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SHEI Magazine is a University of Michigan student-run fashion, art, and pop culture publication. Everything from the photography, writing, modeling, editing, and publicity of our bi-yearly print publications and monthly digital mini is created by students who attend the University of Michigan. Founded in 1999, SHEI Magazine continues to produce issues of professional quality, as well as provide real-world experience to students interested in journalism, publishing, and the fashion industries.

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Album Review and Interview: Brian Doherty's "Short Stories"

Carly Griffin

Running low on new music? Thankfully, you’re in luck. Today, artist Brian Doherty has released his first album, Short Stories. Brian is a local Chicago performer whose music is a sort of folk-indie breed; think Of Monsters and Men crossed with The Lumineers. Listening to his performances, it's obvious that his songs are totally from the heart, too. It’s impossible not to fall in love with at least one of his acoustic numbers. Every song on the album is well worth a listen, but "Whiskey and Wine" and "This One’s For You" are both unbeatable tracks. The upbeat tempo and relatable lyrics of "Whiskey and Wine" guarantee that this song will be a surefire hit. It’s one of those songs where you’ll find yourself scribbling the song lyrics on post-it notes and hanging them around your room. "This One’s For You," on the other hand, could easily be described as pure bliss bottled into a little over five minutes.

The excitement for Doherty’s album release shot through the roof when SHEI was given the opportunity to sit down with the singer-songwriter and talk about his career and album.

How did you get your start as a musician?

In the beginning, in third grade, I kind of didn’t pay attention a lot in class. So it was suggested that I pick up a music instrument. I ended up taking drum lessons, and I just, I kept it up and I kind of fell in love with music.

So when did you start performing live?

I didn’t start playing guitar until I was a sophomore in high school and I pretty much never sang in front of people, and when I did, it was embarrassing. It took me until a school retreat my senior year to actually play in front of people and be comfortable with it. I guess I realized I wasn’t actually half bad. One of my first fans ever was my friend Tina. We were out at a lakehouse on a trip and the people there were around a bonfire, and I just played music. They were just like, “Oh my god, you’re like ten times better than you used to be!” So I named my first band and EP after her, called Tina’s Flannel. But a year and a half ago, I started writing my own music, and I guess that’s where I’m at now.

What is your inspiration for your music?

It depends. A lot of my writing is based on internal thought, I guess. I think about the lyrics and what I’m trying to say. I try to get exactly what I portrayed in my head out. I do write about the people in my life; I write about inner thoughts and feelings that people can connect with. But what I really think about when I’m writing is what the emotion is of each song and what I’m trying to convey to people, or what I’m trying to make them feel.

What is your favorite song on the album?

I like "Lucy" a lot. It’s probably the only fictional song on the album, and it’s the first track on there. I like the way the verse and the guitars work. I don’t know, I put a lot of effort into creating a story about two people who were in a situation, but different parts of it. The song is kind of about cheating, or staying in relationships with people you shouldn’t. It kind of tells two different sides of the story, so you kind of feel the guilt and frustration from both sides.

The name of your album is Short Stories. What’s the story behind that?

I think it just goes back to how I write. Most of the songs on there tell a story, whether it is personal or otherwise. They’re quick, you know? They’re not large parts of my life, they’re just snippets. They aren’t large encompassing parts of my life, they’re just things that happened. So I guess that’s what “Short Stories” stands for.

What are your plans now that your album is out?

Getting gigs would be nice! I’ve just got to focus on marketing myself and trying to get on tour. I guess that’s the whole process of the album, or getting out there for the first time. It’s all about taking a leap, or getting the confidence to talk the leap. That’s what music’s all about.

So if you got to tour with anyone who would it be?

Blind Pilot, without a doubt. They were my favorite band in high school. I remember the first time I listened to them I was like, “Wow, these guys are so chill!” And I decided that that’s how I wanted to make music. I wanted to sound like them. It’s so minimalistic but well thought out and everything. Everything about it is so smooth. That’s who I look up to, so if I could be in a show with them that would be amazing.

Obviously this has taken a lot of time to get the album together. Who has been your number one support through it all?

My sister and my family have been pretty supportive about my music. They’re more proud of it than I am! My family has been really supportive about my career choice, they believe in me a lot. But my sister specifically, she anchors me a lot.

Any embarrassing performance stories?

Oh I don’t know…it wasn’t an official performance or anything. I was in a friend’s garage playing “Whiskey and Wine,” and one of the girls there had a lot of feelings toward the song, I guess. She proceeded to walk up to me and started crying on my shoulder, whisper-crying the lyrics into my ear. I guess that was the point where I said to myself, “I think I write a little bit too dark. Yep, my music is too dark.”

How would you describe your music in five words?

Thoughtful, relaxing, acoustic, heartfelt, and uh…oh man this is hard…can you write the fifth one for me?

Do you have any traditions you do every time you perform?

I guess I’m not one for tradition. I always go through the same phases, though. I always get kind of nervous, right before I start playing. But then something clicks and I’m ready to go. You always want and need that feeling of anxiety you get before playing, because if you don’t have that, then you’re not passionate about what you do. It’s good to have that, I like that I have that, because it means I care about what I’m doing. It means I care about my music, but it mainly means I care about my audience.

 

You can find Short Stories in a multitude of avenues. It is now for sale on iTunes, but can also be purchased at bandcamp.com for a price cut. But the best part for every broke college student out there? Brian has also put his album on Spotify. That means there are no excuses; go check out his album and prepare to fall in love!