Interview with Brynn Cartelli – small Town Dreams

Brynn Cartelli, the youngest The Voice winner in the competition’s history, is here to finally reveal the opening chapter to her musical journey with her debut EP, ‘Based on a True Story’. The now 18-year-old has been on stages opening for industry majors like Kelly Clarkson and Maroon 5, letting her taste of a reality that will inevitably be hers one day, yet for now, Cartelli is still drawing inspiration from her small town life in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. Representing her community on the East Coast, by opening up her diary to the world and being undeniably herself, no matter how vulnerable that makes her. 

The past year and a half has been a whirlwind for the young artist, as she released ‘Based on a True Story’, started crafting her following projects as well as graduating high school, all the while being tested by a global pandemic which for a while made her think that nothing really mattered anymore. “I think that by valuing your own stories and, valuing the people around you, and everything being magnified by this sense of loneliness and disconnection, I’ve kind of come back to creating all the time,”, is how Cartelli describes her creative process over this difficult period. 

The Massachusetts native started her road to being a musician extremely young and has been supported by her family, friends and town since the early beginnings. Even mentioning that her becoming an artist never seemed to be a crazy dream as everyone has always believed in her, and applauded her along the way. The 18-year-old eagerly tells a story about the confidence instilled in her from a young age, “I was really lucky because every time I’d mention my dream they would be like “yeah, it’s cool” so it wasn’t just me thinking it was cool and if they’d like it, the whole world would like it,”, Cartelli giggles whilst mentioning about the perfect amount of confidence that has driven her to be where she is at now. 

But even as a youngster Brynn Cartelli was a true visionary, using her talent and intertwining it with a visual counterpart. And this interconnectivity is still palpable today as her love for mixed media can be viewed through her scrapbook like covers and even her EP’s name ‘Based on a True Story’. “I know it’s a song of mine that I like, if I can see a video to it or a real visual, like a cinematic experience,”, she expresses about her way of viewing music and her artistry. Going on to say that her recent EP truly did feel like a documentary of that time of her life, as she wasn’t using social media to out some of these experiences. 

Although social media, especially TikTok has been a huge way of distributing and marketing her music this year, Cartelli limits her time on social media. She mentions that the new way of letting people discover her music through tools like TikTok have been super interesting to watch, and that the global reach almost feels unreal but that taking the time to step back and really appreciate all the things that have been happening makes it easier and better to deal with for her. This duality also plays up in other aspects of her career as she doesn’t only work in a studio environment but also listens to what her friends have to say and by hearing their ongoings, creativity often strikes. “I tend to live a double life and switch off my time so that I can write real stories,”, is what the up-and-coming artist has to say about how she writes her music.

I can’t wait to play my songs around the world one day so that i can actually see that in person. Because right now I can only see it on a screen but maybe when I see people singing in a crowd in Europe one day, I’ll believe it.

Breakout hit ‘If I Could’, directly took inspiration from her friends’ situations. As some of them were telling her about the issues they were having with their boyfriends and Cartelli being “a protective” friend, she used their stories a couple of days later when she went to LA and wrote the now immensely popular song together with Ben Abraham.  “If I could, If I could take your place – Then I would, then I would walk away – But I’ll be your shoulder to cry on – Wipe the tears from your eyes – If I could do it for you – Then I would say goodbye, goodbye”, the lyrics showcase Brynn Cartelli’s immense love and protectiveness over her best friends and the tale clearly translated all around the world by generating nearly five and a half million listens on Spotify alone. 

The singer that found fame at the age of 15, still has a cheery, positive outlook on life and all the things it has to offer for her. The radiant optimism never gets lost whilst describing her passion, music. This quality performs extremely well with her mature voice that can bend through every emotional crackling, each song has to obtain. And after a few years in the music industry, Cartelli mentions that she has found a team that complements her completely, “I’ve always had this innate sense that I pretty much know what I want to do and I know how I want to get there so I have been extremely lucky to have been able to surround myself with a group of people who support my vision and dreams.”

An innocence like no other and clear influences that have steered her way into this world have made her out to be the person she is now. But the individual that Brynn Cartelli mentions to be her one clear influence in life is her mum. “Musically, I have really pulled from everywhere but my mom was always with me so she is like my biggest inspiration in life,” she mentions. This deeply rooted love for where she is from and her family is apparent in her music, especially since the Massachusetts artist makes it clear that being from a small town on the East Coast is an inaugural part of her being and therefore also her music. 

The small town mindset is often either overtly romanticised or being seen negatively in the current media landscape, but to the 18-year-old, this theme is important because of the honesty this brings out in her music. And even though some instances and phrases in her music are specific to Cartelli and her own situation most of her experiences can be viewed as a global heartbreak, and yes even small town life pops in the mentality of people all around the world. Throughout every instance Brynn Cartelli has always said that music is her connection to the world and that people are relating to her discography is even crazier for the 18-year-old, “It’s really beautiful that we can all connect over our losses and you know, making something great out of it. And I’m just honoured to be a part of that process.”

I think that by valuing your own stories and, valuing the people around you, and everything being magnified by this sense of loneliness and disconnection, I’ve kind of come back to creating all the time.

“I can’t wait to play my songs around the world one day so that I can actually see that in person. Because right now I can only see it on a screen so it doesn’t feel real but maybe when I see people singing in a crowd in Europe one day, I’ll believe it,”, Cartelli says grinningly whilst talking about her future. Yes, Brynn Cartelli has done more than most can say in a lifetime, but this young artist is here to stay. And, maybe one day the crowds will align, and stadiums will be filled with the singer’s powerful voice and the words will come back to her from every corner of the world.

Written by: Lauren Dehollogne

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