Washington singer BrandiWyne has honed a catchy bluesy pop-rock sound with which she strives to tell a story while being “melodic and evolving.”
The band is led by singer Christine McDonald, who was born in Port Charlotte, Florida, but grew up in a family that moved around a lot between there and Ohio. As she tells us: “I ended up attending six different high schools moving back and forth between the two states. The benefit was that I had a lot of music teachers and made great friends! It also gave me exposure to many styles of music.”
Now based in Issaquah, Washington, Christine tells us she’s sung in many bands through the years, some of which make original music and others are cover or wedding bands – like her other current band Jet City.
On her musical upbringing, Christine tells us: “I first learned to sing when I was very young and living in Cleveland, Ohio. I used to sneak out of my home and meet my friend Anthony who lived two doors down. There were a group of guys that would meet by the park near our home to sing together. To this day, I’m not sure if they were a band or just having fun.
“Anthony and I would hide and watch/listen. To me they were the coolest people ever! One day they caught us, but instead of being mad they asked us to join in! That really was the start of my passion for music and singing. They showed us a lot about harmonies and what it was to “feel” what you sing. Anthony and I still talk about how much we learned from them.
As she grew up, her father was the frontman in local bands. As she explains: “Being on stage with him was my first time I got to ‘perform.’ I loved watching the crowd’s reactions when anyone would sing and seeing that is still my favorite part of performing. Many performances followed as well as joining my first originals band The Scrapes.
“They taught me the building blocks to recording your own music. We performed fairly well but sadly only got to release one CD. My music was put “on hold” while I got married and had a family.It was an itch that wouldnt go away, however and I continued to write songs in my free time. I’m happy to finally be finishing what I started!”
Our latest taste of this is debut EP Split Personality, which opens up with Return To Sender. It opens up with a light guitar lick that continues under engaging vocals “Yesterday is gone and forever is over.” Heavier guitars kick in under more powerful vocals in the catchy chorus of “And I wish I could return to sender, Take my wish back from the start, And remind myself, Forget to remember, Erase you from my heart, Return to sender.”
A more upbeat second verse follows with stabbing guitars, then palm-muted guitars build up to another big chorus. It gets heavier after the second chorus, then drops down into light high-pitched version of the chorus vocals, which builds up to a rocky ending. Check it out below:
Also on the EP is the more laid-back To Be Known, which features delicious vocals and a cool little guitar solo. Check it out below:
The BrandiWyne sound is a blend of rock, blues and pop, inspired by a wide range of influences from Pink, Alicia Keys, Evanescence and Etta James through to earlier Metallica, Kiss and The Grateful Dead.
But one singer stands out, as she tells us: “My all time favorite artist is Aretha Franklin. I grew up trying to simulate her singing style.To me, she was what I wanted to be as a singer.
“Aretha and Pink have honestly been my strongest musical influences. I admire their honesty, emotion and dedication while almost ‘reliving’ their songs so others can truly feel what they are singing. They both hold a style all their own, and stand by it-no matter what.”
On what inspires her music, Christine tells us: “My songwriting is influenced by the world around me and those that I collaborate with. When you feel something that you, or a friend, has been through… the words just come. My first release To Be Known was a collaboration with my sister, Rosa Hardin. Since the song was about something we both shared in life, it was a clear collaboration.
“It can be hard and painful to show that kind of vulnerability in music. Knowing that it may help someone else to either understand what it’s like, or let others know they aren’t alone makes it worth it. My goal with any song is to reach people and help if I can.”
BrandiWyne is currently recording the music video for Return To Sender and hopes to be releasing her latest single, which features local artist Nolan Saylor, in the next few months.
On what to expect, she tells us: “My lyrics tend to be more serious in nature… even if they are upbeat. While there is nothing wrong with that, I feel that it has taken the focus away from the musicality and what made the songs relatable and memorable. The stories that the songs represent.
“I also love eerie, haunting, melodies that stick in your head. You can look forward to seeing some of that in future songs!”