myself to play and trying to learn my favorite songs by ear. I was heavily inspired by blues, alternative rock, and jazz. 

By the time I got to high school my taste in music began to change and I fell in love with hip hop. I was completely enamored by it. I would listen to my favorite songs on repeat until I could rap along to every single lyric. As the natural progression goes, I began writing my own lyrics. It was initially just something I did for fun but after a while, as I grew more confident, I started recording myself and performing live shows. 

Once I got more serious about music, I wanted to create songs rather than just write lyrics. My good friend (and amazing photographer EL7) had Logic Pro X which is what we used to record. Eventually, I got my own laptop and was gifted Logic so I could record whenever I wanted to. I began dabbling with production and as I got more involved with the musicality aspect of hip-hop, I instantly fell in love. I started focusing the majority of my creative energy on producing instead of rapping and ended up putting down the pen entirely. 

I put together a handful of instrumental projects, experimenting with different sounds and styles of production. Listening back to them now makes me cringe… But they paved the way for where I am now. Through years and cutting my teeth and hiking my craft, I finally started to create music that I genuinely enjoyed. Other people seemed to take a liking to as well. 

Now I’m producing tracks and albums for some of Denver’s most talented MCs and am beginning to expand to ventures out of state too. 

Through working with other rappers, I’ve regained my spark I once had for the craft and plan to get back to rapping sometime in the near future as well. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Every producer deals with obstacles such as beat block and technical difficulties. I’m no stranger to either and have had my fair share of computers crashing, hard drives getting corrupted, and software malfunctions that see the beat I just spent two hours making lost in the ether, never to be heard again. 

But on a serious note, above all else, my biggest personal obstacle has been the fight against mental illness. It’s not something I’m usually very open about. In fact, for a long time, I actively tried my hardest to remain very closed off about it. However, I believe most if not all artists/creatives deal with it to a certain degree and feel it’s important, now more than ever to break the stigma and have honest, genuine conversations about the ramifications and impact it can have on people’s lives. 

Growing up, I dealt with severe attention deficit disorder that went undiagnosed until much later in my life. I remember noticing as early as the first grade. I would be sitting in class watching my piers complete assignments in half the time I would be able to. My teachers didn’t take kindly to this and reached out to my parents on several occasions to try and figure out what the issue was. So, I spent my formative years very insecure, thinking that there was something wrong with me which had a pretty substantial impact on me. 

As I got older and transitioned into high school, I started experiencing bouts of anxiety, depression, and anhedonia. This was compounded by moving to a much larger school than I was used to and facing the loss of my grandparents as well as a close friend over the course of only three-four years. Every negative emotion of grief, insecurity, and anxiousness was greatly amplified which made navigating in the new space I was in extremely difficult. 

The hardest part of dealing with these issues as an artist while creating is the self-doubt aspect. Anxiety and depression can truly make you feel and believe things about yourself that aren’t true. As a creative it’s healthy to have a certain level of self-criticism that should allow yourself to see where you can improve and inspire you want to get better. Artists who deal with mental health issues often use their art as an outlet to express their emotions and come to terms with the hardships they face. However, when their art becomes the very thing that begins to cause those feelings it can be very demoralizing. 

Thankfully, as I get older, I’m learning ways to help cope with these conditions and continue to fight against them. A credit to not only myself, but the incredible support system I’m immeasurably grateful to have of friends, family, and peers who inspire me to keep persevering with my craft and life outside my career. 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I primarily specialize in hip-hop production. Both instrumentally and working with MCs and singers. I also dabble with writing lyrics myself but mostly stick the musical composition aspect. 

I’m most proud of my newest instrumental album entitled “Mirage” that’s over an hour-long of some of my favorite beats I’ve ever made. I was inspired by the likes of 9th Wonder, J Dilla, Pete Rock, and Apollo Brown (just to name a few) to put together a full-length album of just instrumentals, showcasing your style. 

I’m also extremely proud of the work I have done with my good friend Vivid Scientific. We have released two studio albums together entitled “Gloomy Science” and “Vivid Sxnday” I just really appreciate the chemistry we have while working with each other and feel like we both bring the best out of one another. 

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
The most important lesson that I have learned is being able to play the cards with which you are dealt and turn your weaknesses into your strengths. Everybody has to deal with unique adversity in their life and it’s up to you to take those negative situations and make the most of them. 

When life gives you lemons… 

I have had to face many things in my life that had the potential to be greatly detrimental. When I began dealing with anxiety and depression it was very difficult to overcome. I became very withdrawn and it was challenging for me to reach out to other people for guidance, so I started to look inward. It was at this point that I sought to channel those emotions and turn them into something positive. 

Through music, I was able to express myself and use those painful experiences to my advantage. It made everything that I was dealing with a lot easier to come to terms with and I felt comfort in the fact that I wasn’t allowing them to be destructive. 

Contact Info:

Image Credits

EL7 Photography
Ran Steez
Demon Visuals
Shelby Henderson

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