Brynn Elliott Emphasizes Vulnerability and Authenticity on Her ‘Can I Be Real?’ EP

In a digital landscape full of filters and high expectations, it’s challenging to be your authentic self and broadcast it, flaws and all, to the world. But Brynn Elliott manages to do just that with her sophomore EP Can I Be Real?, a collection of seven songs dedicated to being genuine and open.

It’d be easy to follow the formula she found success with on 2018’s Time of Our Lives EP, however, Elliott has never been one to stop at the first attempt. The first time she applied to Harvard she got rejected, but made the cut the next year, when she included her music in her application. She’s unrelenting when it comes to her personal growth and Can I Be Real? is the perfect example.

“I think it’s now that I’m starting to feel a real evolution in my sound and creative process,” Elliott tells TREMG. “I’m 26 and obviously have been through a lot with the world through the pandemic. But also I’ve been through so much personally and I’ve been writing new music that reflects that and it’s much more organic and raw.”

(c) Lauren Dunn, via Atlantic Records.

From the first track, the EP explores confidence and self-esteem in a vulnerable light, starting with the self-love anthem “Tell Me I’m Pretty.” Elliott co-wrote the light synthpop track with Michelle Buzz, a songwriter known for her work with the likes of Katy Perry, Kylie Minogue, and Bebe Rexha. The song also features a hand from The Monarch, a production duo who have credits with everyone from Meek Mill to Kelly Clarkson.

“It was intimidating for, like, two seconds, but Michelle and The Monarch are all truly some of the kindest, most down-to-earth people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with,” Elliott shares. “So it was incredible just to relate to them as humans and create something together.”

Other standout tracks include the string-infused love song “How Dare You” and the optimistic “Masterpiece,” which encourages listeners to hold on through tough times so they can reach the light on the other side. 

“I wrote the lines ‘shooting stars and this heart, they have something in common. They both light up the dark even after they’re broken,’” Elliott says of “Masterpiece.” “I loved this image of crushed star debris filling the sky with beauty and light. That lyric came so randomly for me and made this connection between astrophysics and a broken heart that I never would have thought of had I not been writing a song. I guess that lyric just reminds me of the beauty and mystery of music, and that’s why it’s my favorite one.” 

Above all, the EP’s defining quality is Elliott’s emphasis on honesty and vulnerability, something she had difficulty with at first. The anthemic title track “Can I Be Real?” serves as the project’s thesis statement and almost a challenge for Brynn to uphold for herself:

Can I be real? Can I?

Can I say what I feel? Can I?

Can I lay it all bare?

Brynn Elliott, “Can I Be Real?”

“It was hard to channel that honesty in my life, which inevitably made it difficult to channel in my music,” Elliott admits. “I go to music to work things out in my mind. And so when I wrote ‘Can I Be Real?’ I knew I needed to be as honest as possible in those verses. We had entirely different verses written, and I went back through and changed them to be more honest and real to me. Which was scary. But ultimately putting this music out has really helped me work through my own insecurities.”

You can find the Can I Be Real? EP on your favorite streaming services now, and connect with Brynn Elliott on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and her official website! Keep reading for more from our conversation with the rising star.


You released your Can I Be Real? EP in July, and it has over 5.3 million streams per date. What has the reception been like for you?

The reception of the EP has been really good! For me, I was just so happy finally to have it out in the world. I wrote most of these songs in 2019 and held off on releasing through the pandemic up until this summer, so it was very exciting to share it. 

How do you think your sound and creative process have evolved since you released your 2018 Time of Our Lives EP?

In a lot of ways, this second EP was really an extension of the first. You have a strong pop anthemic sound with some more organic, live elements at play in the music. And the theme of the EP is also very similar to the first. Many of the songs are focused on authenticity, female empowerment, and falling in love. I think I just had more to say about all of that after my first project. And the title question “can I be real?” has really been a core question for me for so long in my life starting in college. 

I think it’s now that I’m starting to feel a real evolution in my sound and creative process. I’m 26 and obviously have been through a lot with the world through the pandemic. But also I’ve been through so much personally and I’ve been writing new music that reflects that and it’s much more organic and raw.

You worked with a lot of big names on Can I Be Real?, including Michelle Buzz, Nathan Chapman, and The Monarch. Was it intimidating going into those sessions knowing they were behind so many hits? 

It was intimidating for, like, two seconds, but Michelle and the Monarch are all truly some of the kindest, most down-to-earth people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. So it was incredible just to relate to them as humans and create something together. 

The EP’s title track is basically the project’s thesis statement, insisting “I’m not holding back” before you dive into such vulnerable songs. You also mentioned in your Can I Be Real? interview series that some of the things you describe are typically “embarrassing” for you to discuss. Was it hard for you to channel that honesty into your music?

Yes! It was hard to channel that honesty in my life which inevitably made it difficult to channel in my music. I go to music to work things out in my mind. And so when I wrote “Can I Be Real?” I knew I needed to be as honest as possible in those verses. We had entirely different verses written, and I went back through and changed them to be more honest and real to me. Which was scary. But ultimately putting this music out has really helped me work through my own insecurities. 

“Tell Me I’m Pretty” and “Letter to a Girl” really compliment each other’s themes of confidence and empowerment, while “How Dare You” nods to “Without You” with the lyric “how dare you make me hate being without you.” Are these connections intentional, or are they the product of drawing from similar experiences for the different songs?

The songs aren’t intentionally similar but they do all come from these very formative experiences in my life. I thought about how “Tell Me I’m Pretty” and “Letter” were similar and almost didn’t release both because of that reason. But then I thought some of my favorite albums are made up of all love songs. Why can’t we write multiple songs about finding what is real and beautiful in this life just like we so easily write multiple love songs? So I wrote and released what was honest to me and my experience. 

Is there a certain lyric on the Can I Be Real? EP that you’re particularly proud of?

I have a song called “Masterpiece” on the EP. I wrote the lines “shooting stars and this heart, they have something in common. They both light up the dark even after they’re broken.” I loved this image of crushed star debris filling the sky with beauty and light. That lyric came so randomly for me and made this connection between astrophysics and a broken heart that I never would have thought of had I not been writing a song. I guess that lyric just reminds me of the beauty and mystery of music, and that’s why it’s my favorite one. 

If it weren’t for COVID-19, what would your dream EP release cycle/promotions look like?

I think my dream EP release cycle sans COVID would just be the ability to play shows and tour. We are starting to see it slowly come back which is hopeful, and I cannot wait to be back. 

Is there anything else you’d like to mention that the questions didn’t touch on?

Stay tuned for new music and I would love to connect with everyone on my socials! I am @brynnelliott everywhere 🙂

(c) Lauren Dunn, via Atlantic Records.

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Madison Murray View All →

Hi! I’m Madison Murray, a pop culture and music writer who also loves writing about lifestyle and fashion. I have credits on sites like TREMG, Young Hollywood, and Audible Addixion, and I’m the founder of Melodic Musings. In addition to writing, I’m a community editor on Genius, lyric curator on Musixmatch, and a playlist curator at VOLUP2. My favorite artists include Taylor Swift, Machine Gun Kelly, BLACKPINK, Elko, phem, and YUNGBLUD. She/her.

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