Soren Bryce, 20, wants you to think of her music as a digital experience, not just two-dimensional sound. She's recently started singing the synth gospel, moving from the gentle rock sound of her self-titled EP to a sly, bubbly, digital sound.
"I'm moving into this sort of scene of being digital and being more online and I want people to be more open-minded to the idea of viewing Soren Bryce as an entity and not really a person," Bryce explains over the phone from Iowa, where she's preparing to perform at a music festival. She, like me, is fascinated by the digital realm. It's a seeming candyland of possibilities: Computers offer her the opportunity to produce music with a modern edge, not to mention all the other perks that come with a laptop. (Bryce brings up Tinder, the dating app, as a source of fascination. It's going to hurt our ability to connect with people, she thinks.) But, going digital means going cold, at least in the tone of the songs.
The Texas native, who works as a barista in Brooklyn when she's not performing in Manhattan, is ready to take on a new sound, though, risks and all. Her first effort is "Cellophane," an anthem about self-isolation and vulnerability.
"I choke on cellophane/Inhaling all things that make you better," she sings. Then, she warns: "Don't get too close to me/You'll be loving me forever."
In anticipation of the release of the music video for "Cellophane," Refinery29 spoke to Bryce about Tinder, "evening music," and, of course, literal cellophane.
Refinery29: Cellophane’s a fun object to use as a metaphor. In “Cellophane,” what does it represent?
Soren Bryce: "To me, [Cellophane] was my relation with those things I encounter in myself that I'm not particularly comfortable with. We're all humans, and we all have these emotions, and a lot of us choose to shut out and think that, 'Oh, no, no, we're the good person, we're doing everything we can, we're doing everything right.' I think it's kind of an empowering feeling to accept the fact that we are greedy, we are jealous, and all these other things that people don't want to acknowledge about their personality. And so, for me, 'Cellophane' is like, 'Yeah, I am jealous, I am greedy, I can be a bad person.' But that doesn't mean I'm a bad person as a whole. That just means I have to better intertwined with these parts of myself."
So, cellophane represents a fractured self.
"It's kind of funny because any product that's made with cellophane, like rolling papers — you can't make the product without this part of the product. So, it's kind of the same. You can't be a whole person without having these parts, these sides of you that make you a human. Because otherwise we'd just all be robots."
“Cellophane” has these impressive synth chords, especially in the latter half. They feel almost ominous. How do you find that synth has changed your songwriting? Has it made it more aggressive? More sinister?
"I feel like it's definitely — it's made me a more open-minded listener and creator. Just to realize that there are a lot of things that go into production that you don't really realize when you're just an audience member. Sometimes, it's not about — I mean, it is about what you're saying. Lyrics are always going to be the most important part to me — but it also has a lot to with the vibe of the song, or the mood of it. [Production] can help boost or amplify what you're saying."
Yeah, I feel like production can even change a song from a morning song to an evening song.
"Yes! Sometime, you should listen to your evening listening songs in the morning, and see how different it makes you feel. Because it's a weird feeling! I've been trying to get more into DJing and I'll listen to these DJ mixes that I made the night before, and to listen to it in the morning is just such a different feeling. It's like nostalgic of the previous night."
The video is so digital, too. The blank television screens read "AUX" as if they're searching for a connection, which I find poetic. How do you feel like the digital world affects intimacy?
"That's hilarious, because I just started a thesis just for fun about how technology is going to affect attention span in relationships and self-esteem issues. It's a thing! It's gonna happen. I know no one is thinking about it right now because we're so new to it in the grand scheme of history, and so we're all in this honeymoon phase with technology, where we're like, 'Oh, this is great! Give me more! More, more, more. More instant gratification, more the newest thing. The best thing, the most expensive thing. It plays right into the consumerism of not only America, but all around the world.
"One example I was thinking of the other day is Tinder and how people are going to be so used to this instant gratification of 'I swiped, and I started talking to this person immediately. And we immediately decided to meet up, and then we immediately started to hook up.' You're shortening your attention span with a person when you do that."
Well, there's that aspect, but at the same time, for music, technological advancements have allowed us to access a different musical form altogether, right?
"It is nice, because it's giving people who wouldn't necessarily have the means to make music the opportunity to do so — now these people can come out of the woodwork, these DIY people who just, all they need is a laptop to make stuff. There have been a lot of talented people that came out of that world.
"You could consider cellophane to be your technology — 'don't get too close and you'll be loving me forever.' You're getting this addiction to instant gratification."
What do you want fans to know about "Cellophane" and your forthcoming album, Discussions with Myself?
"I'm moving into this sort of scene of being digital and being more online and I want people to be more open-minded to the idea of viewing Soren Bryce as an entity and not really a person. Just kind of an experience.
"When the video is dropping, I want people to view it from that perspective. Like, oh this is an online world, this is an experience. Not just another person putting out another music video, you know?"
Watch the full music video for "Cellophane," below.
The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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