Brynn Elliott’s favorite professor at Harvard University once told her, “Philosophy is thinking in slow motion.” Struck by those words as a student, the now 25-year-old emerging popstar still carries that sentiment with her.
Elliott’s new single, “Tell Me I’m Pretty,” ushers in her sophomore EP, Can I Be Real?, the follow up to her debut album Time of Our Lives. Born from a conversation with a friend, this pop track details the pressures presented to women in the age of social media and how that shapes the artist’s life and music.
“This is a song that I wrote with women, about being a woman, with women in mind,” the artist boasts. Co-written with Michelle Buzz (Katy Perry, Kylie Minogue) and produced by The Monarch (Kelly Clarkson, Nicki Minaj), “Tell Me I’m Pretty” aligns with the slow-motion mentality. Elliott’s unhurried approach allows intentionality to thread through every detail, down to her collaborators.
“I don’t sit down to write this type of song,” she insists with a bit of humor. “But when I sit down to write, I have to be honest. I definitely hold myself to that standard and so it just comes out. The contemplation of what it means to be a woman remains present and true to me.”
In a brave new digital world of front-facing cameras and constant streaming, “Tell Me I’m Pretty” considers more modern measures of beauty. The accompanying video places a historical perspective upon the predicament, suggesting this conundrum is not native to the 21st century.
“This desire to be truly beautiful is something women have been fighting for centuries,” Elliott explains.
Can I Be Real? Is a question Elliott has continually returned to throughout her artistic journey. She wrote her debut album, Time of Our Lives, while she was studying philosophy at Harvard. The EP chronicles her college days with unprecedented depth. Each song is inspired by a different philosopher or set of ideas. “Time of Our Lives” draws on Heidegger and existentialism, while “Might Not Like Me”—a Top 15 Hot AC single—absorbs feminist critiques of Descartes.
After spending a year and a half on the road, sharing stages with Brandi Carlile, Grace Potter, and Alanis Morissette, this follow-up project, Can I Be Real?, is a self-check-in.
“My dreams were coming true so quickly,” she recalls. “Hearing my song on the radio, traveling the world—it was all so exciting. But among the glitz and glamour, I wanted to make sure I was still my truest self.”
2020 found the Los Angeles-based artist back home in Atlanta, reminding herself to take a breather while working on new production techniques from her childhood bedroom. The title track from her upcoming EP exhibits the musicians’ newfound strengths with guitar-driven production.
At the risk of sounding cliche, Elliott admits a deep-rooted appreciation for pop music that impassioned her career. The young artist believes that the best pop music is “so simple, but sticks.”
“If I could ever make music like that, so universal and resonate, I would feel successful,” she proclaims. With a deep breath of confirmation, she adds, “that’s my goal.”
Watch Brynn Elliott’s video for “Tell Me I’m Pretty,” below. Keep an eye out for updates about the upcoming EP, due out later this year, on her website.