Growing up in Whitby and being an aspiring musician presented challenges for Brandon Williams, the lead singer and main songwriter for the band Chastity.
Growing up in a town of 137,000 – with what Williams refers to as a community with no arts scene – makes it difficult to grow as a musician, especially if you’re wanting to do something different.
“I feel like it’s swimming upstream. It’s quite a monocultural town, so if you’re going to do something outside that culture you have to embolden yourself a little bit,” Williams says.
The group played its first show in 2015 and features four or five members, depending on the gig. Williams found an interest in music because he grew up playing brass instruments as a kid.
In sixth grade, he discovered music more suited to his pop-punk taste and realized he would be able to convert it into something that people could be passionate about.
“People can get invested and they’re able to express themselves with music and because of that I was able to get into music,” he says.
For Williams, one of the most difficult things about pursuing a music career is being away from home. And Chastity will be away from home plenty this year.
The band is currently on tour in southern Ontario and will make a stop at the Whitby Courthouse Theatre Friday, Jan. 24. From there, Chastity heads out on an extensive three-month tour through Europe and the United States, including shows in London, Paris, Milan and Barcelona, before ending the tour in Los Angeles and Chicago.
For Williams, one of the best things about going on tour is being able to see and meet so many people.
“I think we just feel grateful and wide-eyed that there’s people who are willing to come see it live. It’s a great way to connect with people and meet new people,” he adds.
When it comes to writing songs, Williams takes inspiration from many different places.
“My notes folder on my phone is filled with ideas – little one-liners or even two-liners to make them rhyme. If I hear someone say something unusual or something that sticks out in person I’ll spin it into a lyric idea,” he explains.
Williams says any aspiring musician should remember they’re not alone, and just to keep swimming upstream.
“Do it from a place that is not like for the glory for yourself. Great songwriters write for an audience of one, so I think find that one,” Williams says. “I think it’ll make you feel purpose and give you perspective on songwriting.”
Williams sums up his five-years of making music with Chastity: “I think the industry can be really wild and dark sometimes, and I think having to figure it out can be difficult.”