INTERVIEW: Brynn Elliott Talks Boston, Inspirations, and “Smart Pop”
Some people have a tough time dealing with pressure, some people thrive on it, Brynn Elliott is one of the latter. Elliott, a philosophy major at Harvard University is entering her senior year of college this fall. Now during summer recess, a lot of college students end up taking a summer job while they have the time. But it’s not often that their summer job is touring musician and budding pop star. That’s where Brynn Elliott comes in. When I asked her what inspires her most, she told me “High Pressure” situations like procrastinating writing a term paper and finding inspiration in the tension that’s there while she’s trying to get it done.
Pressure and tension was a topic we’d come back to a few times during our sit down. Attending one of the world’s most prestigious universities comes with plenty of pressure to start with, even when finding herself back in Boston for a date of the tour, Elliott couldn’t help dropping by her school, when I asked her how she balances school and music, she told me “It’s very difficult, but it’s good, it keeps me busy and I’m the kind of person who works well under pressure, so I feel like if I didn’t have that pressure of balancing both, I wouldn’t write the kind of songs that I do. But it’s been a blast and I’m excited to get back to school, I just had a meeting with one of my professors today about my thesis – I’m trying to get that somewhat alive and going. So it’s a good kind of tension.”
But the tension and pressure of getting the work done isn’t the only place Elliott finds inspiration in her studies, while discussing her song writing I joked with her about if she ever had plans for a song about philosophy, and to my surprise she told me she already had one. “So “Might Not Like Me” the song that was the first true pop single I put out was actually inspired by a class I took on women in philosophy and I did go through a break up – so it was partially that experience – but the class was very informative and a journey in feminism, and just studying a lot of women who had that attitude of ‘I don’t care, I’ll publish my own work! Even though it’s not the norm – I studied history of philosophy, and like women in the 1600’s publishing their own work was a big deal. So the song really came from that. So maybe it’s not so explicit that people are will know the meaning, but it’s there. And for me that’s what inspires me.”
Elliott says she’s hoping to bring some intellect to pop music, “Smart Pop” as she called it. “Smart Pop is the thing and I think there’s more people doing it right now so it’s definitely a conversation that I want to be a part of. I was just talking with another friend of mine on Monday, and she runs a blog and it’s a fashion blog, but it’s still a little more on the intellectual side, and she told me a lot of times it’s kinda like chocolate covered broccoli – you’re trying to write things that are complex but make them sound very simple. So yeah I’m definitely all about that kind of thing. I was thinking today about how every artist has that one thing, whatever they draw inspiration from that people might not know about.”
Elliott, an Atlanta, GA native also finds inspiration for her music in her surroundings, she told me that she first began writing songs when she spent six weeks in Boston with a high school program for an extended college tour. “I really feel like Boston is the place that really does inspire me in a way as an artist, because I wasn’t really writing songs in Atlanta.” She even told me that she enjoys Boston’s public transit system, the T – which is something most locals are not used to hearing. “I love the T so much! I grew up in Atlanta where we didn’t have any kind of public transportation and this is actually the first place I’ve lived where it’s pretty good, so I love that.” Because of her connection with the city, Elliott said she’s strongly considering staying in Boston after graduating to be a part of the local music scene. “I love Boston! Actually I don’t know that I’m gonna leave, I love this city, I’m a history person and and so I feel very connected to this town just in terms of American history – I’m definitely draw to the old vibes here.”
Elliott is also someone with a fire in her, a quick listen to her song “Might Not Like Me” you’ll hear the lyrics “If you don’t like girls that are smarter than you, you might not like me” it’s an empowering song where she’s showing a confidence in herself and her music.
Going against the grain is a passion of hers, she mentioned how in Boston, a lot of musicians who come here for college end up leaving right after they graduate. But Elliott doesn’t want to do that. “I think it’s a rare thing for people to stay, college students at least, to stay here, so I kind of want to go against that.” She’s always writing too, “Right now, I’m just writing as many songs as I can, I think I’m still as an artist in the stage of trying to figure out what kind of songs I write best. As well as what kind of songs that the people I’m playing them for respond to the most. So I’m just going to be writing songs and releasing singles, and just kind of see where I land in the world of releasing music. So there’s no big album or EP release planned at the moment, it’s kind of a new word in terms of releasing music. But I would say it’s a dream of mine to release an album but I think that will come when the time is right. I don’t know if I’m even ready for that yet. It’s kind of a big thing, and I would want to do it very well.”
This summer she’s keeping busy by going on tour with alt rock giants Lifehouse and Switchfoot, and in the fall she’s got even more plans “I’m gonna be a senior, so basically just survive senior year that’s kind of the big goal, continue to tour as much as I can, I’m actually going to be doing a Boston headline show this fall which I’m really excited for, it’s kind of going to be a thank you and goodbye sort of thing to all my friends, I have some really supportive friends in school and in the area and I just wanted to have like a thank you party. So that I’m planning right now, and just tour as much as possible, write as much as possible, I’m always writing music so that’s really the goal too.” Brynn Elliott is a person who faces a lot of pressure and tension and that’s exactly how she wants it.
Brynn Elliott online:
Official Website: http://brynnelliott.com/
PHOTOS – Brynn Elliott @ House of Blues Boston – 8/9/17: