A few months back, Braden Barrie and I ended up following each other on Twitter. I can remember now if Twitter recommended him to me or vice versa, but we connected and I started listening to his music, which led to this interview. To quote his Facebook page: “SayWeCanFly is a one man acoustic act from Ontario, Canada. Frontman Braden Barrie has devoted his teenage years to playing shows across Canada and the US, building his following and writing relatable music for his fan base. Growing up in a small town and feeling a sense of abandonment, he shows listeners that no matter what struggles we face, we always have the power to make it through. Braden writes lyrics based around the belief that the world is lacking a connection between humans on an emotional level, and wants to re-establish that bond through his art.”
ANTHONY: Let’s start with an easy one: Where does the name “Say We Can Fly” come from?
BRADEN: I was 14 years old, trying to decide what to name my YouTube channel. I was literally laying on my bed for hours, trying to come up with something that sounded cool, and SayWeCanFly popped into my head. This was before I had actually started writing and recording, but it stuck with me and eventually made more sense.
ANTHONY: I feel like we’re seeing more and more solo acts taking on band names instead of performing under their own name. Timmy Rasmussen, who I’ll be interviewing soon, does it as 7 Minutes In Heaven, but the first person I can remember doing it was John Andrusik performing as Five For Fighting. What are the advantages/disadvantages of using a band name even though you write and perform solo?
BRADEN: I think it’s great to be able to use a band name, because in my opinion it is much easier to create a brand, logo, and throw meaning behind it. I have a lot of people who assume that I have a full band, and it’s always nice to be able to tell them that it’s just me, because I think it’s somewhat of a shocker sometimes. Using a band name also gives my fans room to invest themselves in something, get creative, and feel like they are a part of it.
ANTHONY: When did you first start performing, and what was your first instrument?
BRADEN: I started playing when I was just a young guy, I think about 8 years old. The first instrument I ever picked up was a violin, but it didn’t quite cut it for me. Guitar was always what fascinated me most.
ANTHONY: When did you write your first original song, and what was it?
BRADEN: I wrote my first song the year before I started high school. It was called “Feels Like Rain”, and it was all about Jesus. I was raised in a Christian school so it was what was going through my mind at the time.
ANTHONY: You’ve got an extensive back-catalog on iTunes, an EP a year since 2011. How would you say your sound has changed from HOME through DANDELION NECKLACE to the current HEAVEN IS HELL?
BRADEN: Sometimes it’s crazy to listen to my old stuff, and hear how I have progressed. I think my voice has become stronger, and I always notice a little more power in it at this point. Lyrically, I think I have maintained the same style. I find that I still write about the same types of things, just from a different angle. I definitely feel that adding in drums, electric guitar, etc., on my new album has given me more of an edge than ever before.
ANTHONY: What’s your songwriting process like? Do you sit down with a firm idea and then put it to music, does the music come first and then lyrics?
BRADEN: It’s honestly different almost every time. Generally though, I come up with a cool melody and maybe one or two lines of lyrics, then I grab my guitar and start from there. Sometimes I like to just play the same chords for hours until I come up with a vocal melody.
ANTHONY: Do you collaborate with anyone, or write everything solo?
BRADEN: I always write my songs on my own. I’ve tried to collaborate with people before, but for some reason I have a really hard time doing it. I’ve had a couple people sing with me, and featured another vocalist on one of my tracks, but at the end of the day I really like to do it solo when it comes to the actual writing.
ANTHONY: How much does a song change from your first draft to the final product in the studio, if at all?
BRADEN: Strangely enough, it barely changes at all. The core of the song is always the same, the only thing that changes are the instruments I add to it in the studio.
ANTHONY: You’re working on new music now, right? Having had the chance to hear some of it, I have to say I really like both “Stacy’s Song” and “Sparks.” When will we get to hear the new music?
BRADEN: I produced a little acoustic EP for my fans to make up for not being able to make it across the border for tour. I released that album a few weeks ago, and it’s available on my soundcloud. (www.soundcloud.com/saywecanfly).
ANTHONY: When are you headed back out on tour?
BRADEN: I am planning to hit the road again in March and April, hoping to do a whole bunch of Canadian dates, and see where I am at after that. I want to hit the US as well whenever makes most sense.
ANTHONY: And my usual closing question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who has never read it to convince them that they should?
BRADEN: One of my favourite books is called “The Tao Of Pooh”. It takes the cartoon Pooh Bear, and breaks down a whole bunch of life lessons, morals, and values that were taught by all of the characters in a way that makes sense. I used to love that show when I was a kid, and it’s crazy the things I actually must have learned from it, and brought them with me through my life.
And a slightly older song, “Dandelion Necklace”: