NYC-based musician Brenna Carroll discusses new single on dealing with Trump’s misogyny

Photo courtesy of One Productions

Brenna Carroll grew up surrounded by musicians. Her grandfather was a choral director who composed Gregorian chant music, and a number of her family members played music as well.

“For the most part, I always felt encouraged to pursue music because of the musicians and artists in my family,” said Carroll. “From however little I was, it was taken seriously. I was encouraged to take lessons, I tried out a variety of instruments — I ended up sticking the most with voice and piano.”

By nine years old, Virginia-born Carroll had a vision to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston, which she accomplished and studied music production and composition writing, and began to release music. Carroll says she really came into her own as a writer and performer during her time at Berklee. 

After graduating, Carroll went to Ireland for a year and released her first LP “Gallery” in 2018, following her self-debut EP in 2015. She toured around Europe for a while before ultimately landing in Brooklyn in 2019.

“When I decided to come back to the US, obviously the place to be was in New York,” said Carroll. “I’ve been in New York for almost two years and have gotten more of a feel for the music scene. I’m over in Brooklyn and am getting more of a feel for the area and finding new places for gigging.”

All gigs have been put on hold for Carroll with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, that hasn’t stopped the creative process for Carroll. Right before the 2020 election, Carroll released her new single “Belittle,” an anthem that taps into what it feels like as a woman under the Trump administration.

Carroll says that the process of creating “Belittle” started a few years ago when she heard President Trump speaking poorly to a female reporter on the news.

At the time I was living in Ireland. It was some news conference in which Trump told a female reporter, ‘You don’t think, you never do,’ said Carroll. “That really stuck with me, how it would have felt to be put down on live television. The idea of being belittled and passed off as a joke.”

“Belittle” and its subsequent music video came together fully by the spring of 2020. With the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter protests and the ongoing racial injustice, Carroll had been sitting on the song for a few months because she felt it wasn’t the right space to offer her voice as a white woman.

However, as the US got closer to the 2020 election, Carroll felt it was time to put “Belittle” out into the world, because it was about the election itself, and wanted that reflected in the video as well.

“I wanted the entire messaging to be vote-heavy, which is pertinent to what we are doing right now. The things that I picked out as imagery in the video were identifying to what is happening now, including things about Trump that were so small and could be so insulting, tweeting, little white lies — listening to the TV and being so beaten down by what’s airing,” said Carroll. “The video shows that in spite of everything, look at this girl who is going to go vote. We were inspired to go with hyper feminism and made it cutesy with the pale pink and pale blue. The character is very feminine and we wanted to lean in on that to contrast the strong, powerful messaging and imagery in the song.”

 Carroll says the feedback about “Belittle” has been great — she has heard from many women online who say that the song resonated with them. 

“So many women have been reaching out, those who I know and those that I don’t, who are saying, ‘I completely understand this,'” said Carroll. “People were loving the messaging right before the election.”

While performing live is still on the backburner, Carroll is continuing to keep the creative juices flowing during the pandemic.

“What I’m working on most these days is a new EP or album,” said Carroll. “This past year I have been drawing on inspiration from stories of others and other people’s experiences. There is a selection of songs that are first-hand tellings to me, others I have written from eavesdropped conversations, and letting them run wild. I’m having fun and letting myself get a bit more creative living in the little world inside my head.”

Stay up to date with Carroll’s latest music by visiting brennacarroll.com.

More from around NYC