Making waves and music
On any given day, you’ll see Tyson Brice, a junior music business major, riding around campus on his skateboard and most likely sporting a pair of headphones. For Brice, also known by his stage name The Wave, à la the 1984 “Transformers” cartoon character Soundwave, music has always been an important aspect of his life.
Creativity is an innate part of Brice. He grew up in an artistic family, has been a percussionist since the age of nine and has been rapping for the past four years.
“My brother is a really good visual artist, like with photography, visual design, that kind of stuff,” Brice said. “He’s older than me, so I would try and do stuff with him and I’m terrible at it. Music has always been a thing that makes sense to me. It’s a place that I can use my voice as an outlet.”
Using his voice as an outlet to speak out about personal struggles with accepting himself and to encourage others to do the same, Brice said his lyrics are inspired by progressively breaking out of his own shell and letting people in.
“[My music is] more about being relatable for the kids who feel like they don’t have anyone, which I relate to because that’s kind of how I feel a lot of the time and that’s kind of why I turned to music because I felt like, you know, I didn’t necessarily have a voice, but now with my music I do, and I want other people to feel that way.”
Spreading positivity through his art sustains as a goal for Brice’s music that encompasses themes of self-acceptance and individuality, messages that are central to his identity as an artist.
“You are important and even though you might feel like there’s something wrong with you, there’s nothing wrong with you because without those ‘problems’ within you, you wouldn’t be the same person that you are today. There are people who love you for the person that you are,” Brice said. “I like making people smile. It’s one of my favorite things to do, so if I can do that with a song, even if it’s just a sadder song, for someone to listen to a song and be like, ‘Wow I relate to this.’ [I hope] that brightens up their day a little.”
Brice’s music is mainly self-produced and self-written, inspired by his persistent creative drive.
I’ll just be in a random place and I just start thinking of something and I’m like ‘Oh I should go record that,’” Brice said. “The other day I was practicing the bass for percussion ensemble ... and it just sounded really cool, so I went back to my room and started playing that over and ... then you add drums and different things like that.”
Writing lyrics is something that Brice prefers to come naturally to him. He believes if he’s thinking too hard about writing, the lyrics lose their authenticity. After writing, he begins the recording and production process, the majority of which he does by himself. Once he’s happy with the track, he releases the music for fans to listen to. Though he used to put out music on SoundCloud, he has found that recently there has become a stigma surrounding the platform and SoundCloud rappers. Instead, he has begun to release music on other major music streaming services such as Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal.
“I figured I might as well branch out and put myself out there and kind of make myself be seen as a professional,” Brice said. “Not to say that other SoundCloud rappers aren’t professional, but again there’s just that stigma.”
Though influenced by artists both within his genre and out – artists like Childish Gambino; Tyler, the Creator; Usher; the Gorillaz; NoName; Saba; and Miles Davis – Brice brings something different to the rap genre.
“I’m a very lyrical person,” Brice said. “There’s a good lyric – Saba, he’s an artist from Chicago – recently on his album, he says ‘Don’t nobody want to be great. Everybody want to be seen.’ A lot of artists ... just make music in terms of, ‘What are people gonna like and what’s gonna sound good? What’s gonna get me to be seen? What’s gonna get me noticed?’ instead of putting out content for the sake of, ‘Oh, well I created this and this is a beautiful thing and this is something that someone’s going to be able to experience and something that people are going to be able to relate to.’ That’s what it comes down to for me at the end of the day ... I would say my lyrics and my music in general [are] more about giving people a sensation of feeling good and feeling like [listeners] are not alone.”
To Brice, the hip hop genre is about standing out and not following the crowd, something he’s never been afraid of doing. He’s constantly pushing himself and challenging himself to try out new projects.
One of these projects is the Freestyle Friday videos he records weekly. In these videos, posted on his Twitter and Instagram, Brice freestyles over a track – sometimes popular rap songs and sometimes music outside of his own genre. The impromptu nature of freestyling allows Brice to diversify the music he experiments with.
“A lot of the times when I listen to music – I listen to a lot of instrumental jazz – so if I’m listening to music I’ll be like, ‘Wow, these words sound good with this.’”
Recently Brice has also pushed himself out of his comfort zone by working with a live band. As someone used to being alone on stage and not used to singing in front of people, performing with his live band for the first time was a challenge that reaped high rewards.
“Last semester, we performed at a coffee house event at the end of the semester, and like I said, first time performing, like, as a band. We practiced our asses off and it was a production that we put together,” Brice said. “I couldn’t really gage the crowd while we were performing because I was performing as well as I was making sure that everybody else was good – the rest of the band. After, I was talking to the people in the crowd, and everyone responded to it so well ... I wasn’t expecting it. It really brightened up my evening.”
Talking to fans after his shows is one of Brice’s favorite parts of performing live. He loves to hear feedback from his fans, old and new, about what he’s doing well and what he could improve upon. Getting out and performing allows him to begin to build a fanbase, people who can tell their friends about his music, and work his way up from there.
“I’m always surprised to see how people react to me performing. One thing that’s cool is that I have really good breath control, and that’s something I hear every single time I do a performance ... I recently found out that when I was a baby I was born with a respiratory infection, so I had problems with my lungs when I was first born. It just amazes me now that my lungs are one of my strongest assets, so it’s cool.”
If you’re interested in seeing Brice perform live, he’ll be performing at a Hofstra Concerts coffee house event with his live band on Oct. 18, and solo on Oct. 21 at Blackthorn 51.
He’s also currently working on an entirely self-produced EP, which will be called “Kickin’ Ass and Makin’ Waves.” The project is planned to be released by December with a single or two hopefully dropping by the end of October.
“I’m sitting on a couple singles,” Brice said. “I’m in the process of mastering them, so I just want people to listen to them ... Obviously I have an ear for music [but] sometimes when you spend a lot of time working on something it’s easy to be like, ‘You know what I’m done, this is good the way it is.’ So I just want to make sure I’m not doing that.”
The primary goal, Brice says, is to keep creating good music for as long as he can, whether a career doing so takes off or not.
“Only three percent of the millions of people in the U.S. who are independent artists who are creating music will actually make it big within one year,” Brice said. “As long as [I keep meeting people who inspire me], and keep creating and I don’t lose any momentum and I don’t choose to ever give up on myself, I guess that the goal would be to become a big artist one day. The thing I really want to do is to perform at a large music festival. I have a dream of people being able to sing the lyrics to one of my songs while I’m on stage. Once that moment happens, I can die happy.”