Mei Reclaims His Identity and Shares New Single “Rudimental” [Q&A]


As Mei was putting the finishing touches on his debut album, he had a realization. He needed to make a change. At the time, he was still making music under the artist moniker Brandt Orange but as he was finishing his album and contemplating on the nature of the body of work, the album was too personal and vulnerable for him to release it under an artist name. So he decided to reclaim his identity and go by his real name.

Metamorphosis complete, Mei is ready to start releasing new music. "Rudimental" was the final song he made for the album but the first one he chose to share. The song gives us a preview of his album and an intimate look at his inner thoughts. Explaining the concept behind "Rudimental," Mei shares,

It's about the transition from knowing every detail about a person's life to knowing nothing at all in one instant. There's a lot of inertia at play. At that point, I'm not sure you really care about the romance or the intimacy. You just want to know what they had for lunch. If they got their shirt back from the tailor, or how their meeting went. Losing that is hard to stomach."

Today, we have the exclusive premiere of Mei's brand new single "Rudimental" alongside and exclusive interview with him. Stream "Rudimental" and read the full interview below.

Ones To Watch: Rebranding is tough in music, what caused you to get rid of your artist name Brandt Orange and to use your real name Mei?

Mei: When I first started releasing music, I wanted a separation between my artist self and my personal self; a lot of it had to do with knowing what posture to assume in certain situations. If somebody called me Brandt, it gave me a sense of what to expect. In reality, it was really lack of confidence that made me want to take on a different persona. Brandt exuded the enigmatic qualities that I wish that I had, and he had stories under his belt that I thought were interesting and worth sharing. Because of that, all of my earlier songs are almost entirely made up stories. As this album started to come together, though, I realized that almost all of the songs were personal and real manifestations of my experiences, and it didn't feel right to tell them through some character that I made up. 

Is being Chinese-American a big influence on your music?

You know, I used to think that it wasn't. I literally just typed that it didn't influence me, and then deleted it haha. Growing up, we rarely had music playing in the house, much less music by Chinese artists. So in terms of musical influence, no not really. But, I think being raised in a Chinese family really influences how I handle relationships in my life, and that in and of itself harbors a lot of emotions that show up in my songwriting quite a bit.

Is there a big difference in the music you're now making as Mei?

Yeah I feel like the music I'm making has been evolving pretty rapidly for the past couple years or so. I still feel pretty new to the block when it comes to production and engineering, so a lot of this upcoming record was me cutting my teeth and learning as I go. I think I'm still in that phase where I'm able to learn a lot quickly, so naturally the music is going to change at a similar pace. That being said, I don't think that my music is different because of my name change. I think it's actually the opposite - I think my music evolving prompted the name change.

Tell us about "Rudimental"

It's about the whiplash you experience immediately after a breakup. You go from knowing everything about them to nothing at all in a single instance. That kind of inertia is shocking and confusing. It's been a couple days maybe, a week max, you haven't had enough time apart to truly miss the romance or intimacy yet. So, it's the little details about their life that you miss. All you want to know is what they had for lunch that day, if they got that suit back from the tailor, or how that important meeting went. That's what hurts the most.

What themes are you going to explore on your upcoming album?

To be honest, this record is just a reflection on my life in the past few years: lots of heartbreak, disillusionment, comments on race, religion, spirituality. It all boils down to rediscovering and reclaiming my identity for myself on my own terms. It's been a very transformative time. So, I feel like people will have different opinions on what they think the record is about based on what they're going through in their own life at the moment. I hope that everybody can find a little corner in this record that they can go to for some company.