Elements of Style

Stand Up Straight

The personal style of “modern soul” singer-songwriter Brandon West.

By Alex Gilbert Photography by Felix Sanchez June 1, 2013 Published in the June 2013 issue of Houstonia Magazine

We call Galveston-born singer-songwriter Brandon West’s music a mix of funk and R&B with a rock edge. If you ask him—and you’re most likely to find this man-about-town at Poison Girl or one of the vintage shops in the vicinity—he’ll tell you it’s “modern soul.” You can decide for yourself at the Free Press Summer Fest this month, where he’ll take the stage and we’ll be standing (not slouching) in the crowd.


“Fashion is about being in control. We’re not all JPMorgan Chase executives, but there’s no reason we can’t look our best every day. Turning a basic look into something special isn’t all that difficult, but you can’t start with sweatpants and flip-flops.”


“Vintage is where my heart is. I love Carolina Herrera and Jil Sander, but my absolute favorite designer is Yves Saint Laurent. I’m obsessed with his drawings from the ’50s and ’60s. People were freaked out by his designs when he left Dior and started out on his own, but he was convinced that forward was the only direction. I admire that.”


“When I was 12 years old I started exploring my mother’s Motown records, and one day after school I was listening to Smokey Robinson with a friend. She told me I had a good voice and asked if I had ever tried to write a song, and I have been writing ever since. That first song was about love and loss and a bunch of other heavy stuff that I couldn’t even begin to understand at that age. It’s fascinating that we can tap into a wealth of emotional knowledge without having yet experienced it ourselves.”


“Off stage I am shy, and I think of myself as an observer and a learner. When I am on stage I am putting out everything that I take in. I am presenting my personal brand, and it is a brand I want people to connect with. My goal is to be as captivated by the audience as they are by me.”


“My next solo full-length album is currently in the planning stages. I am also really excited to be working with investors on a new men’s boutique. This will be a place that offers the tools required to dress and behave like a modern man, a place where we celebrate masculinity. Bill Cunningham, the famous New York Times street-fashion photographer, said the last time he saw so many men care about their appearance was over 50 years ago.  That is exactly what we are getting at with this store.”


Izod shorts, vintage vest, American Apparel tank, Casio watch, vintage Giorgio Brutini shoes. 


“Come on, guys. Stand up straight. Look sharp. Get things done. Enunciate!”

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