Bonnaroo and Heat
A few weeks ago, I sent out tweets, Facebook posts, emails, and used everything shy of carrier pigeons to spread the word that I would be at this year's CMA Fest in Nashville, TN. I had scored some free tickets and thought it would be an interesting experience from a musician's perspective. I do not necessarily care for country music in general but the handful of artists I like made me feel that the trip would be worth it. But once I realized that I would be traveling from Chattanooga to Nashville in the midst of Bonnaroo traffic and that I would be outside in 98 degree weather for 6 hours before the event I had tickets for even began, I decided that not dying would be the preferable option, especially considering I hadn't paid anything for the tickets.
However, I had already lined up a few interviews. So through a handful of emails and scheduling resolutions, I was able to get ahold of a few artists who wanted to talk about their music.
Today we're talking about Erica Bryan.
What got you started in music?
Well, I think my mom basically got me started even before I knew what I wanted or could do. She would always take me to auditions and before I knew it I was loving everything about them.
So you were "stockholm syndromed" into being a star.
Haha! Not exactly, the little push from my mother was really what triggered my love for it and after that first audition, I never wanted to stop performing.
You always hear of the negatives of this type of interaction (e.g. sports, fashion shows, etc.), but honestly, Erica seems genuinely happy that she was pushed this way. That little push influenced her to use her talents of not just singing, but also playing guitar and ukulele.
Who are you listening to right now?
I love Grace Potter! If I ever do not know who to listen to, I go to Grace Potter and Nocturnals The Lion The Beast The Beat. And I love NEEDTOBREATHE. Every album they have is good and I could listen to their stuff forever because I like the soul stuff a lot.
I will admit it. When I asked this question of a country singer, I expected some famous country star to be the answer. But no, it was one of the most rockin females in the industry and one of the most soulful bands in rock. This led to a small discussion on how I am actually not a country fan. Thankfully she did not hang up on me.
Your influences definitely shine through on your album, which could be why I do not enjoy country but I thoroughly like your EP.
Thank you! Well in the EP I put stuff in for everybody, hopefully. Maybe not the heavy metal fans or punk people but i'm hoping to at least get some of them.
You're practically a rockstar with a country accent.
I like to think so.
Is that a good or bad thing? Country seems to be inhaling "pop" fumes and losing its mark in the world of rock n' roll. However, you are doing something completely opposite; do you think that will hinder you at all?
I am hoping there is a space for my EP for sure. It is not your typical "country" album so that could hurt it to some degree because as you know, radio and major labels don't take chances anymore so anything that's "out of the box" and not instant money for them. I think that could potentially hinder me but I can sleep at night knowing that I enjoy my music.
So I can officially put on record that you will not ever "sell out."
Yes! Hold me to it.
It is sad that this was so refreshing to hear. In a world saturated with people who are in it for the money, it is nice to see and speak to a true artist that is in it for the art and what is even better is that the passion is obvious in her music. There are two kinds of people in the music world: the type that goes for the easy fame, gets on a major label, has the capacity to quickly hit the radio, and then fade away after a few years, and then you have the artists like Erica. She knows that she is doing something different, so instead of fitting in with the industry, she goes out and makes her own label and works as independently as possible. This type of artist isn't necessarily rare, but they are definitely under the radar. I have personally seen this attitude in the rock/alt/hardcore scene but this is a first that I have seen it in the country scene (maybe we aren't so different after all).
How are you looking to overcome any hindrance due to breaking the current country mold?
I think that my music is unique and that it doesn't all sound like country. I have two songs on the EP, "Sad Song" and "Immune to You," that aren't country at all. They are like Adele-like epic songs. So I think having those makes me different but at the same time I also have an "americana" song called "Gypsy Like" that is super acoustic-guitar driven with an epic instrumental in there. I am not trying to do country, I'm just trying to do good music and I just hope that people will like it. I started my own record label to put my music on and I am hiring a publicity team that is working on pushing the EP; but I can only go so far. If you do not have deep pockets or radio connections it does make things much more difficult. To independently get my songs on major stations, it would cost me about $50,000 per month.
You seem to be getting quite experienced in the business side of things while being an artist as well. I would argue that most up and coming musicians do not realize that this whole business aspect is just as important as the music. Would you say that's the most difficult thing to overcome when starting out?
A lot of people do not realize the work that goes into this. I had to be my own publicist, my own marketing team, my own booking agent, and my own producer at the end of the day (I hire people but I am the one ultimately making the decisions). It really is like doing a startup business, but you have all of the roles of the business and I think people are like "I just want to sing" and "I'll get discovered" but you literally have to run a business for yourself if you want anyone to hear you.
So when can we expect an album release date?
The album release is set for July 15. We are having our release show on July 1 in Atlanta at Smith's Olde Bar with my good friends Amsterdam Station (who is also having an album release as well). You can purchase physical copies of the album early at the show or you have to wait a few weeks for it on streaming services (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, etc.)
Check out Erica Bryan as soon as you can. Honestly, if you enjoy country or rock/alternative/indie styles, you will like what she has to offer. In a genre that is currently being derailed by the incorporation of pop and dollar signs, she and those like her could be the redeeming factor for the world of country music. I only hope that what she does catches on so that country and go back to its roots and not become a byproduct of pop music.
Details on her show will be below along with a link to her website. We discussed a follow-up interview after her tour and album has released, so we will speak with her again in the future. I will also be posting a track-by-track album review soon. If you want to experience an artist with pure passion for what she loves to do, Erica Bryan is who you are looking for.