From working on music row, singing in recording studios and filming music videos with high-profile artists, the Nashville music scene houses Belmont graduates around every corner.
Joey Brodnax and Drew Bauml are longtime collaborators and friends with Briston Maroney, a Nashville-based singer-songwriter who will be headlining his highly anticipated Paradise music festival at Brooklyn Bowl on Thursday and Friday.
Graduating with degrees in audio and video production, Brodnax, class of 2016, and Bauml, class of 2017, started working with Maroney when he was still in high school.
“Drew and I both were with a company called Amplify, and we just were trying to find up-and-coming artists and work with people that we just thought were cool,” said Brodnax. “It started at Belmont. And it kind of grew into Nashville, and then eventually grew outside of Nashville.”
It eventually grew eastward to Maroney’s hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. There, the trio continued to meet and bounce ideas and music video concepts off each other, evolving their relationship into what Maroney considers “his closest two friendships in the world.”
Since then, they have worked on countless music videos including Maroney’s breakthrough song, “Freakin’ Out on the Interstate” – which has 2.5 million views on YouTube – “Rose” and one of his newest singles “Oregon.”
Brodnax tends to take more of a directorial role while Bauml handles the camera with Maroney serving as the shining star of the video.
The trio agree that everything they do encourages them to put their heads together to create something unique and specific to Maroney’s sound.
“It’s pretty hyper-collaborative,” said Brodnax.
Their love for music and music video curation is evident, but their love for each other is key for the triad.
From the midnights spent in Brodnax’s attic, to spinning as fast as they could on tire swings at random parks, Maroney appreciates the collaborative approach the team takes, sharing how no individual has one specific job.
“We all love music videos. We all love music. We all love making art, but I think everybody has their own personalized thing that they love,” said Maroney. “I think that's what is so special about when the three of us work together. Everybody is carrying a different but equal and important role. I feel like there is no hierarchy, like no idea is a bad idea. The only bad idea is one that isn't expressed.”
Brodnax and Bauml recently worked with Maroney on a documentary filmed during the first leg of his Sunflower tour, giving fans a glimpse of some behind-the-scenes content and an authentic look of life on the road.
“I think it's just important to show what the road is like and what things you see and experience because, obviously, it's a lot more than going up and playing a set,” said Bauml.
Maroney will close his tour with two special shows that he has titled “Paradise” hosted at Brooklyn Bowl.
The two-day festival is jam-packed with artists that put out music this year that meant a lot to Maroney.
Thursday’s show features Sunflower Bean, The Greeting Committee and a solo set from Belmont alumna Annie Dirusso. Friday’s sold-out show includes Indigo de Souza, Michelle and a set from Cece Coakly. Maroney will headline both nights.
For Maroney, the goal for the show is to close out a fun-filled, exhausting year in the city he calls home.
He hopes that Paradise will be a place for fans to enjoy good music, great people and relax after a taxing, yet fulfilling year—like a well-deserved vacation.
“The biggest goal was just to bring in the people who have made music that helped me this year get through a lot of these experiences, and I just want it to be a big party basically; there's not really any rules for it,” said Maroney.
The music scene brought the three friends together to a city different from their respective hometowns.
With Maroney hailing from Knoxville, Brodnax from just south of Little Rock, Arkansas and Bauml from San Antonio, Texas, the Nashville aesthetic, sense of community and passion for music checked all their boxes.
“It was awesome coming into a community it felt like I didn’t have to fight to find common ground with someone. There was already this mutual love for art and making music and it was like coming home to a different type of family,” said Bauml.
Bauml and Brodnax also have their Belmont family, which encouraged them to not only find but grow in their passions.
“Just the ability to be in a pocket like Belmont and be surrounded by so many inspiring people, I don't know, it's a very special thing. So, the music scene here, it's very close to my heart,” said Brodnax.
Palpable trust and admiration allow the squad to produce high quality, eclectic music videos that paint a picture of Maroney’s songs for his audience.
And they have a blast doing it.
“It’s just...fun,” said Maroney.
This story was written by Lilly Owens. Visual effects and contributary reporting done by Chandler Maynard. Video content courtesy of Briston Maroney's team.