Brynn Elliott is a powerhouse singer-songwriter, creating heartfelt pop ballads that speak volumes to things we all go through in life. Hailing from Atlanta but now based in Los Angeles, Brynn was determined to be the first in her family to apply to college. While she was initially rejected by her dream school, Harvard, she reapplied a year later by submitting her music—and the rest was history.
Exploding onto the scene with her breakout single titled “Might Not Like Me,” which has amassed nearly 4 million views on Youtube alone, Brynn went on to tour with the likes of Why Don’t We, AJ Mitchell, and James Arthur. Currently signed to Atlantic Records, the rising star continues to put in the work necessary to make it to big leagues, with her live performances as a huge part of her artistry.
Now, she returns with her newest single, the highly-anticipated “Tell Me I’m Pretty.” Co-written with songwriter Michelle Buzz and the visual directed by Lauren Dunn, Brynn is both seen and heard projecting her value as a woman—despite society’s standards of what beauty is. The record holds fans over until the release of her forthcoming EP titled CAN I BE REAL?, slated to arrive sometime this year.
Flaunt caught up with Brynn via Zoom to discuss her love for Avril Lavigne, her name, the impact of “Might Not Like Me,” her debut EP, the inspo behind “Tell Me I’m Pretty,” studio essentials, the title of her new project, missing tour life, and more!
Your Instagram bio reads “lost in poems, found in songs.” Can you expand on that?
Yes, that’s supposed to be poetic in and of itself so there’s a little bit of mystery behind it. It’s basically me summing up how I love literature, poetry, and how I bring that into my music when I write.
Talk about being from Atlanta, and now residing in Los Angeles.
It’s funny, I grew up here, then I ended up coming back here. I was living in Nashville, songwriting out there. In March, I decided to move out of my place in Nashville. I was going to move to Los Angeles and the pandemic hit literally the week I was going to move to LA. I ended up hanging out with my parents and being roommates with them again for almost 6 months, then I moved to LA in October.
Biggest influences coming up?
I really loved Avril Lavigne, she was my #1. I loved how much of a rockstar she was. She embraced the freedom of being a live performer really well, I was always super inspired by that. I loved a ton of other pop female artists like Hilary Duff, Jessica Simpson, and Alicia Keys. I loved that pop world. When I was 14, my dad took me on a road trip down here in the South. We’re listening to the radio and this song comes on, it had almost an 3-minute intro. I’d never heard a song that had an intro, let alone a 3-minute intro. I was so drawn into this song, I asked “dad, what is this song?” It was “November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses, he’s like “you don’t know who they are?” I said “no! I don’t know who they are.” My dad spent all the liberty to educate me on all his favorite rock bands. CD stores were still a thing at that time so we literally pulled over on our road trip, went and bought all these CDs of his favorite artists. I have to say I love rock music as well.
Brynn Elliott is your real name, correct?
Yes, my mom wanted to name me Gabrielle but she felt Gabrielle Elliott was a bit of a mouthful. [laughs] A little confusing. How she got that name [Brynn] was really funny. One day, I asked her “what’s the significance behind my name?” She told me “I was pregnant with you, I was watching TV one day. There’s this chick band playing on MTV and the keys player was named Brynn.” She liked that name and named me that. I like that story because it makes me feel it’s my destiny to be a musician.
At what point did you realize you could do music for a living?
I’m still not convinced, [laughs] honestly in some ways that I could do this for a living. I’m so grateful I am doing this for a living, it’s a dream and I don’t want to wake up from it ever. When I was on tour for the first time in 2014, I knew then I wanted to pursue music more than being a songwriter, more than having a musical thing I did in my life. I wanted to be a performer. I wanted to play as many shows as I possibly could, so that’s what I did. That drive and love for live performance has opened doors and kept me going.
“Might Not Like Me” is at almost 4 million on Youtube, how does that make you feel?
I love that song so much. It’s my first single off Atlantic Records, I wrote that as my first pop song. It’s really exciting that the song’s done what it’s done, hopefully it’s inspired women and girls to be themselves no matter what.
Did you anticipate it would go up like that?
No, not at all. I got to promote it and hear it on the radio, I never thought I would hear any of my music on the radio airwaves. I did know when I wrote it that it was a special song, a song that’s catchy and stuck with people. I was hopeful it’d do well, but never thought it’d be real.
How have you evolved since your debut EP, TIME OF OUR LIVES?
When I wrote TIME OF OUR LIVES, I was in college. A lot of what I’m talking about in that EP is my college life, my experiences there with my friends, what I was learning about studying philosophy. That was almost 4 or 5 years ago. I graduated college on a Thursday, packed up my period piece times dorm room on a Friday, then on Tuesday I was on a plane to NYC to start promoting “Might Not Like Me.” Really since then, my life has been a lot about performing and promoting. That’s really interesting how it shaped my songwriting. When it came time for me to write my next project, I had to sit down and think “what am I going through? What am I thinking about right now?” That’s the magic of my first project, it’s a time capsule of my college experience. I’ve been thrown into this world and I’m so grateful for being an artist, but I wanted to make sure my music was authentic and my performance was really me. All the new music, my new single “Tell Me I’m Pretty” included, is all about that: being fully myself and hopefully encouraging others to be fully themselves.
What are you most excited about with “Tell Me I’m Pretty”?
I’m really excited about getting it out there, it’s a song about being a woman in the age of the internet. I’m excited to have a conversation with my fans, for anyone who hears this song about the internet and how weird it is, [laughs] being a person and human when we have to post selfies and promote ourselves. I’m really excited for the music video, it’s one of the biggest music videos I’ve ever done. It’s out of the box, I’m excited for the world to see that.
How is it out of the box?
It’s essentially a period piece. [laughs] I don’t know if you’re watching Bridgerton, but it’s really Bridgerton vibes. “Tell Me I’m Pretty” is this song about how the internet influences our self image. I want to show this idea of women being objectified in the media isn’t new with the internet, we’ve seen it throughout history. Back in the period piece times, which look like these really pretty times, it’s actually pretty not pretty. Women were wearing corsets and were in a lot of pain. I wanted to show they had corsets and we have filters. This is nothing new, it’s an issue that’s being exposed through the internet and social media.
How important is self-love and self-care?
It’s really important. I heard this quote by this modern poet, her name is Brianna Wiest. She has this poem about how self-care can be an ugly thing and I found that so intriguing. She’s talking about the notion of wearing a face mask and getting enough sleep are good, but it’s actually really hard to care for yourself. It’s a little bit of a fight. I thought that’s a really powerful way of talking about self-care, it can feel like that a lot. I hope my music encourages people to do that for themselves and their lives. For me, it’s something I want to do so I can be on stage and have enough energy to be doing performance.
What are some things you do for self-care?
I really prioritize sleep, I try to get 8 hours. I exercise. I’d love to say I enjoy every exercise every day, I don’t but it does really do wonders for my mental health. The other day I was talking to my mom, I was getting anxious and she said “I think you need to go for a run.” [laughs] She knows.
3 things you need in the studio?
Coffee is #1, that’s my go-to for songwriting. Everyone who writes with me knows that. I need a guitar, a pen or pencil and a notepad. I found that my songs were better when I write it down rather than typing into a computer. There’s something about being able to delete things so easily that can get in the way of the songwriting process.
What can we expect from your forthcoming EP, titled CAN I BE REAL?
In this world where I’m so grateful to be an artist and be promoting my music, I want to be the most authentic version of myself every moment of every day. CAN I BE REAL? is this question I had to ask myself, that resonated so much with me. A lot of it is I found it really hard to be myself. I’m a classic people pleaser. [laughs] Sometimes you’re not gonna make everyone happy, and that’s okay. The songs really come from that place, they’re inspired by what it means to find true authenticity in your life. Sonically, you’re gonna hear that come through with more organic production and instrumentation. I’m excited to shift there as well.
What do you miss most about touring?
[sighs] Every single thing. Even the terrible things like not getting enough sleep or maybe not having a shower for one day when you’re really going on the road, I miss everything about it. I miss the most sharing the experience. The one thing we’ve learned this past year is live music is a huge way that people come together. It’s gonna be a really good day when we can experience music together.
What are you most excited for in the new year?
I’m excited for hopefully our world to experience healing from COVID-19. That’s the biggest thing, I’m really hopeful for some positive things happening in that space. I’m excited to be releasing more music. Excited to write more music and when it’s safe, to play that music live.