Please introduce yourself. What do you do? Why? What do you want people to know about you?
I’m Cynthia Brando. I perform acoustic folk-rock music all over Los Angeles. I felt drawn to music when I first was mesmerized in high school from watching someone playing and singing their songs live on an acoustic guitar. I have been obsessed with music ever since.
When I moved to Los Angeles to pursue music, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I started to explore all different aspects of the industry, and it has been very adventurous and fun for me, especially at this stage of my life where, after eight years in L.A., it still feels like a dream that I get to do everything that I am doing. I write songs, do videos, record, put on concerts, write music essays, vlog, and more!
What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?
I definitely have a unique story. I didn’t really put myself out there with my music until I moved to Los Angeles at almost 40. I had tremendous fears and insecurities that caused me to close myself off from sharing my vulnerabilities. I had a hard time with stage fright, so I made music mostly at home but secretly yearned to share all my creations.
I wanted to experience life in a more encompassing way through music and community. So one day, I woke up and had the feeling, “What if I die and I never tried to pursue music?”. So I decided to leave the small town I was living in for seven years, and I moved to a major music center which turned out to be Los Angeles. I had never been to L.A. before and didn’t know what it would be like. I had heard mostly negative comments, but I soon found a very warm and supportive community which is what I needed.
The people of my community have witnessed my eight-year journey of self-discovery, which I have shared a lot through blogging, vlogging, and social media. What I think makes me unique is my continued passion through extreme ups and downs on my journey and my unpredictability.
One day I might be street performing, and the next day, I might be interviewing someone for a music show or filming a music video. You never know what I will be involved in or what project I envision.
Describe THAT moment when you realized you’re doing what you were born to do.
At age 30, I went to school for four and a half years to get a degree in something not related to music. Even though I was making music in most of my free time, I felt like I had to have some other direction since I didn’t know what I wanted to do with music, was getting older, and was too scared to really pursue it.
Going to college while my mind was constantly on music was really challenging and I had a breakdown towards the end, but I did graduate with a degree in International Studies. I was offered a job abroad, which is exactly what one would want but at that moment I told myself, “But I want to do music.” I decided to abandon my non-music career pursuits and devote even more time to doing music.
I took really low-paying jobs where I didn’t have to take my work home with me and just focused on music. I did this for almost 5 years before I felt like I was ready to start really sharing myself and my music with the world. I then moved to Los Angeles to pursue music in a deeper way. I sacrificed a lot during this transition, making just enough money to survive, leaving my friends and community, and going to a place where I had no job or connections to anyone in music.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to go through and how did you grow through it?
My second year in Los Angeles was rough. I had a $16 an hour job and was paying $1,000 a month in rent. I was barely making enough to survive and not having enough food was a real issue for me. One day I walked into work and was told that there was no job for me, that the person I was working with moved away and they did not have any other work for me, and that they would, “Let me know.”
I had forty dollars in my bank account and used eight dollars of it to buy a beer and sit on the beach to think. A year earlier, I had somehow been approved for a loan and used it to buy a lighter guitar, a microphone, a stand, and a battery-powered amp with the idea that I would street perform, but the equipment sat in my closet for a year. I was too timid, but with my job loss, I had no choice then but to go for it as rent would be due in a few weeks.
I used my last remaining money and bought a street performing permit which was needed for certain busking hot spots. I had no job, so busking became my new job. I would get up in the morning and hit the streets with my new equipment. I no longer could afford to be scared. I played in front of Trader Joe’s, farmers’ markets, and coffee shops everywhere.
Soon, someone would see me and say, “Would you play in my store for an event?”, “Would you play for my friend’s birthday party?” It was great. I met so many people, made decent money, and paid my rent. I decided from that experience that I wouldn’t wait until I was desperate to start taking more risks in life.
Who are the TOP 3 people you’d want to meet that could elevate your career or business? Why these specific individuals?
Julia Cameron. I am embarking on a new adventure of writing a book for indie musicians inspired by, “The Artist’s Way” and would love to meet her and talk about life and writing.
Joni Mitchell. She was my first music obsession and I would love to play at one of her house concerts where I would surely meet some interesting creative people.
Nicole Atkins. I am a fan and have followed her music for a long time and would love to be on tour with her and open up for her. I look to her as a beacon for my own path as we are similar in age, and style and come from the east coast.