Three Music Thingz with Bryn Battani

Three Music Thingz with Bryn Battani

Oh ho ho, it's another rendition of Three Music Thingz, the blogseries where I ask musicians for three thingz that are essential to their music-making.

Today we've got Bryn Battani, a chamber pop singer-songwriter out of Minneapolis, who recently dropped an elegant single called "~The Thing~" in advance of her upcoming EP Guest Room (out 6/7). Bryn's delicate voice lopes over the chilly keyboard chords like a calligraphy pen on one of those really good, crisp pieces of cardstock—do my stationery people know what I'm talking about here??—and the cool temperature of the track eventually warms up with the addition of some gently tumultuous trumpet, flute and violin. The sound is sophisticated and intriguing!

I'm on the record as saying we as a society need just a little more abstraction in our lives, lyrically. Ariana Grande's anxious-attachment-style pop in particular kind of put me over the edge. I want more ambiguity to project on, more imagery that evokes rather than prescribes. Which is why I really dig the lyrics of "~The Thing~"—they dance around something unspoken but intense, and could be interpreted in many different ways by different people.

Lost a piece, it’s not that we
Split the drinks, it’s not me
It’s not that I’m not the thing

For me they evoke a long night spent with someone whom you have unfinished business that may in fact never get finished...

Bryn shared some wonderful Thingz for the blog today. Please read on...

    Since the 20th century, the letterman jacket has been an iconic piece of American culture. It symbolizes inclusion within a group, like a school or team, even representing popularity and social status. A lot of my writing explores the feeling of being on the outside, left out of mainstream culture or rejected by the in-crowd. As a result, I enjoy sort of “reclaiming” the letterman jacket as my own—it’s a costume for a character I can play, or the front I can put up as a performer. In a way, I can hide behind it and pretend to be someone I’m not, but it also allows me to reflect on the very real insecurities we can experience growing up. I love the irony of sporting it (no pun intended) as I sing about being a neurodivergent kid and feeling decidedly uncool.

    On the subject of sports, another relevant object is the bowling trophy my ex gave me as he was moving out of his senior year dorm. At the time I thought it was cute and funny. The end of the relationship left me feeling brutally cast aside, so now it’s like this weird absurdist treasure representing that fickle fleeting feeling of acceptance.
    I crave music with surprising twists and turns. I want to be kept on my toes. As a result, I write songs with winding narratives that shift whether or not you’re ready. I like playing with expectations, letting my lines reveal alternate meanings halfway through, writing melodies that wobble between different keys and careen into unstable time signatures, returning to earlier lyrics and figures only to turn them around. I think the truth behind a song is often more powerful when the listener has to work a little bit to find it, so I like to avoid giving it away too easily. An example of that in this EP is when I protest too loudly in “Dicey (The Floor Song),” insistently repeating that I’m “never not sincere” about being over the relationship, despite my eyebrow-raising use of the double negative.

    This project chronicles the roller coaster of highly volatile relationships. It’s about getting caught up in that turbulence as it becomes all-consuming and addictive. In many ways, the process reflects the subject matter—I wrote the five songs across two continents, then recorded them between lightning-quick sessions on visits to Austin, Texas hometown, then added layers from home studio setups in various Minneapolis apartments. Never again will I approach making an EP in this way if I can help it, but I achieved some fun serendipitous moments through the chaotic nature of the process, which feels appropriate for a project driven by restlessness, uncertainty and unease.
  3. KEYS
    Guest Room is all about that weird out-of-place feeling you get when you stay in a room that isn’t yours—allegedly welcome, but unable to feel quite at home in someone else’s space. I experienced that situation quite literally as well as emotionally. I was only ever a visitor in these relationships, fumbling around for the right key to open someone up.

    My work has always centered around making discoveries, uncovering meanings, and searching for access—to closeness, vulnerability, and whatever truths lie behind closed doors. I also play keyboard, so that allows for some fun opportunities for dual interpretations.

    Fortuitously, I came into possession of a massive quantity of old keys, which are currently being transformed into necklaces, earrings and keychains. On 4/12, I’ll have them available on the merch section of my site, so check back for that!
~The Thing~, by Bryn Battani
track by Bryn Battani

Thank you Bryn! Guest Room is out June 7. And thanks for reading I Enjoy Music. If you like the blog, tell a friend about it.