“Rap has become pop. And it’s super cool,” says singer/rapper Bryce Vine, who’s set to headline the Agora on Wednesday, Aug. 11. He spoke during a recent phone interview. “I guess, cause I grew up listening to so many kinds of music…I didn’t really understand why you couldn’t just make a country song one day, and make a punk song the next.”
The New York-born, California-raised songwriter pulled influence from opposite ends of the United States for his unique, genre-bending style.
“My family is a bunch of New Yorkers who came to California. Like, they’re not about the bullshit…The realness of New York is what I try to grab. But man, it’s so nice to live in California,” says Vine. “It is sunny all the time. There’s a reason people are vibing here, and they feel good…it’s easier to be happy here.”
Vine now has two singles that have charted on the Billboard Hot 100, but the road to commercial success was a long one for the 33-year-old.
“I didn’t always wanna keep going; you’re not always going to get validation from everybody,” says Vine. “So, you just like, do it because you really do love it and it makes you feel better. If I was great at something else, I probably would’ve moved on at some point, maybe. But I wouldn’t have been as happy. Cause nothing feels better than finishing a great song. So, I just kept focusing on that.”
Vine had reached a crossroads after being turned away from virtually every major label, since they found it too difficult to package his music into a specific genre so they could sell it. That was when he took a step back and changed his approach.
“Instead of trying to, like, give everybody what they wanted to get signed, I started making what I wanted to make again like when I was young. And then, it started to change,” says Vine.
His breakthrough came with “Drew Barrymore” a track that he had written with his friend and co-writer JP Clarke and released independently.
“It’s like a live-action version of Beetlejuice,” Vine says of the concept, chuckling at the fact that when he wrote the track, he never thought he’d have anyone to explain it to. “I was just imaging…being in a room — like, almost like ghosts — just being in a room with someone you’re meant to be with for the rest of your life.”
Vine and Clarke had all of the verses written, but they stalled while searching for a hook, until Vine was sifting through old voice memos on his phone. He found a two-year-old one from Julia Michaels, who he had met by chance at the studio.
Vine heard Michaels sing the line “you’re the next Drew Barry, and I want more,” and the rest is history.
“Drew Barrymore” picked up enough traction for Vine to have some leverage moving forward. He then signed with one of Warner’s record labels and released his follow-up hit, “La La Land,” a catchy California anthem that mocks the rich kids and social media influencers who rule L.A.
“People don’t mind being made fun of if they feel like you’re talking about them,” says Vine.
The journey to the top gave Vine two gold records, a VMA’s performance at Radio City Music Hall and plenty of priceless stories.
Vine recalls opening for Hoodie Allen in the Netherlands several years ago. Machine Gun Kelly pulled his tour bus over and asked if they wanted to help them smoke all of their weed before they crossed the border.
The next time Vine ran into Cleveland's MGK, they were in the studio working on “Stay Away,” a Mod Sun and MGK collaboration that helped fuel the recent pop-punk resurgence.
Blink-182's Travis Barker, who's produced several successful pop-punk albums recently with the likes of Kelly, Willow Smith and TikTok star Jxdn, is at the top of Vine’s list of potential collaborators for his own forthcoming pop punk project.
But in the meantime, Vine is set to release a new single, “Miss You a Little,” with the alt-rock group, Lovelytheband on Friday.
Lovelytheband’s lead singer, Mitchy Collins, sent Vine a beat with a high-pitched vocal melody, and the duo met up in person to write the full track which touches on how we, as humans, tend to romanticize the past.
“Everyone has been in a relationship that ended, and like, when it ends, you look back, and there’s a moment when you’re thinking, 'Oh my god, look at all these things that I’m letting go of. All these memories, all these great times—did I mess up? Did I make a huge mistake?'’’ says Vine. “And then, after times goes on…you start to, like come to your senses and see the other side of it, you know. The not so great things that you don’t see through rose-colored glasses. And that’s why, like, the song is like, ‘I miss you. I miss you a little, but I miss you a little all the time.’”
It’s been so long since Vine played a show that he sometimes forgets that he’s “actually had some success in music.” He’s nervous but ready to appreciate every little thing about touring again.
The pandemic worked wonders for Vine’s writing, and he’s itching to play songs he’s never played before like “Problems” and “The Game,” both of which he wrote about living through the BLM protests and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’d just like to be the soundtrack to people’s lives,” says Vine. “I’d like to give them stuff that they can use for these specific moments that are important to them — whether they’re good or bad — and help them get through it. If that is how people remember my music, I think that’s good enough.”
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