Speaking from his home in New York, Brian would strike you as a relaxed guy. As he humbly relates his numerous accomplishments without any hint of bravado, including the recent success of his track “Are You Listening” in Europe, he’s more resolute than ever to make sure as many people as possible hear his music. Picking up the vibes from positively hopeless cases from the darkest places, he creates a sound uniquely his own - pop-infused rock mixed with a voice that is reminiscent of the late Jim Croce.
Brian grew up in the northern Florida panhandle and was raised on a diet of 90's alt rock and 70's folk music. From a very early age, the youngest of three had an ear for music. His grandmother played piano, sitting in at local clubs, and his mother dabbled in song writing. There was nothing Brian liked more than music. “I used to ‘steal’ albums from my brothers and parents. I remember listening to Queen’s “Night at the Opera” over and over and over. I never got sick of it, never got sick of listening to the radio or hearing new music. I liked everything, it didn’t matter what it was as long as the musicians played instruments!”
While schoolwork didn’t really grab Brian, the attention he got from being good at music did. “When I was 7, my music teacher asked me to sing the 'Star Spangled Banner' for the class. Everyone was so complimentary that it left me inspired and confident. I then went on to sing in church, plays and the school choir.” Having learned piano from his grandmother, and guitar from just a few lessons, Brian was really eager to challenge himself by playing music he heard on the radio rather than what was assigned during lessons. “I would find excuses to stay home from school so I could sit in my room and play the guitar. Something inside me was confident that I was on the right path. I didn’t follow the road that I was encouraged to take, but at the same time, the direction I was heading in felt natural to me.”
Brian tooled around with some bands in Florida, where he admits the warm weather and party atmosphere made it easy to score gigs. Wanting to experience four seasons, he moved around the country and lived in a Volvo 240 wagon – washing dishes by day, bar gigging by night. He landed in New York, where he continued to play in bands until he had an epiphany: “It dawned on me that I would be better off –and would grow more as an artist – if I wrote my own songs and composed my own music. I wanted to live to my full potential and felt like being a solo artist was the best way for me to do that.”
That fateful decision opened many doors for Brian, some leading to great things, some leading to frustration, but always ending with a learning experience that helped him develop. One of the first in a series of steps to improve came when Brian flew to Nashville for a meeting with producer Sam Ashworth (The Civil Wars, Switchfoot, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith), where they recorded “Painted Red.” This track ended up on Brian’s first EP, Feng Shui for Slobs (whose title came from his landlady who wanted Brian’s small 1-bedroom apartment to have “feng-shui”), and became Brian’s very first commercial placement, turning up on the Disney Channel’s Naturally Sadie.
His second EP, Brian Mackey Red, was a very different period all together. Brian was in a management contract with a successful producer, and although he flew Brian to Los Angeles to work with a lot of well-known musicians, Brian was ultimately unhappy with the music. He returned to Nashville, recording Honest Love, his third EP. It’s been described by Brian as “My breaking away album, my independence flag; I made the EP with my own money and did it exactly the way I wanted it.” The title track, “Honest Love,” as well songs “Color Blue,” and “Out on the Road,” have garnered features in TV, Film, and National and International Branding Campaigns. A few among them are CMT Edge, A&E, Lifetime, Travel Channel, Arla Foods Demark, Unicef UK and Rebel One Pictures.
In 2015, Brian released his first full-length album Broken Heartstrings, a collection of pop infused American folk-rock, also in Nashville. The music took him through a very personal journey, spurred by loss and then renewal and signified a new beginning for Brian. He assembled a talented team: Producer Sam Ashworth, Engineer Richie Biggs (Tom Petty, The Civil Wars), bassist Mark Hill (Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban) and guitarist Jeff King, (Reba McEntyre).
Broken Heartstrings yielded the single, “Are You Listening,” which, after being featured on YouTube by gamer Gronkh about the PlayStation 4 game Until Dawn, became a runaway hit in Germany. The song peaked at #8 on the A/C Radio Charts in the US, charted on German iTunes, was on the ‘100 Most Sold’ chart on Amazon Germany, had over 400k streams on Spotify and resulted in sold out shows throughout the country. Another single, “America,” was used in an Armagosa Conservancy commercial supporting the non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the Amargosa River in California.
He returned to Germany in May of 2016, debuting in the UK, and toured with Camplified in July and August around the Northeast region. He is currently recording his next release in Los Angeles with Jon Levine (Rachel Platten, Andy Grammer), due to release early 2017.