THEY SET OUT TO SPREAD LIGHT TO DARK, AND HOPE TO THE HOPELESS
WITH THEIR RAW, SOULFUL, INTIMATE MUSIC AND STAGE PRESENCE.
How did you first get involved in music?
Being that I'm the first musician in my family, my household growing up has always been about embracing the music we love. I got my first guitar when I was seven or eight but didn't start playing and learning 'til I was 13. Watched a lot of live VHS tapes like SRV, Waylon Jennings, Jimi Hendrix- and knew I wanted to be a musician. About two years into playing guitar, I started playing with my local church and learned how to play chords, keep time with a drummer, and know when not to play LOL. From there on I started writing my own music and even played in a metal band for a few years.
How has being a Native American musician molded your music?
When it comes to being native, it's about the people, and about where we come from. So I do my very best to represent my Navajo Diné tribe the best I can and make them proud. A lot of the teachings from my culture and upbringing have played a vital role in how I present myself and music as far as respect, humbleness, hard work, and love goes. My Ojibwe brothers and sisters of the north have taught me a lot and continually enlighten me about our fight, the rise of our people, and what I can do daily to better our communities. It's an Honor to work so closely with a tribe not of my own but to be loved and respected as if I was one of theirs. "All my relations" is the beautiful term best used to describe how the northern Natives have embraced me.
You grew up in New Mexico. What brought you to northern MN and how is life different here? Similar? What has surprised you the most?
A gorgeous northern Native woman brought me up here. I met my wife at a native leadership conference in Missouri and I was hooked ever since. I visited her in Bemidji in January of 2012 and I LOVED it! It was also a record warm winter that year so when I finally decided to move up the following winter, I got it good the next couple years with snow and cold chill records. It's a whole different world with a lot more possibilities of living out dreams in arts and culture. The live music scene isn't too poppin' where I'm from, even though there are cool people who are trying to get things started. So when I came to Bemidji there was already a strong music scene going that I was able to just dive into. The people are great too! Granted, even though every community has its darkness, I've been able to see so much good in the small town and I've grown more passionate about the community the more I learn and get involved in it. Musically, I'm surprised and pleased that a lot of the bands here are not in competition with each other because they are all doing their own thing and supporting each other as they do it.
You've stated that your mission is "to spread a message of hope and encouragement to every tribe and tongue that has felt hopeless and held back in life by fear, shame, and hurt." Tell us about that. Are you channeling something from your own past experiences?
Oh yes, I channel every damn tear, cut, heartbreak, bruised soul and mind, etc. into everything I do musically as well as hurt I see around me that I pray for daily. I'm not a well-educated man, I'm not a prophet or can tell you how you can make a million dollars in a year. What I do have, is just scars like everyone else, more or less than others. I have bad thoughts and doubts about myself and the world. I also have a story that was on its way to a bad ending, and now it's not thanks to circumstances of my spirituality and love of others. I have a simple story that can hopefully shed light on someone's darkness and help them realize if a fool like me can get through my hard times, they can too. I get to do that through unpolished ugly blues and rock n' roll.
Do you have a song or lyric that stands out most for your message?
One of the first songs that I can think of is a song I wrote early in my career called "I won't." It talks about daily struggles and just wanting to give up on life and we're reminded through divine interventions that we're not alone.
Who is your ideal audience?
Anyone and everyone willing to listen and possibly feel what we're bringing. Whether it be kids to grandparents. We love venues where we can play loud and let go, but I also love small intimate shows that allow me to be a bit more vulnerable with my music. That's what I love about music and what we do with it. We play a lot of very different style shows with different dynamics. 2pm we're playing for precious elderly at a nursing home, 9pm we're playing for a bunch of rowdy good lookin' Natives at a smoky honky tonk bar. Jeez I love what we do! Seriously, it's awesome to be able to gauge your audience, and allow what's supposed to happen, happen. That's why I do my best to keep my mind and heart in the right place as I go into each show. A lot of prayer as well.
Tell us about your band members. How did you meet? What's the meaning behind the name The Brothers?
Eric Sundeen is on the music department faculty for Bemidji State University for the percussion ensemble and Gary Broste lives in Bemidji with his beautiful wife, is self-employed, and has two beautiful grand babies. I live with Eric on the weekends where his amazing wife and two awesome boys put up with Uncle Corey raiding the fridge and closing down the restroom. I met both of them when I first got into the Bemidji scene and both played with me at my first two official shows in Bemidji. As a few years went by and playing with multiple musicians and bands, Eric and Gary decided to join me full throttle and support the hopes and vision I have for the band. I couldn't have asked for better friends, Brothers, and band mates. I call them The Brothers based on the motto of "Brothers before Band mates," meaning we strive to vibe as friends off stage and then let that influence and leak into our stage performance as a band.
You write your music, book your gigs, run the show... how do you make it all work?
Pure grace and favor! I have band mates who are hard workers and teach me how to be efficient with time and who are also the last ones to leave with me at a gig. I have an AMAZING wife who prays for my well-being while I'm away and puts up with all my crap when I get home. She's given me two beautiful babies who make me want to work harder and get home sooner. I have a mother who will always be my biggest fan and isn't afraid to spank her oldest child if he's actin' a fool. I have different tribes of people who tell me they're proud of what I'm doing. I have a community who took my family and I in as one of their own because they support my song and message. I have a Lord and Savior who overwhelms me with peace and has brought me out of the depths of the darkness I put myself in. That's how I'm able to do ANYTHING of what I do. I have so much help I can't take the least bit of credit but know I'm truly blessed to be surrounded by love.
Where can we find Corey Medina & The Brothers performing next?
You can find us wherever you want us!!!!
THE BIG QUESTION
.What would be your advice to a budding musician? A Native American musician?
1. Talent is a blessing that we get to keep and grow if we want it to.
2. Know why and what you're doing it for, because that will determine the path it takes you on.
3. If you want to be in the spotlight or be recognized, you better damn sure Honor and respect where you came from and how you got there. You don't just represent yourself, you represent who taught you any good in life and the beauty of your people.
4. Shure sm58 microphones are overrated, Go sennheiser instead.