Bridget Kelly Talks Lessons From Jay-Z, ‘Every Girl’ EP and Getting Knocked Off Her High Horse


The first time many spotted Roc Nation’s newest princess, Bridget Kelly, it seemed like everyone’s intitial thought was ‘Yo, is that Alicia Keys?’ Jay-Z had brought the banged-n-beautiful singer alongside him to perform “Empire State of Mind” during his Blueprint 3 tour, but while viewers scrambled to process this fresh new face, the affectionately nicknamed BK was scrambling to find the exact sound she’d hope would define her. After sitting tight on the sidelines (word to J. Cole) for some years, the New York native thanks her lucky apples to have been nurtured as a true artist under the Roc Nation imprint. And it’s about to pay off as tomorrow (Oct. 19) marks the day her debut EP Every Girl is released to the masses. VIBE hollered at BK for a few words about her upcoming project, how she pulled through dark times and what she’s learned from her famous boss —Niki McGloster

VIBE: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from Jay? The one thing that has stuck with you throughout this process?
BRIDGET KELLY: Throughout these last couple of years, at least getting to know him and how he handles himself as an artist, the most important lesson is to remain humble and really appreciate everything that kind of goes around you. There’s never a moment, never a day where Jay doesn’t say and express his appreciation and respect for his team that put the same amount of effort that he does every day. I think the humility behind his artistry, regardless of the success and regardless of the level he may be on, is really tremendous.

That’s awesome. Do you have the type of relationship where you can call on him when something goes wrong or it’s just a bad day?
Yeah, I could. I’m a little hesitate because there’s still that underlying feeling, like, this is my boss, I really can’t go and be a cry baby. I definitely could, I think i could if I really felt like I needed advice. I’d definitely hit him up and getting his take on as a man and me being a woman and going through some stuff. It’s definitely an opinion I admire, but I try to at least keep some things to myself.

What would you say is one of the hardest lessons you had to learn during this entire journey? 
Trying to figure out who I was. I think when you’re a regular person that has nothing to do with the industry, you’re comfortable in your own skin. Then when you get put in that situation where people have demands and expectations of you creatively, it makes you insecure. It puts you down a little bit. I had a moment once I got off tour at the end of September last year… I felt a little lost. I felt I had this amazing opportunity and went on all these beautiful trips and got to go around the world and perform and travel. Then, what now? I really had to take a step back, look inside myself and be able to align myself as a person and as an artist. I think the hardest part is just figuring out who you are and how much you’re going to put yourself into your craft. How much of yourself you’re going to give to the world to be successful.

You hit a brick wall emotionally?
Definitely. I definitely hit a wall. I had to do some soul searching. I had to go into the studio again and figure out what I wanted everything to sound like. Because when we started, it had a completely different direction. The place that I’m at right now emotionally, as a woman trying to figure out where I’m going to live, if I wanna date somebody or if I don’t, it’s a lot. But I think it’s what we sign up for. I think my own experience has been kind of backwards because most people go through the fire before getting to the stage. I kind of skipped all of that because I was on stage first. I mean, the pay off was that I got to experience that and I know how that feels now.

Who were the people in your life that guided you through that time?
I have a really close circle of girlfriends that are incredibly supportive and stronger than me at times. Also, my managing team has been with me for the last five years, and they really know me inside and out. I think that really works out in my favor because there are moments where I can act like a jerk and they’ll be able to reel me in and say, ‘Chill out. just sit out for a second and breathe.’ It helps me re-evaluate, so I think it definitely helps that my team keeping me from going over the deep end and losing my mind a little bit.

Everyone definitely needs that. RocNation artists get a little flack, especially J. Cole, for how long it takes to drop a project. Were you starting to get impatient?
Oh, I’m definitely not patient. I mean, we were all very new and very fresh to what was going on in the industry. When we all got signed we were all just like, ‘Well, this is great. We’re all gonna be in the studio for a month, knock out a dozen songs and we’ll be promoting and making money. We’re gonna be rich in a year!’ It was not like that at all. I don’t think any of us anticipated that it would take two, three years to kind of develop ourselves and get to this point. I think we all got impatient. I definitely had a tantrum for a minute, but they really wanted to feel like it was right. [Jay-Z] is not interested in things that will be here today [and] gone tomorrow. If that was the case, we all would have been out the first week we were signed. The importance behind taking the time to perfect and correct is a big deal. And that put it in perspective for us, because we were eager to make everything happen, but I think they made it harder for us. I definitely went through an impatient phase, and I got knocked off my high horse real quick.

Did you ever sit down with J. Cole and just talk about all that you two were accomplishing or waiting to accomplish?
I think there was a point in time. I think the struggles are a little bit different only because he’s a hip-hop artist. He’s an MC, so going on tour keeps him really inspired and really motivated. For me, being in the studio runs better, so the grind for us is a little bit different. His grind is completely on the road and getting his music heard, it’s a different demographic. We’ve had a lot of conversations about the fact that it’s been a long time and the pay off of the sacrifice is definitely going to be worthwhile.

Tell me a little about this EP Every Girl.
It’s definitely a far cry from where I wanted it to be a year and a half ago, when I was first doing interviews and the recording process. I really wanted it to be a rock-infused album. Very hard and dark, it had to deal with the kind of person I was at the time. I was going through a lot with my career, and I was going on tour. I was in a relationship and it fell apart, so I was going through a lot and wanted to express my anger and frustration with the whole thing through an album. But I grew a lot since then. I grew a lot in the studio and working with writers and producers and getting to know myself better. In that process, it became more soulful. It became more R&B-based than I had anticipated which I’m actually happy about. It made me be more honest about what was going on with me.

PAGE 2: Bridget Kelly Talks Frank Ocean, Funny Voices And Her Love For ‘Family Guy’