Meet Brian Chinn, a multitalented musician who always brings an essence of mystery to his music that’s guaranteed to intrigue listeners.
Starting with classical and blues guitar as a kid, Brian Chinn has since let his curiosity and persistence drive him to become the guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer, and engineer that he is today. In May, Brian released his newest single “Reckless,” paired with a video that is as equally mesmerizing as the chorus. We’re so excited that we got the chance to interview him and learn more about his influences, identity, creative processes and plans for the future.
Can you tell me about your background? How did you first get into music?
Guitar was my intro to the game, I began learning classical and blues when I was around seven years old, and then branched out to explore jazz and other styles. I hated formal lessons at the time, but looking back, they gave me a foundation—not just for playing music, but for composing and arranging it.
You’re a singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer, and engineer. What prompted you to develop your skills in all of those areas? Is there one role that you love most?
I wouldn’t say that my skillset is based on anything other than curiosity and persistence. When I started songwriting, it was because I wanted to add layers and narratives to my production. When I got more invested in engineering and mixing, it was because I needed my vocals and instrumentation to hit harder. I’ve always taken a hands-on approach. I don’t have a favorite role; I just do what needs to be done.
You started off as a member of several rock bands. How did you shift your music to what it’s become today?
Being in bands helped shape my sense for balance and dynamics. I was the lead guitar player, but being a good one meant knowing when to take the lead and when to fall all the way back. When I started writing and producing my own songs, I used the same mentality to let different elements get their shine and make each section as big or small as it needed to be. It took some getting used to, and I’m still pushing myself to explore the extremes of minimalism and maximalism.
At Tapped Brooklyn, we love speaking with local artists and understanding how their city has shaped their artistry. You were born in Korea and raised in Seattle. Have those places shaped your music?
Aside from the musical history and community—which are definitely influences as well—I feel like being surrounded by the ocean has got to have some effect on creativity. There’s always some level of darkness and mystery in my songs, whether it’s through the music or the lyrics. Even in the happier, more upbeat songs, I end up balancing the sweetness with some drama.
You’ve been in New York for the last 5 years. How has it influenced your work?
Living and creating in New York has taught me to move quicker and be less precious about my work. End of statement.
You’ve cited B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix as some of your artistic influences growing up. Who are some of the artists that you look to for inspiration today?
I’m drawn to artists and bands that are leading with unique creative direction, or ones that take an idea that might’ve previously been considered “wrong” and turn it into something undeniable. Lately, I’ve been into Dua Saleh, Paris Texas, Babyxsosa, and Audrey Nuna.
What’s your typical process for creating music? How do you think about the visual art that you incorporate?
In the past, I’d just sit down and strum chords or tap some sounds out until they felt like a beat. I’d probably go into it with a loose melody or structure in mind, but the process looked more like a jam session than producing. Once I started becoming more intentional with the concepts and themes, everything came together more quickly—including the visuals and marketing. I try to define the “big picture” for whatever I’m working on, and then work backwards from that to create what that story looks and sounds like.
You just released your new single Reckless along with a music video a week later. Can you tell us more about the new song?
I wanted ‘Reckless’ to feel like a dream. Not like a sweet one, but not like a nightmare either—more like a fever dream, I guess. Or, even a hallucination. When I was writing the song, I was thinking about some of the wilder experiences that I’ve had on the road; running around getting into intense situations while being aggressively sleep-deprived. Sometimes when you cross that threshold for how much stress your mind and body can take, it sort of hits you how I imagine hypothermia would. That feeling of slipping into an altered state was the jumping-off point for ‘Reckless,’ and it definitely comes through in the music video.
You’ve already started off 2021 strong with Reckless. Is there anything else that we should expect this year?
I’m going to keep rolling out a few more surprises for ‘Reckless,’ and then direct my energy into a string of other singles—plus, some projects I’ve been working on with other artists and producers. I’m excited about the collaborations because they’ve pushed me towards new styles, with more RnB and pop undertones.
What’s something that you want the people reading this to know?
Honestly, I feel like we’ve all got plenty to think about. If you’ve made it this far, just know that I appreciate your time and attention.
What are the best ways that we can support you?
The easiest ways to support, would be to stream ‘Reckless’ or watch the music video. The next level would be following on Instagram or Spotify. For direct updates when I release new content or announce upcoming shows, join the newsletter so we can stay in touch.
Check out our latest Instagram post on him here: