RAPstation Exclusive Interview: Bryce Vine

“Sour Patch Kids” and “Sunflower Seeds” sound like unconventional song titles don't you think? And the actual music resonates to its names too—it's definitely a new, fresh sound, and it's been on our radar for the past couple of weeks. With songs so distinct, it became inevitable for us to learn more from the mind behind it all, who actually provided us an exclusive phone conversation to satisfy our curiosity.

 

This is our Rap Station exclusive phone conversation with LA-based emcee, Bryce Vine

 

 

Tell me a little about your background as a musician, What drew you to your music

 

A lot of things. I just kept finding music that that I loved, like I grew up on a lot of pop-punk and punk rock, and ska music and then I found out Tupac when I was really young, about the same time that I found Rancid* and Sublime. I guess I just kept trying to find different music so that I would never get bored—cause I get bored pretty easily, so I always tried to keep myself stimulated with new sounds and music, and I always tried to figure out why I like this and what makes it sound good to me...

 

Before Shazaam came around, my friends would always used to say that I was the person who you could always ask what a song was just by humming because I just immediately recognized songs and lyrics before I could even do homework right. I knew the lyrics to a song if I heard it one time, that was always something that sorta stuck with me...

 

Building off that question, what can you say about the niche you've found in the music you make now

 

Well it's working, I mean it took a while to build the sound and I'm still building it and I always try to improve on it. From Berkley, I joined the gospel ensemble and then did some reggae stuff, and then I met a producer who made pop-rap beats so I started working with him. He would rap and I would primarily write hooks and sing. I guess it just shows that it all kept progressing to the next level, and then I tried to take all those things and put them into one sound...

 

Pardon me for going a little off topic really quick, but the bio reads “BryceRoss Johnson”, correct, where'd the “Vine” moniker come from?

 

It happened while I was at Berkley and there was this up and coming rap group called “The Dean's List” that I was working with, they asked me to sing on a hook for one of their songs. And they were like, “hey, you should an artist name”—and like, Ross-Johnson was just too hard, I mean people still get confused with either Ross or is it Johnson. And it still gets screwed up, even at the DMV. So one of them said, “What about Bryce Vinyl” I guess 'cause I sang a lot of jazz in college too. So I was like, “Oh I'll just make it Bryce Vine and I'll think of something later, change it later at some point—guess I never did haha...

 

Your Debut EP, Lazy Fair, has been blowing up on our radar, could you tell me your thoughts about that...

 

I started working on it three and a half years ago when I moved out to Hollywood and start working with my producer, Nolan Lambrosa* and we just started writing songs together. He really set me off as an artist, like I was struggling and he really helped me a lot.

 

But the writing was difficult, it was very hard for me to write. Especially on a debut album where I'm trying to get people to know who I am as a person through just five songs. There was a lot of frustration, a lot of rewriting, and a lot of times simply trying to get the exact sound that I wanted. I kept trying to mature it, get myself to the next level and challenge myself more. So I guess I would say it builds upon the entire learning process...

 

Well, listening to your second album shows how much you've progressed, man...

 

You know, “Lazy Fair” was very fun, very upbeat, but then I guess I went through so much more as a person when I was writing “Night Circus”. I had to grow up a little more, haha. And it shows another side of my personality, whereas the first album shows the happy-go-lucky guy that I usually am, going out, having fun, and having parties.

 

But I'm also a thinker and always trying to better myself as a person—always trying to figure things out in a different way. With this one I even forced myself to become an avid reader just so I had lots more to write about...

 

One thing that happened though is that I experienced an actual heartbreak for the first time, and it was really something I'd never felt before. Going through that, it inspired a whole new style into writing. “Night Circus” is definitely a darker vibe. Its more cynical but a lot of the songs are still upbeat—even on songs like “Bang Bang”, like it sounds sorta happy but it actually speaks about the murders going on against African Americans. If you do not pay attention to the lyrics then you don't have an idea, haha.

 

Now that you mention it, “Bang Bang” was one that really got my attention in the sense of the underlying depth beneath the lyrics, and I thought it was really cool actually...

 

Aww thanks, man, really appreciate that. You know, with music, I think you're supposed to get what you want out of it. I can't force my opinion on you through a song. I can just hope that you get what I'm trying to say, and then you kinda just listen to it however you want.

 

Well since we're diving into more depth, I totally agree. And I think what also caught me attention was that listening to your songs also stir some sort of catharsis whilst listening—you know like it some stirred something inside...

 

Now that's a huge compliment, hahah.

 

Speaking of which, your song “Sunflower Seeds” has been on our list for a long time, could you share a little background?

 

That's another of the songs that shows me just having a good time, haha. I mean after the darker “Night Circus” with all the cynical vibes, this one has me out of that.You know, just heading to Vegas for the weekend with my friends, looking to have a good time—I was just feeling good man, so I just wrote a feel-good type of song, something to break out a refreshing, summer sound coming out “Night Circus”.

 

You mentioned experiencing a lot of struggles along the journey, so what kept you going?

 

Man, what still keeps me going is the question. Well, one this is seeing that it's working. I mean it's definitely a process and a long one to make different music and not just go with the crow, like go out and make something fast and poppy—that's not what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to build my own career, trying to build a fanbase that can relate to me as an artist, even if they don't love some of the songs. I keep reminding myself that even if there are a lot of artists doing the same thing that most others are doing, that reward takes a longer time when it means a bigger reward. So I always remind myself, “keep doing what I'm doing”. I just gotta keep building it.

 

 

 

That's really interesting to hear coming from you because in a modern world of music where majority of our mainstream seems almost factory-lined, here you are saying it takes so much effort coming up with each song...

 

Well I'll tell you, man, that's gotta be the hardest part of it. The hardest part is making a song that, well, basically not insult your own intelligence. I don't want to offer something that's two-dimensional, and a lot of mainstream stuff isn't really trying to make it not two-dimensional. And that's okay, but it's frustrating to work so hard on songs and tell yourself not to do just that. I guess it's hard to write songs like how the Beatles write songs, or Tupac and other older-generation artists where they tell stories, and then see artists not write songs like that and earn more success...

 

But then againpeople remember artists like Tupac, and people remember the Beatles...

 

Since you mentioned Tupac, the Beatles, and other older artists, who would you consider your greatest influences in music—well the ones you haven't already implied at at least, hahah...

 

There's a good couple. I always mention Third Eye Blind 'cause they were the ones that made me want to start writing. I know it's a random, random answer, 'cause most of others consider them just another 90's band and I get that, but I really loved them when I was really young and I paid really close attention to their lyrics as I got older, and even today they're among the greatest lyrics I've ever heard. They talk about so many things that I'd never heard people talk about in music. Everything from—I mean I've heard people talk about stuff like drug addiction—but the way that they describe it, like I don't know any other artist that talks about trying to kill themselves. And then they also have a song that narrates about a woman who was beaten in a relationship, and how they sing about the confident woman she used to be before the relationship—and it's those types of things that stuck with me. There's even one song that talks about a man actually describing how it feels to have narcolepsy—who does that? And it's like reading a book where I'm really hearing stories that I'm not used to hearing, as opposed to just, you know, “Baby, I love you”, or “Baby, why'd you break my heart”, or “We're at the party, clubbing it out.” It's not the same things over and over again. It's stuff that I was totally not used to.

 

It's funny how you mention Third Eye Blind so extensively, because listening to your music, I do hear some rock alternative vibe mixing in with your own sound, so I guess that band was a big factor behind this definitive sound of yours...

 

Yeah man! It's cool that you picked up on that too. I mean, but it's not just them. I get a lot from Frank Ocean, Kid Cudi, I get a lot from this British rapper called JBT, stuff from Rancid, and Sublime, Transplant, and all those grimier bands.

 

That being said, how would you want to make your music stand apart from these?

 

I guess the biggest difference with my music is that its creator never wants to insult other peoples' intelligence. Like, I'm trying so hard to write songs that if you do pay attention to the lyrics you're gonna appreciate them—just like how I did when I was growing up. And I want my songs to mean something to different people in different ways. They're not just party songs. I mean, I guess they can be, but they're not if you pay attention. I love it when people come up to me and ask about the meaning behind the lyrics, it reminds me of how I used to be with the artists I love. And it's nice to know that you're not alone, like with the artists I listened to I always felt like I was being directly spoken to, and that there was always somewhere to go when someone feels the same way as me...

I like the idea that I can make music that makes other people feel understood... For the people out there that are feeling the same way, to let them know they're not alone.

 

A little story time here, I was playing at this festival called Riot Fest in Colorado. A dude came up to me with sunglasses on, but I could tell he was crying, and I was taken a little aback, like “Woah, what's going in here” type of stuff. And he told me that his best friend suffers from depression... but somehow she's a happier person when she listens to my music. And even if she couldn't come to the event because she just can't get herself to leave her house, he'd see her mood change whenever she listens to my songs, like things are okay and that she's not alone—and he told me this while crying and trying to hide it and I was like, “I'd never expect to experience this kind of stuff”, because I didn't realize the gravity that my music could mean that much to a certain someone.

 

...And that's another thing, maybe even the biggest thing, that keeps me going

By Jods Arboleda for RAPStation.com

 

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