Los Angeles-bred musician Bryce Vine never believed that his artistic vision — that rap and rock weren’t mutually exclusive — was that far-fetched.
He and producer Sir Nolan (aka Nolan Lambroza) weren’t shooting for Limp Bizkit-retro, powerchord shouting. They wanted something slower, classier, more conversational in tone.
But for six years, the music industry didn’t see things the same way.
“Everything is easier to understand in retrospect,” says Vine, 30, who broke through in 2018 with the walking-paced “Drew Barrymore” and appears in Berkeley this week to promote the upcoming Sire Records release of his album “Carnival.”
“But at the time, it was like, ‘Oh, this deal seems like it’s going to happen,’” he says. But after that and other would-be deals didn’t happen, he adds, “Eventually just stopped trying to get signed and wrote what I wanted to write.”
Vine (born Bryce Ross-Johnson), poised to be one of 2019’s hottest young stars, has paid his dues.
His first guitar at 13 was a gift from his mom, an actress on the cult-hit soap opera “Passions.” Later, while working a full-time job as a barback and driving for Lyft (where he listened carefully to passengers’ life stories for lyrical ideas), he was one of 12 finalists for Oxygen’s “The Glee Project” show.
Afterward, he attended Berklee College of Music, where he met and began composing with Lambroza. They self-issued Vine’s first indie EP in 2014, “Lazy Fair,” named for his mother’s yacht, called Laissez Faire, where he frequently spent weekends.
When he met a major-label A&R rep who was eager to sign him, his career hopes elevated accordingly.
One barrier remained: Vine had to meet the company’s head honcho to seal the deal. In the executive’s posh suite, he felt chilly indifference.
”This guy gave me no sign that he had any interest in what I was doing, whatsoever.”
A day later, the contract was quietly withdrawn. “But as bitter as I was then, it drove me so much harder,” he adds. “Writing music always made me feel better, and I won’t stop doing it just because some British dude in a big office thinks that rap and pop need to be one or the other.”
Meanwhile, actress Barrymore has not contacted him regarding the namecheck on his hit. Yet the song isn’t technically about her; it’s about but a girl he praises as being the next Drew Barrymore. With a cyborg-themed video inspired by the film “Ex Machina,” the song was indirectly inspired by a particularly indifferent showbiz meeting he took, an insult that pushed him too far.
IF YOU GO
Where: Cornerstone Berkeley, 2357 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley
When: 8 p.m. March 5
Tickets: $20 to $23
Contact: (510) 224-8600, www.ticketfly.com