Richie Branson knows how to tell stories He tells them with music, and they’re told from the perspective of characters as varied as zombies and mech pilots. He’s written songs that sing tales from just about every point of view except one. His own perspective has been curiously absent from the pantheon of characters who populate his music. Now he’s about to remedy that omission with From the Underground to the Stars, his first full-length studio album and the subject of his first Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign.
Accompanying the album is a pocketbook with motivational thoughts that he’s written over the years. The thoughts, some of which are posted on his Facebook page, make a cool companion piece to the music. But those thoughts from the underground are part of Branson’s excavation of himself from the depression and anxiety that he’s dealt with for years. Branson calls it “drilling yourself out of the darkness,” a theme that resonates with his own life and also with the song that he released in 2012 that was inspired by Gurren Lagann, one of his favorite anime series. The song title, From the Underground to the Stars held so much meaning for him that making it the title for his album seemed like the obvious next step, because for Branson, the art of creating rap songs that are inspired by anime video games is a multimedia form of inspiration.
Branson credits fans with making the difference in his professional success. Their support opened up his opportunities to share his music; he’s gone on a national tour, written songs for Toonami, composed music for video games, and watched as his Facebook philosophy went viral. Of his fans’ role in his creative advances, Branson affirms: “I am absolutely sure that none of those things would have everhappened without you.”
His most creative project yet is his current one. His motivation for the crowdfunding campaign is to deliver the positivity that can help others who, like Branson, have been buried alive in the darkness underground. His slogan for his album and books is to “believe in the me that believes in you” and to speak those words into the heart of every listener. Branson confesses that he’s nervous about making the video. “I hope,” he tells his backers, “that with your support, everything will be as magnificent as it is in my head.”
In addition to the album and pocketbook, he’ll release the first in a series of concept EPS that are based on his favorite pop culture influences; the first is the Mobile Suit Gundam-based Spacenoids EP.
Branson’s own talent is a key component to the success of the project, which has already exceeded its original $7000 goal with more than two weeks remaining until the campaign deadline. In addition to his musical talent (he’s worked with Adult Swim, Def Jam, and Sony among others) he brings a wealth of nonmusical skills to the project, including web design, marketing and public relations experience. He also brings a less tangible skill to the project: he brings his knowledge of the darkness and his ability to drill his way out of it.