Soren Bryce Is Living The Teenage Dream As A Touring Musician
What were you doing when you were 18? You were probably busy finishing up your last year of high school, or, if you were lucky, gearing up to move out of your parent’s house so you could move into a college dorm (joy!) and finally experience life without a curfew. For 18-year old singer-songwriter Soren Bryce, things are a little different. Rather than study for the SATs, she’s going on tour—that is, when she isn’t splitting her time between her home in LA and New York where she does most of her recording. Just after graduating, Bryce released her “Sirens” EP with critical acclaim from the likes of NPR and Billboard. We got to sit down with Bryce between shows on a recent tour in Arizona and talk about what it’s really like to live out everyone’s teenage dream.
What have you been up to lately?
I’ve been super busy on tour and writing, hoping to gear up and make a record soon.
You released an EP in August. What was the process of working on that, and how do you feel about how it’s been received so far?
The process was very quick as far as writing goes. The whole recording process cumulatively took about six weeks and every time I would go to New York, I would record another portion of it. I started writing music for myself so when I saw how many people liked it I was sort-of surprised and humbled.
You’re only 18. At what point did you wake up and decide that music would be a life-long career pursuit?
I was recently faced with that decision as a senior in high school actually. I was kind of at a crossroads. I had to decide between going to college and pursuing my career in music, but it was a pretty easy decision for me because this is what I’ve always wanted to do.
How many instruments do you play?
I was classically trained on the violin starting when I was in 5th grade and then I taught myself guitar and piano. I dabble in a lot of string instruments like the banjo and the viola. Anything with strings has been easy for me to pick up. I could never play the flute or anything though. Originally my plan was to play classical violin and go to a conservatory.
How did you make the switch from a conservatory-bound violinist to singer-songwriter?
It happened in a strange way, I picked up the guitar sort-of just as an instrument and someone urged me to start writing my own music. When I started writing, it was pretty obvious to me that that was what I wanted to focus on.
Do you ever feel like you’re missing out on a “college experience”?
Yeah, sometimes when I see pictures of my friends at college—but I’ve never really longed for something like that. I’ve always wanted something like this where I get to do what I want and travel a lot.
So when you’re listening to music or creating it what are the things that make it click for you?
When I’m creating I usually write my music ideas first and I’ll just dabble on the piano for a few hours a day creating thing and then when I have something that I want to write about I already have the structure laid down so that makes it pretty easy for me. As far as when I’m listening to music, lyrically I’m very drawn to people who like to paint a picture with what they’re saying. I do enjoy popular music as well. I think there is an art to striking a fine balance between meaningful lyrics and catchy hooks that get radio play.
What was the last concert you went to?
I think it was a metal concert actually… [laughing]. I go to a lot of metal concerts, but I’ve been on tour and I’ve been kind of busy so I haven’t been able to make it out to a show in a while.
Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind the song “Sirens”?
I feel like a lot of songs are about people getting hurt and being the victim, but “Sirens” is actually about hurting someone else, and how it feels to be the person doing the hurting.
Was it hard to learn the violin?
Oh, I definitely almost gave up a few times. When I got over the portion of the learning where the strings and screeching the entire time, it got easier. You just have to power through the bad parts.
Would you ever want to incorporate classical techniques into the music you’re making now?
It would be cool to experiment with it on my next record I don’t get to play [the violin] a lot anymore. And as far as technique goes, I do a lot of my writing on the piano, and with that I definitely incorporate classical technique.
Your songs are really up front and sort of seem like a window directly into your mind. Does opening yourself up through song ever feel weird or make you feel vulnerable?
I actually feel like the opposite. Music for me was a way to express myself to sort of get up and have a conversation about my life and I feel like people could finally get to know me better than before I was writing music and it’s given me a lot more confidence. Growing up, I always had a lot of social anxiety and felt like I couldn’t express myself because I was afraid of talking to anybody, I couldn’t even order from the person who was serving me food. So my music has allowed me to express what I couldn’t previously, and it helps me in my personal life.