Bridget Kelly Shares What Made Her Leave Roc Nation, Being Unapologetically Yourself, Advice And More With Unee [Interview]
In life every ending is a new beginning a lessons songstress and New York native Bridget Kelly has learned since making the bold move to leave her label, Roc Nation, and venture out on her own.
“I’ve had to work against a lot of the label stigma but I think the beauty of not being on a label is that it’s all on me”.
The now independent Grammy award-winning artist recently released her third EP entitled Summer of 17, which centers around a kind of nostalgia mindset BK finds herself revisiting twelve years later.
“I don’t really want to succumb to all these pressures everyone has for me but also I don’t want to feel like I’m not being true to who I am…”
On August 13th Bridget Kelly held a intimate EP release party for her Summer of 17 project at SOB’s where Unee caught up with the singer to talk new beginnings and more. Check it out right after the jump.
Unee: I have question on new beginnings. You were with Roc Nation for six years before parting ways. I don’t know if it feels like it to you but it takes a lot of courage to part ways with a place that helped introduce and give you a shot. So when did you realize it was time for you to part ways with the label?
Bridget Kelly: I think the execution of my last project Cut to…Bridget Kelly was really the nail in the coffin for me. I wanted things to go a certain way I wanted people to really associate me incredible music a certain way and it didn’t pan out that way. And it’s not the labels fault necessarily but I guess in the mist of the EP at the time I felt like everybody had lost steam and lost enthusiasm and lost the passion. You know, I don’t ever want to feel like I forcing anybody to do anything. So I just felt like it just might be time to go.
Unee: So what advice would you give to someone going through a similar situation as you did, whether inside the music industry or within any other industry?
Bridget Kelly: I think once you know who you are you can move and shake a little differently. I think when you can have a clear sense of how you value yourself and how people are supposed to treat you, you set boundaries differently. You relate to people differently. I think I reached a point where I really wanted more for my life, I wanted more for my career, I wanted to feel more fulfilled and I knew I needed to step out and do that.
Unee: Are you independent now?
Bridget Kelly: Yes.
Unee: What are some of the challenges you face now vs. when you were with a label?
Bridget Kelly: It sucks parting ways with a label as the artist because it’s like getting a divorce or it’s like committing a crime. When you’re a felon and you go in to apply for a job people are kind of like so what did you do? Why are you not… what happened? And I find that when I come in contact with people from labels and things like that they kind of look at me like “well you were with Jay Z, so how did that not happen? How did that not work out?” people don’t necessarily understand what the dynamic of the relationship with myself and the label was for six years. My journey, my story, my entry into the industry in general was really different and abnormal. My very first performance as a signed artist was at Madison Square Gardens and I was filling in for an artist that wasn’t me, so nobody even knew what my music sounded like or what it was supposes to sound like at all until two years after that. I’ve had to work against a lot of the label stigma but I think the beauty of not being on a label is that it’s all on me. Like I said once you’re an artist and you know who you are and what you stand for, you know what your message is, you know what your worth is, what your value is, you’re a speeding train. Nobody is going to get in your way and they can see it coming, they hear it coming because you’re by yourself. So they know that all the machinery, all the oil, all the fuel that’s pushing you is stuff that you built up yourself. I think that there’s something frightening and intimidating but also really inspiring about that and knowing what I know now I would take being an independent artist over being a signed artist stuck in a box or situation or a rule or a genre or just stuck behind an excuse. Behind A&R’s who make excuses behind label people who don’t really know sh*t about what fans want to hear. I would take being independent and struggling on my own over that struggle again any day of the week
Unee: I was going to ask you about your single “Act Like That” featuring Mack Wilds but then you performed this track “Not Afraid”. Can you break that track down for me?
Bridget Kelly: “Not Afraid” was really for me, well the EP is Summer of 17, and for me it’s basically about just the state of mind I was in when I was seventeen years old and feeling like I don’t really want to succumb to all these pressures everyone has for me but also I don’t want to feel like I’m not being true to who I am and not be honest about the fact that I am hurt or I am having a hard time trying to evolve and trying to change and figure out who I am. I think that for anybody whether you’re seventeen of twenty-nine, which is where I’m at right now, it’s okay to hurt a little bit (you know what I mean). Sometimes we as women especially we’re taught and it’s ingrained in us that vulnerability is a weakness and I think at this point in my life for me my vulnerability has probably brought out the strongest sides of me. So I’m learning to embrace it.
Unee: How important would you say experience is to music vs. emotion to music?
Bridget Kelly: I don’t know I think it depends on the artist. I think some artists are inspired by their own lives and I think other artists are inspired by what they say. I’m an artist that’s inspired by my own life experiences. I’m inspired by how I’ve gotten through certain situations and how I deal with things in life. You know and I’ve also seen other artist who write abstract crazy things and I’m kind of like where did you get this from like there’s no way this is your life, like you’re bugging. But I think every artist receives things differently. As artist in general we’re sensitive, so we are always in tuned with what is going on around us. Whether it’s something that we start, we initiate, or it’s something that is happening to someone else that we’re close to.
Unee: So I know your working on your debut album All or Nothing. Sonically, lyrically, and message wise how will it differ from Every Girl, Cut to…. Bridget Kelly and Summer of 17?
Bridget Kelly: Honestly it’s a combination of all three. I think it’s an evolution of who I am as a women and an artist. The All or Nothing mantra came about because when I left the label last year, I left everything last year. I left my label, I left the man I had for four years and I left my management team. I started completely from the bottom and I trained and I ran a marathon. My mantra for the training was “all or nothing,” because my life is so chaotic when you think about anybody who doesn’t have a regular nine to five job we make our own schedules but it can change all the variables are interchangeable at any time. Its unpredictable and nothing that I was doing can compromise my training schedule. So it was like regardless of the fact that nothing else in my life was regimented I couldn’t cheat the run, I couldn’t cheat the training. I had to do six miles and then eight miles the next day in order to really prepare and really be ready for the next step. I felt like well okay if I’m really going to run this marathon I have to give it my all or nothing and it became what I decided to live by. It was like anything I do in my life I need to dedicate that kind of attention, diligence, and passion. I think with this album sonically it’s going to be a little weird, it might be a little left but it’s still going to be soulful, they’ll be some pop records up there, some upbeat little reggae vibey joints but I think the overall message is that there are moments that even when I think I have it all or even when somebody else may think I have it all I really feel like I ain’t sh*t. And then moments where I may have nothing, moments where I was up on stage living life and it was grand but my lights where off in my house. It’s moments where other people may be perceived it as life was sweet and sh*t was f**ked up. I think sharing that truth especially in this day and age when everything is social media based and everything is perceptions and it’s lies and its facades. I think that for me All or Nothing is going to shed some light on some real sh*t that a lot of people have yet to embrace in their own lives but also acknowledge and be willing to accept in others.