Why Bridgit Mendler Believes Young People “Shouldn’t Be Underestimated”
You may know Bridgit Mendler from her days on the Disney Channel in the rock themed movie “Lemonade Mouth,” but she’s come a long way since then.
In addition to a healthy career in TV and film and an upcoming appearance planned on next season’s “Nashville,” Bridgit’s music career has taken off — including the recent release of her newest EP, “Nemesis,” which was released on November 18th.
Leaving the sounds of fluffy pop music behind, Nemesis moves Bridgit into a more sophisticated realm, giving us four tracks of bittersweet relationship songs with a perfect mix of vulnerability and honest lyrics. After one spin of the EP, there’s no doubt Bridgit has grown up.
Perhaps an even more important side of Bridgit to celebrate as we move into Thanksgiving (and with the overall cloud of melancholy that has covered the US since the election) is her philanthropic work and focus on education, travel, and her belief that young people these days “should not be underestimated.”
She also believes that storytelling is perhaps our most precious contribution to the future. In a time where finding our common thread with each other should be a number one priority, learning to listen and tell each other’s stories makes us see — in Bridgit’s words — “what matters to them and see people’s common humanity.”
Take a peep at our Q&A with Bridgit below, and be sure to listen to her new EP, Nemesis, out now.
How would you say your sound differentiates on this new EP from your debut album?
I did have a bigger part in the songwriting. We did the whole project together and I wrote all the lyrics and there wasn’t a professional songwriter that would help me to filter and choose the way to say things. There really was no one to answer to, which was an awesome bit of freedom but also a very intimidating situation, because nobody was going to tell me that what I was doing was right or what I was doing was wrong. We all crafted the songs together and it came all out of improv jam sessions. That whole aspect was really neat to me and it was exciting to go into the studio with Jay and not be sure what we were going to come out of at the end of it.
A lot of your earlier music is happier and this one’s a little bit deeper. Are you worried about fans relating to it?
You know, I am, but at the same time their response to “Atlantis” was really unexpected for me. They have related to it more than I could have anticipated, so that’s made me feel really, really encouraged and excited about the project. It’s just gone to show for me that I can explore these darker sides or maybe weirder sides, more risky, and people will accept that and they’ll be excited about that. At this point, I want to just push the boundaries more. I feel encouraged.
You’ve previously said Bob Dylan is a big influence on your music — if you could perform a cover of one of his songs which would it be?
My all time favorite Dylan song is “Don’t think twice, it’s all right,” so that’d be easy except I can’t play the harmonica.
He just won the Nobel Prize for Literature — do you hope to follow in his footsteps?
I think it’s a pretty amazing feat to have one song writer win a Nobel Prize for Literature, so I don’t know if it just automatically goes without saying that another one can, but I think it’s amazing that he did win the Nobel Prize. His music has a lot of cultural relevance to it and I think that people need to speak up through their music now as well.
You’ve been studying at USC, do you think education is important?
Definitely. I think young people that I encounter these days are really clever and I think that they should not be underestimated, but also really be challenged and encouraged to take their thoughts, their minds, and their perspectives as far as possible. There is so much access in the world right now and I think that kids are smart and they should expand their minds and go out into the world and contribute.
What has been your favorite class so far? Have you taken any of the funky classes like “History of the Beatles,” or anything?
I did take a History of Jazz course, which was really cool. Also, this summer I did a really interesting course, it was Religion Conflict and Human Rights and I got to go abroad for that one. I’ve done a lot of work with various charities and to get my own concept around why these issues are important was something that I felt honored to do. It was so good.
What has been one of your favorite travel destinations thus far and why?
I really loved visiting Argentina. It holds this special spirit for me in my memory. Maybe it’s because my Uncle’s from Argentina and we got to celebrate New Year’s there where they light these giant paper mache structures on fire and they’re all over the street and it was just this rambunctious energy and really celebratory. I’m excited to go back there, I’m going on tour to do a show there and a couple other locations in South America this winter.
Do you think that traveling is important for young people?
Definitely — I think travel is super important. For instance, this summer I just had the awesome opportunity to go to Kenya and see first hand the international efforts of the charity I’m involved with. Also, with Save the Children, I got to go to Ecuador and see what they do. To meet those people in person and to experience their day to day life and to physically be in the same space, I think is really challenging in a good way. I would say that travel obviously is a privilege, and it’s not something that everybody has access to, but the great thing about the internet is that there is really good ways that people can get glimpses into the lives of others without physically being there. I think even more important than travel would be just storytelling. I think the ability for people to share their own stories and their own experiences and have others listen is so special, because then you get to get a real idea of what matters to them and see people’s common humanity.
What do you hope to accomplish this year?
I think the main thing that had been really exciting about this year is to share my ideas and to work collaboratively with other people. I think just having the opportunity to come up with crazy, random ideas and then actually see them happening is super exciting for me. My dream would be to do that in film as well as in music. I don’t know what that means, but I definitely plan on continuing to act and I’m excited to tour this year. That’s something I’m super excited to do. I really want to just go and visit all the fans and share the music with them in person. I also want to get better at the guitar. That’s a personal goal.