At first glance, Bryce Vine is a tall and handsome young man who exudes confidence and charisma when he steps on the stage. Upon closer examination, we learn that while all of that is true, his story unfolds much more deeply.
The Manhattan native initially turned to music as a safe haven from the social awkwardness that typically comes with adolescence. He started a punk rock band with a few friends in high school, eventually scoring a scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music. There, he met his current producer, Nolan Lambroza (aka Sir Nolan) with whom he released his debut EP, Lazy Fair. While this seems like a solid trajectory for a growing artist, Vine is very vocal about his struggle with ADD and depression all the while. As he shared with us, his greatest joy comes from being "a person that connects people," and for that reason, he felt no need to hold back his thoughts on the importance mental health, politics (and the need for music as an escape from it), and his attraction to personality rather than looks.
Vine's breakout single, the 2017 "Drew Barrymore" which was later boosted by none other than Wale, continues to rack up upwards of 25 million plays on YouTube and Spotify. He was named "Artist On The Rise" by YouTube, along with continued praise from likes of People, Complex, LA Weekly, Earmilk, and more. Most recently, the hip hop virtuoso announced that he plans to support platinum pop powerhouse MAX on the House of Divine World Tour Part 1 – see all dates here.
Listen to Bryce Vine's latest danceable banger, "On The Ball," as you read our Q&A with the rising artist below.
OTW: You were diagnosed with ADD and depression as a kid. Tell us about how you overcame that through music?
Bryce Vine: When you're a kid, you don't know what depression means. It's just a word. You don't even know what ADD means, even if you're bouncing off the walls. They said that I had it, and it made sense for how I was doing in school. I don't think the effects of depression really hit me until my 20s though. I started taking Ritalin in elementary school, which basically kills your personality.
Around when I was 13, it made sense why I liked music so much because I was an only child going through adolescence, kind of awkward. I was really chubby growing up. There were a lot of reasons to feel uncomfortable in my own skin, and music just kind of made that okay. I would listen to songs and just feel really good. Old Green Day and Third Eye Blind stuff.
It was a way to deal with things without needing anybody's help. So then when I realized I could make my own songs I was like, "deal." It's self-therapy. I taught myself to play guitar when I was 13 years old, and then I just started writing songs from there.
OTW: And you started off in a punk band?
Bryce Vine: [Laughs] Yeah, in my second year of high school. It's called Goodsell. I can even send you some of the songs. We played together all through high school, and that gave me the outlet that I needed, it was great. I loved the people in the band. We first started playing house parties, and then we started playing venue shows that nobody came to, and then a couple friends started coming…obviously we're not famous, you've never heard of us. But it was the most fun I ever had playing music for awhile.
OTW: How did that transition into your current sound, that you've described as "Outkast and Blink 182 got drunk with The Gorillaz"?
Bryce Vine: [Laughs] It wasn't until Berklee actually. I auditioned to get into Berklee with a song I wrote and played on the guitar called "Good Action Movies Never Get Filmed in a Town Like This." I got a scholarship to go to Berklee and for the first two months, I didn't know what the f*** I was doing. At all. I was stressed out and depressed all the time. I went from being a medium fish in a small pond, to being a very small fish in a big pond.
I remember I even called my mom in the hallway of Berklee, and I was like, "I think they made a mistake." I had so much insecurity. She was just like, "Well, they seem to think you have something special." And I just went through the routine, practiced everyday.
And one day I heard beats coming out of some dude's room, and I knocked on his door and started working with him on what he was doing, which was sort of a Kanye Graduation, 808s and Heartbreak, kind of sound. I just kept trying different things, trying to figure out where I sat, where my lane was, what I sounded good doing. That's actually how I met some of the people who are now blowing up today. I got a message on MySpace in our old group at Berklee, it was called Crush Club. We put out like four songs on MySpace, and this DJ reached out to me like, "Yo this is dope, I have a rapper I think you should work with. You should remix this song." The DJ was Carnage, and the rapper was G-eazy.
OTW: How has your mom reacted to your success, and what's been her role along the way?
Bryce Vine: My mom's just cool, man. She's always had my back on whatever I wanted to do, and she knew early on it was music. She would've tried to talk me out of it; she was a struggling actress for a long time. We were living in a basement apartment in L.A. We had no money. I didn't know, I was young, and she always created a nice living environment.
OTW: What does she say now?
Bryce Vine: She's ecstatic. She loves being a part of it. I brought her out to Palm Springs for the KIIS show that we just did and she had a great time. On the way home, for the first time for me and for her, we heard my song playing on KIIS FM. It was huge. She's one of my best friends. It's cool when you see these things that you think are just too far out there to ever actually happen and then they happen, and now you get to make new dreams.
OTW: Do you have an end goal in mind?
Bryce Vine: I don't really have that. I have visions of things that I want to do, ways that I feel like I could be of use to the world other than just putting music together. I've always been a person that connects people. It's in my family, it's in my blood. Being the glue between people and introducing people to each other, and making them life-long friends. I love having a room full of people together that are all meeting at once and getting along. I want to make connections between people. I still have a long way to go. I just had my first song on the radio but I can now see where I want to take it and how I want to connect people.
Another good example is –I hope no one steals this– since the dawn of time of concerts, there's an hour period between when the doors open and when a band goes on. There's all these people in a room together that don't know each other, and they all have something in common: that they love music and they love who's there. Doesn't it seem like a perfect opportunity to meet new people and make friends? It's uncomfortable because we're used to being on our phones.
Once I'm Drake, then I can do these things easily, as opposed to when I'm still trying to rise on my own music. Which is why, especially, I work so hard to write good songs so I get there sooner.
OTW: Speaking of new songs, you have an album on the way.
Bryce Vine: It'll probably come out in 2019. It's called Carnival, because that's kind of what my mind is. It's loud and colorful, and there's a lot going on. It'll probably be about 15 songs. Right now I'm just working on singles.
OTW: Are there any particular themes?
Bryce Vine: There's a lot going on. I have this song called "Foghorn Leghorn," which is just about how I see the world now in kind of a satirical way. "Facebook is now the news" is one of the lines. It's things how I see things from a non-political stance. I try not to write too much about politics, because people are already doing this all the time. Music should still be a release from that sometimes. We never get a break from hearing about Trump or what's happening in Russia, or North Korea, or Libya. It's nonstop, and it's like a new religion now.
OTW: "Drew Barrymore" has been your most successful single – what was the inspiration behind it?
Bryce Vine: I really was just trying to write a sexy love song that wasn't so focused on the girl being sexy. It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be because all of my references were love songs that only focus on physical attraction. It's a lot harder to write about someone being special because of who they are than because of what they look like.
OTW: Do you love Drew Barrymore?
Bryce Vine: She was just an example of the kind of girl that I was talking about. When you're a young boy and you see Drew Barrymore in The Wedding Singer, and she's kind of iconic Hollywood royalty, but she's kind of a badass, but she's kind of sweet. She's not the hottest girl, but there's something really cool about her, you know? That's what I'm looking for. Not just some Instagram famous chick that bases all of her emotion off of clout – not to throw shade.
Julia Michaels had written it for me two years ago, but it was over a different beat; it didn't really work for my project at the time. She wrote it maybe three years ago now, this little concept of Drew Barrymore, and then it just totally fit into this song once I was done with it. Everything was finished; I just didn't have a hook for it. And it just fit in so nicely. She's so talented, it's crazy.
OTW: How about Wale?
Bryce Vine: Dude. Wale is a true artist. And I f*** with people like that.
OTW: Who are your Ones To Watch?
Catch Bryce Vine playing summer festivals and opening for MAX at the dates below – grab your tickets here.
7/24 Cincinnati, OH KISS 107.1's KISSmas in July! @ Bogart's
8/29 Grand Rapids, MI 1045 SNX's Party in the Park @ 5/3rd Ball Park
8/31 Chicago, IL North Coast Music Festival @ Union Park
10/30 Minneapolis, MN* Fine Line Music Café
10/31 Chicago, IL* Bottom Lounge
11/1 Detroit, MI* El Club
11/2 Columbus, OH* The Basement
11/3 Pittsburgh, PA* Club AE
11/4 Toronto, ON* Velvet Underground
11/6 Montreal, QC* L'Astral
11/7 Boston, MA* The Sinclair
11/9 Washington, DC* 9:30 Club
11/10 Philadelphia, PA* Theatre of Living Arts
11/13 New York, NY* Irving Plaza