TRAVIS HUNTER-BROWN PAYS THE PRICE FOR HIS ART
Paying a personal price for your art has become a cliché, but it’s one that singer and songwriter Travis Hunter-Brown experienced recently in the real world when he was fired from his job as a barista over a song he wrote and recorded.
According to Hunter-Brown, his song “Bitchy Redhead” proved to be a step too far when the manager of the downtown location of The Perch, the coffee shop where Hunter-Brown had worked for over a year, realized the song was written about her. According to Hunter-Brown, he wrote the song to exorcise his anger about the manager, who was impossible to please, as well as the abuse received on the job. Along the way he created a 21st Century pop take on the classic “stuff it” song, ‘Take This Job and Shove It.”
“Even though my songs are usually personal stories, I try to make them a little universal so people can apply it to their own lives and find their own meaning,” Hunter-Brown says. “Usually if you work in food service, it's a fast-paced environment and management is going to be tough, but when it becomes personal, that's when I have issues. When I was writing that song, I was very adrenaline driven, so it's fortunate that it turned out that way.”
After writing the song, Hunter-Brown recorded a fully-produced R&B arrangement of it. “During the time the song was being mixed, the jail next to The Perch was being demolished, largely due to the fact that it was overrun with rats,” he says. “It didn’t take long for the rats to find out there was a restaurant next door. Soon we started seeing rats everywhere. So much so that The Perch was closed for several days to rid the place of them. (The manager) ended up catching the big one that loved to pop out and scare us at any given moment. My coworker took a picture of her holding the rat inside of a net.”
It was that photo (with the manager’s eyes blacked over) that Hunter-Brown used for the song “Bitchy Redhead” when he posted it to several online music services. “I did have a little reluctance about releasing the song at first and using that photo, but I finally reached a tipping point,” Hunter-Brown says. “It kind of became an inside joke for my fellow employees. I'm not the only one she was harsh to. I've also had friends say they can relate to it whether it’s a family member or someone they work under.”
It wasn't too long before the manager discovered the song online and had him fired. Although he has yet to land a new gig, Hunter-Brown enjoys working as a barista and hopes to find work with another coffee house.
A native of St. Petersburg, Fla., Hunter-Brown moved to Nashville in 2010 to pursue a music career. “Bitchy Redhead” led to the release of his album PBR&B. “’Bitchy Redhead’ was what started the process of creating the album,” he says. “I released the song online and people would ask if I had a bigger project. I wanted to record an album that displayed all the types of music that I love and inspire me — classic rock, ’80s pop, contemporary urban music, country music old and new. PBR&B is a reflection of that.”
“Bitchy Redhead” and the album PBR&B are currently available for download and streaming on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Tidal, iHeartRadio, Amazon and most other digital outlets.