Branan Murphy has released his new EP Better King (DREAM Records & Paravel Records) to all digital retail outlets. The North Carolina native teamed up with producers Eric Ramey, Justin Amundrud, Kyle Williams, TBabz and David Spencer to create his best work yet.
Branan started releasing songs from his EP earlier last year when he debuted his first single "I Will Wait" that saw a Billboard Top 10 Hot AC / CHR single from it. Since, songs like "Good", "Bored (feat. Byron Juane)", and his ever #1 Billboard Hot AC / CHR single "This World Is Not My Home" have broken new ground for the artist. Now, with a new bass driven pop single "Better King" and an Afrobeat remix by TBabz that features Oba Reengy, the EP sets the stage for what's the come with Murphy. Branan shares his heart behind his new EP.
Q: Branan, thanks for doing this interview with us. I have read that the songs on your latest EP were written during the pandemic. In what ways have the pandemic changed or not changed the way you write?
I think the pandemic created such a desperation in me. Desperation for God, desperation to pray, desperation to create, desperation to say something with all the chaos happening. I think I'm writing from that desperation more these days. Songs really came easily during the pandemic because of all the deep things we were all feeling. I think times like what we all went through are when artists have one of the most important roles in the world. People need songs like never before right now, whether it's so they can cry, laugh, hope, whatever. We need each other and we need music.
Q: I really love the words to "Better King:" I wanted to be the captain of my fate/But only you control the tide/Now I'm running/Into the only arms that carried me this far/Jesus you are a better king. How did this song comeabout?
Thanks! For years now, I've had the phrase, "I'm a terrible king for myself," running through my head from time to time, probably from sermons I've heard in the past. But I was in the studio with Eric Ramey, who wrote and produced it with me (he is a genius), and I started thinking about my life, how I'm always in airports chasing after some sort of greatness. And at the same time, in the midst of that pursuit, things always seem to be such a mess in my life.
So, I just sang, "Feels like I'm always walking to baggage" (airport - baggage claim), and right after that I just changed a word to spin the phrase (something I try to do a lot when I write...I think it's the hip hop in me haha), "Feels like I'm always walking with baggage" (my life is a mess). Similarly, I had just recently begun tossing around the phrase, spinning and reversing the words, "rule over and overrule," which I think originated from the Holy Spirit speaking to me during a prayer time in the days before that. I've been praying that phrase ever since, and I think it's the best, quickest summary of what Jesus being king means: a) ruling over, or being in control, and b) when necessary, overruling, or taking control. The rest of the song just sort of poured out from there.
And actually, since you mentioned the bridge as the part you really love, the interesting story about the bridge is that the song existed for a year or more with no bridge. We were up against a deadline to get the song done, or it wasn't going to be released, and it still had no bridge. So, I took like an hour or so, wrote a bridge, tracked the vocals, sent it off to Nashville, and the song was finished just in time for it to be released.
Q: In what ways do you think Jesus is a better king than us?
He's a better king because he's able to see what I can't see and do what I can't do. For instance, I can try to love someone on my own, but in the end, my love for that person will at some point become corrupt, self-serving, and incapable of meeting their needs, because of my sin nature. But Jesus loves with a love that is incorruptible. When I am surrendered to him as king, and his power to love is working through me, I will be able to love in a way that people actually need. I might have good intentions, but I will definitely mess things up eventually, whatever good thing I try to do.
He does what I can't do, because I am broken and sinful apart from him. He also sees what I can't see. He knows the future, and he knows everything about my decision making that I don't. Like the Bible often says, Jesus is our shepherd, and we are the sheep. Sheep, by nature, are dumb, don't have good eyesight, and are not good at self-sustaining. It's a pretty strong analogy for life apart from the kingship of Jesus.
Q: How can we make Jesus the "Better King" in living our daily lives?
Surrender. There is no freedom like the freedom that comes from surrender. We were never made to be in control. It is amazing how surrendering to Jesus, trusting him in faith to be in control, brings so much freedom, joy, peace. Submitting to Jesus and submitting to God's word is what we were made for, and life will be incomplete and ultimately miserable apart from it.
Q: You have also worked with many talented artists and musicians on this new EP. Who are some of them?
Byron Juane has a verse on Bored. He is crazy talented as a singer and rapper. That was an honor to have him on a song. I loved working with Darren Mulligan and Kyle Williams from We Are Messengers on my song, This World is Not My Home, which ended up being my first ever Billboard #1 hit! Those two guys are some of the best in the business. I can't say enough good things about Kyle and Darren - how they love Jesus, Darren's belief in me and influence on my life as an artist, Kyle's unbelievable ability as a creative and a producer... Such a blessing to work with them.
Q: What were some of the highlights in the making of this EP?
I would say just being able to work with people like Darren, Kyle, Eric Ramey, who I mentioned before, Justin Amundrud, who is one of the best producers out there, David Spencer, who is so talented and such a good friend. Life is about people, and there's nothing like making music with people you love. That's always the best part. I will also say, there were a couple of records on which I recorded and edited my own vocals, just from my house. That was very affirming and satisfying for me. It's always great to see growth in your craft.
Q: What's in store for you for the rest of the year?
More music! That's always the case, but I think I may be working on an album. Kinda feels that way. We are preparing for the next releases, which I think are some of my best songs ever, so I'm really looking forward to that. Just making music and getting creative with connecting with the people, because I'm not touring this fall. It's all about the people, so I want that to always be a big focus for me. I definitely hope to be touring in 2022!
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