Brandon Olmos Is an Artiste
Photos by Ramón Hernández
Brandon Kerkorian Olmos is an artiste extraordinaire when it comes to music, television documentaries and films.
Growing up, as the sons of the lead singer for Eddie James and the Pacific Ocean followed by a ten-piece band called Elijah, Brandon and his brothers, Mico and Bodie could not help but grow into rock and rollers.
Their father was into psychedelic rock and can be heard letting out some blood curling screams in several of his recording, they were so unique that Wolfman Jack would often call him up just to get him to scream on his radio program. Therefore, Brandon has some funny anecdotes about him and his brothers getting dropped off at their Catholic school with rock music blasting out of the car. And that’s how the Olmos brothers got their rock roots.
“When we formed own first group, we named themselves ACME, “which stood for Africans, Caucasians, Mexicans, Etcetera,” Brandon said during an interview that started out at Gilbert’s Restaurant and continued at the Hispanic Entertainment Archives.
“Most musicians will say their biggest influence is their parents and my father had us listening to Steely Dan, Santana and others. And he would tell us it’s all about the blues and Robert Johnson is the ‘king of the blues.’ So I learned all about ‘the three Kings,’ B.B. King, Freddy King and Albert King.’
“But in our case the musician who influenced me most was Carlos Santana, a guitarist who my dad knew and would take us to see in concert. He was a huge, huge influence on us brothers and my family not as a guitar player, but in his personality and way of doing things.
“In 1992, we all moved to New York where we decided to start playing the blues. We worked the clubs throughout the Harlem blues circuit and we did really well because we had a different vibe. We recorded two albums as Elijah and I can’t believe it has been 15 years.
In New York, where he majored in music at Hunter College, Brandon also performed with NYC blues legend, Michael Powers. And along the way, true blues fans stood in line at clubs where he played for packed houses.
In 1999, Brandon entered the film industry as the associate producer and sound editor for ‘The Americanos Concert,” a PBS television special that was filmed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. and featured Gloria Estefan, José Feliciano and Edward James Olmos.
In 2002, Brandon worked as a sound re-recording mixer in two films, “Trip to Tehuacan” and “The Last Winter” plus was the assistant sound editor in all 22 episodes of the “American Family” television series which starred his father, his brother Bodie, San Antonio’s own Nicholas González, Raquel Welch, Sonia Braga, Esai Morales, Rachel Ticotin, Jay Hernández, Michael Peña, Mark Consuelos, Kate del Castillo and virtually every known Hispanic/Latino in Hollywood. If 22 episodes weren’t enough, before the year ended Brandon joined the post-production team of “Crossing Jordan” as a sound editor for 35 episodes and this took him into 2004 when he also worked on “The Devil Cats.”
Other credits include “Shortstop,” “Walkout,” a television movie which also starred his father and brother Bodie plus Laura Harring, Yancy Arias, Efren Ramírez, Jeremy Ray Valdez, Alexa Vega and a slew of more Hispanic actors; plus “Hollywood Familia,” and all these productions occurred in 2006.
In the fall of 2008 Brandon came to San Antonio to produce a compact disc for Dalila and Diane Muñoz of the Latin Grammy nominated Amor y Pasión, then he wound up playing bass guitar with their back-up band, which was Elijah Zane and the Experience, a group of bluesmen and Texas rock’n’rollers that were the house band at a bar on Broadway Avenue.
“This is where I first saw people dancing on top of tables and I told myself, ‘Oh my goodness, I love Texas.’ Since then we have played all over Texas and in several battle of the bands contests,” Brandon continued. “It was a wonderful experience because I saw and learned how talented Texas musicians are in all genres.
“Next I got involved in social activism through Jaimé Martínez and met new people in that community. Then through my friendship with Brandy (López), I got to meet a lot of Tejano musicians.
And when I did a gig with Roger Velásquez at Jesse Borrego’s house, where we did some Bob Marley and Santana tunes, I saw that Tejano musicians can play anything and that showed me a bigger picture, that Tejanos are totally bi-cultural and they are able play both Latin and American music authentically.”
Thus the music kept Brandon in the Alamo City for a while.
However, his film making creative juices never stopped flowing and in 2010 Brandon released his first film “La Gloria: Contemporary Art in the Cultural Zone.” A documentary about the San Antonio artist community and the yearly event put on by local Westside artists (wwwlagloriaarts.com). In addition he was the director, did all the film editing and was the sound re-recording mixer. This documentary featured Jesse Treviño, artist; Yvette Shadrock, artist; Ramón Vásquez, poet; Gabriel Velásquez, artist, organizer, culture catalyst and visionary.
“About two years ago, I was considering leaving San Antonio when I met Aaron Lee López, in the parking lot of my office. He was a film maker from here who had worked in L.A. in ‘Inception’ and ‘The Hangover’ and we started to collaborate together. Our first production, with López and Mutt Productions mixed with some crew from Hollywood, was ‘The Return of Johnny V,’ a Texas grind-house rock on and socking revenge thriller starring Aaron’s Brother Paul Matthew López and starlet Dana De La Garza.”
Aaron directed the film and Brandon was one of the associate producers, the supervising sound editor, sound mixer and underwater cameraman.
This year, Brandon and Aaron traveled to Hollywood to film “Miles to Go” directed by Quincy Rose. This film marked Brandon’s fourteenth credit as a sound mixer or post audio supervisor/re-recording mixer on a feature film.
Meanwhile Brandon, continues to fill his weekends playing bass with Elijah Zane, which consists of Elijah, lead vocals, lead guitar and songwriter; Brando, bass and groove; Alfonso Nuñez, saxophone, harmonica and backup vocals; Rubén Alvarado, percussion and soundman; and Rickey Pichardo on drums.
“When I first met Elijah, it was like déjà vu because my father’s second band was Elijah plus my brothers and I had performed and recorded as Elijah in the 1990s. So I felt that I was in the right place at the right time.”
The fact that Brandon is also very spiritual is in the fact that he once played in a Gospel band on Sunday mornings; and as he once told another reporter, “Can I get an Amen. It (Gospel music) comes from a Divine source and touches people far beyond a group of musicians and its audience.”
As far as making films, Olmos and López just premiered “Dani the Ranch Hand” in July and they are planning to shoot a remake of the 1981 made-for-television movie, “Three Hundred Miles for Stephanie,” which originally starred his father, Tony Orlando, Pepe Serna, Rosanna De Soto, Gregory Sierra, local artists like Rosita Fernández, José Armando, Arturo Támez and many others, but with some of today’s top Hispanic stars plus many locals.
The next premiere for Olmos & Lopez’s Mutt Productions will be a documentary that is titled “Two Fiddles & an Accordion” and stars Rick Orozco, Rubén Ramos, Sunny Sauceda, Rudy Sarzo, Joél Guzmán, and many others! The premiere is set for November 8th at the Woodlawn Theater.
For more information on Brandon, go to www.facebook.com/brandon.keropianolmos, www.inmag.com/profiles/brandon-olmos.html for an awesome in-depth interview, www.imdb.com/name/nm2067382, a great interview by Jordan Gass-Poore at www.slackerwood.com/node/3031, http://sacurrent.com/screens/film/brandon-keropian-olmos-on-creating-mood-and-communicating-heartbreak-1.1344342, www.elijahzane.com, www.facebook.com/elijahzanemusic#!/elijahzanemusic/info and www.aa-agency.com/talent/artist/elijah-zane-and-experience. For a wide assortment of photographs go to https://www.google.com/search?q=brandon+keropian+olmos&hl=en&rlz=1T4SNCA_en___US429&prmd=imvnso&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=F8g_UJHrM6qw2gWd54DYDA&ved=0CD8QsAQ&biw=993&bih=887 and for this article on the web, go to www.streettalkmag.com
And if you haven’t guessed by now, the father of this Motion Picture Editor’s Guild member is none other than Edward James Olmos.