Charese Fruge Talks To Brynn Elliott

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Women To Watch” series, written by Charese Fruge on January 26, 2021 

She’s a Harvard graduate, where she studied Philosophy, and taught herself to play the guitar at the age of 15. Brynn Elliott is an impressive singer/songwriter signed to Atlantic Records and has toured with amazing artists like Alanis Morissette, Grace Potter and Brandi Carlile. She’s currently celebrating the release of her new single “Tell Me I’m Pretty,” which addresses the image obsessed culture of today’s society.

The song is accompanied by a “period-piece” inspired video, which you immediately know what it’s about. “I love period dramas so much. When you hear the song you immediately know it’s about the internet, so the first thought for the video was to incorporate selfies or cell phones,” says Elliott. “But I thought it would be more interesting to set this video in a historical context of a baroque refinery and speak to how women have moved through the label of ‘pretty’ through the ages. The internet did not create our image-obsessed culture, but it does expose that in the human condition. In the past they had corsets to change their bodies and now we have filters. So, the video is just a fun walk through time celebrating women finding the freedom to be themselves.”

After some reflection, the 26-year-old Atlanta native says, “I have always been a music person, I just think I didn’t always know it. My mom has a wonderful voice as do her parents and singing around the house and in church was always just a thing we did as a family,” says Elliott. “Then, when I was in high school my dad had an old guitar in the corner of our house and one day I was so overwhelmed with school and applying to college and I just needed an outlet. So, I started playing that old guitar that night and that turned into a sort of rhythm for me. In the evenings I would teach myself how to play chords on YouTube and then eventually I started writing songs. That’s when it all really started.”

“I was influenced by incredible female voices in songwriting like Jewel, Alanis Morissette, Alicia Keys and Brandi Carlile,” says Elliott. “I love how they use their songs as vehicles for their individual perspectives. I am also really inspired by rock music like U2 and The Rolling Stones. My dad educated me on all his favorite bands when I was a teen and that has really stuck with me through the years, especially in how I play my live show.”

Brynn didn’t go to college right away. She took a minute to just focus on music, and that’s when she realized being an artist was her calling. “I realized this was the real thing after the first week of the first tour I went on,” she says. “Right out of high school I took a gap year just to do music and got the chance to open for a guy named Tyler Ward. It was just my guitar, a mic and me on that stage. I had never really performed in front of anyone before, but I knew after those first few days after performing live that I wanted this to be my life. I wanted to always be chasing those moments with an audience, that indescribable thing that happens when we all gather together because of music.”

Brynn is somewhat modest about her influence and accomplishments. When I asked her about some of her bigger ones, she opened up. “I am an up-and-coming artist but my first single, ‘Might Not Like Me’ got into the top 15 on the Hot AC charts,” she says. “I have played the Today Show which is my biggest accomplishment in the eyes of my mother. And in my touring career I’ve played over 250 shows, most of those while I was still in college.”

“One of the most exciting things I’ve done as an artist was play this pop-up show in a coffee shop once in Denver,” says Elliott. “I was passing through and wanted to see if I could connect with some fans, and as I say I’m quite a new artist, so I really wasn’t expecting a lot of people to come. Like I seriously thought there would be 5 people there. But I put it out on social media and 60 people showed up at this coffee shop that day in Denver. It was just exciting to me to be able to connect with my fans spontaneously like that and I hope to do a lot more of that in the future. I am a huge seeker of spontaneous experiences.”

Brynn’s mom is a Hero to her and some of the bigger challenges in her career have come as a result. “My mom has had a handful of health issues throughout her adult life and some of the most intense happened when I was a kid,” she says. “Seeing a parent go through that is always really tough. But I think for me it’s just made me value the time I spend with my family so much. My mom nearly died and so I really cherish being with her.”

Those experiences have made Brynn understand how important it is to have mentors in the industry no matter who they are or how they inspire you. “I love talking about the business just because I love what I do and I view myself as a businesswoman,” she says. “So, I am always down to chat about it. To young women I would say be your most authentic self in your music and in the industry. It sounds quite cliche, but I think it’s truly the most important thing. There will be so many opinions coming at you but the most important thing is to know who you are so you can stay focused on your path.” A philosophy she follows up with her new song, “Tell Me I’m Pretty.”

Like everyone else, the impact of COVID-19 has changed her life and professional plans considerably. “The biggest impact of the pandemic has been the total disappearance of live music. That has been so sad,” says Elliott. “It’s my favorite thing, so I have missed it tremendously. I’ve had a lot of reflection time during this season that I think has made me more confident in who I am and what I am called to do. It’s hard to do that when you are on the road, so that was a blessing. I also got to learn a bit of production which has also been fun and helpful for my songwriting process.”

On the personal side, during the downtime, she kept herself busy. “I binged on period dramas mostly – I loved The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. I also loved Gilmore Girls, it’s my go-to for binge watching.” The downtime also gave her plenty of time to reflect on what she would do first when things get back to normal. “The first thing I am going to do in the post-COVID-19 world is hug my friends and play a show!”

In case you are wondering, the pandemic will not slow Brynn down, but for kicks and giggles I asked her what plan B is. “AH I love this question because for me there’s no plan B, I’m so committed to my music!” she says. “But if I had to answer, I would say a philosophy professor or teacher.”

Song ideas and concepts keep her up at night, and books and going on walks bring Brynn balance. And like most artists, moving forward, she is anxious to get back to work. “In 2021, I will be releasing lots of new music and I will be back on tour as soon as it’s safe!” Follow Brynn Elliott @: Brynn Elliott | YouTube or Brynn Elliott | Facebook