Calling from her home in Los Angeles, Coup De Main spoke to nineteen-year-old Disney Channel star Bridgit Mendler about her NZ Gold-certified single 'Ready Or Not', the importance of co-writing every song on her debut album 'Hello My Name Is...', and what it was like voting in the recent US election.
Mendler also discusses how she'd love to go sky-diving in New Zealand...
"...you do hear from people that the things that you have done or projects you have worked on have made an impact on people's lives. I think it is important to take that seriously and to recognise that you are being followed and watched by some degree in what you do and you should use that. It’s a real blessing to be able to make an impact on people's lives and to use that for the bettering of them."
COUP DE MAIN: First off, congrats on your debut single ‘Ready Or Not’ being certified gold in New Zealand!
BRIDGIT MENDLER: Awww! Thank you so much, it's very exciting.
CDM: It's always being played on the radio here too. Does that make you want to come visit us in New Zealand?
BRIDGIT: Of course! Honestly, I would love to come see you guys.
CDM: Are there any plans to?
BRIDGIT: I’m not aware of any that are in the books right now... but if we all get everybody in New Zealand to say "come to New Zealand Bridgit!", then I am sure we can make something happen!
CDM: I’ll be sure to let your fans know! Something else that must have been pretty exciting for you recently, is that you got to vote for the first time?
BRIDGIT: Yeah, that was pretty exciting. The voting station was like a block and a half from my house, so me and my parents just walked on over and cast our ballots, and it was really cool. I love the civic pride of being a part of this national activity.
CDM: Do you think it's important for young people to exercise their right to vote?
BRIDGIT: I completely do. I think it’s a part of being a citizen in a country, to know what is going on and to have a say in how they want their country being run. You know, that’s a part of the privilege of democracy.
CDM: Your debut album 'Hello My Name Is...' was released recently here in New Zealand, which songs are you most excited about fans finally getting to hear?
BRIDGIT: I’m really excited for fans to hear the song 'Hurricane', I love that one. And since... oh wow, it's turning into Summer over there now right? I was just going to say I am excited for you guys to hear the song 'The Fall Song'... but it's not even Fall over there anymore.
CDM: 'Top Of The World' has a Summer-ish vibe?
BRIDGIT: That’s right!
CDM: Was it important to you to co-write every single song on the album?
BRIDGIT: Yeah, that was something that was really important to me - to make sure that I was a part of all the songs that go on the album. And I have enjoyed writing songs for so long... it felt like in order to make music that I could relate to myself, I would have to be a part of the writing process.
CDM: What was the recording process for the album like?
BRIDGIT: The recording process was basically me meeting with different writers, going into their studio, starting a song and just hanging out and chatting and getting to know how they work. Everybody has a different writing process so there was a lot of getting to know people, which can be fun and stressful at the same time.
CDM: What were the most important things you learnt from those writing sessions?
BRIDGIT: I think I learned a lot about collaboration and about joint creativity with other people. It is honestly so much fun and I don’t think that I would have had the same album if I had just written it by myself.
CDM: What was your favourite part of the album to record?
BRIDGIT: I loved recording... you know the rap in 'Hurricane'? That was pretty fun. It was very experimental for me, I haven’t done much rapping before.
CDM: Did you always plan to rap in that song?
BRIDGIT: It was not a deliberate decision... we had written the song and I had come in to record it and then the guys were like: "Why don’t we just try rapping this part?". So I did and then it kind of just worked and we decided to keep it. So not intentional, but sometimes things just happen in the moment.
CDM: Do you have any favourite lyrics from your album?
BRIDGIT: I really like lyrics in 'The Fall Song'. In the first verse, it goes: "It used to be you and me, holding hands, smouldering, picking up leaves, talking about getting older but now you're not around..." - I just like how that flows.
CDM: Do you have a favourite song on the album?
BRIDGIT: It does change a lot, but right now my favourite is 'Hurricane'.
CDM: Are there any songs in particular on the album that you have been enjoying playing live so far?
BRIDGIT: I think 'Blonde' is really fun to play live and I really like playing 'Hurricane' live.
CDM: What do you think about when you are performing live?
BRIDGIT: I like to think about what the song is saying, the story of it, and conveying the mood of that to the audience. But at the same time, sharing through interacting with them and engaging them.
CDM: You’ve said that you wrote ‘Ready Or Not’ to be empowering for girls, but what songs do you personally find to be empowering?
BRIDGIT: I like the Alicia Keys song 'Superwoman'. I think that's a good inspirational girl-song.
CDM: Who are your biggest musical influences and inspirations?
BRIDGIT: Early on, I was very influenced by Bob Dylan. And I love Etta James, B.B. King, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald. I think those classic blues-y, jazzy and folk musicians, have been really influential. In more modern day people, I love Maroon 5’s style, I love female musicians like Adele, Feist and Florence + The Machine, and Marina & the Diamonds.
CDM: How would you describe your music to people that haven’t heard it before?
BRIDGIT: I say the music is kind of jazzy, definitely pop with some funky, jazzy, R&B influences.
CDM: What do you want people to take away from listening to your music?
BRIDGIT: I want people to be able to relate to the music, to enjoy the music, in a sense of it being fun and interesting and maybe kind of quirky. I want people to be impacted by the story.
CDM: At what age did you write your very first song? What was it about?
BRIDGIT: I wrote a Christmas song. I actually don’t remember what it was called, but it was a song for Christmas when I was like six or seven years-old for my little church, and I went and performed it in front of everybody for Christmas time.
CDM: Awesome. Maybe a Bridgit Mendler Christmas album could be on the cards one day?
BRIDGIT: Honestly, I would love to do that!
CDM: Do you prefer acting or singing?
BRIDGIT: For me, I feel like there is enough time in life to do all that you want to do, so it is just a matter of prioritising things and picking the right time to give each one your all.
CDM: Do you have any more acting projects lined up or are you focusing on music at the moment?
BRIDGIT: I have season four of 'Good Luck Charlie' coming up and there's a number of episodes of that, that we still have to film. And then hopefully I’ll be able to maybe do some touring or something after that.
CDM: What has been your favourite Disney channel programme to act on so far?
BRIDGIT: I have to say 'Good Luck Charlie', because it just feels like home, and it has been a show that I've been able to grow up with and watch how it evolves and really know my character.
CDM: And you got to do voice-work for the Studio Ghibli 'Secret World Of Arrietty' animated film, did you approach it differently than with acting?
BRIDGIT: Yeah! It is different from acting on-screen and you don’t have to do hair and make-up or anything, you kind of just get to show up in whatever you want to wear. But you still have to get into the world of the character, which is fun.
CDM: What was your first impression of Nick Jonas, from working with him on the TV show, 'JONAS'?
BRIDGIT: He was very nice... all the Jonas Brothers were really welcoming on the set, which was awesome.
CDM: Do you consider yourself to be a role-model?
BRIDGIT: You know what? Yeah. And it's not something that instinctively I would, but you do hear from people that the things that you have done or projects you have worked on have made an impact on people's lives. I think it is important to take that seriously and to recognise that you are being followed and watched by some degree in what you do and you should use that. It’s a real blessing to be able to make an impact on people's lives and to use that for the bettering of them.
CDM: What has been your most memorable experience with your fans so far?
BRIDGIT: I’d say the most memorable experience with the fans is when they sing my songs, it is really cool. Especially even before the album came out, when there were some girls who were singing along to the words of songs that weren’t even out yet. I was very impressed by that.
CDM: What new music do you have on repeat?
BRIDGIT: Recently, I have been really listening to this one chick named Lianne La Hava. She is so cool!
CDM: Where has been your favourite place to perform so far?
BRIDGIT: Oh! One time I was in Massachusetts and I did this show inside of a barn at a fair. And granted, it was a very big barn - there was 3,000 people there - but it was a barn nonetheless with hay and cows!
CDM: Sounds pretty 'Hannah Montana'.
BRIDGIT: It was very much so.
CDM: If B.R.I.D.G.I.T. M.E.N.D.L.E.R. was a real-life acronym, what would each letter stand for?
BRIDGIT: Oh my goodness! Bouncy, Random, 'A'? Amazing, obviously... oh wait, why am I saying A? It's an 'I'... I just completely lost track of what I was saying! Okay, Bouncy, Random, 'I' is Introspective, Dangerous - kind of, not really - Glitzy. Another 'I', oh my gosh! I... Imaginary. Tough cookie. Oh my gosh, the next half of the name is going to be so hard. 'M', Melodramatic. 'E', energetic. 'N', I’ll go with Night. 'D', Dig - deep. 'L', Loopy. And 'E'... another E, Enthusiastic! And we’re on the last letter, we’re there okay... 'R', Recycle.
CDM: A friendship-crush is someone that you have no romantic interest in whatsoever, but just really wish that you were best friends with them. Who would be your top five friendship-crushes, living or dead?
BRIDGIT: I would like to be best friends with... you know what? F. Scott Fitzgerald seems like the life of the party, he seems like a cool dude. Let me think... who is someone else that would be cool... Ohhh! What’s her name? Eleanor Roosevelt and then let's see, Etta James seems pretty cool too.
CDM: If you could be a Disney princess, which one would you want to be?
BRIDGIT: Ariel, 'The Little Mermaid', obviously. No doubt about that one!
CDM: What are your top five favourite things in the whole wide world?
BRIDGIT: Chocolate. Friends. Family. Puppies. And mornings.
CDM: Where do you get your fashion and style inspiration from?
BRIDGIT: I am inspired by the 90s right about now, I kind of like their cool tomboy style. And then if you add some like funky fun colours into it, it makes it kind of modern and cool.
CDM: Where are your favourite places to shop for clothes?
BRIDGIT: I really like this store called 'Wasteland', it's really cool. I like 'Levis', I like ‘Free People’. I like 'Zara'.
CDM: What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far?
BRIDGIT: I think the biggest highlight has been watching people sing along to my songs with me. Honestly, it is so cool to know that you have created something that other people know and have as a part of their lives.
CDM: Are there any major things left on your bucket list that you would like to accomplish before you turn twenty-one?
BRIDGIT: Before I turn twenty-one? Well... <laughs> I don’t got much time before then, I have like a year-and-a-half so I can’t dream too big. You know what, I want to skydive before then.
CDM: You could go sky-diving in New Zealand!
BRIDGIT: That would be pretty amazing.
CDM: Lastly, do you have a message for your New Zealand fans?
BRIDGIT: I just want to say thank you so much for all the support! It's amazing that I have been received so well and with such a warm welcome and I love you, New Zealanders, and I would love to come and visit you sometime soon! You live in such a beautiful place, so just keep reaching out and hopefully we can meet sometime soon!
Bridgit Mendler's debut album 'Hello My Name Is...' is out now - featuring the singles 'Ready Or Not' and 'Hurricane'. Click here to purchase via iTunes.