I grew up in Southern California, in the Los Angeles area in the 1980’s. As a kid growing up 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 happen, 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. So, growing up, my hero became Batman. I loved the idea that there was a man out there that also saw things, but had the resources and courage to do something about it. So, I got into fighting. I learned to value confrontation if I believed it could result in a good outcome. Batman taught me that, people can’t always agree on “the right thing,” or the proper way to go about doing the right thing. So, I figured that rebelling against everything would be right…
As a kid in Los Angeles in the 80’s and 90’s I grew up in a lot of stuff that people just saw on TV. The gangster rap culture was more than just a music genre out there. The riots were more than just a news story to some of us. As a kid, racism was a real thing, but we didn’t even know why. I just remember growing up in predominantly black and Hispanic areas, as someone who wasn’t black or didn’t speak Spanish. Making friends with people, learned that there was a lot of tension between them and the people that looked different than them. It was hard for me. Making friends was tough. So, I leaned into rebellion some more…
All that to say, I spent most of my early life, misinterpreting circumstances, coming to my own conclusions about things I didn’t understand, and made decisions that I felt were right, based on my own experiences. That was stupid. When I got to junior high school, that led to bitterness, anger, and violence swelling within me. When I got to high school, that was amplified. I had decided for myself, that I didn’t need other people, since other people didn’t seem to be concerned with me.
That was my perception at least.
So, in my mind, I tried to do like Batman...
I went on this mission to make as much money as possible, on my own, to try and use resources to fix things that I perceived were problematic. In reality, I was just on a pursuit to prove to others that I was better than they were, and that I didn’t need them to accept me. That attitude took me to a high peak, at which point the LORD pushed me off, causing me to fall flat on my face. Don’t get me wrong, my selfish ambitions took me to some pretty crazy places, and I was able to have some success and do some pretty cool things. I did more by the time I was 22, than a lot of people were doing in their whole lifetime. All that did though, was inflate my ego, so that when it all came crashing down, it was hard to deal with the truth of how empty I really was the whole time.
Thanks be to God, and the saving grace of Jesus Christ that changed my life. In one moment, He 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 relationships 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 arrogance. 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.
In all honesty, I didn’t have a choice. When the LORD opened my eyes to these things, He audibly spoke to me asking, “Do you hear Me now,” like the old Verizon commercials. He had been calling me for a LONG time before that day. I didn’t respond to Him sincerely, because I figured my ways were just as good as His. I remembered the terrible things that were imprinted into my mind, and had convinced myself that, the things I was seeking to do, were more noble than my perception of the LORD’s inactivity. A lot of people think that, because bad things happen, and we don’t get our way, God is lazy, indifferent, weak, or just mean. I was one of those people. But, when the LORD called out to me, and began to show me who He REALLY is, I learned how wrong I was. The more I learn how wrong I am, the better life seems to get these days.
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 to me; and use me since I had spent a good deal of my life accusing Him of weaknesses in those areas.
That was over fifteen years ago. Since then, He has indeed proved Himself to be the essence of good, the essence of truth, and the purest brand of righteousness and love, that the world had not showed me before – not even in church. When the LORD called me that day, He made it clear that He could have ended my life at any time previous to that; and I’d had some REALLY close calls! If He would have done so, I would have gone to hell. Not okay. In that moment, the LORD proved His mercy as well as His righteousness, and as He called me to be a teacher of His Word, committed my life to know who the LORD REALLY IS, based on what HE has to say for Himself in His Word; and doing everything I can to make sure others know the same truth, in hopes from keeping them from living like the arrogant idiot that I was…
So here I am today. Many years later, the LORD is still dealing with me. He’s still using me to teach His Word, by keeping me locked into Him as a student and servant. Growing up, I went to church with my parents and did youth group things. I even responded to probably three altar calls and got baptized at a retreat. Even still, I lived life my own way, never really being told who God was. People told me ABOUT God, and referred to Jesus as LORD and Savior, but no one really explained. I had questions that no one really addressed. When the LORD called me into ministry, I wanted to make sure no one else was put in that position if I had the opportunity to address it. Lots of churches mention Jesus. Lots of churches teach scripture, going verse by verse to cover every basis. That doesn’t always mean that people are learning about who God is. I learned how common it is to read the Bible, and somehow look for yourself in God’s testimony, instead of looking to know God from His testimony. I know as people, we’re all imperfect, and are going to make stupid decisions. When the LORD called me into ministry, I just wanted to make sure that the people the LORD put me in contact with, at least had the right basis of truth concerning God’s TRUE nature, character, attributes, and integrity. Whatever they do with that truth, is on them. But when the LORD called me to teach, He called me to communicate the truth about who He is, using the Bible, and only the Bible. So that’s what I do…
Why the name
I learned to use DJ’ing as my way of living rebelliously. Rebellion for self-righteous standards was kind of the mantra of my life for the most part. Since Jungle, Drum & Bass, Techno, and House Music were considered “counter-culture” music styles, and “underground,” I latched to them like static on vinyl. Still, being part of an underground culture wasn’t rebellious or different enough for me. If I was going to be a DJ in this scene, I had to do it different in my mind. I wanted to take a different approach to DJ’ing compared to the DJ’s I was into. I liked how the New Jack Swing era of Hip Hop and R&B was blending a lot of different styles to create these singular dance tunes. There was singing, rapping, the beats were at dance tempo, but hit hard like Hip Hop drums. So, I got into blending songs, looking to put songs together in the mix, almost like a live remix. I wanted to take the cool elements of one song, and ride them out with the cool elements of another song to intensify the energy and creativity of the song.
When I was in junior high school, I thought that “DJ Abduction” was the coolest DJ name in the world! That mess was stupid! So, when I became more “refined” and “mature” in my college years, I figured I needed to make a change there. I was playing out at a lot of places, but was moving out of the underground rave scene, into the more-legit club scene. I went by my actual name for a while – Brandon Anthony – which is 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,” so that works. He said that, my style of DJ’ing 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 even come up with the name myself, but I liked the idea at that time, for those simple reasons. The name had a “B” in it. It was another way of communicating my “counter-culture” rebellious attitude to show people, “I’m different than you.”
Here’s something funny to me. I come from the music and entertainment business. When I told people my name was b.Side in that culture, no one blinked an eye at it. When I started volunteering in churches, working in ministry, teaching the Bible in places, “church-folk” would trip out that people called me b.Side. Over the years, I’ve been approached by churches for various reasons, and the leadership folks I’ve talked to, always seem to be tripped up by that name. I guess you could call it culture clash? Maybe they assumed I went by that name for other reasons? I don’t know. Either way, here’s the true story behind that name.
I started DJ’ing in junior high school. As a kid, I spent a lot of time with my grandma, usually listening to oldies. Oldies just aren’t that cool to an elementary school kid. In junior high, the gangster rap thing started to get popular around me, but I hated that stuff. I hated the culture more than the music. To me, it brought more problems than good. I was a kid with energy, I liked to move. My family loves to dance. I loved to dance. So, when New Jack music came out, the soundtrack to my life was unofficially produced by Teddy Riley. My parents liked New Jack too, but my mom was really into the 80’s electro pop stuff, and then later got into the 90’s pop stuff that I totally hated! My dad wasn’t a huge music fan. He was more of a Classic Rock guy, which was okay, but not really fun to dance to. I remember seeing Run DMC on TV and just staring at the turntables. I went to a backyard wedding as a kid, so I was able to get up close to the DJ equipment, and the equipment called out to me like some Lord of the Rings enchantment. I loved the idea that I could stand behind all of that cool equipment, and play whatever I wanted, and use the music I liked, to make other people dance.
That wedding DJ sucked though. I just remember him trying to mix and blend, and the trainwrecks constantly interrupted the dancing. I realized that there was a skillset involved. So, I stole a broken belt-drive turntable from some spot in 8th grade, put a rubber band in it to get it to spin and change pitch, and learned to beat match. The problem was, I didn’t really have a record store around me where I could find New Jack records. My cousin though, had turned me on to some of the underground stuff that was coming out of the Los Angeles rave and warehouse scenes in the early 90’s. Now THAT was dance music! Through one mixtape he shared with me, I found out about this new genre called Jungle, another called Techno, and this amazing style of dance music called House. The cool thing was, there was a record store close to me, that had those types of records, even though they didn’t have much. I was hooked.
So, people ask why I STILL use that name? Well believe it or not, since becoming a believer and servant of Jesus Christ, the LORD has shown me things in the Word that make this name more meaningful for me. Now, the “A-side” concept doesn’t resemble popular songs to me. Now, it resembles the natural me. The selfish version of me. The version of me that lived as an 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 God 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. In this sense, when I think of the name b.Side, I think about my relationship to the church. I’m not against church. I’m not against all traditions.
If traditional church – you know, the building with pews, pulpits, preaches, and pastors – is “the A-side,” I’m the “B-side.” We’re ultimately songs based on the same central and core melodies and harmonies. I’m just this cool remix of the same song, presented by the same label, to reach a wider audience.
An audience made up of people that aren’t into the “pop” side of things. That’s just how the LORD has used me in ministry. 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 kept that name. As a creative guy, I’ve learned to communicate in different artistic mediums. 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 other people away from the pitfalls of ignorance, bitterness, arrogance, and self-righteous hypocrisy that almost destroyed my life…