MC Speaks with Bridgit Mendler at SXSW 2017

Music Connection caught up for a chat with Disney's former Good Luck Charlie star, Bridgit Mendler. The independent artist sheds light on experimenting with new sounds for her music as well as collaboration and shares her insight on playing at South by Southwest (SXSW).

Music Connection: How is SXSW in Austin, TX treating you so far in your visit?
Bridgit Mendler:
SX has been fun. I’ve been going to see some different artists, which is super cool. Doing some shows in a very different way than I have before. It all feels new, I’m excited.

MC: And Austin specifically? You said you’ve been here before? How’s your trip here? Any barbeque?
Yes I’ve had barbeque; it’s been wonderful. I’ve noticed that Austin has a lot of diverse food options. It’s like even more diverse than L.A., because in L.A. you’ll go to different pockets of town and you’ll find a little Tokyo or Little Ethiopia, but here it’s all on the same block.

MC: What essentials does someone like you bring to SXSW on your first trip to the festival.
I bring my band, they’re an essential--an emotional essential. I like traveling with my peeps; they’re really sweet and fun to hang out with. I travel with my headphones--I love listening to music as I go. I’m big into the music matching the mood whichever place. And I bring books.

MC: This was your first time at SXSW. Why choose to come and perform at a festival as chaotic? What are you hoping to take away from your performances here at SXSW?
I feel like it’s been really great learning doing these shows. I played a bar at 1 a.m. the other night and yesterday I did a show where we were performing next to this hard rock group, and I’m doing my little like croony songs. It feels like learning those lessons the road that maybe I’ve been sheltered from before with more of the pop music.

I love performing live. I love having the raw experience of interacting with an audience and it just feels very honest. It’s like they’re going to tell you if they like this stuff or not and they’re going to stay if they want to. At a festival, they have no reason to stay for the entire time, if they’re not into it they’re just gonna up and go to the next thing.

MC: SXSW is such a huge deal for some artists, a lot of big names got their start here at SXSW. Are you hoping that might be the case? More people finding your music, discovering Bridget?
Definitely, I think it’s really an opportunity to show people what I’m about. I love all the other artists that are playing here, to be a part of this atmosphere is really exciting.

MC: A majority of your fans currently, people who might have heard your name, probably recognize you from Disney Channel, you starred on Good Luck Charlie and that ran for three seasons. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience? How did it feel when that show came to an end?
It was a great experience, and I feel grateful I had the music going at that point. It was something that I was excited to pursue more now that I had sort of the opportunity to just be myself. It was a great chapter, and I’m really grateful for all the different chapters that I have had and the ones to come. I’m looking forward to being a part of a new TV show, and I’m looking forward to being an independent musician and creating more exciting content with people that I love to work with.

MC: While you were on Good Luck Charlie you starred in a Disney Channel movie, Lemonade Mouth, three songs from the soundtrack did chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Do you feel like that was your first foray in music or did you have a passion before?
I definitely did. I’ve written songs all my life, and it’s just been a very intimate part of me; it’s something that has felt very therapeutic. In high school, I’d always tell my friends to write songs as a form of journaling. So it’s been cathartic for me since the beginning. Sharing those songs through other people, working on a project that had music in it, it was this segue from journal music writing to performance of music. It was a very different function music took on in my life. I’ve been excited to share that really personal side.

MC: You continued your relationship with Disney by releasing your debut album, Hello My Name Is... in 2012, under Hollywood Records, which charted on the Billboard 200. You had a few singles come out there. How validating was the release of your official debut album?
It was great. I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea how to gauge what success even meant, and so for me the most validating part of it was really just sharing that creation and something that a lot of people had helped put into motion. I was really grateful that they had believed in me and believed in my own voice, enough to put it out there and share it.

MC: The lead single, “Ready Or Not,” is your biggest hit today. It’s a little bit more poppy than what we’ve experience from you in recent years. Do you feel that at that time “Ready Or Not” was a proper representation of Hello My Name Is... as a whole? Is that a reason to release it as a lead single?
Yeah, I definitely think it represented the project; it was a song that came along late in the process. That really marked that chapter of time. Four years later, I’m a different person, who has different things I want to say, and I’ve been excited to share the more alternative sound now and have the people who had liked the Hello My Name Is... project grow with me and attach to the new music too.

MC: This is one of the questions I got from a fan on Facebook: Do you feel that Hello My Name Is truly an album you’re connected to, or do you feel that it might have been album you recorded for contract, for Disney.
No, I was definitely connected to it. As I’ve grown up I’ve felt a deeper level of connection just as I’ve matured and felt more self-assured in myself, and I’ve always loved music and just have intuitively had my own perspective in it. But that was definitely a learning experience for me working on that project and I had a lot of fun on it. And after the fact I’ve had so much more fun even getting more deeply rooted into the music that I’m doing now, so it’s just about chapters in life.

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