If you haven’t heard of Bryan Estepa, now is the perfect time to get to know him and his music. The half-Filipino, half-Aussie indie pop artist has just released his latest EP Back To The Middle.
A rockstar of the burgeoning indie music scene in Australia, Bryan is regarded as “Sydney’s best-kept secret.” But it would be a disservice to the world to keep his music and his talent behind closed doors.
Bryan is all about pop melodies. His genre is alternative country and power pop, both of which have good hooks, driven by jangly guitar tunes—his signature sound. “I love rock and roll, that’s my bread and butter,” beams the Australia-based artist. His songs take you on an emotional high, and stick with you.
While he was growing up in Manila, his musical diet consisted of James Taylor, Bee Gees, and ABBA, among others. Listening to the greats of the ’60s and ’70s was one of Bryan’s most unforgettable childhood memories.
Bryan was born a musician. “Music has always been in my blood. My mom plays the guitar. Her side of the family is very musical,” intimates the acclaimed singer-songwriter, who is also a teacher by trade.
But the catalyst that made him so passionate about music is the sophisticated melodies and harmonies of one of the biggest English rock bands on the planet. “When I discovered The Beatles it was game over. That was it,” Bryan elaborates.
The influence of these icons is apparent in Bryan’s pieces. “That’s my roots [listening to the jingle song book]. I like all styles of music. I think, I am very eclectic. I always come back to just good pop music and pop melodies. These reinforce my sound,” he explains.
‘For the new EP, I want people to go out to the beach, I want people to enjoy it, listen to it while they drive, add it to their playlist, and generally feel it. At the end of the day you’re going to connect emotionally to music.’
As with any artist dealing with so much down time amid the pandemic, Bryan started to get a creative itch prompting the conception of the new mini-album. “We were in lockdown for a couple of weeks, close to two months, around April, last year. I just needed to play! Sydney opened up for a few weeks, so I got together with Josh Pike, one of the top performing artists here in Australia,” he says. From then on, the two worked together to develop the recently released six-track album Back To The Middle.
With “Back To The Middle,” the title track of the EP with the same name, Bryan goes back to doing what he likes: producing happy guitar pop melodies with lyrics that hit the heartstrings. “I just love the way the song builds. Australia is leading into summer. This is the music you want to hear during the summer period,” he says. True enough, the lively summer vibes bring to mind the image of sunny days, beautiful sceneries, and outdoor fun.
The second track, “Everything You Want,” is another feel-good song, at least melody-wise, with its late ’70s West Coast sound similar to the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, or Jackson Browne. It is Bryan’s modern take on the AM radio music he grew up loving. “It’s a very cathartic song. I think a lot of people will connect with it. It certainly connected with me,” he says.
“Josh Pike is amazing. I came to him with this unfinished song, and within the day it was done. Recorded and everything,” Bryan tells of his experience with the top artist, particularly with the second song.
The third track, “Trick of the Light,” is Bryan’s favorite, which he is most proud of production-wise and lyrically. Take it from a person who has heard the entire EP, it is indeed one of his best songs.
The melody from the latter half of the EP becomes more somber. “Little White Lie” is a downbeat song about accepting challenges. “Admit Now, Pay Later,” and the final track, “I Threw It All Away,” veer more to country genre. It is about falling out of or losing love.
Bryan confesses that Back To The Middle could have been a full album if it weren’t for the COVID-19 health emergency. “It’s been hard. There’s no continuity. It’s always stop, start. We’re at the mercy of the virus,” he says, in terms of the production of the songs. “But it also forces creatives to get everything done faster because you don’t know when [the lockdown] is going to come back again.”
“I want people to feel the highs, the melancholy, to enjoy. For them to feel relax, or contented,” says Bryan of the intent of his music. “Some of the saddest songs are the greatest songs ever. Humans are conditioned to like melancholy. We like the sadness.”
“I would listen to an Elliot Smith record. The lyrics are so sad, but it makes me happy to listen to it. What I’m trying to say is I want everyone to take what they can with my music,” Bryan furthers. “For the new EP, I want people to go out to the beach, I want people to enjoy it, listen to it while they drive, add it to their playlist, and generally feel it. At the end of the day, you’re going to connect emotionally to music.”
Bryan is currently signed under Lilystar Records, an independent label. Back To The Middle is
available in major streaming platforms Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Deezer. It is also available in vinyl CDs through Lilystar Records website | Check out his Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts