Interview: Bryce Vine
New York-born, Los Angeles-raised rapper Bryce Vine is poised to strike big with his forthcoming studio album and Sire Records debut, Carnival.
His radio breakthrough came last year in the form of single “Drew Barrymore,” which earned major spins in multiple formats and 140 million online streams. Soon, Vine booked appearances on Late Night with Seth Meyers and the MTV Video Music Awards pre-show, and was selected by Pepsi to be featured in its burgeoning “The Sound Drop” new music campaign.
Vine’s artistic perspective is a conglomerate of influences that range from punk to alt-rock to gangsta rap (he cites Third Eye Blind, 2PAC, and J.Cole as important to his music education), all of which served as a necessary respite as he contended with the impact of depression and ADD diagnoses in his formative years.
“Music was therapy for me,” he explains in a label press release. “You can always find a song about something you’re going through.” Eventually, his persistence led him to a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, where he met his current producer, Nolan “Sir Nolan” Lambroza. In 2014, the fruits of their creative relationship resulted in Vine’s first EP, Lazy Fair.
Tonight, Vine brings his current US tour to Skully’s Music-Diner in the Short North for a sold out show.
I’ve been playing “Los Angeles” over the past day or two, and there’s some really vivid imagery in the lyrics. What aspects of growing up in L.A. have been most influential on you personally and professionally?
“I grew up just far enough outside L.A to not be jaded to the Hollywood scene. SoCal in general is an inspiring place for anyone who loves sunny weather, beautiful backdrops and iconic locations.”
Your mother is an actress and took a lot of risks to pursue her own dream. Has she instilled in you any advice or direction as your career as an entertainer has unfolded?
“She instilled in me a work and moral ethic that went against the typical Hollywood artist stereotype. My mom worked her ass off and stayed the same person and put me before everything. She also instilled a fear and understanding of drugs and how detrimental they can be.”
You’ve been exceptionally open about contending with depression and ADD. Do those manifest themselves any differently now that you’re in public view and your environment changes so quickly?
“I wouldn’t really know. I’m definitely less depressed [laughs]. Life starts to make more sense as it goes on. I still have trouble focusing especially now when there’s so much going on at once.”
I was watching a recap of your show at Firefly last year, and it was fun to watch how you connected with your audience. Was that the kind of moment you envisioned in your future when you first started making music?
“Absolutely. It was a huge win and wonderful feeling seeing ten thousand people jumping up and down with you.”
What makes your generation of rappers/musicians different than those that have come before you? What would you want people to know about your unique perspective?
“I’m part of a generation that is still searching for a place in history. It’s an experimental time for artists but also getting more difficult to stand out. I think my voice is unique because I talk about life, the good and the bad, and try to be as honest as I can.”
Your forthcoming album is called Carnival. Where has this record taken you creatively?
“I called the album Carnival because it is that – it’s colorful and exuberant and kind of all over the place thematically. I just wanted to make a body of work that could be the soundtrack for people’s lives.”
What are one or two records you always come back to when you need to feel recharged and grounded?
“The first Third Eye Blind album, and Channel Orange by Frank Ocean.”
Social media has changed a lot about how frequently artists hear from their audiences, but what do you hope your listeners would say if they were asked to describe what kind of an artist you are?
“I think they know that I’m on their side and have no agenda other than to bring more people together.”