Bio Courtesy Of Atlantic Records
At age 14, Brynn Elliott was determined she’d become the first member of her family to apply to college. And not just any college: Harvard. She buried herself in schoolwork and extracurriculars, building up resume for an application, and in the midst of it all Brynn began to teach herself guitar chords using YouTube videos. She penned her first tune at 16 after a family friend passed away. “It was a therapeutic thing for me to do,” she says. “Writing a song helped me deal with the grief. And then I started writing more songs, about things I was feeling or things I was learning about in school. I wrote songs about characters in books, as well as real situations, good and bad. I felt like I wanted to write about everything around me.”
Brynn’s initial application to Harvard was not accepted, but she refused to give up. She reapplied a year later, this time submitting her music with the application, and was accepted. When Brynn entered Harvard four years ago, she was the first person in her family to attend college, a huge milestone for the musician. In the past few years, Brynn has gone from writing songs on the bathroom floor to playing over 200 shows and signing with Atlantic Records. The musician, who first discovered songwriting as a teenager when she came across her dad’s old guitar in the basement, recently graduated from Harvard University with a mission to share her experiences and philosophical studies through the lens of pop music.
Her debut EP, Time of Our Lives, which arrives later this year, was inspired by Brynn’s time at Harvard and the relationships she’s fostered there. The classes she’s taken for her philosophy major weave their way through the five tracks, each inspired by a different philosopher or set of ideas. Anthemic pop number “Time of Our Lives” draws on Heidegger and existentialism, reminding the listener to be present in the moment, especially when the future remains unknown – as it often does after college. “Might Not Like Me, a buoyant song with an empowering chorus, was penned shortly after a breakup. Brynn, who created the EP with producer Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift), was encouraged by a class on feminist critiques of Descartes. “The reason for the breakup was because I’d been touring a lot throughout college and I was gone a lot on the weekends to play shows,” Brynn says. “This guy was pretty intimidated by that. I felt like I had to make myself smaller when I was with him. We were studying this woman who self-published her own philosophy under her own name in a time when women couldn’t do that and it stuck with me. I reached this breaking point where I could do what I loved or I was going to miss out on that for a boy. I had been living in such fear of what this guy thought of me and that’s so much of what the struggle of being a woman is. I wrote this song about letting go of that fear and not worrying so much about being who you are.”
The EP, like all of Brynn’s music, is about embracing who you are and feeling inspired to act. She wanted to recapture the feeling she experienced the first time she got turned on to rock music while on a family road trip with her dad. She was 13 and hearing Guns N’ Roses’, U2 and Fleetwood Mac for the very first time. “There was something so liberating for me that day,” she says. “I felt so empowered and so freed. Hearing certain songs makes you want to get up and do something great. I hope that when people come to my shows or hear my music on the radio they’re inspired in their own life. I want to bring a new, fresh, hopeful perspective to people.”
The musician, who has played with artists like Alanis Morissette, Brandi Carlile and Allen Stone, may not know exactly what the future holds, but she’s ready for it, guitar in hand.
“I wanted my four years at Harvard to be the foundation of a bank of songs that will hopefully be with me for the rest of my life,” Brynn says. “Philosophy and music are two sides of the same coin for me. Pop music looks for what is universal in the world, providing that place for people to come and relate about the things we all feel, which is what philosophy does as well. My passion for those ideas isn’t going to go away after college – they might just look and sound different.”
‘Might Not Like Me” (Kat Krazy Remix)
Big Yellow Dog/Atlantic Records
‘Might Not Like Me”
Big Yellow Dog/Atlantic Records
‘Times Of Our Lives”
Dzeko Featuring Brynn Elliott