Local Artist Spotlight: BIPHONY
|Published: 4th June 2021 17:20|
By definition, ‘Biphony' is the result of two different, yet simultaneous melodies - and this is exactly what is at the core of Samuel Pack and Brandon Lake's accordingly named musical union.
A singer-songwriter and Tech House DJ respectively, Sam and Brandon came together in the midst of lockdown to create a signature sound that is equal parts danceable and heartfelt.
Self-described as a ‘Union of two worlds, thought to be different, but in reality, very much the same,' the duo released their first single ‘Look at Me Now' in February of this year which has since been played on BBC Radio Solent, and has welcomed in plenty of exciting opportunities for the pair in both dance & pop realms. We were excited to chat with both Sam & Brandon about their musical synergy, projects in the works, and upcoming plans for world domination.
How did you become Biphony?:
Sam: So I've been singing since I was a kid, and started writing music when I was about 13. I released an EP last year at the beginning of lockdown, and it got a bit of momentum. As I was working on my own stuff, Brandon actually put out a Facebook status looking for singers to work with, and I got tagged in it. We started chatting and essentially that's where we started.
Brandon: Yeah, so I've been a DJ for about five years and have played at some quite decent venues to be fair. I started off at what used to be Liquid, and then branched out to Bournemouth & Brighton, and also played Ministry of Sound in London and venues in Dubai. I studied at a DJ Academy in London, and went back there to do a music production course. It was great to learn all the ropes, but eventually I wanted to start playing my own stuff, not just other people's tunes. As lockdown hit it was go time for me, as I had nothing else to do because I was shielding.
S: Lockdown was definitely where it all started, as even though at the start of it we hadn't met, that was the point where our fates started to align a bit, do you not think?
B: Yeah, definitely. So Sam's from Portsmouth and I'm from Lee on Solent, but we'd never crossed paths before. It's really weird as we literally live a 20 minute drive from each other but we'd never met. I made the Facebook status because I'd done a couple of tunes and thought well I definitely can't sing, so like Sam said I was searching for singers & songwriters to work with. I got loads of comments, but Sam was one of the only ones who directly messaged me. I sent him the track within probably five minutes of us talking, and in about half an hour he came back and was like, ‘I wrote this line!' It was crazy.
S: When I first heard the track he sent, I loved the groove and it dropped really well, and whilst it was quite simple to start with I felt that a lot could be done with it - it really intrigued me. I can write really fast when I'm vibing off something, and what he sent me really did that.
B: It was so fast, it was unbelievable. He sent it back and I just thought, what was going on! After we worked on that, we started getting feelers for other things and were planning to release two tracks as just Brandon Lake and Samuel Pack in around July 2020. It wasn't until February when we actually became Biphony, by which point we had about five or six really strong tracks together.
S: There was just this thing in the back of my head that kept telling me that this format really worked for me. So I'm gay and Brandon's straight, and it was really nice because I'd never had a straight male friend in that capacity, but everything about mine and Brandon's friendship was so normal, and I love it. There was definitely some sort of union there. There was one evening where Brandon rang me and asked how I felt about forming a proper band, and it was so funny he brought it up as it'd been on my mind for about three weeks. I just said yes straight away, there was no hesitancy.
B: The next bit was definitely coming up with a name, which actually didn't take us that long compared to a lot of people I know. It came quite easily as with our songs there is a hell of a lot of meaning. It's like, the gay and the straight thing, but also where pop meets dance in a really unique way. It definitely happens a lot, but we feel like we've got something really unique; people say as soon as you hear the first 16 bars of our songs, they know it's us.
S: The marriage of sound is so natural, it creates a real force. We've had so many people behind the scenes tell us that which has been really exciting. We love the fact that Portsmouth are paying attention, so the next goal is world domination! But no, our music definitely shows our synergy, it's just all so natural. Again, it's like fate, I always say to Brandon that I don't think there's a scenario where we wouldn't have met and united with music.
B: Definitely, we work too well together not to. It's like chips and ketchup, they just go together straight away.
Describe your sound in three words:
S: I've got one, I'm just trying to think of a clever way to put it.
B: This is why he's a songwriter, it just comes out of him. The first thing that came to my mind was ‘good!' But no, I think a word that definitely has to be in there is relatable. I don't think there's been one song where people haven't gone ‘Jesus Christ, that really hit me in the feels,' it's like you're dancing around but crying your eyes out at the same time.
S: Definitely. I'd also say unparalleled, because I really don't think there's an equal to what we do. We definitely get the comparison to Years & Years a lot, which I do see a bit, but our sound comes from a unique place.
B: Yeah, no disrespect to Years & Years because they're fantastic, but I think with them it's strictly pop - they only really do the dance stuff when they collaborate more with someone on that side. My production and Sam's lyrics come from very different places but work really well together.
S: I also want to say energetic, but I've got a couple of adjectives - springly, zealous, vibrant, zestful...
B: That one just reminds me of a lime or something!
S: I'm trying to be creative! I think dynamic works best - positive in attitude and full of energy & new ideas. Even some of our more negative tracks are still so energetic that it feels dynamic. There are a lot of lyrics I've written that are about really dark times in my life, but the bassline is killer - it's a really dynamic sound.
Who are your musical influences?
S: I would say Freddie Mercury in my writing and my performance style. I sometimes feel like I'm emulating his performances when I'm on stage - like, it still is very Samuel Pack, but I'm just as dramatic as him! He's also been a big influence in my songwriting as he was really descriptive. I'd say that Years & Years definitely are an influence musically, too. And if you want to go back to my roots, I'd say Sammy David Jr & Frank Sinatra - they're influences in the sense that they keep me sane with music, they keep me rooted. I definitely do love modern pop music, but my taste is quite eclectic and my inspirations come from all different eras of music.
B: There are so many influences that I have that if people heard they'd be like, what?! It just doesn't correlate with the music I make - 80s rock bands like Chicago & Toto, all that sort of thing. I find myself laying in bed and listening to their music and just think to myself, that's insane! If I was coming into the studio I wouldn't necessarily listen to a massive house track because I don't like to do the same as other people. My favourites on YouTube are all just Freddie Mercury acapellas, and even Oasis acapellas - I don't know why but it really gets me in the mood, and I'm like this tech house DJ! I think in that genre I'd obviously say Calvin Harris, Jax Jones, Diplo, all those kinds of people.
How did you start in music?
S: It was just like, I was born to do it. If you ask my family, I was always in the middle of the room, performing to the entire family. I got my first keyboard at 14 and used to smack it and scream and shout, my mum and dad used to go mental.
B: He still does that now!
S: Can't lie, I do. My entire youth was just spent with my mum and dad opening my door and constantly telling me to shut up, not because they weren't supportive, but because the noise was just relentless. I've just known it since the moment I was born. I know that a lot of singers and songwriters can relate to this, but sometimes it can be really depressing, and Brandon's been really good with picking me up when I do doubt myself. It's all because I want to be doing this full time, I work a nine-to-five and music is all I've ever really wanted to do. That's where it all comes from for me, I just literally live and breathe it. I want to be on stage and in front of people, I want them to hear my experiences & songs, it's just my nature.
B: It's kind of different for me, I was born and that was it! I didn't know what I wanted to do for ages, but I grew up in a family that worked in nightclubs and stuff, so music was always on, especially dance music as I grew up in the 90s. I played drums for years, I tried the guitar but I wasn't too great at that, and touched on piano too. I just loved it, it almost felt like an escape - I just love sounds! It turned into a bigger thing to me around the time that I failed maths at school. I was supposed to resit the exam in college so I studied all year, but when it came to the actual exam the Isle of Wight Festival dropped on that same day - unfortunately, or well, fortunately! I went to the festival and it was the first time I'd ever seen a live DJ, and funnily enough it was Calvin Harris. I just stood there in awe - my mates thought I was out of this world but I just remember thinking, that is what I want to do.
S: The thing is, that shows that it's still nature in you, too. You get that same feeling as I do, you look at the stage and instead of getting starstruck, you think that should be me.
B: Yeah, definitely. I've always liked to feel music more than I do listen to it, you can kind of just zone out and feel the music, you know? After I got back from the festival, I just knew that was what I wanted to do. I got back, got told off about the maths exam, failed again, and took it as a sign! I went to the music academies and it all went from there.
S: Just off the back of that and what you said about growing up around music, it hadn't always been obvious to me that dance music was something I wanted to do, but I can definitely trace it back. When my mum was pregnant with me she went to see The Orb, which is like proper rave music, and she said she was stood right next to the speaker. And then all throughout my life, my dad used to produce dance music. He gave me the sample pad he had when I was about 13, and I used to sit there ‘til about two o'clock in the morning with my headphones on making acid house. That's where I suppose you saying that just prompted me to think that yeah, that's where my musical background came from - there was always the singing, but my love for dance music and where Biphony's direction is going was always an influence too.
What are you proudest of in your musical career so far?
S: So our proudest achievement is actually something we can't tell you about yet, but exciting things are definitely coming.
What's on the horizon?
B: The music that we're sat on is just mental. Now, especially through lockdown, we just dedicated every single day to making music over FaceTime. We've got a few remixes coming out soon, and potentially another release very soon.
S: We've got some recorded performances coming out soon too, and some live sessions planned. It's been a conversation between the two of us that we've been worried people think there's nothing going on as we've been quiet for so long. We've had so much going on in the background, and there's so much more to come.
To keep up to date with BIPHONY & their upcoming projects, follow them on Instagram. 'Look at Me Now' is available to stream on all platforms, including Spotify below.