Five songwriters from Minnesota State University, Mankato presented their original works at the Songwriter Showcase on Oct. 25 in the Halling Recital Hall in the Earley Center for Performing Arts.
The showcase featured Anastasia Ellis, Alec Maertens, Brandon Weideman, Selma Wedberg and Matthew Ruff. They each performed two of their own pieces.
Brandon Weideman, who goes by “Brandon and the Clubs,” is a junior music industry major at MNSU. This was Weideman’s first solo performance, and he was beyond pleased with the outcome.
“I thought it went really well, like, beyond my expectations,” Weideman said. “It was just amazing –I kept talking to my parents about this –how each one of the five artists that performed were so different. And I think that’s what kept people on their feet and really got them, like, interested in the show.”
The showcase also uniquely used the space of the stage, which, designed mainly for classical music, is usually bare.
“We had couches, we had lamps, we had lights hanging down, pianos and stuff. And like everyone had like little different things in their sets, so, it was just really different and unique, and it really showcased all of our different talents,” he said.
Four of the five artists who performed, including Weideman, are associated with MavHouse Records, the University’s student-run record label. The label celebrated this by recording the concert and is turning it into music and video content for the artists.
Weideman performed his songs “Love Club” and “Perfect Love Story” at the showcase. Because it was his debut, he wanted to make it perfect.
“I choreographed my own dance, I worked on it with friends, I spent hours and hours just practicing over and over. I also worked on getting the production for the live version of the song perfect. So, a lot of work with that one,” he said.
For “Perfect Love Story” he worked with fellow songwriter Selma Wedberg who was featured on guitar.
“And then for my whole set I had, like, makeup and stuff so I had to make sure I didn’t screw that up,” he joked. “I did put a lot of work into and I think it really showed.”
While this was the debut of “Brandon and the Clubs,” Weideman is no stranger to performing. He has sung with the acapella group Maverick Vocal Precision for almost three years.
He explained that, while he used to get nervous before shows, he has grown accustomed to performing now, and is especially comfortable performing his own music. But he admits it still sometimes happens.
“You just tell yourself: ‘You just got to keep going,’ you know? Like, take a deep breath. And then I just go for it. Still nervous, but you know,” he laughed.
Weideman has been writing songs since age eight. During a summer class on making CDs at his local middle school, he wrote and recorded a song about his two dogs titled “The Best Dogs in the World.”
Whether it’s from a melody, a chord progression or inspired by life, the Prior Lake native writes energetic pop melodies that will make anyone get up and dance, then leave them humming the tunes for the rest of the week.
“So, ‘Love Club,’” Weideman said, “I wrote it last year, last October, and I was just sitting in my bed. And it’s not like something really, like, clicked and turned it on, but I was just thinking about love and life and how, like, ‘oh, Valentine’s Day was coming up,’ and I’d never, like, really been truly in love before and I just was feeling a little bit lonely.
“But then for some reason I was thinking about this other song in my head and, like, the melody came in where was like –‘cause I didn’t feel like I fit in, and I didn’t feel like I was loved, and so it was like, ‘if you don’t fit in / if you don’t feel loved / Welcome to The Love Club.’
“So, I pretty much wrote that song not just for myself but for anyone who might feel like they don’t fit in, or they don’t have love. But honestly the most important thing is that you love yourself. And that’s why the ‘Love Club,’ even if it’s not a certain place, it’s basically a place in your heart.”
While he draws from many places, Weideman is inspired by one artist in particular, and he is probably her biggest fan.
“Definitely Lady Gaga. She was kind of like my first inspiration from childhood, and she really got me into what pop music is,” said Weideman.
Like Lady Gaga, Weideman’s other influences are all strong, female artists, including Kesha, Marina and the Diamonds and Nicki Minaj. He loves the energy and imagery that these artists bring.
Finished with the showcase, Weideman plans to spend time in the studio and work on his five-song EP, which is coming out in the spring.
“We’ll definitely be doing some kind of event or something to sustain the release and the album,” he said. “I think I’m going to be starting a blog and do a blog for each song: just really tell the story of my EP and the message behind it.”
While still in its youth, one can’t help but notice the hard work and time that Weideman puts into his musical career. He truly loves music, and it’s hard not to see success in his future.
“I just want people to feel joy and be able to relate to it,” he said. “As much as music is meaningful and stuff, I think it really affects how you feel. And if I can make people feel like a good way about themselves, that’s just the best thing. So, I hope they get that out of it.”
Feature photo courtesy of Casidy Ann.