Daniel Breland (MSB ’17) hails from a musical household in Burlington, N. J. Both of his parents are singers, andBreland started his musical career as a background vocalist during his older sister Gianya’s living room concerts for their family and family friends.
“I was so embarrassed about it, but eventually I started to enjoy it, and we started to make songs together,” Brelandsaid.
He proceeded to sing with both his church and school choirs and began songwriting at the age of 14. At the time,Breland played the drums but was unable to play any other instruments, so he turned to his boarding school roommate, Nathan Tempro. Tempro was experimenting with making beats on his computer, and Breland would then rap or sing their lyrics over these rhythms. Brelandbegan posting videos on YouTube that ranged from webcam videos of himself soloing a cappella,to original songs produced and recorded in a studio and covers recorded in his basement at home. He now boasts more than 13,500 subscribers and nearly 1,500,000 views in the past three years. Some of his original songs, “Unaware,” “Without You” and “Entropy,” can be found on SoundCloud.
Breland was one of only 48 students accepted to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts’ Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, but he chose to attend Georgetown to earn an undergraduate business degree.
“I would love to get involved with a record label, maybe even start my own. It’s definitely a dream of mine,” Breland said. He already has experience working with a label, having written several songs for Atlantic Records. He hopes to further that relationship in the future by continuing to write for them this summer.
At Georgetown, Breland is a member of the coed a cappella group, the Georgetown Phantoms, and has learned valuable lessons from his experience in the group.
“I think it’s training me to learn the musicality of how everything comes together. Everyone is equally important, and I think it’s really important as an artist to be able to appreciate the other things that are going on in a song besides the lead vocalist,” Breland said.
He has been working on a variety of projects that have included more harmonies and a stronger a cappella-like presence.
Breland continues to make music amid his busy schedule and has been working with two of his good friends as his producers.
“I’ve been kind of working in the R&B, pop and hip hop genres. I like to have some jazz fusion when I can, and we’re working on a mixtape I will hopefully be releasing around spring break,” Breland said.
Breland’s soulful voice lends itself well to this style of music and makes it hard to believe he was ever a shy little kid singing behind his sister.
“I get stage fright before I go on, but once I get up there it disappears. I like to have a good time, and I try not to psych myself out too much,” Breland said. He has yet to perform any of his original music on campus but has been collaborating with other Georgetown musicians to write new songs and film new videos.
Although he specializes in a genre of music that can often be explicit, Breland strives to keep his music clean.
“I think that there are some little kids that could one day look up to me, and I don’t want to be feeding them information or lyrics that are negative or inappropriate,” Breland said. “I think there are too many artists out there doing that, and, granted, they are just expressing themselves and I respect that, but I think for me, I’m just going to stick true to being clean.”