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Ryn Weaver deals with Internet backlash while learning to be a pop star




Ryn Weaver performs on Day Two of the Coachella Music Festival.
Ryn Weaver performs on Day Two of the Coachella Music Festival.
Cameron Kell/KPCC

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When singer-songwriter Ryn Weaver released her song “OctaHate’’ online last June, it got over 2 million hits in a little under a week. And that was just the beginning.

Since then, she’s been featured in the New York Times. Billboard has pegged her as the next big pop star for 2015, and other musicians are taking notice. Gwen Stefani has tapped Weaver to write songs for her highly anticipated new album.

"I’ve had to grow a lot in front of people, but that’s cool. That’s just a part of the game," the 22-year-old confesses. She was born and raised in San Diego, where she had been writing music before moving away to pursue a theater degree at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Eventually, she dropped out and moved back to Southern California to give music another shot.

In 2013, she had a chance encounter with influential music producer Benny Blanco, who’s worked with Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Maroon 5, just to list a few names. One year later, Blanco helped produce the song that introduced Weaver to the world.

Looking back, Weaver recalls, "Things moved at a very rapid pace. So then people, all they want to do is be like, 'How did she, who is she...?' Every interview’s like, 'Do you write your own songs?' Then you’re automatically on the defensive. It’s like, 'Of course! I’m a writer! That’s why I got signed.'"

If Weaver sounds a bit defensive, it’s because she achieved her fame in the digital age, in which the Internet can make an artist and then ruin them just as quickly. It’s what happened to the singer Lana Del Rey, who became the most talked about artist on the Internet in the summer of 2011 only to be bashed by that same community a couple months later for her quick rise to fame. Just like Lana, Weaver suffered her own backlash.

"In the beginning," Weaver says, "it just hurts, because you are a sensitive person if you're a writer. It's weird — they expect you to be sensitive enough to share everything about yourself, but then strong enough to deal with literally the underbelly of it all. You can't control that you're a female in the game and you like music with a pop sensibility. But being in that genre, you have to kind of expect...hate."

But while it's one thing to expect hate, it's another thing to deal with it. And that took Weaver a while to come to terms with. She claims that, "If you're a female and you're not ugly, you don't really get a pass. They're like, 'We're gonna pee on you.' And you're like, 'Do it!'" she said, laughing.

"I can take it now, though," she continues. "This year has been crazy for me, but hate has actually for me become a fuel. I'm like, 'Cool, now I get to prove you wrong. And then I get to write another record and prove you wrong. And then you're the guy who wrote the article at the beginning of my career and discounted my worth.'"

Weaver didn’t always have this confidence to brush off the haters. She was a shy kid growing up, and she wasn’t the most popular at school. Her mom used to poke fun at her thin skin — literally thin skin.

"Like on my arms, you see my veins very brightly," Weaver says. "It sounds silly, but my mom's very poetic in her own way, and since I was very sensitive and I was bullied when I was younger, she would talk about how I had this paper-thin skin, and that's who I was and that's what made me special. But, you know, as you get older you're like, 'Buck up, kid.'"

Even though she’s gotten used to criticism, she still hasn’t had the time to come to terms with how far she’s come in such a short amount of time. She remembers that, the night before, "I was in the car with my friend and we were driving in the sunset, listening to classic rock on the radio, arms out the windows, and I just started sobbing.

"And I just couldn't stop. She was like, 'What's wrong?' And I was just gasping, couldn't catch my breath, and she was like, 'What is it?' And I'm just like, 'It's everything!' Because every now and then, everything hits me, and I...I couldn't be more thankful."

Ryn Weaver’s debut album, “The Fool,” is out now.



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