"Before I had a chance to work on this project, It was very difficult for me to be myself"
Music has been a fun way to pass time for years, but for this new artist from Haiti it is more than that. Branly Bernard's confidence and charismatic personality finally come out in his debut project "Timezone" which is set to be released September 2020.
We decided to speak candidly with Branly Bernard and learn firsthand how he turned his struggles into singles. Instead of giving the plain rap, hip hop or ballroom sound, he tackles a different route that showcases diversity in sound and genre from an LGBT Artist.
Born in Haiti raised in Connecticut, Hip Hop - pop singer/songwriter Branly Bernard first rose to eminence in 2014 when his first single"U R MINE”, engineered by Suga Mike, surfaced online. Not coming from a musical family, Branly was determined to leave his mark in this world. After joining the his church choir and plenty of vocal training programs, he launched successes through various showcases and guest appearances. With songs like "CoCo Fruits', "Licky Lick" and "Confidence", his culture shapes his music as he brings us along on his journey to stardom.
Thank you for sitting down with me Branly. I did do a little research and I know you're from Haiti but you moved to the U.S. How come? Has that shaped your genre of music?
It started off with my grandma who moved here, then my mom moved here. Through out the time when I was in the U.S we would go back and forth. Then, I went to school in New York City and when I graduated I moved back to Haiti again. I came back to the U.S and then from there I just started taking my music seriously. It was like go big or go home, there's no giving up, you have to keep going until you see results.
Girl when I tell you, Connecticut is so different from New York City. Then New York City is not like New Jersey. Seeing the differences, you learn what sound of music is hip in what city. Then here [Connecticut] its like the hard core rap of Cardi B. It really depends on where you're at. You get a little vibe, and that brings inspiration.
You have such a bubbly personality. Is it easier to express yourself here in the U.S or back home in Haiti ?
At first it was very difficult, especially with the Caribbean culture. GIRL...whew it took my family some time to actually accept it like you know what this is still the same person. I feel like I'm more accepting here [U.S]. In Haiti everyone was just like "OMG, OMG...WHO'S THAT!" It's a little uncomfortable because you don't know what people are thinking. In regards to here I can just go outside and be myself but both of them have their pros and cons I would say.
Describe your demographic audience for your brand?
My brand is identified by my voice and image which gravitates more to listeners that are in search to be free. Most of my listeners are men between the ages of 16 to 24, which makes sense because most songs I’ve released have had a message of spreading positivity, loving yourself, and being who you want to be with or without judgement.
Yes, because I've listened to "Licky Lick" and also"Coco Fruits" which is about positivity, that's my favorite. Now you're working on a new project coming out in September, tell me about that.
Yes, the new project! the title is, "Timezone". I've actually been working on this project for quite some time now. Ever since I was in college to be honest. Just the writing, getting different ideas and all while I was moving to New York City. So working on this has been an experience. With my writing techniques, it has grown and my sound has grown. I'm more comfortable in my music.
Me and Michael Ashby, who worked on Cardi B’s "Bodak Yellow"as the engineer, also is a gay man. I hit him up because I felt really comfortable with him from my past songs. We were just in the studio vibing. Doing our thing, just as two gay black men coming up with different ideas and him just coaching me along the way. Working with another LGBT individual was important to me because it allowed me to showcase my truest form, which is a challenge in the industry, however working with someone that understood my view helped me open up and talk about topics most would find uncomfortable.
That's exciting, and I know the single "U R Mine" is on your new project too, is that song about a specific lover or friend ?
It's funny because "U R Mine" was my first song. That was the first song I ever released and I wrote that when I first moved to New York City. You're going to laugh but it was about my R.A (resident assistant) in college. She was like my advisor and she was literally sitting right across from me as I was writing it. I thought, let me just write a song about her. It was nothing too serious. I started writing more serious songs around "Roof Top" because I felt like I couldn't make references with girls anymore. I was like you know what, I want to be known as a gay artist. Why am I hiding from who I am really am ?
With your project coming out and all the music that you've done so far, which song do you relate to the most?
The song that would resemble me the most would be "Licky Lick" and "Y.S.L" it goes like...(Sings*) I like to be subliminal with my messages a little bit. Everybody likes raunchy stuff but I like to put a little twist to it so everyone can hear and it can just slip through your head.
Branly talked with more about his new song that's coming out this Friday called "Confidence" from his Project "Timezone". The single is similar to "Coco Fruits" with a more up tempo afro beat sound. He compared the sound to having a little Branly in your pocket. "Don't let no one mess with your confidence" He came out to his family during this "Timezone" Project which was a challenge and resulted in a year of non communication. Though it has settled, it’s still an experience he wishes on no one. The Haitian artist also felt like a lot people, especially people in the gay community needed to hear that.
Absolutely! I was just about to ask you, how do you think your new album will impact the LGBT community, and specifically, why do you think queer people of color will be interested in your story?
With "Confidence" a lot of us need confidence boosters. A lot of us don't get to hear that. So its good to get music out where you have someone that's reminding you like you know what, you're that girl, you're it. You don't need a reminder from anyone.
I think queer people of color would be interested because I identify with a lot of LGBT people that are trying to chase their dreams but are faced with challenges and scrutiny.
Before I had a chance to work on this project, It was very difficult for me to be myself in person, in videos and in my music. I came out to my family during this process which was a challenge.. I also was learning the love aspect in our community which led to heartbreak, complications and uncertainty. All these emotions are showcased on this project and resonate with our community today.
That's what your music does, it brings this confidence level, whether you're in Haiti, New York or Florida, we're gonna listen to it. Have you ever reached out to music as an outlet to help you through something?
One of my outlets is writing, which leads to it becoming a song. I'm a very emotional person so one of the things I do is write. When I hear something, when I get different ideas and different vibes I write down my feelings. Writing down the things that I'm experiencing in my life and those are literally like what the songs that I put out are, just different things that I've been through.
So where do you see yourself in 5 years as you continue to experience life?
I want to release more, hopefully three or four projects out by then. I also want to collaborate with more artists and just bring awareness into the LGBT community. I feel like a lot of us are subjected into some type of category which is not good at all. Since "Timezone" is my 1st project I really wanted it to focus on that fact that anyone can listen to it. Even a straight man doesn't have to feel uncomfortable. I want my music to make everyone comfortable...Gay, straight, lesbian ya know and I really want to move to California. Fingers cross that happens because my goal is just when people thing on Branly, I want them to think not just a gay artist but an artist that was open, lit, that just boosted people confidence whenever you're going through something.
Speaking of more projects, what else can we look forward to coming from you?
GIRL..We got music videos coming out, the album and we got more singles coming out. Actually after I finish this project, I'm thinking about a deluxe addition for "Timezone". Maybe 5 extra songs like a part 2. We also got behind the scene footage for "Timezone" and the music video is suppose to come out next week.We're praying that it comes out Friday and "Licky Lick" music video is coming out too!
Thats great ! So to wrapping things up. As an artist, what advice do you have for anybody who's afraid to come out ?
Coming from my experience, you gotta love yourself first. Just find some type of way to make yourself happy. I know a lot of people they dwell on negativity but just keep remaining yourself, I'm here for a reason whether you believe it or not. Everyone is here for a purpose and you just got to stay focus. Do what it do GIRL and keep it moving. Don't let anyone hold you back...ever. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, anxiety, depression just know you can get out of it. Be you.
For those who want to connect with you, where can we find everything Branly ?
You can find me on Instagram @IamBranly. If you want to listen to my music just go on Apple Music, Soundcloud, Spotify or DJ Pool - just type in Branly. You'll see me in my nice red outfit. Also I'm on Youtube @Branly and all of my videos will come up. Facebook @IamBranly and Twitter @Branly_B.
I just really appreciate you giving me the opportunity just to be here and showcase my album coming up. Thank you so much.