The October edition of The Rant Monthly features musicians who “cut their teeth” in Sanford before going on to bigger things. Get a copy to learn about other artists like Black Sheep, Floyd Council, Taylor Phillips and Youth League.
Thursday: Aslan Freeman | Friday: Britton Buchanan
Saturday: Faith Bardill | Sunday: Stephen Brewer
After the cameras stopped rolling on his life-changing run on the Voice — after the hugs with his new mentor Alicia Keys and his family — Britton Buchanan was whisked away to a small office a few hundred feet away from the stage and studio where he’d reached millions during a nearly four-month run and seated on a couch to talk to a therapist.
Are you good? Are you going to be alright?
“I told them, ‘Yeah. I’m fine,” Buchanan recalls in a Zoom call from his Los Angeles apartment nearly two and a half years later. “I’m going to be alright.”
Seven months into a global pandemic that has all but devastated musicians who rely on paying gigs in front of large crowds to make a living, Buchanan is more than alright.
In fact, he’s giddy.
His long-promised debut album — much different than the one he recorded and scrapped just months after his appearance on the NBC reality show — is set for an early 2021 release. And this month will re-introduce a revamped song, “October Queen,” and an accompanying video featuring some of the biggest horror genre, B-movie stars (such as the guy who played Jason in multiple Friday the 13th movies, genre legend Joe Bob Briggs and more) the West Coast has to offer.
While it’s a label he’s proud of, Buchanan is ready to become more than “Voice finalist.” The coming months, he feels, will determine if that’s going to happen any time soon.
“I’m at the very beginning of my career,” he says. “I look at The Voice as pre-career. You go on this show, and it sets you up for your career. The idea for 2020 was to go on tour with [bigger acts] and get a bunch of new music out — promote, publicize and play. Build a fan base and drive sales and streams. That’s usually how you break an artist, but that plan is out of the window for the foreseeable future. I don’t see big concerts returning until 2022, if we’re lucky.”
The challenge, Buchanan says, is figuring out how to “adapt and make yourself unique and do things differently to get people to look at you.”
He’s working to set himself apart, and he’s confident in the man helping him make that happen.
Producer Derek Furhmann — who penned American Idol winner Phillip Phillips’ second single, “Gone, Gone, Gone” and has worked with artists like the Grace VanderWaal and Jason Mraz — collaborated with Buchanan on his single, “Cross My Mind,” released in January, and is co-writing a lot of music for Buchanan’s upcoming album and EP.
Buchanan realizes he’s promised an album before. Just weeks after his Voice run, he was in the studio with the show’s band recording songs he’d been writing since he was 16. He had a full album at the ready within a month, ready to strike while the iron was still hot.
“It went exactly the way I wanted it to go,” Buchanan says. “I loved the way it turned out, and so we decided to look for a manager.”
That manager told Buchanan that his songs were great, but that he didn’t get the same “feeling” from the album that he did when he saw the young man perform. In short, he told Buchanan that his album wasn’t good enough.
“It’s hard to hurt my feelings. I don’t believe that I’m always right, nor do I think that I always do things the best way, even if I’m the one writing the songs,” he says. “Maybe I did get it wrong. So you think it would have stung a little bit, but I saw it as, like, now I have a chance to go back and make it right. I look at a song like “Juliet’s Lullaby,” which we released this February, and it was a song we originally recorded in those early sessions. We re-recorded it this year, and I think we got it right the second time.”
The album that will see the light of day will be a long-time coming — two years can seem like an eternity in the music industry. But his post-Voice experience hasn’t been without its big moments.
Buchanan toured with YouTube megastars and Harnett County natives Rhett and Link (Link Neal is his cousin) and opened for them during their Mythical tour in 2019. In June of 2018, he sold out multiple shows at Temple Theatre in Sanford — the site of his first performances in front of a crowd while a member of the Temple Teens.
When presented with the idea that his demeanor in those shows was akin to Andy Kauffman’s childlike giddiness when he played Carnegie Hall in 1980 (as portrayed by Jim Carrey in the film “Man on the Moon”), Buchanan embraced the correlation.
“Most people who know me know I have a very low self esteem, and I’m usually really shocked — and I keep getting more shocked as time goes by — when people pay attention to what I’m doing, come see me play or tell me they like my music,” he says. “I was definitely having the time of my life during those shows, and it meant a lot to me because that’s where I got my start. Fifth grade. The Jungle Book.
“I hope I can draw more correlations between my life and Andy Kauffman’s some day.”
— by Billy Liggett