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Growing Up

I grew up in Southern California, in the Los Angeles area in the 1980’s. As a kid in that area, I often found myself in the wrong place, at the wrong time. I wasn’t usually in any sort of danger or threat, but was often in positions where I would see things, that just weren’t right. I’d see crime, injustices, and unfairness. I’d see people getting beat up, robbed, and worse. I wasn’t ever looking to see those things, but there I was. A lot of those things left impressions in my head that were hard to deal with. Rebelling against everything became my way of living. I spent most of my early life, misinterpreting circumstances, coming to my own conclusions about things that I didn’t understand, and made decisions that I felt were justified, based on my own experiences.

 

That was stupid.

From junior high school through college, that rebellious attitude drove me into bitterness and violence. When I got tired of fighting physically, I learned to rebel using the mantra “Peace, Love, Unity, Respect.” Yep, I became a raver, and was fully entrenched into that culture as both a DJ and a partier. Ironically, with all of the production and lights that came with raves, clubs, and festivals, life got much darker for me, in spite of all of the success I had in that world. That success led me to believe that I had all the answers and could do anything I wanted. I had met the love of my life as a sophomore in high school, so she was with me through all of that madness. We ended up getting married shortly after college, and set out together on a trajectory that led both of us to fall flat on our faces. The Bible is right – there is a great fall that follows a spirit of arrogance.

Thanks be to God, the saving grace of Jesus Christ changed our lives. In one moment, God showed me that the way I was living, would not only lead to death, but hellfire! My success was a hoax. My money meant nothing. The friendships I thought I had, were worthless and vain. My marriage at that point, was nearly dissolved. My ambitions were skewed, and the things I thought I did well, were just an expression of an arrogant attitude to hide the inner desire to rebel against everything. In a moments time, the LORD put all of these truths in my face, and I had a decision to make. I could keep on living as I was, pretending to be a good person through the lies of my life; even pretending to be a Christian when it was convenient for me. Or, I could turn, and let the LORD show me what REAL living looks like.

The day the LORD called me and redirected the course of my life – by force – He also called me to be a teacher of His Word. I had no previous desire to do so. I had no training. I had no resources. Still, the LORD made it clear. He was going to use a self-righteous hypocrite to teach His truth; and since then, He hasn’t been shy about reminding me of my true nature to keep me in check. He was going to prove the extent of His mercy, His grace, His patience, His power, His wisdom, and His righteousness by using me in ways that I still can’t understand. That was over fifteen years ago.

So here I am today. Many years later, the LORD is still putting up with me. He’s still using me to teach His Word, by keeping me locked into Him as a student and servant. These days, He’s taken the creative part of me, refined it for His purposes, and put a camera in my hand. You learn that, as you study the Bible and speak about it, the Word changes your perspective about life. It altars your worldview by correcting our focus to spiritual, eternal, and heavenly things. He's shown me how to recognize and see complex Biblical concepts and principles, in action, in real life. So now, I use my camera to capture those things to communicate the truth of scripture that way. Now, I use a camera to capture and shape light, hoping to show the rest of the world, the truth and goodness that God showed me of Himself, to try and keep people out of the darkness that God rescued me from.

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Why the name
b.Side?

I learned to DJ when I was young – twelve years old. So, I had a lot of changes, transitions, identity-crisis’ and such, throughout my DJ career. When I was in junior high school, I thought that “DJ Abduction” was the coolest DJ name in the world! Nope! It wasn’t. So, when I became more “refined” and “mature” in my college years, I figured I needed to make a name change. I was moving out of the underground rave scene, into the more-legit club scene and went by my actual name for a while – Brandon Anthony – my first and middle name. But as I was also starting to do music production and such, wanted something a little more singular that I could use as an alter-ego of sorts. 

I was talking with a buddy of mine about it, and the name “b.Side” just came out as a suggestion. When he explained his thinking, it kind of made sense. My name is Brandon. The name b.Side starts with a “B.” That works. He said that, my style of DJ’ing and production reminded him of the B-side tracks on records. I wasn’t the pop radio version on the A-side. I was the track on the flip side, that wasn’t necessarily popular, but was still dope to a select group. I realized that I had spent most of my DJ career up to that point, digging for B-side mixes of songs that I could layer and take to dancefloors. So, that’s what I went with. I didn’t come up with the name myself, but I liked the idea at that time, for those simple reasons.

Since becoming a believer and servant of Jesus Christ, this name has come to have MORE meaning for me. Now, the “A-side” concept reminds me of the “natural” me. The selfish version of me. The version of me that lived as a bitter, rebellious, arrogant, and self-righteous jerk. I don’t want to be that guy. I want to be the b.Side version of that guy. I want to be the LORD’s remix of that first guy. So, where I used to spell my name “B-side” with a capital “B,” I now use the lowercase to remind myself that I must decrease, so that the LORD can increase. I put the period there instead of the dash, to remind myself that this new version of myself has an end, and it isn’t about me. There is a distinction between me, and the One who is making use of me. Anything that people might find commendable in me, is because of the mercy, grace, patience, and salvation of the LORD, through the work of Jesus Christ, not me. 

Then there’s this other part. I’m still me, kind of. I’m still different. I’m still non-traditional. I still have a “counter-culture” way of thinking. These days though, the LORD has shown me how to use that rebellious attitude for His good. I learned that Jesus had a little “rebel” in Him also. When He came into the world, He rebelled against the religious traditions of the Jewish religious leaders. Jesus was TOTALLY righteous and perfect in every way, but He was totally contrary to the ways of religious culture that ultimately kept people away from God the Father, and His real purposes. As God in flesh, Jesus knew that the key to having the approval of the Father, is NOT by adhering to manmade standards. So, a great deal of Jesus’ public ministry was aimed at breaking down the traditional structures that were actually separating people from the truth of God, and the good things He does. I dig that! 

That’s a little bit of how the LORD has used me. Over the years, the LORD has used me to compliment the work of established churches and pastor/preachers. I just sound different. I work different. I communicate different. To me, the true church of Jesus Christ, and the ministry that He’s called me to, essentially sing the same song, founded on the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. My presentation just has a different beat to it. The hook is chopped up with scratching and effects, instead of the pristine-clean and refined version. I figure, I was in a culture like that, and there were A LOT of other people like me in that culture. Don’t they need to know the truth of the LORD too, in a dialect and style they can understand? 

 

So that’s what I do. That’s why I keep the name. As a creative guy, I’ve learned to communicate in different artistic mediums, now mainly through photography. There aren’t a lot of pastors and preachers teaching the truth of scripture using turntables, drum machines, and digital cameras. But I hear that there are a few people out there that understand the dialect of music, photography, and the arts. I hear there are a few people out there, that are also “counter-culture” dance freaks that thrive in creative expression. I hear there are a few people out there that are pretty turned off by the traditional structure and function of the modern church, and as a result, are totally clueless about the truth of who God is. So, I’m here to take the things the LORD has given me, the interests He’s turned me to, the skillsets He’s gifted me with, and hopefully use them to keep a few people away from the pitfalls that almost destroyed my life…

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