We caught up with Bri Steves after her performance at SOB’s at the ASCAP “On the Come Up” showcase in New York.
Steves was so transparently authentic and didn’t hold back on our conversation. Her passion and love for music is evident. Steves is someone is determined to make it. Seeing her hustle and the way she’s moving – there’s no denying that she has immense potential for imminent stardom.
The Knockturnal: I want to start from the very beginning. How did you first get into music? You have such a strong personality and presence and I definitely feel like it comes from somewhere…
Bri Steves: I’ve always been doing music for years, I’ve always been writing. I didn’t actually take it seriously until I got into college. So up until that point, I started rapping in high-school, before that it was poetry. When I got to college, it hit me my junior year that I kind of can’t do anything else. I had internships lined up, I had job offers lined up and at this point I’ve been doing like small shows, going to studios and nothing really ever worked out for me – until I got invited to the studio one time down in South Philly (this is my Junior year of college by the way) and once I came through, this was the first time that I met producers and musicians that actually did music full time. So once I saw that, it clicked and it was like ‘you know what, I don’t care what kind of internships I got on the table, I’m not going.’ So, I kind of just said ‘f*ck the internship’ that I had on the table, it was actually a fashion internship in New York and I just went and started interning at that studio, that same one. I came through there everyday just to watch what they were doing. I ended up buying equipment at the time, I had like $3000 saved up for my first car, spent that on one day – on speakers, my laptop, my mic, everything.
I didn’t even know what I was doing recording wise. I had everything shipped to my place and I just stayed in the house a lot, every night. I would go the studio, then go home and try to apply what I learned – and I did that for months until I got lucky enough to get on a showcase, maybe like 8 months later with Star Island Production Company. And they do a showcase every year in the city, labels come out for it, it’s really hard to get on it. I worked my ass off to get on it and a couple of weeks later, I ended up signing with them – they f*cked with me heavy. Once I signed with them, 60 days later, they got me my deal with Atlantic Records. I went to see G.O.O.D Music, I went to go see Kendrick Lamar – T.D.E… And it’s all in a matter of 30 days from signing with them, Star Island. And I was kind of in a whirlwind like Man – ok I’ve put in all this time to get good enough, to get here, teaching myself how to produce and how to engineer and how to get better at writing songs and then look up and somehow I was ready for the team, and they kind’ve helped me take it to the next level.
I met Greg, Jolie Greenwald walking into Atlantic’s office. I was 22 and it was kind of crazy. When I met Greg, I didn’t even know I was meeting him. I walk in to the office, I played him some music and he didn’t let me leave the building. And then I had to go meet Julie Greenwald and then you know ended up signing with Atlantic. I couldn’t believe that all these great people were like ‘yo you’re amazing, you’re talented and this is dope’. I remember when it was just me that believed in me and I had to put in a lot of work, had to put some skills under my belt.
The Knockturnal: Especially as a woman in this industry, to really have people take you seriously with your craft.
Bri Steves: Exactly, because it was like I can hold a note or rap, but if I don’t have any other skillsets, what’s to say that they’re not going to ignore me. That’s kind of how I got to this point now… I’m in a pretty dope space and it’s just really been putting a lot of time behind the scenes and I still kind of I’m always trying to sharpen.
The Knockturnal: I also saw you at the Atlantic Records showcase a couple of months ago (alongside Rico Nasty and Malibu Mitch) and it was interesting and exciting to see your progression from that performance to now – and to see you still have that same buoyant energy and personality as well.
Bri Steves: I’m still like a baby. So I haven’t even been performing for that long. It’s always a growth thing and it’s always about ‘ok what can I do next’. So alright, maybe I didn’t do so well on this one so let’s try and figure out how we can do well on the next one.
The Knockturnal: And I feel like that’s what’s going to propel you further. You always setting your sight on growth.
Bri Steves: Exactly. That’s really my thing.
The Knockturnal: I wanted to ask about your creative process as well. You’re someone who experiments with a lot of melodies but also the hard-hitting raps. How different it is to tap into the ‘Jealousy’ and more melodic vibes vs. the bars?
Bri Steves: My base is bars. My base where I started off was writing. Then I got more confident to do more singing. I remember in that time frame where I was putting out work, I used to go to the subway to get over my stage fright of singing. I would never sing.
The Knockturnal: Damn.
Bri Steves: Yeah (laughs) crazy sh*t. But, I enjoy singing but it really depends on the beat. My creative process is I have a lot of producers send me tracks and I go through a lot of them and depending on which track it is, I may catch something. I may feel like man this sh*t is really hard or there may be something that touches me in a way and is melodic so I feel like singing.
The Knockturnal: Do you freestyle?
Bri Steves: Yeah, I like to freestyle write. Typically, I like to tell stories a lot. I use it as a diary. ‘Jealousy’ I actually wrote that song in the shower for like 15 minutes. I was listening to a track and I was going through an argument with my boyfriend at the time and I was like alright, like ‘I heard that you get them calls on your phone, say to leave me alone, they be checking on my twitter, think they know me, they don’t” – That’s kind of how I write, I just talk and I write it down.
The Knockturnal: How is it like performing on stage. Your interaction with the audience is impeccable, I haven’t seen that kind of energy in a while. You give so much of yourself to the crowd. Where does it all come from, do you even know?
Bri Steves: (haha) I actually don’t. I don’t know what it is, I don’t know what I tap into, I don’t even recognize it. All I know is that I’m being myself so it’s cool when other people say it to me. But I don’t know, I don’t know anything but that energy.
The Knockturnal: New music, when is it coming out? And is it going to be more melodic, more raps, or balanced out? Do you even want to balance both or focus more on one?
Bri Steves: I’m definitely going to have some new content coming out later on this month. I can’t say specifically but definitely look forward to more songs coming out and videos. What people should expect is that they’re going to get the rapping and some singing but not like ‘Jealousy’ – you’re going to hear me spitting on some tracks but you’re going to want to move to it. You’re going to hear me singing, but more emotional and hear the real story behind who’s Bri Steves and what’s her life about. You’re going to get the real. Jealousy is my first single, it’s a great way to start and give people a taste of who I am but there’s so much more than Jealousy.
The Knockturnal: Who would you say Bri Steves is in one word?
Bri Steves: I am Next.
Follow Bri Steves: Instagram