Roc Nation’s rising star Bridget Kelly is focused on one thing and one thing only: her budding career. After graduating from the famous LaGuardia High School for Performing Arts in New York City, singing at NYC open mics and subway stations, Kelly finally landed a meeting with Roc Nation. Four years of being signed to the label, and singing background with Jay-Z on “Empire State of Mind” at various national and international venues, the edgy starlet is ready to step out in the spotlight on her own terms, in her own words.
Her EP “Every Girl”, released in 2011, was well-received and an effective introduction to show the world the extent of her vocal and songwriting talents. Her first single “Special Delivery” from her upcoming debut LP is making waves online and on radio, and is now available on iTunes.
The down-to-earth songstress took some time out to chop it up with Singersroom about how she feels about the dance/pop trend in R&B, who’s she’s working with on her debut project, being patient, handling politics, and dishes on her favorite beauty product; hint: it’s not as elaborate as you may think!
Singersroom: How did the video shoot go for “Special Delivery”?
Bridget Kelly: It was really exciting. It was my first real video and obviously there was a lot of pressure on me cause it was my first video. I was a little nervous at first cause you never know how to move or how to stand. I was definitely happy to have my team on board. I have a lot of creative friends who do hair, and my whole glam squad and everybody I get to work with are my friends. I’ve had the same team for like, five years, so they were all there on set with me. The jokes are never ending and everything was perfect, the environment was totally relaxed and it kinda felt like we were all kickin’ it, so that was cool.
Singersroom: What’s the concept of the visuals?
BK: I really wanted to keep it kinda simple. I think the idea of “Special Delivery,” the song, is really just showcasing the disconnect in a relationship. It doesn’t necessarily have to be that he’s cheating or that I’m cheating or that I hate him now, or whatever the case is. I wanted to showcase the ideas of me going back and forth confused deciding whether or not I’m gonna leave him, whether or not I’m gonna write the letter. So we kinda tied everything together with a message in a bottle kind of idea, so it’s cool. I think people can relate to it and find things about it that they love.
Singersroom: Your working on your debut. Who are some of the people you worked with to help bring this project to life?
BK: I had the pleasure of going in the studio with Jerry Wonda, who is a mastermind. He just did “Thank You” for Estelle. A couple songs came up on the album from Shea Taylor who’s a good friend of mine, so working with him is really, really, really fun. He did “Thinking About You” [for Frank Ocean] and “Thinking About Forever” for me. Eric Hudson, who produced “Special Delivery,” James Fauntleroy, Eric Bellinger, Harmony, a very good producer out in LA, and Pop & Oak. Those are probably the ones I can rattle off.
Singersroom: Sounds like a lot of great producers!
BK: We had a whole year of working with producers and experimenting; trying to get the sound right, trying to get the content right. Everybody was really patient with me. I got to know them, they got to know me, and we were able to just vibe and come up with some really dope stuff. It’s gonna be well worth the wait when it comes out.
Singersroom: What’s your creative process like?
BK: Creatively, I’m kind of a shy person when it comes to my writing. I find it easier to write for other people than I do myself. Sounds kinda weird when you’re a singer-songwriter, but I think for me, I’m not totally 110 percent confident all the time in my songwriting for myself. But I definitely know what I wanna say and there’s a message I wanna bring to the music. So you’re going in with writers like Ne-Yo and The-Dream, who are obviously two of the top names in the game, it’s an opportunity for me to be a sponge, and watch their process of how they work, and find out what inspires them, and also get inspired. I’m mainly inspired by Eric. People that meet me, people that I meet, I’m warm, I’m friendly, I’m personable, I get along with people well. So I’m inspired by the energy that people give me, and the feedback that they give me, and it humbles me. So creatively, when I go into the studio, I like to chill to the music if there’s a track already. If not, then just kinda talk and have a conversation and let the conversation turn into a song.
Singersroom: How do you feel about today’s music?
BK: I think artists have to do what they feel. There’s a lot of pressure to do what’s popular or to do what feels right at the time, as opposed to what may sound right to that artist. I think it’s still good music at the end of the day, it’s not trash. I don’t oppose anybody venturing over into a different genre and crossing over because it’s good. Usher is an incredible performer, he’s an incredible singer, he’s an incredible artist, whether he’s singing a dance song or an R&B ballad, to me, it doesn’t make him any less incredible. And the same goes to Chris Brown. I’m a fan of them as artists and so I think either way no matter what music they make, I’m all for it as long as it’s good.
Singersroom: How do you feel when you hit the stage?
BK: I love it. I get nervous, though. It takes me a little while to open up. But I’m kind of a nerd, I’ll go on stage and create some comic relief. And I talk a lot in between my songs during my set when I perform so I can give the people some back story about me. Anytime I get onstage, I want people to get a sense of who I am. And being able for people to relate to me that way as opposed to just being like “Ok, aaand scene! Next song!” I want to take the time to engage with the audience. So, I love it, but as soon as I step out on stage, there’s always that heart pounding, butterflies in the stomach feeling of “oh gosh, please don’t throw up.”
Singersroom: What are some of your struggles as a new artist in the business?
BK: At first, my biggest fear was that, since I am doing R&B music that it may not be received well. There is a lacking of a lot of really good R&B music right now. But I think that artists like Miguel, the Weeknd, Frank Ocean, even Drake with his melodies and lyrics, have re-opened the door for R&B, and I feel more comfortable now being one of those females to come on the scene and make an impact. Some of the struggles, too, are just being compared to everybody else that’s ever done R&B. There’s a few R&B artists that I love and welcome the comparisons to, but I also wanna stand out, I don’t wanna be pigeon-holed in one arena, where people may or may not give me a chance.
Singersroom: Do you ever get frustrated around the politics of your projects?
BK: I used to get frustrated, but I think that there are rules to every game, and you have to play by some of the rules, in order to succeed, in order to win. I’ve been really blessed to be with Roc Nation who has never put pressure on me to compromise as a person or as an artist. For them it’s the same thing, it’s about getting a great, genuine, authentic and musically profound project. It’s as important to them as it is to me. I got frustrated in the beginning just because of how much time it was taking. I’ve been signed for four years, I’ve put a lot of work into this project. Everybody else has a flow, so there’s always the impatience and the frustration. I want to put my stuff out there, I want it to be heard, I wanna go on the road. But I’m really grateful now that I took time to master my craft and to perfect it. I feel prepared. My single went on sale on iTunes on Tuesday [Oct. 2], so I feel prepared now for what’s to come.
Singersroom: So what inspires you to continue to push forward?
BK: I’ve had the same manager from the beginning, the same stylist, the same hairstylist, the same makeup artist, the same strong group of girlfriends from the very beginning who all support each other. I think having people around me that, even in the moments where I didn’t believe in myself 100 percent, they always believed in me 100 percent, and I think there’s a lot to be said for having a strong foundation of friends and family sometimes that will believe in you more than you believe in yourself. That alone is enough to keep me going, cause I know I’m not just doing this for me, I’m doing this for them, too, cause their dreams are invested into mine. I definitely do it for my team; I do it for my family, to make my mother proud, to make my family proud.
Singersroom: So what’s a day in the life of Bridget Kelly with friends when music isn’t on the schedule?
BK: I’m kind of a crazy, outdoorsy person. I like to go kayaking if we can. We’ve taken many trips to Delaware to go out fishing, bike riding, hanging out in central park when it’s warm. And probably hang around and watch football. I’m a big football fan, I love the Giants. I like to hang out on Sunday, Monday and Thursday nights, have a beer, and hang out with my friends and watch football. Or have a girl’s night where we all cook something, drink wine, and gossip, and laugh, and hang out till all hours of the morning. Like last weekend, everybody went to play laser tag and bowling, and roller skating, go kart racing. Anything that we do with each other, we have a blast.
Singersroom: Do you find it hard to date with your schedule?
BK: There’s no time for that. It’s tough, it’s really tough, especially right now, my number one focus is my career. It’s hard to meet people that will like you for you and don’t necessarily have an ulterior motive. It’s hard to decipher, there’s not a lot of time to figure it out, so I’m a very, no holds barred, cut to the chase kinda girl, so I can easily figure out what somebody’s intentions are from the beginning. And if it’s’ cool, then we can kick it, and if not, I just won’t even bother.
Singersroom: What’s one beauty product you can’t leave home without?
BK: I have this Nivea shimmer chap stick that I never leave home without. I think it’s called Nivea Smoothness. I talk a lot and my lips get chapped and it’s not hot (Laughs). I have a lot of hair so gloss doesn’t really work well for me.