Many people currently quarantined without a partner are feeling their singlehood extra strongly right now, and that can be both a liberating thing and a lonely thing. Singer-songwriter Bryce Drew explores both aspects of the single life in her music, but her song “21” focuses on the lonely side.
“When I was younger, it all seemed so simple / Thought meeting someone was inevitable / I’m not talking diamond rings / Just looking for someone who gets me,” Drew sings candidly, about making it to 21 without ever being in love.
The rest of her songs share the same relatable, conversational lyrics and mellow sound, inviting the listener into her life as she tells little bits of stories like “I thought I found my dream apartment / With all I ever wanted, turned out / It could’ve been a closet” (“Lucky Number”) and “I have an entire queen bed to myself / I don’t have to share the covers with someone else” (“Love Life”). Her videos have the same effect, showing vignettes of what the viewer could imagine as her life, or even as their own lives.
For the release of the video for “21,” we talked to her about the inspiration behind her songs and her path to becoming a musician.
AF: Tell me about your musical background and how you got where you are today.
BD: I’ve been singing my entire life. I was obsessed with music as a kid, memorized every word to every song in every movie. I was pretty shy when it came to singing in front of other people, though, so I joined the choir. That’s how I got my start on stage. I went on to attend music magnet programs for middle and high school and picked up the guitar on my own at 16.
Sixteen was a year full of loss for my family and I, and my first songs came out of coping with that loss. It was then that I really realized the power of music and the level of passion I had for it. A few years later, I moved to Nashville to study songwriting at Belmont University. My four years there were spent building my craft, writing every day, playing, and going to as many shows as possible. I was on a writing trip to LA a year after graduating when I found myself in Greg Wells’ [Adele/Katy Perry/One Republic producer] studio. I played him three of my songs, and he said, “Let’s make a record.” So I jumped at the opportunity, moved to LA a few months later, and began recording. And that’s what you’re hearing now. “21” was the first song I played for Greg that day.
AF: What inspired the song “21”?
BD: I wrote “21” in college on a night I called all my friends to meet up and they were all out on dates. I think it just hit me that everyone around me seemed to have found some version of love, and I was still waiting. The song to me is about patience, expectations, acceptance, and the frustration that naturally comes with those things. The age “21” is a standout one to me because it’s the age my parents were when they first met, and the age most of my favorite artists were on their first records about love and heartbreak, so I guess I always had a vision for where I’d be romantically by then.
AF: What was the concept behind the video?
BD: The video was filmed in my apartment and on one of my favorite beaches in Malibu, Zuma. I am from Miami, Florida, with a Trinidadian background, so I’m sure you can guess that the ocean is an important place to me. It’s where I run to process life and emotions. So, the concept is me venting to the ocean, asking for patience and understanding in love.
AF: A lot of people can probably relate to the idea of expecting to find love by a certain age and then not having that happen. What would be your advice for other people in that situation?
BD: Comparison kills. It’s also natural. Allow yourself to feel, but remember that we all are on our own path. Try and enjoy your life where you are at as much as you can and let it unfold as it does.
AF: How does your song “Love Life” relate to this subject?
BD: “Love Life” is the sister song to “21”! It’s about me deciding to let go and enjoy my life being single in the meantime, making it clear that I’m not just sitting around waiting.
AF: What about your song “Lucky Number” — was there a particular experience that inspired that?
BD: “Lucky Number” was inspired by my move to LA. I was having the hardest time finding a place to live but was constantly seeing my lucky number everywhere. As difficult as the move was, it felt right in my gut, and that thing was my surefire reminder.
AF: The entire writing, recording, mixing and mastering process for “Lucky Number” was documented in an 11-part web series—what was the process like?
BD: It was crazy! Writing and recording are two really vulnerable things, and I’d never had a film crew in the studio before. It was nerve-wracking and exciting at once. I am so glad we have the process filmed to look back on because it was the first song Greg and I wrote together and the first song I ever released as an artist. On top of that, so many got to watch the song unfold and feel like they were a part of the process. Special stuff.
AF: What was it like to study songwriting, and how does that influence your music today?
BD: Studying songwriting was everything I needed as an 18-year-old with three songs in her pocket. I am a total music nerd and could talk about songwriting forever, so getting to break down lyric, melody, and song structure with my friends was right up my alley. It taught me a lot about how to navigate when I get stuck in a bit of a block. My professors used to speak about “keeping the antenna up” for lyric starts, and I find myself searching for inspiration everywhere I can because of that practice. It also taught me that a small edit can make a song a whole lot better and prepared me to be open to criticism.
AF: What are you working on now?
BD: I am currently editing the next music video! I am also writing for a bigger project to come. It feels nice to finally have music out and be able to connect with everyone through it. So, staying connected and building my audience is a big focus right now, too.
AF: What are your future aspirations down the line?
BD: When we can again, I want to tour! Internationally! With a full band! Have a fashion line. Make multiple full albums… create a world. I got dreams. This is just the start of them.
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