“Native Californian” is not a phrase you hear too often. The Golden State, much like my home state of Florida, is known more for importing than exporting when it comes to its population. I am a rare Native Floridian, and now I live in another state which singers Brandon Jenner and Leah Felder, AKA Brandon & Leah, have the more or less unusual pleasure of calling their native home.
Those of us who were born and raised in a “vacation state” obviously have a very different perspective on our surroundings. Brandon and Leah, natives of Malibu, see their little beach town a whole lot differently than most of us, the same way I see my hometown of Jupiter, Florida. They, like me, see a small town from their childhoods where everyone knew their neighbors and swimsuits were mandatory daily attire. You can wear flip-flops to the grocery store AND to church, and there’s constantly beach sand in your bathtub. I get it.
Just within their lifetimes, Brandon & Leah have seen their sleepy, beloved Malibu grow into something quite different, if not in actuality then certainly in the minds of outsiders. What do YOU think of when you think about Malibu? Stuffy rich people? Inaccessible private beaches? A general air of entitlement? Perhaps some of that IS true – it’s partly true in my home town as well – but Brandon & Leah know better, and their music is their way of reminding people of the reality, of evoking the breezy, summery, and (most importantly) tight-knit community where they grew up. And they do it perfectly!
Listening to their music, I get a perfect sense of the culture where they came from… probably because I came from a very similar one. I can just as easily apply their music to my East Coast home as their West Coast one.
We interviewed the musical couple at their Malibu studio, where they serenaded the pants off us, and conversation eventually came round to their music videos, of which they have 2 currently on YouTube. The first, “Life Happens”, is a simple collection of B-roll of the twosome living their lovely, lively, sun-soaked lives in the ‘Bu. I suppose the intention of the video is to make us appreciate what we have, but, quite honestly, it just makes me wish I had what THEY have! The other video, “Vaseline”, is a bit more theatrical. It centers around Leah, here seen as a saloon prostitute in the Old West. It’s a fitting aesthetic for the song, which has a distinct bluesy, country-and-western feel to it. It’s certainly a big step in a more creative direction for the duo, and I look forward to seeing (and hearing) more from them in the years to come!