Photo: Ella Mastin/William Hohe
Indie-Pop Breakout Brye Opens Up About Her Hit "LEMONS" & Overcoming Anxiety & Disordered Eating
Right now, rising future-pop artist Brye is enjoying the unique spoils of a breakout hit during quarantine. Since its release in April, her infections "LEMONS" has surpassed 15 million streams, earned spots on hit-making playlists everywhere and taken off on TikTok.
But only about a year ago, Brye, born Brye Sebring, hit rock bottom. After years of struggling with anxiety and disordered eating, the 17-year-old musician and songwriter finally accepted that these issues weren’t going away and she needed help.
“I was like, ‘This has gotten to a point where I’m absolutely miserable,’” Sebring, the Chicago native, recalls while on a family trip to Nashville. “I can’t enjoy going out. I can’t enjoy staying home. I can’t enjoy anything the way I used. Everything was about food and body. It was overwhelmingly exhausting.”
She sat on the news for about six months before telling her parents and her closest friends—something she has no memory of doing. All she knows is that “it all bubbled to the surface. I didn’t have room for it anymore. I couldn’t handle it on my own.”
As brave as that admission and her decision to seek treatment was, Sebring made an even more courageous step to make and share a video about her struggles. At first, it was only accessible to her friends and family through her Instagram account, but a couple of months later, she dropped the clip on her YouTube channel.
A video like Brye’s isn’t terribly unusual for a teen living in the social media era, but what made her confession stick a little deeper was that it arrived around one month after a clip for “LEMONS,” her stark, catchy kiss off to a poisonous relationship. The song was well on its way to become a small sensation thanks to some regular airplay on SiriusXM’s AltNation channel and fans making their own videos for the song or using it as the soundtrack for their TikTok posts. Her clip admitting to her eating disorder may not have garnered the same number of views as “LEMONS,” but it has opened up a conversation in the comments with her fans revealing their own struggles and finding inspiration in Sebring’s words.
“It connected with a crap ton of people,” she says, “because my audience is generally teenage girls. And this is a really common problem, especially in high school when we’re struggling to find ourselves and questioning everything about ourselves. It was really cool to see people connect with it, and it was really difficult at the same time.”
As you might have gathered by now, Sebring is remarkably level headed for someone her age, especially as she deals with the first flushes of potential pop success. But that could be because she has been building toward this moment her whole life. Growing up in a family full of music lovers, she spent her pre-teen years obsessing over the songs of Kelly Clarkson and Ben Rector while enjoying a steady diet of Disney classics.
Before long, she transitioned into writing her own songs, slowly sharing them with her friends and family as she built up the confidence to unveil the best ones to the world at large. And as she got older, her ambitions got a little grander. She wrote and directed a musical at her high school, and released her first EP Million Songs last year.
But now as “LEMONS” continues to catch fire as a single, Sebring has to figure out how to move forward in her career during a time when she can’t do the work of touring to promote the single or talking to labels that might help her get to the next level. At the same time, though, she admits that she might not have had the energy or headspace to deal with a slew of meetings or performances.
“I think there’s a reason [“LEMONS”’ success] happened during this pandemic,” she says. “Life has a weird way of making things turn out the way they’re supposed to. I’m trying to look at it from the perspective of, ‘Could I have handled all of that commotion with where I am emotionally right now?’ I have pretty much the best excuse in the world to not be exerting myself too much.”
Instead, even as she feels the itch to get new music out soon, Sebring is concentrating on the work of healing—something that’s only gotten harder as she continues to be stuck at home.
“It’s definitely taking a toll,” Sebring says. “Especially at the beginning, there were moments when my body dysmorphia was really bad and I felt close to relapse. I think that just comes with isolation and uncertainty. For a year and a half, my coping mechanism was restriction and obsessing over my body. It’s hard to get out and cope in a different way, especially when this is the most stressful thing I’ve ever gone through.”
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