Interview: Newcomer Bryson Jennings Draws Musical Inspiration From Fishing Boats, Small Towns, Real Life
Bryson Jennings' debut EP -- which includes his debut single, "Young Nights" -- may be his first foray into country music, but the singer already has plenty of musical experience under his belt.
"I was playing a bunch of shows at the end of high school," Jennings tells The Boot. "It was neat. It was cool. But I kind of got to college and wanted to do the college thing. I wasn’t playing music at all, really, all through college. The very end of my senior year, I started writing again, so I pulled my guitar out. Any momentum I had when I was 15 was clearly lost."
Still, by the time he'd finished college, the South Carolina native had chosen to pursue music full time.
"I decided I was going to play music, but obviously, when you first make that jump off the cliff, you play tiny bars, cover songs," Jennings explains. "Maybe one show a week, probably more like three or four shows a month, if you’re lucky. I wasn’t on the road a lot. I was kind of honing my craft, my songwriting."
To pay the bills, Jennings started working on fishing boats, which gave him some unforgettable experiences along the way.
"I got to travel all the world," he says. "Then it finally got to the point where it was all or nothing. I had to make the decision to make music my priority."
So, Jennings poured all of his energy into his music career, recording an EP of songs that he played whenever he could. It didn't take long for others to take notice.
"I got real lucky and got some good opening slots and got some management," Jennings explains. "I made that decision, as the music was getting busier, it started getting to where, every time I was leaving on the boat, there was something I was missing here. I was inconveniencing myself in the long run, so I finally just had to kind of cut that off all the way."
The tunesmith draws on his diverse life experiences in his songs, from his childhood in Orangeburg, S.C., to the months he spent on the water.
"I don’t sing about anything that’s not real to me," Jennings maintains. "It’s extremely evident in my music. I grew up hanging out and partying in fields with my buddies. I went to college and was hanging out at the bars and hanging out with good friends and having good times. That’s how you grow up in a small town: You’ve got a real close-knit group of friends that you have, and I’ve maintained that even today. I’m still close with all of my buddies from home."
Jennings and his team quickly decided that "Young Nights" was the perfect way to introduce the newcomer and his music.
"It’s catchy; it’s fun," Jennings says. "It’s a summer song. It’s right at the perfect time. It’s starting to move [on the charts], and that says a lot about a song, when you can do that on your end and you don’t have a big label."
Jennings' music has also earned the attention of several big artists, scoring him opening slots for Florida Georgia Line, Lee Brice, Colt Ford and others. Those opportunities have given Jennings valuable insight into life as an artist.
"I get to learn, every single day, it’s not only how they conduct themselves on stage, but off stage as well," he notes. "The main thing for me is, I love watching their shows. Watching, because I’m learning the whole time, watching their show, little tidbits I can take away and apply it to my show. It’s a constant learning curve.
"For me it’s like an athlete who watches film. We get to stand their every night and watch all these great acts play after us. It’s amazing," Jennings adds. "It’s really humbling, too, to share the stage with such awesome talent."
Jennings' EP is already for sale at his live shows, but he plans on releasing it officially by early fall. While he currently is releasing his music independently, without the help of a major label, he's not about to complain about his situation.
"Whether it’s music or whether you’re a plumber, no one can work as hard for you than you," Jennings says. "Even if you have the same goal in mind, no one is going to work as hard for you as yourself. That’s a big, important thing that I try to tell myself every day."
Download "Young Nights" on iTunes.
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