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press conference


WORDS by Tessa Swantek  TALENT Braden Bales  PR°1824 

If Braden Bales is a striker, his lyrics are the match. His words hit the uncoated surface he creates at just the right rate, and line by line, the spark scintillates. There’s something so precise yet unstrained about him, like the way a match just slides. He’s a nomad walking a sniper-steady trail, an accountant in sweatpants, a master tailor without a tape measure.

When talking about his debut EP, NOMAD, Braden says, “The more I try to be clever, the less it works. I write very phonetically, though. Once I catch something I like, I try to match the mouth feel with the next one. I’ll know what mouth feel I’m looking for.” His mouth strikes best against the blank slate he creates before entering the studio each day; He says, “I’ll listen to AfroBeats on the way over because I can’t understand the words so I’m just focusing on the feeling and letting go of everything in my brain. I’ll chat for a bit about how I’m feeling and then listen to the music, and clear my mind to try to listen to what it’s telling me instead of assigning my feelings to the instrumental. I try to be blank and make the song that comes to me.”

Braden believes in feeling over thinking, in music creation at least. But, as a person, he’s such a thinker. You can hear it in his lyrics even if they spark swiftly. When asked about where his lyrics come from, he says, “just from within. It doesn’t come from my brain. It’s not logical or intentional. The more I think, the less it does.” He continues, “it happens to you instead of through you.” Even though he waits for the words to hit him, he has to possess the right composition for them to kindle - one part introspective, one part intuitive, and two parts impassioned.

"The biggest thingI took home from going viral is that nothing actually changes. It felt so normal, and I also felt like it shouldn’t have."

Braden Bales

The first track on the EP is “Chronically Cautious,” a song that just caught and spread like wildfire. He sings, “So if I'm honest, I think I'm beginnin' to question how much I want this / Overloaded serial stresser, I'm sitting nauseous / Panic on a loop in my head, I'm chronically cautious.” The song went viral on TikTok, to which Braden says, “I was on a walk [the night it went viral] - my heart was so full and I was freaking out. So quickly after that, [I just felt] a numbness. The biggest thing I took home from going viral is that nothing actually changes."

He continues, "It felt so normal, and I also felt like it shouldn’t have.” When Braden talks, and writes, he has a way of expressing complex nonlinear feelings in a way that feels meticulously linear. It’s this friction that lights the match; His lyrics resonate like a sniper’s bullet because they’re both opposing and synergistic. He sings, “How can optimists be cynical?” and “Suffocate the fire I started right when it kindles / Passionate but fickle.” “ROI” holds a similar lyrical identity. He sings, “We're sailing a sinking asset into / Higher tides / Searching for clearer waters under darker skies / What a life.”


The conflicting feeling he deals with most outwardly on NOMAD is one he says in the EP’s trailer - “when home doesn’t feel like home.” When asked whether he thinks he’ll always hold a nomadic spirit, he says, “I do think being a nomad is part of my identity. Music is the #1 priority for me in life no matter what. I would prefer to be nomadic and lonely for the rest of my life if that means I can be successful. I know that’s a psychotic mindset, but as things have been working out I’ve been more married to the fact that I’m nomadic.” “Pick Me Up” best exemplifies these emotions. While he sings, “Home was the air inside my lungs, I miss my intubation / Just something else I left behind to catch a dream I’m chasing,” he’s intent on that dream and settles with being desperate for two competing things at once. In the EP trailer he says that NOMAD is a “desperate attempt to claw my way out of loneliness, while still desperately trying to be somebody.”

When I asked Braden what trait he’s lost since childhood, but wishes he could get back, he says, “I think the biggest thing I lost from childhood to now - and this is gonna sound really bad - is the prospect that just who I am is okay. That’s something that I’m trying to get back. Even before any of this worked out, sometime right after high school, I started realizing that as a person I’ve been really worried about what I can provide and what I bring to the table, and as an unsuccessful musician for a while, that prospect that I needed to be someone or somebody that I wasn’t yet had a vice grip on me where every time I’d have a conversation with somebody where they’d say, ‘oh hey you’re still doing the music thing, huh?’ that always cut to the core.”

"The biggest thingI lost from childhood to now is the prospect that just who I am is okay."

Braden Bales

He continues, “That kind of took away my innocence a little bit where it felt like life had turned into something transactional where you are what you can provide. I think that’s gotten worse with things working out because it’s hard not to see myself for what the numbers are now. That’s something I want to get back and I’m not sure how to.” The way to getting it back though seems like it could be found in the trait he tells me he never lost. He says, “the thing that’s remained the same about me is that I tend to be very empathetic as a person and I’ve always been that way. That’s one thing I’m proud to have never lost.” The way back is to look at what’s been there the whole time; The value is in what makes up the striker, even though the match looks brighter. His internal compass seems to be exceptionally accurate even when he doesn’t read it. It’s a compass that directs all his music. 

This comes through in his writing lyrics that light the deepest parts of him without having to dig. He says “Fairweather Friends” is one of those songs; “It started off being about a specific friendship which I hadn’t written about because I always wrote about girls [laughs]. Writing about that ended up being about everyone in my life who's been that type of friend, including myself. I ended up leaving the session and listened to it on the way home. The first time hearing it back - I didn’t fully cry - but I shed a tear. There’s something about that song that struck a chord so deep inside of my being that I don’t think any other song has yet.” He feels solace in vulnerability, and values being understood, deeply. He shares, “Now that I’ve experienced the feeling of being seen in my most vulnerable moments through my songs, it’s easy to be vulnerable now. In my most vulnerable moments, I’m not alone.” With NOMAD especially, he says he “feels more understood as a person” with a fuller body of work.

Stream NOMAD at the link below!


PRODUCTION MANAGED by Kateland Cornine
 Krista Worby

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