August 05, 2013 3:30pm PT by Jessica Herndon
Brandon & Leah: Keeping Up With the Kardashians, Yes, But Nepotism Is a No-No
Poised for mainstream success after their dewy dance-pop hit “Showstopper” became the theme song for E!’s Kourtney & Kim Take Miami, husband and wife duo Brandon & Leah -- Brandon, the son of Bruce Jenner and actress/songwriter Linda Thompson and Leah, the daughter of Eagles guitarist Don Felder -- are picking up new fans as the latest cast members on Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
Their breezy surf-rock debut EP, Cronies, released in April, landed at No. 16 on the Billboard Independent Album Chart. It’s an impressive feat for an unsigned group who refuse to ask their musician parents for industry hookups. “We are very DIY,” Brandon tells The Hollywood Reporter. “They are supportive, but Leah and I have always been like ‘We’ve got this, guys.’"
Married in Hawaii last June, the pair met when Leah was a preteen tomboy who’d shoot hoops with her classmate, Brandon’s little brother Brody Jenner. In high school, Brandon and Leah formed a rock band and by their early 20s, the two were in love.
“We grew up on the beach so we’ve always sounded mellow,” says Brandon of their early recordings. “That is still a consistent thread, but now our music is a bit more lo-fi and honest. We’ve settled into our strengths.” Where previous recordings like “Vaseline” and “Life Happens” recalled the sounds of Jack Johnson and Colbie Caillat, tracks on Cronies, like the jazzy “Boom Boom Boom” and the bleak and sultry “House of Cards,” tap into the pair’s edge and push the range of Leah’s honey-coated coo.
The primary architects of their songwriting and production, Brandon & Leah, who will perform at Los Angeles’ the Troubadour in November, are grateful for the promotion they receive on E!. “Things have spread nationally and internationally since the shows are syndicated to a lot of countries,” says Brandon. “It’s huge and overwhelming. It’s what we’ve strived for.”
Hesitant to join Keeping Up With the Kardashians for the first seven seasons because they valued their privacy, Leah says they decided to jump in front of the cameras now, “To represent another side of the family.”
And the recent plot twist involving Brody calling out father Bruce for being an absentee dad has them doing just that. "I went through the same thing with my dad a few years ago and we began to get a more solid relationship,” confesses Brandon. “So I don’t feel stuck in the middle.” Similarly, Brandon says Brody and Bruce's relationship has begun to mend. "On the show it’s like the subject is on steroids," he adds. "The conversations don’t happen as naturally. But, I feel really happy that Brody and my dad have been able to let go."
With a new EP in the works, which Brandon describes as “a bit more grimy” thanks to additional production by Bob Marley producer Lee “Scratch” Perry, it seems the recent Jenner family strife would make for biting material. But Brandon says, “Our lyrics typically draw on other people’s experiences. But to really open up and talk about things that make you vulnerable is part of the progress.”