We were lucky to catch up with Rhian Bristol recently and have shared our conversation below.
Alright, Rhian thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. Can you take us back in time to the first dollar you earned as a creative – how did it happen? What’s the story?
I earned my first dollar as a musician when I was 16 years old. It was actually $75.00 and set my music in a new direction. I had performed at an open mic at Tower 13 in Cardiff by the Sea. I was so nervous I almost didn’t go through with it. I just sat on the stool watching everyone, afraid to put my name on the list. I felt so out of my element; what was I doing there and what was I thinking? Ultimately, I slid off the stool and added my name to the signup sheet. I figured, what do I have to lose if I don’t do well except 15 minutes and a little pride? The anxiety was overwhelming but once I was on stage, it felt natural, as though I was exactly where I was supposed to be. During my set, the host, Semisi, walked over and talked to my mom. I was so nervous about what he was saying to her. When I finished, my mom told me Semisi said I was a born performer, a natural. He wondered if I’d be interested in returning as a paid guest artist. So, on June 20, 2018, I returned to Tower 13 for my first paid performance. My pre-performance anxiety was predictable. I could feel the adrenaline pounding in my chest. I have the same worries as before but, again, it all washes away once I’m on stage. The room is packed and I am having fun. I can still feel the rush long after I finish my last song. I’m packing up when an older man approached me in tears, hugs me and tells me, “Performing the way you perform can save lives.” My first gig had just ended, and I already wanted back in. That open mic led to my first paid gig and, together with Semisi’s acknowledgment, helped my music and confidence take flight; I stepped out of my comfort zone and tackled my insecurities. It pushed me to do what I have always wanted: be a musician and move people. I keep the money I made that night in a zippered pouch in the back of my closet.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
I was born and raised in Encinitas,California and come home as often as I can. I have been singing and performing in one or another since I was 2 years old. I wrote my first song at 10, had my first gig at 14 and have, over the years, worked to grow as a musician. While in high school at the Grauer School, I earned multiple music and recording arts awards including, at the age of 16, the national Quincy Jones Musicianship Award. It was also in high school that I discovered my passion for teaching music to younger students and was recognized by the San Diego Union Tribune and 92024 Magazine for my original song, “A War That Can’t Be Won” about civil rights activist Juliette Hampton Morgan which gained nationwide attention. I have performed all over San Diego County at venues including: The Roxy, Tower 13, Aztec Brewing, Queen Bee’s, Encinitas Street Fair, Encinitas Chamber of Commerce, UNIV, La Costa Coffee and the San Diego County Fair. After graduating from the Grauer School in Encinitas, I chose to attend California Institute of the Arts to pursue a BFA in Music and VoiceArts Performance. Today, I am a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer working on completing my first EP.
I sing, write, play piano, guitar and bass and also produce my own music. I am mostly self-taught and am always looking for new things to learn. I have been experimenting using my voice in unconventional ways, altering it electronically to create all my instruments with only my voice – drums, synths, arpeggiators…just about anything. Right now, singing and songwriting are my focus and performing live whenever I have the opportunity. I am working on an EP and am excited to be releasing new music soon; I am loving getting back to performing live around LA and San Diego. I have especially loved donating my time to perform my music at benefit concerts at Aztec Brewing and The Smell in Los Angeles. Outside of my personal music, I am the administrative assistant at the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony and the personal assistant to the conductor, Dr. Noreen Green and am a voice actor for character animation films as well as a model for music videos and local businesses.
We’d love to hear a story of resilience from your journey.
Growing up, I was always told I was too loud, too happy, too emotional, too something that didn’t fit in. Elementary school was an especially painful time for me, and I was bullied relentlessly for just being myself. I spent many years doubting my abilities, something I worked hard to overcome. I have always had to work hard at everything and have always dedicated myself to succeed in both my academics and my art. Music has always provided a safe space for me to express myself and saved me on more than one occasion.
We often hear about learning lessons – but just as important is unlearning lessons. Have you ever had to unlearn a lesson?
Imposter syndrome is a challenge for many artists. It is something that I have struggled with on and off for years. It all goes back to the messages I received from other kids when I was younger, that somehow, I didn’t fit in and anything I did wouldn’t be good enough.Those feelings of wanting to fit in but being an outsider, of self-doubt and insecurity, of not doing it right, whatever it was, bled into my art. No matter how good my grades, how much experience I gained, how many people loved my music or my performances, how much I pushed myself, I just didn’t believe it. I worked harder and harder, but sometimes higher standards confirm the imposter syndrome when you do not feel you meet them. I have had to learn to quiet those thoughts and feelings and learn that whatever my best is, will be good enough. I woke up every morning for about 2 years and repeated daily affirmations like “you are good enough,” “you are talented” and “you know what you’re doing” to convince myself that I could achieve what I wanted to achieve. Sometimes I still fall into the trap of wondering if I’m good enough or if I’ll ever complete the music I have been recording. I have learned to just ignore the voice and keep working because at the end of the day I am doing what I love, and I am so grateful.
- Website: www.rhianbristolmusic.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rhianbristolmusic/?hl=en
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rhian.bristol
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rhian-b-50461b118/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/rhianbristol?lang=en
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/RhianBristolMusic
- Other: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5wKhQ75Hi4N0gSiatMuvGf