Braison Cyrus is likely to first get noticed for his last name: as the son of Billy Ray, the little brother of Miley and the big brother of Noah, the 26-year-old is surrounded by family members who are consistent presences on the Billboard charts. Yet Cyrus is also singular in his sonic approach, a folk-pop singer-songwriter with a gentle twang and a knack for rustic storytelling.
Last Friday, Cyrus released “Glass Between Us,” the first of three new tracks he’s releasing before the end of the year leading up to a 2021 debut full-length. He previously found success with the rootsy 2018 single “I’ll Never Leave You,” but the sprawling, slightly space-y “Glass Between Us” showcases Cyrus’ range; meanwhile, another official single, “Heart Is Gold,” is expected to arrive on Sept. 18.
With “Glass Between Us” newly released, Braison Cyrus answered 20 questions about his upcoming music, the songs that shaped who he is and the influence of his family. (Edit. Note: this interview was conducted prior to the passing of Braison’s beloved grandmother, Loretta Finley.)
1. What’s the first piece of music that you bought for yourself, and what was the medium?
The first record I can remember buying was Circuital by My Morning Jacket at Amoeba Music in Hollywood.
2. What was the first concert you saw?
I saw MGMT at a surf competition in Laguna Beach, probably about a week after I got my driver’s license. I drove there with a bunch of my friends and we had to stand in the water to actually watch them.
3. How did you parents influence your musical taste as a kid?
They didn’t have much of an influence, but my older brother, who I shared a room with as a kid, showed me a lot of cool stuff like Coheed and Cambria and Dashboard Confessional. My dad mostly listened to Steve Earle and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
4. Who made you realize you could be an artist full-time?
My 12th grade biology teacher.
5. What’s at the top of your professional bucket list?
To play a live show at Stonehenge.
6. How did your hometown/city shape who you are?
I grew up in Thompsons Station, TN. It made me appreciate history and the outdoors.
7. What’s the last song you listened to?
“Love Blind” by Jon Reynolds and the Aches.
8. If you could see any artist in concert, dead or alive, who would it be?
The Band with Levon Helm.
9. What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen happen in the crowd of one of your shows?
A person passed out from their knees getting locked up.
10. How has the pandemic affected the way you’ve created music in 2020?
Other than touring not being an option for us during the pandemic, we’ve been thinking of new ways to record in the studio with as few people in there with us as possible. We’ve had to be crafty with resources and timing.
11. What inspired the gorgeous, slightly psychedelic sound of your new song, “Glass Between Us”?
I recorded this song with members of my high school band, and my bass player at the time loved bands like Ratatat, so he brought a lot of that to the table when we were in the studio. I was very inspired thematically and lyrically by the show Neon Genesis Evangelion and Studio Ghibli films.
12. How has your musical family informed your musical approach or instincts?
I’ve learned a lot from my dad and siblings on how to properly blend music and your personal life, and more importantly, when not to blend them.
13. How do your siblings interact with your music — do you bounce ideas off of them, or get their reactions to your work, some more than others?
The guitar riff from my last release, “I’ll Never Leave You,” was how I used to check if my guitar was in tune. Miley was the one who pointed out it could actually be a song. Other than that, I took guidance from my older brother Trace, both directly and indirectly, from his experience with his band Metro Station.
14. How often does your dad bring up “Old Town Road” setting the all-time Hot 100 record last year?
What’s “Old Town Road”??
15. What can listeners expect from a Braison Cyrus full-length next year?
They’ll all be songs I wrote around the time of “I’ll Never Leave You.” So they will be very similar to that in spirit. I tried really hard to not let my newer tastes put a new coat of paint on these older songs.
16. What’s your karaoke go-to?
“3 A.M.” by Matchbox Twenty.
17. What movie, or song, always makes you cry?
I can’t think of one that makes me cry but the show Evangelion makes me pretty emotional. So does Regina Spektor’s music.
18. What’s one thing that even your most devoted fans don’t know about you?
I play A LOT of video games. Mainly Pokemon games.
19. If you were not a musician, what would you be?
I went to film school, so maybe a director or a producer, but I wouldn’t want to be in LA. So maybe a writer or a wildlife photographer.
20. What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
Either move to Nashville sooner, or finish college.