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Exclusive Interview with Musician Bryce Vine

by Benjo Arwas
by Benjo Arwas

Genre-bending singer and rapper Bryce Vine was born in New York City, where he lived in a humble apartment with his single mother. When he turned ten, his mother moved them to Los Angeles out of a desire to pursue acting. She eventually landed a lead role on the daytime soap opera Passions. It was here that Bryce discovered his love of music and entertainment, as his time spent on set with her helped him get in touch with his natural talent. In Junior High, Bryce fell in love with 90s R&B and, at the age of thirteen, convinced his mother to buy him his first guitar and began developing his own musical style.

Bryce continued on this path all the way through high school, even when obstacles were put in his way. When he was sixteen, he fell and broke his neck, but instead of letting that experience deter him from his path, he used it as fuel to continue on his way. He made a full recovery and joined a Punk Rock band, providing him his first experience with writing songs. He used one of those songs to get into the Berklee College of Music in Boston. It was at Berklee that he met his producer and musical soul mate Nolan Lambroza. Together, the two of them began creating music that incorporated influences from multiple genres and pushed the musical envelope.

About a year and a half ago, his debut EP “Lazy Fair” was released to rave reviews, his ground-breaking sound–a perfect mix of singable radio-friendly pop and cutting edge hip-hop–striking a chord with listeners around the globe. After “Lazy Fair”, he released “The Thug Song,” a satirical take on thug culture that tackled serious issues with a comedic flair, while also inventively sampling Green Day’s “Brain Stew”. He recently released a new EP on Spotify called “Lazier Fair” featuring creative, acoustic remixes of three of his most popular songs.  On “Lazier Fair”, Bryce gives these tracks a more relaxed, day-on-the-beach vibe. “Sour Patch Kids” is gifted with a new raw vocal verse, while “Where The Wild Things Are” is infused with a brand new Latin beat that is equal parts eerie and emotional. On the whole, “Lazier Fair” really showcases what a versatile musician Bryce Vine is.

As Bryce prepares to release a brand new album of songs in the next coming months, more and more listeners are anxiously waiting to see if he’ll continue this trend of releasing refreshingly unique tracks that are both fun and electrifying. A short time ago, I had the pleasure of chatting with Bryce about his musical influences, what musical projects he has on the horizon and his love for The Walking Dead. Keep reading to find out what Bryce had to say!

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

I live in Los Angeles, or New York. I grew up mainly out here and I went to school in Boston, at the Berkley College of Music. When I was in high school, I started a punk band, and it was time that I ever was writing my own songs, and I used one of those songs to get into the Berkley College of Music and they gave me a scholarship to go. And I met my DJ there and I still work with him.

Can you remember the first moment where you knew that you wanted to go into music?

I can definitely remember what age I was when it first hit me. I was just turning 13, and I didn’t play any instruments and I really didn’t know anything. All of a sudden, it just hit me. I had seen a band at the local teen center in my town a week before, and they were really, really good. They were my age but they were great musicians. I just thought that it was so excited to watch them be great musicians, and then I saw a comedy special on Comedy Central, featuring a guy named Steven Lynch who sang comedic, self-written songs while he played guitar, and they cracked me up. For some reason, between those two things, I just knew that I wanted to be doing that: to write and make songs myself and to make things funny and all that.

How would you describe your musical style?

I don’t know; that’s a loaded one. I try to write things that I think will sound good. My musical style changes all the time. The stuff that I’m working on right now sounds more like—there’s a song that I’m getting ready to put out called “Street Punks on a Freight Train” that sounds like a Clash song from the 80s, and then there’s one that I have that sounds like a 90s, George Clinton-funk kind of song , kind of a Bismark-y kind of vibe. Then I have one that’s a little darker. So, I don’t know, I don’t know. My style changes all the time, just as my musical interests change all the time.

That’s what I really enjoy about your music, too, is that you bring in so many different musical styles, and it’s never—I never listen to your music and go, “Oh, this song sounds like the other songs.” They are all really unique and that’s what I like.

Oh, wow! Thank you so much. That’s good. That means that I’m on the right track!

So, who would you say are some of your biggest musical influences?

My biggest influence as a writer is Stephen Jenkins, the lead singer of Third Eye Blind. Not many people will ever say that, especially rappers, but since I was 13, they’ve been my favorite band, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to pay more and more attention to the lyrics, especially being a writer; that’s usually the first thing that I listen to on a song. And the lyrics of the songs by Third Eye Blind are some of the best that I’ve ever heard. There’s a wide variety of tunes, because Stephen Jenkins graduated Valedictorian in San Francisco and he was a literary genius. So, it’s not that big of a shock if you know anything about him. I mean, he writes songs from the point-of-view of guy watching a girl that he knows, and how she’s been battered in a past relationship and how he wishes that she could be the same person from before she went through that, and I thought it was such a—I mean, no one writes about that kind of stuff. And it takes a whole different kind of person to be able to put themselves in somebody like that’s shoes, to consider somebody like that and sympathize with them and empathize. I always try to do that, now especially. I’ve been reading novels, lots of novels, from Stephen King to Michael Crichton to Bret Easton Ellis, trying to build characters in my own head so that I can write from other people’s perspectives also.

That’s really awesome! I’m a huge Third Eye Blind fan as well, and actually, my next question has to do with that, because I recently watched your video for Rhapsody TV where you talk about your favorite album being Third Eye Blind’s self-titled debut album—

Oh, you saw that? (laughs)

Yeah! Can you tell me if there were any other grunge or alt-pop bands that you were a fan of in the 90s?

Oh, yeah! Green Day I was a fan of, Pavement, Weezer, The Presidents of the United States of America…let me think, what else…I mean, I love 90s music, so even as far as Oasis and all that stuff. I grew up on all that stuff and I still love it!

I do too! I was a 90s kid and in my house growing up, it was pretty much all Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots. That was what we were raised on! And I have a vivid memory of my little brother when he was like two years old and Nirvana was really popular, and whenever he heard “Smells Like a Teen Spirit” on MTV, he’d come running from wherever he was in the house, grab a Cabbage Patch doll and start head-banging with it along to the music!

(laughs)

So, if you had to choose one of your own songs to represent you as an artist, who would it be and why?

I guess out of the songs that I’ve released, it would be “Guilty Pleasure” probably. It represents me pretty well as a person because I’m very nostalgic, almost to a fault, because I look back on things all the time and think “That was the best time of my life!” A couple years later, I thought that the times after the times that I thought were the best times of my life were actually the best times of my life! So I’m always a little behind with appreciating what is right in front of me. So that song has a sad quality to it a little bit, you know, but it’s also hopeful, so I think that just sums up who I am as a person.

What is your songwriting process like?

(laughs) I wish I could say! It’s a “minutes or months” sort of deal; I either write a song and it will only take me a couple of days because I know exactly what I want to say—or a couple minutes, a couple of hours—or I will never finish a song because I can’t think of the right things to say. I’ll sometimes start a song on my own when I’m driving in my car on the way to the studio by putting something into the voice memos in my phone and then go back to it later. Sometimes I’ll write the beat for a song myself on my phone on a flight using Garage Band, and sometimes my producer will come up with a beat and I’ll write to that. Or I’ll play guitar and write like that. There’s never really a process. There can’t be because any time that I start getting in to a routine is when I stop being about to write.

So, let’s talk about your new EP “Lazier Fair”, which, by the way, I love the title. Why did you decide to make that the title?

When I was fifteen to about the time that I left for college, we lived on a lake in my hometown. My mom had a townhouse out there and there was this cool manmade lake named West Lake or Lake Sherwood. And my mom had a boat called Lassez-Faire, the way that it is actually spelled, and we had so much fun on that boat. My friends and I would take it out at night. We’d take it out in the summer, and eat and drink on it and jump off rocks and play our favorite songs. To this day—for all of my friends—those were some of the best memories that we have. So, yeah, that’s definitely where it came from.

How long did it take you to remix these songs?

It took—we’ve been doing these three songs since I want to say May, maybe? Yeah, May; I’d say that we started in May. It wasn’t even me putting in the majority of the work on these; it was the guy who engineers, who’s my manager’s brother and my tour manager. I sang the stuff and played guitar and worked with them, but as far as making the songs sound awesome, it was all them.

So, what do you think that your fans will appreciate about these new remixes?

Just that we were willing to do it. I think that what they’ll like is giving them something that they love in a different way. They appreciate it. Don’t get me wrong; very much so, this was one of those things that my manager came up with the idea for and I was like “Sure, let’s do it!” And then we did it, but what I really want to do is release new songs. We just got to make sure that they’re ready, which is why I’m releasing the first one next month. This was just something to hold people over, really.

That’s so cool, too, that you get music and stuff out so quickly, because there are some artists that it takes five years before you even hear from them again!

Oh, I am one of those artists! Definitely! I mean, “Lazy Fair” came out—I didn’t realize it—but “Lazy Fair” came out a year and a half ago, and I’ve only released one new song since then and that was “The Thug Song.” And now I’m about to finally release six or seven new songs. It takes me awhile. The whole process takes a while. I wish I was a faster writer but then again, I write better than a lot of people, so…

I think your songs are better than a lot of people’s too, so you take all the time you need! Can you talk a little more about your new songs that are coming out?

Yeah, I’d love to! The first one that we are releasing is called “Los Angeles,” and that one is a very personal song that sums up the last six months of my life. The vibe of it is—I live in a city where it is very hard to ignore how affected it is and without morals, kinda (laughs)—so I was getting sick of being here and I just wanted to travel because I felt that no one around me knew anything about the world and had no concept of what was going on elsewhere, which is when I started to read, a lot. And it was a specific book called Travels by Michael Crichton that really inspired me in a different way to kind of change my routine a little bit. So this song, I just love it. It’s a different vibe for me too. And then we have a couple of party songs that are really fun. We have a song called “Our House” that sounds like a 90s kind of throwback. And then the song that I told you about that sounds like a Clash song a little bit; that one is called “Street Punks on a Freight Train”. And that’s the first song that I’ve really written in the sense that I made up a story in my head and decided to tell it. Basically, I went to the extremes of trying to create characters so I thought about what a relationship between a skin head and his girlfriend would be like, and how that would be like a freight train. Then there is a song called “Private School” that’s about some of the people who I know in Los Angeles that have lived that life, that private school life. Have you ever heard the song called “Common People”?

Oh, yes!

It’s kind of like that, only a little more playful. So yeah, there’s a variety of things on the new album.

That’s awesome! I’m really excited to hear it.

Thank you! I’m excited to release it. It’s definitely different from “Lazy Fair.” Like anything, you have to grow as a person so that you grow as an artist also.

This is my last question for you, and it’s actually a two-part question. In your songs, you reference a lot of 90s TV shows, so I was wondering: which 90s TV shows were you crazy about and which current TV shows are you crazy about?

Ok, I loved “All That” on Nickelodeon! There was a lot of really good Nickelodeon shows back then, like “Ah! Real Monsters!”, “Rugrats”, “Legend of the Hidden Temple”, Nick At Night with all of those shows like “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” Remember that?

Yes!

What else was there? “Doug”, “Dexter’s Lab”, “Johnny Bravo” on Cartoon Network, “Dragon Ball Z.” A lot of cartoons. “Friends”, obviously. And now, there’s really only a handful of shows that I like, and pretty much all of them are on Netflix. I love “Narcos.” I just started watching that. Have you heard of “Peaky Blinders” with Cillian Murphy?

No, I’ve never heard of that one!

That’s a Netflix show. It’s great; I love it. I’ve been watching “The Walking Dead.” I’ve watched every episode. I actually need to see the first episode of this season that just came out. Do you watch any of those?

I’m a pretty big “Walking Dead” fan!

Have you seen the newest episode?

Yes, I have!

Don’t tell me!

I won’t tell you!

Is it good or bad?

It was good! It was very good! Yeah, I watched “Fear the Walking Dead” this summer and “Fear the Walking Dead” was kind of a bit of a letdown, so it was nice to—

Oh, “Fear the Walking Dead” was awful! It was terrible! And I knew it immediately, like right after the first scene, when the kid wakes up in the hospital and somehow no one has gone to check the church for zombies? I was like, “Alright, they don’t even have logic already!”

Yeah, my friends and I kept saying “Why do they keep trying to go hug all of the sick people? Even if they just think that their sick, why would you get close enough to hug them?!”

No one reacts like how a normal person would react on that show. What else is there that I watch? Oh, “Silicon Valley”! It’s an HBO show. It’s by far my favorite show.

That’s a really good one, too.

It is so good! And there’s one more that I just started last night, and it’s so good and you have to watch it and it doesn’t look like it would be good, but it’s so funny. It’s called “Rick and Morty”. It’s an Adult Swim show. It’s a cartoon and it is hilarious every episode. I was just sitting there last night with my arms crossed like “This is dumb. Why the hell am I going to watch this?” and I just could not stop laughing. We watched like six episodes. So, you have to check that out! I’m telling you to check it out!

You can follow Bryce on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brycevine

Twitter: https://twitter.com/brycevine

Instagram: http://instagram.com/brycevine/

Official Website: http://www.brycevine.com/

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