Our Interview with ‘AGT’ Finalist, Brian King Joseph
Reading Time: 9 minutes
Brian King Joseph took the America’s Got Talent stage by storm in his audition this season. Not only did he share his amazing talent on the electric violin, but he also told the inspiring story of his journey with neuropathy. Known for his smile and high energy, Brian King Joseph continues to up her performances each week. Now an AGT Finalist, we talked to Brian about his experience on the show so far, his insane practice schedule, who he wants to collaborate with (hint: she was on AGT too!) and what we can expect from him in the Finals.
Talent Recap: “We have to start with last night’s Semifinals performance. It was amazing!”
Brian King Joseph: “Thank you. Thank you so much!”
TR: “How did you feel when Simon said you could win this whole thing last night?”
BKJ: “I felt incredibly motivated to do exactly that. I mean honestly, coming into this competition, from the date of my audition, I’ve always looked at wanting to win the whole thing. For me, I really think it’s important. I have to believe in myself. For all the things I’m going through and for what I’m doing on the stage, you really just have to have 100%, complete belief in yourself. So to have Simon say that to me, that he thinks I could win the whole competition, it really spurs me on to do that. It shows me that what I’ve been doing has worked in terms of believing in myself. I can really feel like I have the support of people like Simon and the rest of the judges. It really just motivates me.”
TR: “And you definitely have some fans over at Talent Recap! So what made you decide to audition for AGT this season?”
BKJ: “Well honestly, I’ve always loved America’s Got Talent. I’ve always watched it. I actually auditioned for the past three years to get on the show. Those past few times, I was still very sick, and it was a lot harder for me to do the things that I’m doing now. I feel like this year was just the right year. I really had a breakthrough in terms of being able to just get out of bed and go out there and chase my dreams. Honestly, I auditioned for a few talent shows and TV shows this year but AGT was the one that, when I got the call back, I said, ‘This is everything. I have to do this.’”
TR: “What’s it like being on the stage this year after going through all those auditions?”
BKJ: “This year, I’m on the Dolby stage. There’s this magic there where I feel like I’ve found a long-lost friend, something I’ve always dreamed about. Walking on that stage is really, really an experience for me. Even when there’s no one in the crowd. But the moments when the whole crowd is there, like last night, I felt like I was in my own movie.”
TR: “Yeah, there was some pretty epic staging happening last night.”
BKJ: “Absolutely. And for me, it’s just a blur. The things that I really remember when I’m performing, from my perspective, is those smiling faces. Those smiling faces looking back at me are the defining moments of my performance. Inside me, something happens. I feel a fire and a drive and a passion just magnified by the hundreds when I’m right there, in front of people, and they’re really connecting with me. It’s such a beautiful vibe.”
TR: “It’s crazy all you can do up there on violin. How many bows do you actually go through in a week?”
BKJ: “When we’re practicing like this for AGT, I go through about three bows in a week.”
TR: “And how much time a week do you spend practicing for your next performance?”
BKJ: “A LOT. Literally my day is pretty much completely consumed by practice. So when I wake up, I already have my song stuck in my head. And I play it over and over and over again. Literally from the moment I wake up, I’m in front of my speakers with my violin and I practice until I have just a few minutes left to get ready to go out and practice again.
On the way to the Dolby rehearsal space, I’m literally replaying my practice recording over and over again. On repeat. Like I think it would drive any normal person mad. But for me, practicing is so much remembering those muscle memory points, just to remember when I should be triggering them. It’s a big mental thing as well. Even when I don’t have my violin in my hand, I’m listening over and over again and air-fingering it to make sure I can do it and that I’ll remember it. It’s really all about memorization. Once I get out there, I don’t have any sheet music. It has to be perfect. That’s really my whole day. And honestly, it’s a lot. Especially for me.
But at the same time, I’ve found such a joy and such a new drive, that I’m able to push through all of this because of the passion that I have and because of the determination I have for doing this and for winning this competition. So really at the end of the day I’m happy because I’m able to push myself to new limits that I didn’t think I could. And now, I can see that I can just keep going up and up and up.”
TR: “That shows in your performances too! You’re known for your smile and energy. What motivates you through everything you’ve overcome to have that positive attitude?”
BKJ: “A big part of why I drive myself so hard, especially now, is that I really don’t want to be defined by my condition. I really don’t want to be defined by the hardships I go through. I want to be defined by what I make of them and how I can overcome them. It’s about what I can do in spite of what I’m going through. I’m not defined by my sickness. I really think that it’s important for me to bring joy and happiness to other people because for me, going through everything I’ve gone through, I’ve found that just having somebody to connect to or feeling like you’re not alone can make the difference of an entire lifetime.
And for me, knowing that I can make that happen with my music, that’s a big reason that I smile. Because isn’t that amazing? Isn’t that awesome for me to be blessed to bring that to them?”
TR: “I absolutely agree, it is an amazing gift you have and the fact that you can now share that with others is incredible.”
BKJ: “Yeah, I believe that everyone has something to contribute to this world. Regardless of the hardships or anything that we’re going through, everyone is special in their own way. We’re all here for a reason.”
TR: So shifting gears, you started as a violinist doing classical music. What made you transition to covering popular music?”
BKJ: “Well, I played classical for quite a long time, ever since I was four years old. I had gone through and learned all the performance pieces. I even competed at the state level quite a few times and won three blue state ribbons for competing even above my age group in classical music. At that time, I really looked up to a lot of classical composers, such as Vivaldi, Beethoven, Mozart, Paganini. The stories of these guys and how they would release their music and how they changed the world, I just wanted to do the same thing.
Looking into this new age that we’re in with modern music and what people are listening to, that’s not what’s dominating the charts. Somewhere in there, the translation of a lot of people’s favorite instrument, the violin, was lost. I feel like it was long overdue for this to happen. I myself was looking for the music I am making now when I was younger but there wasn’t much going on.
So I started playing with a guitar friend of mine. We took it to the street trying to make some money. It was there, on the street, where I really started to have fun with it. I got away from just playing what was already written and trying to write something myself. I think that’s where I found my groove. It’s a new style of playing violin. To me, it’s really cool! I really want to make other people interested in violin for a lot of different music genres. Violin is beautiful, and people love the instrument, but it’s taken a backseat in pop and modern music. I want to bring it back to the forefront. Violin should be played in an amazing and special way. It doesn’t have to be in the background. So I figured if no one else was going to do it, I would do it.”
TR: “Is there anyone specifically you look up to as a performer?”
BKJ: “Absolutely, I have so many people I look up to as performers. But one of my absolute favorites would be Itzhak Perlman. I studied him so much growing up, I think it’s perfect the way he relates to his violin and tells the story. He’s a legend and he’s so respected in the community. So he’s my number one. I’ve learned so much from him just by watching him.
And then I would also say I really look up to Hans Zimmer. He’s such an inspiration to me. I want to be just like him when I grow up. He is just perfect. The way he is able to bring emotion into movies with his soundtracks is incredible. It’s all about that connection and connecting with people. That’s why I love these guys!
Oh and also Vanessa-Mae! She’s such a cool electric violinist. I remember as a kid watching her play these crazy versions of classical songs with his electric violin. It was so loud and powerful. She’s amazing.”
TR: “You’ve played with Machine Gun Kelly and toured with Fetty Wap before, but if you could collaborate with anyone on a song, who would you want to collaborate with?”
BKJ: “You know who I think would be so cool to collaborate with? And I think it would be legendary. Me and…drumroll…Lindsey Stirling! She brought violin playing to AGT before and I thought it was amazing. And she’s done so much for the violin community since then! I think it would be a really cool collaboration, don’t you?”
TR: “Oh yeah, I think it would be awesome! Now to wrap it up here, what’s your strategy for the Finals next week if you make it through?”
BKJ: “I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve. I think that what I’m going to do for sure is just bring the highest energy show that AGT has ever seen from me. I definitely am going to work on something and make it my own as always. We’ve got a few surprises in there but you’re gonna have to wait and see.”
And we can’t wait to see what he has in store for us next week! Brian King Joseph will be in the Finals, competing to take the AGT crown. The competition will be tough, but at least Simon thinks he has what it takes to win it all!