Join MIX 107.7 for Concert For A Cure featuring A Great Big World, Calum Scott, Ocean Park Standoff, Brynn Elliott, & Rozzi.
The show happens October 17th at 7pm at the Dayton Convention Center.
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.”
A band often becomes like a family. Each member’s idiosyncrasies and individuality comprise the collective identity and ultimately give the group a personality of its own.
For as different as producer, drummer, and hip-hop head Pete Nappi, UK-born multi-instrumentalist, lyricist, and world-renowned DJ Samantha Ronson, and classically trained vocalist and folk singer-songwriter Ethan Thompson might seem at first glance, they quickly turned Ocean Park Standoff into a family upon first joining forces in 2016.
“On paper, it doesn’t seem like we would end up in a band together,” smiles Samantha. “We’ re all from such different worlds, but our roots are the same. We just want to make people happy, have a good time, and take care of each other. The world is so complicated, but everything we do is a reminder that love conquers all. If us three weirdo oddballs can be a family, anyone can,” she laughs.
“That idea doesn’t stop with us though,” adds Ethan. “Everyone is welcome. We’re growing the family every day.”
Within a year, Ocean Park Standoff’s music and message made a major splash. Powering their self-titled debut EP, the breakout single “Good News” cracked 16 million Spotify streams within a year as Elvis Duran handpicked the band as his “iHeart Artist of the Month” celebrated by a rousing Today Show performance. They ignited late-night television for the first time on The Late Late Show with James Corden. Between headlining numerous dates, they supported Third Eye Blind and Silversun Pickups on a 2017 summer shed tour. Along the way, they constantly wrote and recorded new music for a string of singles.
The experience on the road invariably shaped the creative direction.
“When we did the first EP, we’d never really played together,” Ethan continues. “We’ve realized what we’re like on stage together after all of that touring. The chemistry works really well. Whether it’s Pete pounding away on a drum section, Samantha playing a different guitar part, or me singing, we’ve found the elements that fit. Once you go out in front of people, you learn right away what embodies you and what doesn’t.”
“When we came back to write this next group of songs, we just really understood each other,” agrees Pete. “It flowed easier than ever before. We know what we can execute live really well.”
The first single “If You Were Mine” [feat. Lil Yachty] illuminates their progression. Perfecting a signature fusion of neon synths, shimmering electronics, propulsive handclaps, and acoustic guitars, it quickly slips into a chantable refrain before Yachty serves up an auto-tuned cameo. The lyrics prove provocative, passionate, and powerful.
“The song is actually about bisexuality,” explains Samantha. “You can go left, or you can go right. At the end of the day, love is love. The message is, ‘Choose whichever way you want, but it’ll be better if you’re with me’.”
Ocean Park Standoff keep up the momentum with a bevy of new music throughout 2018 and beyond. “Bartender” conjures up a last call scene of friends just inches from the jukebox soundtracked by a massive refrain amplified by a chorus of robotic echoes and distorted guitar. Already a live favorite, “Hey Kid” hinges on the intersection of glitchy beats, reggae-style flourishes, and an inspiring and empowering mantra. “If you keep your head up and keep moving forward no matter what they say, everything will work out,” assures Samantha.
In many ways, “Good Time” most seamlessly reflects the trio’s philosophy. A bold, bright, and boisterous anthem, it remains equally suited for a bar singalong as it does for a swaying festival field.
“We really wanted to make a song that was all about just having a good time and partying,” says Ethan. “It’s the simplest one, but it means so much to all of us. We’ve created music that really matches who we are.”
With this music and countless shows on the horizon, Ocean Park Standoff’s family will only continue to grow.
“When you listen to us, I hope you take away a sense of fearlessness,” Ethan leaves off. “Going through life, happiness is the most important thing. We want to share a sincere state of happiness from the heart. Most of these lyrics are like reminders to ourselves. That empowers us to give it back. We hope everyone can feel that.”
“We’re not trying to be the coolest kids on the block,” concludes Samantha. “I want all of those kids who feel like they don’t fit in to understand that not fitting in fits in within our world! The three of us don’t fit into any particular box, but we all love each other, understand each other, and are a family.”
At 19 years old, Rozzi was discovered by Adam Levine. After hearing a song she had written, Levine created a record label and signed her as his first artist. Soon after, she was sharing the stage with Maroon 5 at some of the most famed arenas across the country and honing in on her live performance. In 2016, Rozzi began her quest for self-discovery. It was then that Rozzi realized that she had been so focused on success that she hadn't been living her life. So, Rozzi started living. Most notably she fell in love for the first time and had her heart broken. She felt things she had never felt before, she found herself, and then she wrote about it. Her debut album will be released later this year through Small Giant Records.
In autumn 2015, after drawing raves for his breakthrough cover of Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own,” Calum Scott decided to start writing his own material. With his first attempts including a deeply personal track about coming out to his father, the British vocalist soon discovered the cathartic power of songwriting.
“At first I got caught up in trying to write the kind of songs I thought people wanted to hear,” says Scott, now 29. “But after a while, I realized that the more honest and real I was, the more easily it flowed. It ended up becoming a process of getting out everything that’s been on my mind over the years, and it felt very therapeutic.”
With his stripped-down and sweetly devastating rendition of “Dancing On My Own” gaining more than 550 million streams worldwide—as well as earning a Brit Award nomination for Best Single—Scott is now ready to deliver his full-length debut. Made with producers like Fraser T Smith (Adele, Ellie Goulding), Jayson DeZuzio (Skylar Grey, Imagine Dragons), and Oscar Görres (Taylor Swift, Britney Spears), Only Human showcases the tender yet commanding vocal work he’s recently displayed in touring with artists like Emeli Sandé. In releasing his original material for the first time, Scott reveals the rare gift of his songwriting: an intense vulnerability that somehow leaves the listener more hopeful and assured.
The lead single to Only Human, “You Are the Reason” embodies Scott’s singular ability to transform pain into beauty. While it began as a meditation on anxiety and its triggers, the gently uplifting track evolved into a story of celebration. “As I picked it apart and looked at it more closely, the lyric ‘Without a reason’ turned into ‘You are the reason,’” says Scott. “So instead of being a song about anxiety, the message became about how the love you feel for the people in your life is more powerful than anything else.”
Throughout Only Human, Scott’s elegantly sculpted pop centers on his soulful vocals and heartfelt lyrics. With his delicate storytelling, he examines unrequited longing on tracks like the aching piano ballad “Hotel Room.” “It’s about meeting a guy and becoming so enamored with him, then finding out he’s not gay and feeling confused as hell,” says Scott. “When that happened I blamed myself for leaving my heart open—like, ‘Why do I have to like that person? How come I can’t just turn a corner and forget about it?’” Another quietly piercing number, “Only You” blends graceful beats with lyrics that capture adolescent isolation (“So they bullied me with silence/Just for being who I am”), then pay tribute to a beloved friend who brought him solace.
Even with its close exploration of pain and heartache, Only Human offers many a joyful moment. The bright and soaring “What I Miss Most,” for instance, unfolds as a triumphant homage to Scott’s hometown. The album also again proves his sophistication as a song interpreter, featuring “Dancing On My Own” along with a starkly arranged and gorgeously fragile cover of Bob Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet.”
Growing up in the Northern England city of Kingston upon Hull, Scott’s singing experience mainly involved belting along to the Shirley Bassey and Queen songs his mom often played in the car. Although he took up drumming as a kid—and admired his sister Jade for her dedication to singing and dance—Scott entered the workforce right after high school with no intention of venturing into music. “Then about four years into my job, I’d gotten incredibly sick of making photocopies and cups of tea,” he recalls. “I just knew it wasn’t what I was meant to do with my life.”
With his love of singing still strong, he’d sometimes mess around with Jade’s audio equipment when no one else was home. “One time I was singing away, thinking she was out, and my sister heard me,” he says. “But instead of saying something, she signed me up for a singing competition without telling me.” Struck with stage fright, Scott dreaded the thought of singing for strangers. “I remember hiding in the bathroom at the competition and trying to find an escape, but the window was too small to climb out,” he says. “And then before I got up I asked to use a microphone stand—I was shaking so bad, I was worried the cable would end up lassoing people in the audience.”
Despite all that anxiety, Scott managed to make his way through his performance of “Last Request” by British singer/songwriter Paolo Nutini. “I just sank into my own world, and tried to channel what the person in the song was feeling,” he says. “By the end, I was still shaking, but I didn’t want to leave the stage. It ignited a passion that I’d never felt before, and ever since then I’ve made it my mission to sing.” (As a sign of gratitude to Jade, Scott later penned the heartwarming and harmony-laced “Won’t Let You Down” for his sister and included the track on Only Human.)
In 2015, Scott performed his poignant version of Robyn’s 2010 electro-pop classic, “Dancing On My Own” on Britain’s Got Talent, then emerged as a semi-finalist. Self-released the following year, the track hit No. 1 on iTunes in 11 countries and became the best-selling UK single by a British solo artist in 2016. “I heavily related to those lyrics, as far as being gay and not knowing how to be okay with it,” he says of “Dancing On My Own.” “I’d had many situations where I watched someone get into a relationship and wanted so badly for it to happen to me.” In the whirlwind surrounding “Dancing On My Own,” Scott performed on shows like Late Night with Seth Meyers, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Good Morning America and more and later set out on his first headlining tour of the US—all while writing and recording songs for Only Human.
In choosing the title for his debut, Scott looked to the lessons learned in his first songwriting experience. “A lot of these songs are me arguing with myself about how I feel, or getting agitated because there’s no way of controlling my emotions,” he points out. “As much as it was like therapy for me to work through that in my writing, I want it to be helpful for other people too,” Scott continues. “To me, Only Human means being okay with how you feel and getting rid of all that shame. My hope is that these songs encourage people to embrace who they are so that there’s a little less fear in the world and a lot more love.”