Los Angeles-based singer and actress looks back on the good, bad and awkward over the past year.
Bridgit Mendler has been in the spotlight for years as one of the stars of Good Luck Charlie and Wizards of Waverly Place on the Disney Channel. She also broke into music with the release of her debut album, Hello My Name Is... in 2012. But four years later, she just released her latest EP, Nemesis, which is less sugary pop and more gritty soul.
"I've made music all my life," she tells Myspace. "And when I signed with Hollywood Records, I had the great opportunity to make a pop album. I learned how to make pop music, and I was happy with how it came out. But after that, I just wanted to tap into the music that just came from me with that pop knowledge that I had acquired. It took time to dig up new sounds and approach music from the new vantage point I was at as an older person. I feel like they're both true to me and honest. They were just different points in time and different inspirations."
Calling Nelly Furtado and Lauryn Hill as longtime inspirations, as well as J Dilla and Red Hot Chili Peppers, as the influences for the new EP, she was nervous about bringing it to fans who were used to her old sound. "It's vulnerable, but it's also cool that while I've been growing up, so have my fans," she says. "They really receive the music, which is something I never anticipated."
And to top off her year, she landed a role in the fifth season of Nashville, which will now be airing on CMT. With both the music and acting career going side by side, she admits that it's a challenge but loves it.
"It's definitely stressful juggling both at the same time," she reveals, "especially as an independent artist in music. But all the things I do bring me a lot of of joy. It's all good stuff that I've spent my time doing. I think it's just about prioritizing and giving one enough focus so it can do well, and then giving the other career its own focus."
With lots happening in 2016 for the soon-to-be 24-year-old, we chatted with Bridgit to find out the highlights, fumbles and all the awkward in between this year.
Best Moment of 2016: It was at the show in the Echoplex [in November], and everybody was singing along to "Atlantis" with me. That blew my mind.
2016 Moment You'd Rather Forget: There was this girl at a listening party I went to, and I did this whole across the room wave. But then no one noticed it. Basically when you wave at people but they don't notice you and you make it obvious, I'm bad at playing it cool. So maybe I should have played it cool at that moment.
Best Gig You Played of 2016: I would say that Echoplex show. That was my fave.
2016 Show You Wish You Could Do Over: I think that would be the first show at Bardot, but I also feel like that just comes along with figuring out the set. It's a scary thing that you have to perform to actually figure out the set. It makes you very vulnerable. So it was rough. It was rough in many ways, but we survived.
Best Concert You Saw in 2016: A surprise this year was at the Echo. I love small local shows. It's a band called Liss from Denmark. So they flew all the way from Denmark to play in my neighborhood. It was the first US show, and they just killed it. The music really translated really well live.
Most Awkward Show You Watched in 2016: I don't really want to hate on anyone. But it was probably my friend, Hayley Kiyoko's show, because I was too busy fangirling so hard.
Album on High Rotation in 2016: I guess one that hit me, even though it's from 2015, but I discovered it this year, is Unknown Mortal Orchestra's Multi-Love.
2016 LP You'd Like a Refund For: The Frank Ocean Blonde album, but then I'd go back and pay him double for it.
2016 Movie You'd Watch Over and Over: It's not from this year, but it's called My Night at Maud's. It's by this guy named Eric Rohmer. It's excellent.
2016 Movie You Wish You Waited for on Netflix: Girl on a Train. That scared the crap out of me. So if I waited for it on Netflix, then I'd turn down the volume in certain parts.
TV Show You Binged on While on The Road This Year: I have enjoyed episodes of Black Mirror.
Most Memorable Touring Experience of 2016: My two band members slept over in my brothers' childhood bedroom in San Francisco instead of staying in a hotel. It was very intimate, but it was really nice because my parents cooked breakfast in the morning. It was like a family meal.
Tour Experience That You Hope Won't Happen Again: The venue I was at in San Francisco only had one bathroom at the front of the venue. Before the show I was trapped backstage and unable to pee, so I just had to hold it in the whole show.
Go-to Meal on the Road: Probably chocolate. Health just goes out the window when you're on the road. So we had an excellent McDonald's/In-N-Out combo meal when we were driving back from San Francisco. We doubled up and did both.
Artist Who Should Be on Our 2017 Playlist: Pell that I just did a song with, and he already has quite a following of his own. But I think he's just going to blow up.
Best Fan Gift 2016: I have a song that's not even out, and I only perform it live. I was doing a show in San Francisco, and I performed the song. It's called "Will You Bring Me Flowers," and he gave me a flower while I was onstage.
Plans for 2017: Hopefully do more live shows.
One Thing on Your 2017 Wish List: To get a sense of community, like in the artist community here in LA. It's where I feel the most at home when there's community in this town of transient people.
2017 New Year's Resolution: To be cleaner. I know that's a boring one, but I always put myself in filth. And it always bums out my mood.
Since you're birthday is December 18, what's a birthday wish you have?: It's just to spend [my birthday] with lovely people and be happy with my friends. I've been working hard this year, which has been really exciting and fun. But it would be nice to just reconnect with loved ones.
See your favorite artists' best and worsts of the year by visiting our 20 Questions page.