Bryce Vine went from playing on cardboard boxes in front of Los Angeles “crowds that did not care” to belting out an original song atop New York City’s iconic Radio City Music Hall all thanks to a little hit named after a major romcom actress.
“Drew Barrymore” — an upbeat track about the actress’ beauty and fame — is changing the 30-year-old artist’s perspective on his future in the industry.
“It was a couple of years ago actually,” he says of the song idea he independently recorded as a voice note in 2015 and released three years later. “I had just stopped trying to get signed after one particular incident where last minute they just took the deal away . . . Of course, when I stop caring about being signed, that’s when all of a sudden major labels become an option.”
Vine, represented by Warner Bros.’s Sire Records, is still reveling in the success of his track, which landed him a spot in the Billboard Hot 100 and helped him secure gigs with Z100’s 2018 Jingle Ball and MTV’s 2018 VMAs.
“I felt like I was living someone else’s life,” Vine says of his roller-coaster year.
Currently, the Manhattan-born singer is heading out on a headlining tour, which he kicks off in his home city Feb. 5 with a Gramercy Theatre date. He’s also working on the release of his debut album, “Carnival.”
“I always feel like it’s a homecoming and I couldn’t think of a better place to start off the tour than where I started myself,” he says.
Born Bryce Ross-Johnson, the artist speaks proudly of his New York City roots: He was born in 1988 in the bathtub of his mother’s small apartment on the Lower East Side. He says he lived a modest but happy childhood, “without material comforts,” and moved to California at age two so his mom could chase her dreams of becoming an actress.
“I spent a lot of days of childhood there and I’ve come through there for some of the most important experiences in my career so far,” he says — that memorable VMAs performance atop the Radio City Music Hall marquee being one of them.
Though he wasn’t in New York City long — and won’t call himself a New Yorker — he suggests the city still had a heavy influence on the shaping of his unique sound. Classified as an R&B artist, Vine taught himself to play the guitar at age 13, was in a punk band in high school, grew up listening to artists like Miles Davis in his dad’s car, and says his grandfather owned a Manhattan jazz club in the 1980s.
“I think I always attributed music with being happy just because for my mom, that’s what it was,” he says. “We would sing Disney songs together in the car and I knew every single word. I just associated it with a good feeling.”
He says he settled on an R&B sound after years of trial and error and feedback from labels he’d sent out tapes to. “I had Blink 182 and Third Eye Blind and Rampant and Operation Ivy [as influences]. I love the grittiness of that world and that still plays into my stuff,” he says.
With “Drew Barrymore” clearly referencing Vine’s love life, the artist says he’s trying to keep his original material, including the tracks soon to be released on “Carnival,” filled with raw emotion.
Balancing his first major headlining tour with more than two dozen stops — nearly half of which are sold out — Vine is prepared to make personal time a priority so he can keep experiencing the highs and lows in life worth singing about.
“I have to keep living life and living the experiences that I’m going to be writing about, so I have to make time for the things, you know, family, close friends, and then write about it,” he says.
That therapy comes in the form of “Carnival,” named after both the theme of his LP’s “Lazy Fair” and “Night Circus,” and the circular range of emotions he says can take over his mind. In his teenage years, he was diagnosed with depression and ADD.
“I wanted to write my own therapy and have my own songs that I didn’t get to hear,” he says. “‘Carnival’ is kind of perfect because, how my mind works, it’s all over the place.”
A release date for the breakout album is not yet set, but Vine says he’s hopeful it’ll be on our Spotify playlists by the summer.
IF YOU GO: Bryce Vine plays Gramercy Theatre on Tuesday, Feb. 5. Resale tickets starting at $55 are available for the show on stubhub.com.