‘It’s just a pipe dream’, sings Te Whanganui-A-Tara-based singer-songwriter Danica Bryant on the first track of her recently dropped EP, ‘Ego Death’. Likely not so because a career in music seems plenty justified based on the evident strength of the 21-year-old’s sophomore EP release.
Napier-born, Danica moved to Wellington to study and has also just finished her Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies degree this year.
“Now I’m sticking around because I love the vibrant culture and community here. I love the thriving music scene, the LGBT+ community presence and the fact there’s always something new to discover and someone new to meet.”
She’s reasonably described as a pop-folk musician with a rock edge, the song lyrics – and her agile voice – readily traversing those genres and more on ‘Ego Death’. The EP was made largely under the NZ On Air development fund, which she applied for with producer friend Jonny Avery.
They worked from his home studio in Khandallah, focusing on digital production and computerised sounds. Danica says that process was extremely different from what she’d done before.
“It was all collaborative writing between Jonny and I, which forced me to get a lot more vulnerable and real than I have before, and also learn to loosen the reins sometimes to make for a better final product.
“I’ve always known how to make great folk-rock music, but Jonny brought out that classy pop sound that’s always been there and just needed pulling out and polishing up. It’s absolutely shaped my sound and how I view myself as an artist now, as a pop star with a real bite.”
Rather than being a song title, the ‘ego death’ phrase features in single Crush, which provides a great illustration of her penchant for direct talking. ‘…all of the feelings I feel for you / mortification and nausea / I can tell you now there won’t be a later,’ she eviscerates a posturing artist suitor. Ouch.
“My songwriting is very motivated by my media studies-oriented view on the world,” she acknowledges. “I can’t help but see everything as political, or see how it’s crafted by social structures. I naturally gravitate towards the topics I’m thinking about, like the sexism I’m raging about in Crush, the artistic struggles of Pipe Dream, or the social anxieties inherent to Hang On Over.”
Touring to promote the new EP with her band proved something of a revelation.
“It was really exciting to adapt these very computerised songs into a rocky live environment. They transformed from these clean pop tracks to gritty, almost grungy numbers on the stage, which is what I’d consider my point of difference from a lot of other acts, and what makes the music so fun for me.”
And not just fun, she describes it as being incredibly important for her to speak up for the change she wants to see.
“There’s already an infinite amount of music in the world, so I don’t see the point in putting my own out there unless it has something significant to offer that’s meaningful and important, and expressive in a way I feel people need to hear. Plus, music makes the tough stuff a little more palatable to people’s ears. When you have a really difficult message, a catchy melody and clever lyrics might make them think more than they would if they’re just getting lectured!”