Exclusive Interview | Brielle Von Hugel
By Candice Anne Marshall
My first experience hearing Staten Island, New York born Pop Artist Brielle Von Hugel was her new hit single ‘Naked’, a languid, emotional song about feeling comfortable in one’s own skin. I must say that the overall assessment was that this is a young woman whose experiences in life taught her to encompass the personality of someone twice her age and that is clearly reflected in her vocal ability, lyrics, and stage presence. This isn’t your beginner, this is a young woman who has been in the industry and is what we writers would call a ‘Seasoned Artist’. If I had to compare this young Songstress to anyone in the music industry, it would be a combination of Adele, Lady Gaga, and uniquely, Brielle Von Hugel. Believe me when I say this: Brielle is truly an Artist of the next generation and I am certain she will excel in everything she accomplishes. She is not just the bombshell blonde you see in the video, she is SO much more. I had the opportunity to interview the season 11 American Idol runner up recently and here’s what she had to say:
IMM – Hello Brielle! We are happy to have this interview with you! So, let’s get started – I am sure you have been asked this question a million times in relation to your new single ‘Naked’ – where does this song come from for you? What is it’s meaning for you?
BVH – Thank you! Yes, so, growing up I was bullied a lot for my appearance. I moved around a lot to different schools too. I had these ears that stuck out of my little girl head (laughs) and was always made fun of for them right up until middle school. Then when I reached high school, I realized how insecure a lot of beautiful and smart girls were. High school was when I was focusing on my career and was becoming more confident and as I was becoming more confident, I wanted my peers to be as well with something they were passionate about. I just wanted to be a great role model and use my voice in a positive way. I feel lucky enough to be able to do that. I felt it was important to release ‘Naked’ first because it has a special message.
IMM – So how do you feel about the support that’s out there for youth today who may be needing support in music?
BVH – Growing up and being a musician in New York City, it’s very hard because everyone is trying to make it, there’s a lot of competition. When I have that big group pf people who are supporting me it’s an incredible feeling and it drives me to keep creating. I have the most incredible family support as well as my production team and my record label. Now that I have released ‘Naked’, and shown my real self, I’ve connected to a growing fan base because they can relate to the song. Having the support on something that happens so rarely, is amazing.
IMM – Can you tell us a little more about your background and timeline in the industry?
BVH – I was raised by my single mom who enrolled me in dance school when I was two years old. I was always a big ham (laughs). I always loved the make-up and being on the stage and center of attention (laughs again). As I got older, I became more serious about it and entered dance competitions. Then there was a singing portion of the dance competition. By participating in that, I just became more interested in singing. My dad is a Du Wop singer so I was around a lot of old school music growing up. Then I entered more talent shows, enjoyed karaoke night, and then went into musicals in school. I realized that there was something more that I could do. So, to answer your question, I have been performing live since I was two years old, singing since I was five – performance has been basically my entire life. I knew at a very young age that this was something I was going to pursue and I love it.
IMM – You should be very proud of yourself! It sounds as though your mother has been very supportive but I imagine your parents have been both very supportive?
BVH – Oh yeah, my parents split up when I was two weeks old but they are very good friends. I have a great relationship with both. They are both SO supportive. My Step-Father is also so amazing. I can honestly tell you from a personal point of view that you cannot make it in the music business if you do not have the support because it is the hardest thing ever. It really is.
IMM – What has been your biggest challenge in the music industry that you have had to face or overcome?
BVH – I think self-doubt is my biggest challenge. I am a young girl in my early twenties and it’s a very competitive business in New York. Same thing in Los Angeles. Instead of waiting for someone to knock on my door, I’ve been working on my self-confidence and going for it. My team has been really pushing and it seems to be a success. I am just going to keep pushing forward. But yes, it’s hard to be confident when you’re always under a microscope.
IMM – Well, I think that a lot of the people in the industry that I know have that at times and the fact that you continue to push through it speaks a lot about you. So, for the next three to six months you are talking about tour and other things coming up. Where are you headed and what else do you have going on in this time-frame?
BVH – In the next week I will be leaving to LA for rehearsals for tour. I will be doing a US tour with Postmodern Jukebox. I love them. I feel like I fit in with that ‘family’ so that will be fun. All the tour dates are on my website www.briellevonhugel.com, We will begin in California and then making our way back to New Jersey. When I return home, I have a bunch of songs that I will be working on for my album which has no release date yet. Right now, we are just releasing singles. ‘Stronger’ and ‘Naked’ are the only singles released right now but I have over 25 songs written and recorded. We are in the process right now of choosing what will be on my album. We will also be writing and recording more. After all that, I may be doing a European tour with Postmodern Jukebox. I will also be touring with my friend Remember Jones who is also like family of mine. So, there’s a lot coming up. 2017 is going to be a big year.
IMM – With all the deaths we had last year in the industry, and the stage being you ‘oyster’ so to speak, how do you feel about filling shoes like that?
BVH – Oh my goodness (laughs). We have lost so many incredible people. I suppose I just really want to be known as being a true, authentic person. Also, in Pop music, there aren’t a lot of big names, so I feel that I have that under my belt. My songs represent me as a true vocalist. So maybe that could be something that will make me truly stand out. I think that you’ll also have those true cool production dance/club songs on the radio that you bob-your-head to but no one really remembers them. With songs like ‘Naked’ where we focus more on the vocals than production. We have a simple piano and a little bit of strings but you really listen to the story – you listen to the Artists voice. I would love to be a staple voice in my generation.
IMM – Do you play any instruments?
BVH – I am a very terrible guitar player (laughs). I’ve been trying to teach myself for years. I really focus more on my voice as my instrument. I made a resolution this year – my Producer Joey is an incredible guitar player – I may one day do a song with an acoustic guitar but by no means will I play an entire show with a guitar…but it would be nice for a song or two so this year I am going to focus on my guitar skills.
IMM – Good for you! So, tell us, what would a ‘day in the life’ be like for you? Sometimes fans want to know these sorts of things.
BVH – I am a very late sleeper. I am very spoiled princess. I live at home with my mom and my step-dad and I wake up around noon each day on average. I also stay up very late, I am an owl. I usually stay up until three or four in the morning. I wake up, eat (stresses on the word eat), and then head to the studio (which is ten minutes from her home). I will go to the studio and rehearse. Lately I have been gearing up for tour and laying around and watching The Food Network. That’s what I do. (laughs)
IMM – You’re like my daughter! (laughs)
BVH – Oh yeah, I am a real foodie. I think if I wasn’t a Musician, I would be a Food Blogger. I love trying new restaurants, watching The Food Network…but I feel that food and music relate on a lot of levels (laughs). Basically though, music is my life and whatever else is going on, I schedule around my events. That’s the truth.
IMM – Have you ever had any live performances that you remember fondly?
BVH – I just went on tour with Remember Jones. We did a back to back Amy Winehouse album with a 15-piece band. I opened and sang some of Amy’s music as well as ‘Naked’ and ‘Stronger’. We played in Louisville, Kentucky. We had a great vibe going on at sound check and it had been one of my favorite sets that I have ever done with the band. We had been recording live tracks and there was just something about the sound and the vibe – it ended being one of my favorite sets.
I’ve also just completed a SOFAR gig. They do them all over the world in secret locations and it’s really intimate. Usually there are about three Artists performing that night and it could be in someone’s living room, or a bike shop – that’s where I did one was at a bike shop in Brooklyn. I did that early November 2016. It’s really great for Artists to pour themselves out there and have people really focus on the lyrics. I am a big fan of acoustic guitars and a microphone.
IMM – What is the singing/songwriting process like for you? Obviously, you had a vision in your head about the kinds of things you wanted to write by getting what was inside of you, out. How did you cultivate that?
BVH – I am very blessed to have met Laura and Joey (Production team). Before you write you must be comfortable with who you are working with. When we create, we usually start with a concept of what we want to write about. Which, the new theme for the album is ‘self-empowerment’, ‘confidence\, and ‘sass’. Sometimes we can be just hanging out and Joey will play something cool on the guitar and we’d say, ‘Well that would be a great song for me’ and we’ll just go forward with it. The writing process for me is usually at night because I create best at night. When I was on tour with Remember Jones, I had a songwriting session in Nashville to get the whole experience. I am really excited about where I am going and the more I write, the more confident I am.
IMM – Have there been any special moments in your career that have stood out for you?
BVH – I would say, the release of ‘Naked’, and when I played with Postmodern Jukebox and the crowd was so wonderful and it happened to be on the six-month anniversary of my Grandmother’s passing, and she was my best friend. (her mom’s mother) and there was just something about the entire vibe, the aura that night that almost made me cry during my song. There’s little special moments all the time: I’ve sang the National Anthem at Madison Square Gardens even. I feel blessed that I have the gift of voice because it’s presented incredible opportunities.
IMM – Is there any one person or persons that you would like to give a shout out to that really stands out for you in terms of friends and family support?
BVH – A trillion percent, my mom. She is SO my best friend, role model, incredible business woman and designer (who has worked with Fashion Designer Nicole Miller) …there literally isn’t anything she cannot do. To have her by my side throughout this entire journey is amazing and I hope I am making her proud.
IMM – What is the single most important thing you would like to express to your fans at this point in your career?
BVH – I just want whomever is listening to my music to know that whatever they are pursuing that it doesn’t happen overnight. There will be struggles. It’s a lot of hard work but there will be some amazing times too. Take the positive and the negative and be strong and persevere. It doesn’t have to be music, and go for it full force. There’s only one life and I truly believe that you should be doing what you love.
IMM – So I am going to ask the question: You look like you are in amazing shape girl! What is your workout routine like?
BVH – Girrrrrrl! I eat French fries (laughs) I told you I love food. I actually have to slow down a bit. But you know, it’s easy when on tour for me because there’s a lot of healthy options. I think when I head out to LA next week, I am going to eat healthier, not just for my appearance, but because you can get sick and we are doing shows back to back so staying healthy is important. As far as exercise, I don’t go to the gym and I probably should drink more water and eat less pasta (laughs). But that’s something I am going to focus on in 2017 because you have to keep your body healthy when you are performing at this quantity.
IMM – In terms of your fans, what age range is most responsive in terms of what you are putting out with your music?
BVH – I would say 13-25 is about the biggest range so far.
IMM- My dear, I am 44 and I love your music (laughs).
BVH – You know something? There is an age range there too and I am hearing that my voice is universal and timeless. My most favorite thing ever is when I am compared to Adele because she is my biggest inspirations not just vocally, but in terms of being a great story teller. So, that’s where I could be universal and have a wide age range of fans.
IMM- Absolutely! And I want to say this…. Lady Gaga too!
BVH- I have been told that before too and it’s amazing because she an incredible person. She is a brilliant Songwriter who is also focused on relaying a positive message to youth and, she’s from New York!
IMM – What goals do you have long-term? What is your dream?
BVH – Well, I will tell you that music will be in my life for its entirety, I would love to travel, and I mentioned I love food…. I would also like to be a positive role model. I am a big animal lover so I would like to have my own home with lots of animals with a home studio. Maybe later, I can focus on just songwriting. I would love to just live a peaceful life and be surrounded by family and friends.
IMM – Has anyone told you that you seem much older than your age? (she’s 22)
BVH -Oh yes! I have been told that even when I was younger but I have always been around people that are older than me. I have also seen some real things too. Also, being on American Idol, I have been through situations that have lead me to be a stronger person and I am so blessed for that. I contribute that to the way I was raised and I am so grateful for that.
IMM – Well, thank you Brielle, I am really looking forward to posting this interview!
BVH – You’re welcome! I am really glad you guys found me. I am grateful.
IMM – No problem! We shall talk soon!
BVH – Yes! Thank you, take care.
Brielle Von Hugel Social Media Links (click to view):