Brayden Davlantes: “Quarantine has been a good and a bad thing. We can’t play gigs, and a lot of people can’t work. A lot of artists who play restaurants and hotel gigs can’t work—but we can write.”

Very few teens can truly say they’re musically experienced.

Brayden Davlantes is one of those few. Part of the Academy of Musical Performance program (AMP), Davlantes, 16, has been playing music nonstop for the past six years across a number of bands. Her most recent group was Minor Emergency—but now she is setting out on her own.

In recent months, Davlantes has released two singles, “Still Pretty in California” and “I Don’t Want to Hurt You.” Both tracks are happy pop tunes that show Davlantes experimenting with softer and heavier touches of rock, respectively.

“I started making solo music last November (in 2019),” Davlantes said during a recent Zoom call. “Before that, I had been in a bunch of bands, and I got out of a band in November who was making music and writing original stuff. We all had differences creatively; none of us were similar, genre-wise. I didn’t ever think about writing by myself; I just always thought I was going to be in bands. I was in my first band when I was 9 … but when I got out of this past band, I thought I should try doing some of my own stuff, to see if I can and see if I like it. I really like it!”

The two singles released so far are surprisingly mature, lyrically and structurally. Davlantes attributes this, in part, to years of studying the greats.

“My first band was a classic-rock band, and then (I started) AMP, and we played a lot of classic rock,” said Davlantes. “Then the band after that was all classic rock. I’ve been playing a lot of classic tunes with all of the bands I’ve been in, and I didn’t appreciate them when I was younger. I wasn’t in charge of deciding what songs we played, but I have grown to really enjoy the stuff that we played. … These songs are super-sick, and I’m glad that we did these. I think it influenced my writing.”

Davlantes’ lyrics show a knack for storytelling.

“I usually will hear stuff during the day, or something will come to mind, and I’ll write it in my notes,” said Davlantes. “It’s usually just one or two sentences, and then I’ll put it all together. There have been instances when I have sat down and written a whole song, but usually it is piece by piece. That is how I like to write. I think that’s how it flows the best, but I do write the lyrics before the music. A lot of people write their instrumental parts before their lyrics, but for me, it works better being able to understand the tone of the song before I write the music part of it.”

Many of Davlantes’ songs are spurred by things other people tell her, she said.

“A lot of the stuff I write is not personal experience; someone will tell me about an experience they had, and I will write about that,” Davlantes said. “That is how I have been writing recently, because I am pretty young, and I have not experienced that much in my life that I can write in the first-person about. I’ve read a lot of interviews with some of the great artists I look up to, and they tell their own stories and other people’s stories. When someone tells you a story about something that happened to them, human nature is feeling sympathy and empathy for that person, so a lot of it comes from that. You can feel somebody else’s pain or happiness when they tell a story.”

Davlantes said yet more new music will be coming soon.

“I have two more recorded, finished and done,” said Davlantes. “I am also working on a lot of other songs that are not finished. I think I’ll keep it going month by month, and decide. I’ll probably release the next two in the next two months. These four will all be singles; they’re all really different, so they don’t really seem like an EP to me.”

Davlantes said she did not intend for her first four solo songs to be so varied.

“When I began writing songs and deciding which ones I wanted to record, I realized that they were all different,” Davlantes said. “I was like, ‘That’s fine; these are the first four songs I am putting out, and I am still trying to find my genre.’ I think (that today), you don’t really have to stick to a genre. There are a lot of artists (where) I don’t even know what their genre is, and I don’t even know if they know. I’m not going to make these songs into something they are not to try to fit a mold.”

Davlantes said she’s managed to make the best out of the recent stay-at-home pandemic reality.

“I definitely was aiming to finish the songs sometime this year, and quarantine helped make it so that I could just work all day on songs and music,” said Davlantes. “When school got out in March, there was nothing that I had to do, so I could work on music all day.

“Quarantine has been a good and a bad thing. We can’t play gigs, and a lot of people can’t work. A lot of artists who play restaurants and hotel gigs can’t work—but we can write.”

Most artists and musicians are aching for the day they’ll be able to perform live again. Davlantes is in the same boat.

“I used to play so many gigs,” Davlantes said. “There was a point when I was in three bands at one time. I had a gig every weekend—sometimes weekdays, too, after school or something. I miss gigging; one of the most fun parts of being an artist is getting to play concerts. … I don’t know what the next five years will look like, COVID wise. I will definitely be gigging, but maybe not to the pace I was before. My whole childhood was a blur, but it was fun. Gigging was always fun, it was never a chore. … A month- or two-month-long break would have been OK, but now it is a little excessive.”

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Matt King

Matt King is a freelance writer for the Coachella Valley Independent. A creative at heart, his love for music thrust him into the world of journalism at 17 years old, and he hasn't looked back. Before...