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From afar, the life of a musician appears to be carefree. They aren’t wasting hours of their day on a commute to a soulless job where from the minute they punch in to the minute they punch out they are at the beck and call of a brainless middle manager. OK, that may be a very specific example, but what we’re saying is that most of us think the life of a musician is an easygoing existence. Perhaps this is true of some rappers, but in the case of Brennan Savage, we couldn’t possibly be more mistaken.

Savage may not have the commute or the brain-dead boss, but he is constantly grinding. There is no off time for Savage as song ideas constantly percolate inside his head, compelling him to get in the studio every single night.

Photos by Bryam Heredia

Photos by Bryam Heredia

“I write five songs a day,” Savage says. “Some of them still need to be executed perfectly, it has to come together. There’s plenty of songs written on my phone that haven’t been used. And there’s a lot of songs that I’ve recorded that will never go anywhere. I don’t like to go back and change things, so if it works it works, if it doesn’t it doesn’t. Move on to the next.”

The old cliché in writing is that you can’t be afraid to kill your darlings—meaning that you sometimes have to cut things you love for the good of the piece—but Savage takes it to a new level. He is truly sadistic in the number of potential hits he axes with no desire to ever revisit them.

While he has always been a prolific writer, spending time in lockdown with absolutely nothing else to do only increased his creativity. His home studio was always sitting there, ready for Savage should he want to lay some tracks down.

“[The pandemic] definitely forced me to write more and be more creative,” he says, “but I don’t think it really changed anything. My songwriting is always changing just based on life. I’ll listen to older songs and think, ‘What was I thinking?’”

Currently, Savage is working on the follow-up to 2021’s “DARKROOM.” Considering it was released a matter of months—not years—ago, this is a further testament to the rapper’s continual commitment to the grind. The album is still very much a work in progress, but from what he’s shared so far, it should be a soundtrack indicative of the times.

“A lot of it is pretty typical to what I do vibe-wise,” Savage says of the yet to be finished album. “A lot of dark melodies, a lot of minor chord progressions, stuff like that. It’s extremely evolved in the sense that I’ve put a shitload more work into this than I have ever put into anything. The newest stuff you try your hardest on, hopefully my fans will feel the same.

“COVID definitely pushed my work ethic to new limits,” he continues. “I tried a lot of different shit I wouldn’t normally do because now it’s normal for me to be in the studio every day.”

Photos by Bryam Heredia

Photos by Bryam Heredia

Savage may say he’s in the studio every day, but what he really means is every night. His studio sessions tend to not even start until around midnight and often run until dawn or beyond. Recording during the day just doesn’t work for him.

Part of the allure of Savage’s unique take on emo rap is his breadth of style. As a music fan, Savage mostly listens to entire projects in a sitting as opposed to picking out a couple of tracks for a playlist and moving on. Albums should have ebbs and flows to them; every song can’t be going full-bore.

“I have a mixture of stuff on it,” he explains. “Some of my newer album is more hype, like, show songs. I love to make those types of songs, but I also really enjoy writing emotional ballads that people can really connect to.”

Photos by Bryam Heredia

Photos by Bryam Heredia

The diversity of Savage’s influences reflect this mindset. Aside from his dear friend Lil Peep and the scene he built, Savage was heavily influenced by classic rock and folk music. His father listened to a ton of Bob Dylan and Elton John, which significantly shaped his son’s musical tastes. “I’ve listened to a lot of country and folk, that’s probably what mainly inspires my lyrics,” Savage says. “The storytelling aspect of folk music is something I bring into my lyrics on my emotional stuff.”

In addition to hearing touches of Dylan and John in Savage’s songs, you’ll find portraits of them in his tattoo collection. Take one look at Savage’s extensive collection of black-and-grey portraiture and it all starts to make sense—he quite literally wears his inspiration on his sleeves. In his tattoos you’ll find portraits of Lil Peep, Jim Morrison, Sting, Anthony Kiedis, Anthony Bourdain, Quentin Tarantino, Andy Warhol and Beethoven nestled in alongside portraits of his grandmother and a cousin who passed away.

“It’s all people who inspire me. Some are memorial tats, obviously,” he says. “I just love the way portraits look too. There’s nothing more impressive than a beautiful portrait tattoo. It was shocking when I saw [the work of Casiano Torres, Savage’s go-to artist]. I was like, ‘Holy shit. I want that.’”

Savage has developed a strong friendship with Torres as they’ve worked together on many different tattoos, trusting him with all of his most important work. There’s only one other artist Savage will put complete trust in—himself. He recently shared a photo of a marijuana leaf tattoo that he did on his own leg and, to be completely honest, it’s not half bad. The colors are saturated nicely and it actually looks like what it’s supposed to be, which, when talking about home tattoos, is quite the feat.

“Whenever I get tattooed I like to watch very closely and I’ve had a lot of time in that chair,” he says. “I always ask questions and my artist has given me a bunch of tips. I know how to do it. Obviously, I can’t execute it properly yet, but I’ll get there.”

Knowing what we do of Savage’s work ethic, we wouldn’t be surprised if we were featuring him in our Scene section in a couple of years. Until then, he’ll keep on doing what’s gotten him this far—putting everything he has into his music.

Photos by Bryam Heredia

Photos by Bryam Heredia