BRYCE SAVOY INTERVIEW
Let's start with this last album, Neighborhood Diamonds. I want to know what your creative process was behind this one, because it seemed like you had to up some of your skills to get this one done?
BRYCE: Yeah, 100%. It actually started last year, well before quarantine hit. I was on the "Independence Tour," my self-funded tour, first tour, ever. I had a 5 city tour going on, then the final stop was supposed to be my birthday, March 13th in L.A. [That] was supposed to be that last one. That was the height of the COVID stuff, height of all the chaos/uncertainty, and that's when my show was supposed to happen. After that got cancelled, it was like a couple of weeks or so just figuring out "what is next?" I started creatively just trying to find different stuff. It started with just tuning into different Zoom lives about music business, stuff like that to just keep my brain occupied. Then, from there I kinda like for a month, I started just pickin' up a camera and kinda learning photography. For a month, just to learn it, taking different kinds of pictures and understand how the camera works, all of that stuff. From there, having that confidence to learn led to me having the confidence to learn Pro Tools. Once I got into Pro Tools, it obviously led to me recording more and just to be more creative. Express myself. After I started doing that, I had producers that were sending me beats, and honestly, that's how it all started. I took that approach, and after a couple months of me recording I was like, "okay, I'm going to make a project," Neighborhood Diamonds. I was in the process of branding that more thoroughly. I thought it was only right to call the project this. It kinda just spiraled from there.
Did you take them pictures of the various people that were part of your project? (referring to his info graphics that he posted on social media.)
BRYCE: No, so those pictures that you saw from that, was pictures that they already had and sent 'em to me. I posted some of the stuff earlier in the year that I took pictures of, cuz’ really I was just takin' pictures of stuff in my neighborhood, stuff in my apartment. Like nothing of any real directing just kinda learnin' how the camera works, that's really it. Tryna get the best picture. I didn't really post anything, it just helped me learn and experience how photography works.
I feel that, kinda keepin' a grip of all the circuits of runnin' your own personal thing.
BRYCE: It's like you said, and it was quarantine. It kinda just added another layer of independence for me. Being able to control as much of my art and the creative process as possible. That confidence from photography spilled over into the music and learnin' how to record and mix myself. So, I feel like that just gave me another level of freedom.
That's dope, do you think you'll continue mixin' your stuff from here on out?
BRYCE: Absolutely, absolutely. I still wanna go record with the people I normally record with because sometimes it's better to not be hands on with that part of it, just because I like to get an outside perspective. In terms of me being able to not wait for anybody, I have ideas. And knowing I can record it and if I really want to , mix it and put it out - I'mma continue to get better with that. It's everything for me. At some point, as I learn more, I want to get to [a] point where I don't gotta record with anybody. Just myself, I can do it myself.
That's the goal, for real. I been thinkin' bout that a lot and what I'm doing with CROWNTHEM. I want it to be a print magazine so I'm out here tryna figure out how I can print, bind and ship it myself. And truly, that's what I wanted to talk about next - your rebrand. Watching you rebrand has been inspirational as fuck. Your rebrand started about 2017 or somethin'?
BRYCE: Spot on, it was right when I moved from Oakland to L.A., 2017.
What was the motivation and purpose behind your rebrand?
BRYCE: It really was that moment when I took that leap of faith to move to L.A. I knew it was time for a whole transition. I kinda lived my life in a way where I broke it down by chapters and me moving to L.A. was a start to a whole new chapter. I just wanted to have a clean slate. As you noted, I was "Int'l Haysus" before I left. Then [when] I went to L.A. is when I did the rebrand of "BRYCE Savoy," my name, and who I am. I'm still growin' and learnin' myself, but that was the pinnacle of just me knowin' who I am fully and steppin' into that. That came the name change and from there it is so much easier. Previously, every year up until that point, it was always me tryin' to build this persona in a sense. You know, somethin' kinda outside of myself but it never panned out the way I wanted it to. Don't get me wrong, I had some good moments and learned a lot, but it wasn't until I went with my name that everything started to click. I found my purpose. We started "The Black Neighborhood" right around the same time. It was just a full circle moment, and I felt like the best way to kind of express that was to rebrand everything and say, "this is how I'm goin' to approach it from here on out, this is what people will know me as or know me for." So, just makin' that decision and takin' that leap of faith.
It's been impressive to see, because there was a moment I couldn't find your previous music just because I couldn't remember what your name used to be. Your rebrand is strong and all the different avenues you're takin' with it; "The Black Neighborhood," "#ForeverOaklandFridays," scholarships for the students that are heading to college here soon…
BRYCE: Yep, yep, so we still in the process of going into the final round here in the next few weeks, then we going to be givin' out 2 scholarships to incoming freshmen, HS seniors (now.) After putting 10,000 hours into this, I started doin' the music back in 2003. 18 years later you just learn and learn and learn, and then you finally get to a point where you figure it all out and just go from there. That's where I'm at now - knowing what I want to do, and knowing how to approach that. Really being adamant and disciplined about it.
Your brand and music expresses all that for sure. It's real cool to see BRYCE. So movin' to L.A. has really helped you elevate in all those ways?
BRYCE: 1000%. Just the simple fact of getting' away from my comfort zone, you know. Being from and growin' up in Oakland and The Bay Area, you can get complacent at a certain point just because your people here, you're comfortable, you know pretty much how to navigate and all these things. So, going to a place like L.A. that’s obviously a hub for entertainment allowed me to grow in a way that I wouldn't been able to if I stayed in Oakland. Just the simple fact that everybody is going out there to chase some kind of dream or whatever it is, because of that people are trying to network and connect. You may build with somebody, you might not. But the fact that you had the opportunity to do that, and everyone is just less than 1 degree of separation to getting' to where you want to be - it was just so important to me. Also, I have a lot of family out there. Like my father, he's been livin' out there for 20+ years. So, I knew even on a personal level, at some point, if I really want to grow and become that man that God created me to be, then I would have to be closer to him and move over there and spend time with him. All of those things came to me when I found my purpose, all of those things just made a lot more sense of what the next steps were to me. Bein' out there 3 years later, it's workin' out exactly how [I] envisioned it and even better.
So good to hear, that's alignment bruh, for real. So, movin' out there, has your Hip Hop community changed? Are you able to connect your Hip Hop communities from Oakland to L.A.?
BRYCE: Absolutely. It's grown, you know. 'Cause I'm from Oakland so there's people who is doin' the same thing I'm doin' that live in L.A. from Oakland, so I have that network. There's people from Howard, my alma mater that live out there, so I have that network. Then people I kinda knew growin' up in L.A. in the summers and for holidays with my pops, so I have people from there. Just merging all of those networks and they overlap each other, so there's synergy in that. I'm able to build all of those communities, all of those different networks into one community. That's really what it's all about for me - building community wherever I'm at. Los Angeles, 100% allows me to do that.
It looks like you're trying to expand "The Black Neighborhood" to other cities too.
BRYCE: That's the plan, at this point it's wherever our founding members are at. A couple of us live in The Bay Area, Los Angeles and a couple other members live in New York. It's all about trying to build a community for our people whatever city we're livin' in. I'm really tryin' to man that more and it's a little challenging, because I went out there with the intentions to just go balls to the wall with the music and I've been doin' that. So sometimes it can be hard to balance both TBN and the music, although they're intertwined in terms of community service. I'm going to do a better job this year. I have people who want to help, it's just a matter of putting everything together.
I can't imagine, that's a lot of community work and individual work at the same time. Which, they do go hand in hand, but yeah it really sounds like you carrying on that Oakland tradition - really out here For The People, for real.
BRYCE: For me, you can't have one without the other. I can't serve my community without the music, and I obviously can't do the music without doin' the community work. I look at it like it's what I was put on the Earth to do. Coming back and forth from Oakland to L.A. is definitely tiresome, but shit, it's what I asked for. I love it, honestly. It's been a blessing for me.
Whatchu lookin' forward to in the new year? Whatchu got planned?
BRYCE: For the first couple months of the year, it's just continuing to push this body of work, Neighborhood Diamonds project. Getting it in as many peoples’ ears, eyes, faces as possible. This is my first full length project. I'm just doin' all that I can to make sure I have as much content as possible. I'm gearin' up and rampin' up to be able to drop as much visual content, content in general related to the project. From there, I don't know, I have some stuff in the works related to the project, but the great thing about how my life always works creatively, is that I'll have a plan goin' into the year, but things change and I'm able to transition and pivot in real time. I'm lookin' forward to that. I'm always recordin' and workin' on things, but what is also important to me is timing and what feels right. What will happen next creatively, I have a lot of things lined up. Iit's just a matter of what makes the most sense timing wise.
Well I appreciate that, because today it doesn't seem like many artists sit with just one project and get the most out of it. I'm excited to see, even just you droppin' those infographics about who was on the album - really elongating the process, again and being thorough to get the most out of it. It's very beneficial, not a lot of people are getting everything they can outta each project they drop.
BRYCE: Right, and it's dope to hear you say that. And several people within the span of the last month or so have commended me on my rollout and how I go about marketing. I've always looked at myself as a major artist, you know, whatever that kinda means to you. I always studied the game and seen what they're doin' and do the same shit, honestly, but just add my own flavor or spin on it. Lookin' at these bigger artists, mainstream artists with actual major label budgets, it allows me to kind of be creative- and what that would look like for me?- that's the approach I take with everything. Okay, "what is being done, what can I do differently, and also, how can I expand on those ideas. I know everything that's going on with technology and our attention spans has shortened, and I tried to fight that for the longest, but even for myself I know how it is. It's kinda been my purpose with this project, people may have seen it for the last few months but it's about how I can recreate content, give new info, visuals, audio, whatever related to the project I know it's going to keep circling back. Continue to expand the lifespan of the project.
Which could be a challenging thing, because the platforms we use need things to be succinct that it's even hard to expand sometimes.
BRYCE: That’s a great point. That’s the challenge, and beauty of it -that’s what I live for. How can I say so much with saying the least amount of things. Saying less than necessary is what I love doing now. When I met you, you were working with MuzicZoo. Ever since then I don’t know what happened, you left/moved what was the transition like from there?
So I left MuzicZoo because I was gettin’ into my final year of the Masters at Mills College. I just had to focus on that and working on sections of my memoir. After that I moved down to Atlanta and got tired of seeing all these journalism opportunities for different magazines and Hip Hop platforms, applying to them and not having the portfolio that matched my expertise. So, I went back to pull up my old articles from MuzicZoo and the site wasn’t there anymore. I tried reaching out to him, but I know he’s busy with his real estate business. At that point I was just like, “wow, I just need to create my own portfolio,” so I can apply to these positions that I want to be in, and that’s how I started CROWNTHEM. Down in Atlanta, unemployed as fuck, trying to figure out what to do. Really was just a twitter account. Then I came up here to Memphis and was like, “let me just try and put all this into PDF form, some type of Hip Hop directory.” I had a few people reach out to me after the last issue and ask if I would be interested in CROWNTHEM being it’s own section in a larger magazine but I’m not sure about that, I want it to be mine. I don’t mind building with people who are on my level and on a similar vision.
BRYCE: I know what you’re sayin’. That goes back to the whole idea of being independent and psychology behind it. The idea of being able to take something you’ve created and make it a tangible thing that everyone can relate to or everybody can latch onto. That’s the artistic and creative freedom that we’re all striving for, whether we know it or not. So yeah, you been and it’s crazy because when I first saw, I didn’t know it was you until you DM’d me. I didn’t know who I thought it was but I was like, “oh shit, this is someone who is tapped in, because I see postin’ bout someone in Oakland, then I see you postin’ bout someone that I know from Howard and ATL, my boy Pac. [November issue front cover Pacman ADV)
Ohhh, that’s how you know him?
BRYCE: Yeah, we went to Howard together.
Oh okay, that makes sense now.
BRYCE: Yeah so when I saw that I was like shit – I feel like whoever it is, is really tapped in to these indie artists, and not the indie artist with major budgets, but indie artists really putting it in from a grassroots perspective. Those are the ones that are going to win, because it’s only a matter of time before we rise to the top. And you already will have the connection/relationship that you built with us on a ground level. I commend you on that, that’s beautiful and everything looks professional… you obviously know what you’re doing. From a pure, objective perspective, it looks great.
I appreciate that for real.
BRYCE: Shit, I appreciate you. I know we had to have met at least 4 years ago.
Bruh, it was like 6, it was 2015 I’m pretty sure.
BRYCE: Facts, it was definitely 6. And it’s funny because I’m looking at where I was as an artist 6 years ago, and I feel from that time ‘til now you saw somethin’ then I didn’t probably even see in myself. To see where we both at now, is beautiful.
It’s cool as fuck. It’s kinda like full circle, it’s like a lap.
BRYCE: It’s been a full lap.