David Lei Brandt dishes on Lady Gaga, Varsity Fanclub and more!
Los Angeles native David Lei Brandt is a producer, singer, songwriter and dancer who started his music career in 2007 by becoming a member of VFC (Varsity Fanclub), an international pop group signed to Capitol Records. VFC collaborated with a number of high-profile producers (Ryan Tedder, Red One), and shared the stage with many high-profile acts such as Rihanna, Pussycat Dolls, and Jordin Sparks. Their first single, “Future Love,” quickly became widely known and received airplay on KISS-FM and Radio Disney.
Following the split of the group (which later reformed with several members as After Romeo), he became a primary background dancer for Lady Gaga in 2010. He spent the next 6 years performing alongside her on two world tours as well as music videos and award shows. Throughout this period he continued to write and produce music for various artists while working on his own sound. It was at the end of the Art Pop Ball, when Lady Gaga gave him her microphone and allowed him to sing a part of her song, that David knew it was time to return to music as an Artist.
Ending his career as a background dancer with the 2017 Super Bowl, he spent the next two years perfecting his craft and sound. You can find is most recent single, Love You Outta Style, rapidly gaining traction with its POP / Contemporary R&B club sound.
Scroll down to find out more about David in our exclusive Q&A!
Hello David, nice to e-meet you! Before we get to your industry roles, tell us a little about yourself outside of show biz.
I currently live in Berlin. I moved here two years ago to be with my girl. There really isn’t much outside of Showbiz. Haha. But the typical everyday life includes taking our dog to the park, hitting the gym, and def fitting in a game night with friends. My girlfriend and I are super competitive with board games of all kinds or Mario Kart.
Great! Tell us how you got into the music industry what you consider to be your greatest accomplishment in it to date?
Well I have always been a musician and singer my whole life, but some time ago I auditioned for a band called Varsity Fanclub. The same creators of N’SYNC and BSB created us. Literally it was that simple. That was my first big step into the music biz. One day I was doing music at home trying to figure things out and the next I’m signed to Capitol Records.
And the biggest challenge you have faced in it so far?
Def falling and getting back up. We were one of those bands that had a music business horror story. It chews you up and spits you out. However, having the attitude of never giving up and creating second chances is the biggest challenge I’ve faced.
You were one of Lady Gaga’s background dancers for six years. What was the most valuable part of that experience?
Oh my god… simple. I got to learn from the best. Being an artist first and foremost, I had a different mentality as a background dancer. It was a dream to dance for her, but it wasn’t MY dream as crazy as that sounds. I knew using this experience would elevate me as an artist/musician/Performer to an entirely different and higher level.
And your most memorable moment with her?
One day we had a show in Turkey. There was a part in the show where I had to interact with her specifically, and out of nowhere she puts the mic in my face. I froze solid. The show kept going. The next day when she sees me, she “humbly” and sarcastically asks me why I didn’t sing… again I froze. Haha. She told me, “the next time I put the mic in front of your face you better sing!” That’s the clean version. 😉
So the next show day, the same part comes.. mic drops in front of my face and I didn’t disappoint. She let me sing the whole part that night and for the rest of the tour.
What is one misconception you think people have about Lady Gaga, and what is the truth about it?
I get this question all the time. I’ll answer it like this.
She is one of the kindest and most open souls I have ever met. She always cares what’s happening to the people around her and always does her best to create positivity. She is the embodiment of the messages she preaches. If we got hurt dancing… she would pay out of her own pocket to do what she needed in order to help us recover. She is smart in marketing herself no doubt… but deep down… she is a gem.
What were the best and worst parts about being in Varsity Fan Club?
There were a lot of incredible memories with that band. Touring together and creating a bond that will last a life time. Performing will always be the best parts. Next to that.. being in the studio with incredible producers like Ryan Tedder. Of course since I am a producer as well, this was a major learning experience.
The worst part was never having any control. Sometimes with being signed all the people in charge think they know what’s best. The problem with this is they forget the people closest to the fanbase is us. We know firsthand what our fans are connecting to and what they are not. Watching your career spiral down hill and not being able to do anything about it is gut wrenching. It effects everything about your mental stability and perception of yourself.
Do you still stay in touch with any of your fellow band members?
Yeah we talk. Not as much as we used to, but we get a moment or two in there every once in a while.
Now that you have some accomplishments under your belt, how does the reality of show biz differ from how you first imagined going into it?
Show business is a complete 180 from how you see it before being in it. That’s what the media does. Glamorize the hell out of it to make you think anyone and everyone can be a star and live the life. It’s 100% not true. You have to work your ass off everyday and devote every waking minute you have to it You have to be SMART. You need to be a businessman first. This is the only way to create longevity. The biggest thing….. you have to be able to accept criticism from all angles and understand how to interpret it.
Who inspires you and why?
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is my inspiration. He came from nothing and is now the highest paid entertainer in the world. He lives and breathes hard work, but is still the definition of a good person in all areas of life.
If you weren’t a performer, what other type of career would you be interested in pursuing?
If you have a plan B… Then plan A will not work.
Tell me something people would be surprised to know about you?
I actually grew up acting. I did commercials and was one of Disney’s spokespeople for campaigning new movies or television shows. I did that for years.
Biggest pet peeve?
I can not stand when my girlfriend wears my socks. Haha. I know it’s weird but… I love the feeling of fresh socks. Hahaha.
Def Thai food. Easy.
Least favorite food?
Def Chinese food. Easy. Yes… there is a difference between Chinese and Thai.
If you could pass a law everyone in the world had to follow, what would it be?
Ooo…. this is tough. So many things I could say, however this being my first interview with you guys I’m gonna be safe. Hahaha. I think it would be a cool law that every week we are forced to see some type of live entertainment. I think any type of performance art is essential to a productive culture.
Favorite Movie or TV Show?
For the longest time I would say Game of Thrones… but I love “The Boys” on Amazon. Don’t wanna ruin anything but it’s a must see.
What else are you working on or have coming up next?
I am always working on music for myself, but I currently have a few projects with different labels that I am producing and writing for. I also own an entertainment company with my partner in which we deliver music videos, television shows, and live performances. @I.D_Entertainment.
Could we get a selfie of whatever you are doing at the moment? It’s something we ask to keep it real for the fans!
IG – @davidleibrandt
Twitter – @davidleibrandt