Singer-songwriter EMAN8 (pronounced Emanate, meaning “Go Forth”) is no stranger to the music industry. From working with pop artists such as Bebe Rexha to Backstreet Boys, he’s a veteran at this point. Formerly known as Brandyn Burnette, EMAN8’s rebirth is a new journey for this inspiring artist.
EMAN8 released the music video for his song “Inspired” last week, and we spoke to him about the song, how he got his start and what he has in store for 2019.
The Young Folks: How did you get your start as an artist? When was your first big break?
EMAN8: I had recently just dropped out of a full-ride scholarship at NYU. I spent three weeks in Norway recording my first demos. A Norwegian guy then decided to take a risk on me and sign me to a publishing deal. Shortly after, he partnered with Sony ATV. So, at 19, I signed to Sony and shortly after that my music came across an A&R’s desk at Warner Bros. Records.
I got my first big break in 2012 when one of my songs was recorded by another artist and went straight to number one in Canada. I didn’t consider myself a songwriter until that moment.
TYF: You’ve been in the music industry for a while! With all your collabs and music you’ve released over the years, what are some things you learned about yourself or learned about the industry as a whole?
EMAN8: I’ve learned that you gotta have patience. But you also have to be willing to go for what you want. So it’s a balance between understanding the work that needs to be put in and diving right in. I’ve learned that it takes a lot more than just good music or a great song to break through. When I was signed to a major, they wouldn’t let me release music unless they were sure that I had a single, and a follow-up single, and the perfect artwork, etc. These things are definitely important, but I think the industry has shifted now. And for longevity, artists succeed best when they create their own world, build a team, and invest in their art.
TYF: Since you’ve worked with so many artists in the past, who is the one artist you’d love to work with again or work with for the very first time?
EMAN8: I would love to work with Jon Bellion again. He’s one of my mentors and just the kindest human being. I’ve watched him get bigger and bigger over the years and remain so humble. Jon was my first collaborative session out of college. We actually made an entire EP together that Warner ended up scrapping. He encouraged me to produce my own beats.
I’d love to work with this new artist named UPSAHL. I heard her song “Drugs” on new music Friday & legitimately played it for all my friends the next week. As a creative myself, it’s a good sign when you actually want to share something you’ve heard with people. I personally love working with brand new artists
TYF: You previously went by Brandyn Burnette. What motivated you to change your stage name to EMAN8?
EMAN8: Brandyn Burnette always felt like a stage name to me. My last name “Burnette” is actually my adoptive father’s last name. My mother got remarried when I was 4. When I turned 7 or 8, I changed my name to Burnette. EMAN8 comes from the Emanate, which is actually my natural born middle name. So in becoming EMAN8, I felt like it was more of a return to my roots than a rebrand.
TYF: With this new name and new branding, how do you envision the future of EMAN8? What will be different, what will be the same?
EMAN8: I’m very selective and protective of this project. I did a lot of electronic music features as Brandyn Burnette. And don’t get me wrong
— I love that style of music. But for EMAN8, there’s a clear narrative and story I’m trying to let people into. A lot of the inspiration for the sound came from my upbringing in the Midwest. I grew up in the church, which is why I love big choir type vocals and live musicians. I also have decided to trust my songwriting process a lot more.
Toward the very end of releasing music as Brandyn Burnette, I found myself falling in love with hip-hop music again. That was the first genre that I got really into. As soon as I started writing my verses more like raps instead of melodies, I opened up a whole different side of my headspace. I now currently have three albums in progress for this project.
TYF: Congrats on your release of “Inspired”! Can you tell us a bit how this song came to be?
EMAN8: I wrote this song with two other L.A.-based artists by the name of Molly Moore and Lizzy Land. Lizzy had just quit her job to pursue music full time, something that resonated pretty heavy with me. So we decided to write about that desire to be inspired.
TYF: Since your latest song is titled “Inspired”, what does inspire you to wake up every morning? Putting out new music?
EMAN8: My dog Little Dude. My girlfriend. My family. My newborn baby niece. Coffee! Meditation. Lush lo-fi, jazz vibes, and lo-fi beats on Spotify.
TYF: What’s in store for the future of EMAN8, at least for the rest of 2019?
EMAN8: A song nearly every month until my debut album drops. Nationwide tour. Worldwide tour. New features and collaborations. Maybe even a TV and film debut.