The Many Hats of the Singer-Songwriter: Brenna Lynn

Singer Songwriter Brenna Lynn performing live on stage
This singer-songwriter independently records and produces new music to a rapidly growing online audience on TikTok, YouTube and more…

Here’s what we love about Brenna at Singdaptive: not only is she ticking all of the boxes that today’s singers often have to address (social media, new original pieces, mastering her way around gear, recording, producing and online sharing), but she does so with an honesty in her music which has reached our hearts.

Her Sunday morning mental health live chats, trauma analysis videos, character-based songs, and Avatar fighting styles can all be found on Tik Tok @BrennaTalksTooMuch

A key turning point in developing your own unique vocal work? 

I always say I’m a singer songwriter. But I’m definitely more songwriter than I am singer! Writing songs has always been natural for me. Words fly out of my mouth and flow out of my pen as easy as emotions. But singing has never come so naturally. I constantly sing and realized early that if I wanted to share my lyrics…I needed to open my mouth and sing! 

A performance that was a “turning point” & why?

I’ll never forget the first time I got paid to sing originals for others at a popular coffee shop called Donkey Coffee. I played the open mic night and afterwards, the sound engineer came down from the booth and said he needed to book me for a paid Saturday show. It was incredible to hear someone say that my songs and my work had value.

Brenna Lynn performing at Donkey Coffee

A critical step you took to reach larger audiences with your music?

Putting myself out there! If you want to sing for others, you’ve got to throw your hat into the ring for EVERY opportunity you can. That means sending emails to clubs, turning every trip to another state to see a friend into a mini tour, and being ready to sing at a moment’s notice and feeling confident enough to do it!

What have you done to work on your voice?

I wanted vocal lessons but didn’t exactly have the money for them. So a major turning point was during the pandemic when I explored virtual lessons that I could do on my own time. This format worked well for my busy schedule as well as my budget. I feel I’ve grown a lot as a singer in the past year.

An important vocal health lesson?

Warming up feels funny but it’s so needed. Doing warmups daily or almost daily is a great way to care for and train your voice.

An object (at home) that inspires you in your musical work:

I love sitting down at my desk to create music. Recording can be tricky, frustrating, and expensive. But I know that I can move mountains and tackle anything when I sit at my little corner of the world and let myself be creative. My desk can get as cluttered as my mind – but I know where and what everything is. It’s my organized chaos. 

Brenna Lynn’s workspace

What’s on that desk that inspires you?

I have a lucky little elephant from a childhood friend, a pingpong ball trophy that I never earned, and a frog that reminds me I’m loved. I’ve got microphones, speakers, and recording equipment gathered over time on a college student budget with trades and late nights on ebay. And I’ve got scraps of paper with notes and thoughts and half written songs that might someday find their way to a stage.

Brenna Lynn’s inspirational objects

A vocal artist who inspires you? 

I am so impressed by Lorde. When I saw her live in nosebleed seats, I was shocked. She sounded exactly like she did in her recordings…except maybe even better and stronger. I want to have her level of consistency, control, and emotion conveyance.

Any other singers you find inspiring?

Swift. I know, it’s a common answer. Plus, a lot of people said she couldn’t sing! That’s why I’m amazed by her. If you listen to her early work, especially her live shows, her voice is not some natural wonder. You can tell she had to work at it. She might have been a natural writer, but you can tell she needed to put in work and train her voice. I wish I was a naturally perfect singer, but that was never me. But just like Taylor Swift, I’ve come a long way and I’m willing to learn to be a better singer if it will share my music with others.

A lesson with tech that’s helped you make or share your music?

The most important lesson I’ve learned is this: don’t wait. Don’t say “I can’t do it yet…I don’t have the right microphone/camera/lights/speakers/etc so I better wait. No! 

So, what’s your tech advice for singers?

Do the best you can with what you’ve got. Those things will come to you, but you can’t turn back time. Get creative now! Every time you make something, you grow, improve, and share and connect with others. There will always be a nicer, newer piece of tech and equipment you want. But don’t let that be an excuse to wait. Start! Make stuff, explore stuff, and share stuff. Don’t ever say “I can’t yet.” 

What’s your relationship with social media – what do you do that “works” / or that you like doing?

Social media is a musician’s best friend and worst enemy. I love and hate it. I love sharing with others, connecting with others, and learning with others. I love that I can tell my friends and fans about my show, my live video, my fundraiser, or my new song with just a few clicks. But I also can be overwhelmed and exhausted by it. 

Brenna Lynn has a rapidly growing fanbase on TikTok

How do you deal with the demanding nature of needing to be “socially present”?

Social media can put a lot of pressure on us to be perfect, always happy, and constant. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve deleted something I worked hard on just because it “wasn’t good enough.” I’ve also felt sucked into it all and needed to make sure I stepped away from screens in order to feel all the salient moments in real life. 

Give us an example of managing socials…

I was at the top of my TikTok game and growing rapidly, but then got into a really bad car accident. I needed to take time to process it, heal from my injuries, deal with the trauma, schedule and heal from surgeries, and even reschedule my wedding day. I felt immense pressure to show up for followers and make my regular content…but I just couldn’t. I needed time to process it all and just take care of myself. That being said, most followers were kind, patient, and even sent well wishes. Social media is both a blessing and a curse.

How did you start on TikTok?

I made singing, vocal, and musical TikToks of course! That alone didn’t attract too many newcomers. When my job shut down for a few months last year, I started making TikToks about other interests of mine. One being geeky nerdy content, anime, and television characters! It started picking up steam and I connected it to emotions, mental health, and music, as I do with everything in life! 

What do you do on TikTok?

I make short form videos about geeky and nostalgic television shows I enjoy, especially Avatar the Last Airbender (which isn’t so geeky anymore, it’s low-key kind of cool now!) Specifically, I talk about character’s mental health and trauma responses, chemistry and physics of bending (did I mention I love science?!), and write songs from character perspectives. I also do live videos where I discuss show theories, mental health in real life, and play my original songs.

Any social media “fails” or “successes” for you?

Successes: I’ve really loved making live videos on TikTok! It takes out all the pressure I discussed before. TikTok’s short form videos and transient live videos take all the “I-need-to-be-perfect” pressure out of the equation. They are fun, easy, and simple. A lot of people found me because of my love for animated shows, but then turned into fans of my music after watching my live videos!

Fails: Oh my goodness I fail everyday! Not every TikTok goes viral! Also, my Instagram doesn’t usually get too much traffic. I’m a words person…not a picture person! There’s also been plenty of mean comments left below TikToks and YouTube videos. They sting for a second, especially the sexist ones, but I just keep doing me and remember that the people leaving those probably can’t do much better!

What are you currently working on in terms of your music-career?

Things have been a little weird lately. There’s been a LOT going on in my personal life. Between the car accident, moving my wedding day, and deaths in my family, I’ll be honest and say it’s been a time where my music hasn’t been a showy, fun, “look over here!” experience lately. Instead, it’s been my lifeline. 

Tell us more about music as a lifeline…

It’s been the quiet thing I do to stay afloat. Many songs I’ve written recently haven’t landed on anyone else’s ears yet. But that’s ok. My music has always been a life preserver before it’s been anything else to anyone else. Maybe when I’m feeling a little more whole, I’ll share these musical emotions with others to help them feel less alone when they are dealing with similar feelings.

One challenge you come across in recording your own music?

Recording music is SO tough! I tense up when I know I’m being listened to or recorded! I know it’s a paradox, but I’ve had to work very hard to relax.

What was your first performance?

Haha! Oh! My first performance is technically my clarinet performance in 4th grade. I had written a song…on the clarinet. I knew in my head that it was this somber, sad song inspired by loneliness. 

How did that go over?

My teacher was like “aww it sounds like elephants to me! Let’s call it the elephant song!” and I was thinking “WTF no I’m not writing CHILDREN’S MUSIC!” But I had no backbone so I said “yeah ok sounds good!” and played it. As soon as 4th grade ended, I asked my parents for guitar lessons. I needed an instrument that I could play and also write lyrics to show its true meaning. Since then, I’ve played guitar and sang in multiple states at coffee shops, bars, community events, restaurants, and more! And I’ll never mis-name a song again.

What are some of your career dreams/goals?

That’s always a funny question. It changes from time to time. My main goal is to always enjoy making music. I hope it never gets old. Also, I hope to share my music with anyone who needs it. I don’t care if I’m never a common household name or a singer with millions of fans. I’m happy with a small following that finds value and comfort in my songs. If thousands of people hated my music, but five people needed it and loved it, it would be worth every second.

See More on Brenna: Her Music | YouTube Channel | Website | TikTok | Instagram

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