New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Q&A: Brynn Cartelli on her debut album, ‘OUT OF THE BLUE’

The pop star and Steinhardt student spoke to WSN about her powerhouse pop album, the color blue and artistic inspirations.
Manasa Gudavalli
Brynn Cartelli performing at Brooklyn Steel on Feb. 10, 2023. (Manasa Gudavalli for WSN)

American singer Brynn Cartelli is making a bold entrance into the pop scene with her debut album, “OUT OF THE BLUE,” which releases on March 1. Cartelli made a name for herself as the youngest artist to ever win NBC’s “The Voice” at 15, and has been writing her own songs while gradually building an audience ever since. Having grown up in Massachusetts playing at small shows and open mics, Cartelli has already opened for artists like Kelly Clarkson and Maroon 5 on tour. As a 20-year-old Steinhardt student, Cartelli’s debut album is steeped in the experience of leaving home for the first time and moving to New York. In an interview with WSN, Cartelli spoke about the creative process behind the album alongside her main artistic inspirations.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

(Manasa Gudavalli for WSN)

WSN: The color blue is a primary theme across many works of art in a variety of mediums. What made you want to theme the album around the color?

Cartelli: It was kind of accidental. I saw this one photo taken by Tim Walker. It’s of Patrick Wolf and all these ballerinas in this crazy antler tavern — blue is very present in it, and it felt very candid and emotional. From there, I was led down this obsession with something I was really addicted to when I was younger, which was the Edgar Degas ballerinas. My mom and I would go to see them when I was young, and I just thought ballet is so delicate, but all the women are so strong.

Blue, for me, runs deep. Obviously, I have blue eyes. My grandfather that I never got to meet also had blue eyes. It was always this thing when I was younger, all my family members would be like, ‘You’re like him and you have his eyes.’ It always felt like something that connected me to a deeper part of myself. The blue is the sky, it’s the ocean, it’s this haze in the distance. It’s this void to the unknown, which is really exciting, and is definitely a theme across a lot of the songs on the record.

WSN: What was it like to put the album together, especially having grown a huge following already?

Cartelli: It’s taken a long time, which is so insane to think about. This started right before the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s crazy that I’ve carried them with me through this time. A lot of them detail this transitional period of my life at 17 and 18, preparing to leave my hometown and move to New York. I like that it took a long time, because I was able to document how I felt before I left and then as soon as I got here.

Even songs that came out a while ago, like ‘Gemini’ — the first single on the album that came out almost two years ago — are so much more relevant in the context of this full record. It started off in Massachusetts, and all the energies and things that I was feeling there. It’s kind of fun to revisit it in a different context.

WSN: Who did you collaborate with on this album? What are your thoughts on sharing the creative process? 

Cartelli: When I started, I was writing all by myself. I started doing all these writing sessions with other people and collaborating, learning how to write songs. I’m usually in someone else’s studio, or feeling very overwhelmed by all the buttons, synths and toys. It’s funny — the first two songs I wrote for this album were ‘Gemini’ and then ‘The Blue’ the next day. I wrote those both with Henrik Michelsen, who has become one of my favorite collaborators through this whole process. There was something about him and — because of where I was in my life at the time — I finally wasn’t afraid to go up and twist all the buttons and make all the sounds. It was empowering to finally be able to make it happen myself. That’s the biggest difference between these songs and what I’ve done in the past — the album has so much more of me in it.

WSN: What media was inspiring you while you made this album? You mentioned Degas and some other paintings too.

Cartelli: Sonically, I really wanted it to sound like things that I had grown up with and identified as East Coast, Northeast, New England music — so much Billy Joel. I like a lot of Lorde’s ‘Melodrama,’ Taylor Swift’s ‘1989,’ Vampire Weekend — a lot of these records that just feel like my childhood. “The Joshua Tree,” as an album, is one of the biggest reference points for this record. 

I also just think Brian Eno is such an inspiration — I was listening to a lot of his music and his ambient work. Every day when I was on my way to the studio to make this, I would listen to the Eno sound waves because it cleared my mind to make room for lyrics. I’m also a really big ‘Florence + the Machine’ fan. As I get older, I understand more of what she has gone through. That’s something I really wanted to put into this music. 

Other things I was taking in were a lot of French, impressionist-era paintings. It felt very innocent and youthful, but very alive, in a way that I wanted to emanate. I also grew a crazy obsession for Yves Klein — his work with blues showed me how color can be so powerful and used in so many electric ways. It was between those two worlds that I bounced back and forth visually.

WSN: Do you have any plans for playing this new music live?

Cartelli: I have a lot of fun little schemes for performing this music. It’s been in the back of my mind since we were making it. These songs are meant to be played live, so I’m really excited to be doing that this year.

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Contact Eliana Brown at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Manasa Gudavalli
Manasa Gudavalli, Editor-in-Chief
Manasa Gudavalli is a super senior studying a super strange combination of psychology, mathematics, journalism, and chemistry. When they are not editing the Washington Square News, they are probably reading Freud, watching college football, or developing film photos. You can find them on Instagram @manasa.gudavalli and

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