Pop Stardom in the High School Age: In Conversation with Breana Renee Eubanks

Vortex Music Magazine

Vortex talks to Breana Renee Eubanks, a 17-year-old high school senior trying hard to finish her final year of school and make it in the world of pop music.

Breana Renee Eubanks is a senior at Oregon City High School. Just like any teen, she tries her best to balance her schoolwork, her time on the cheer team and a social life. Unlike many teens though, she’s also working hard to create a career as a pop star.

At just 17 years old, Eubanks is hard at work. She’s been writing almost every day, making trips to the studio to work with her producer, Steve Sundholm, and she just completed her first tour with Teen Idol, a competition which she took first place in this year.

“This is all kind of surreal,” she says. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do, but until recently had never really done anything about it.”

Eubanks says she remembers the moment she decided full on that this was what she wanted to do, that it wasn’t just an innocent dream.

“We were in the car on our way to a Beavers game, and I just said, ‘Mom, I have to do this.’”

In November of last year, Eubanks began working with Sundholm, an L.A. producer who has worked with local teen star Lovey James, Carrie Underwood, Cloverdayle and Meghan Trainor (in some way). “He won’t tell me what he helped her with, but I always freak out whenever I walk past his autographed photo of her. It’s says: ‘Steve, thanks for all your help.’”

After a consultation with Sundholm where she performed Katy Perry’s “Unconditionally,” he noticed that Eubanks’ voice was too trained after years of performing in a choir. It took about five months of vocal training, with the help of Cloverdayle’s Rachel Hamar, to undo her strict choral discipline. By April, Eubanks was ready to record her first cover, Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do.”

“It was supposed to be kind of a practice,” she says. “The song wasn’t going to go anywhere, it was just going to be for us to see what it was like to be in the studio. But we ended up loving how it turned out, and we kept it.”

Eubanks and Sundholm then chose a second song to cover, this time opting for Meghan Trainor’s “Lips Are Movin.” What came out was a slower, more brooding version of the upbeat pop song showcasing Eubanks’ vocal talent.

Two music videos were shot to accompany the covers. The first was the Trainor cover, which dropped earlier this summer—watch the video below. The response outweighed any expectations.

“I was really shocked with how good the first video did. I just figured it would get like 100 views, but it ended up getting over 1,000.”

The second video of Eubanks’ Ellie Goulding cover finally dropped the morning of September 8 (watch the video at the end of the article). So far the video has been viewed over 500 times. Both were shot in a way that puts the spotlight on her vocals, freeing the video of any other distractions. They’re minimalistic, but also allow the beauty of her voice to shine through.

Between releasing these, Eubanks has been hard at work on writing her own music, and she’s gained a whole new perspective as to what goes into the process.

“I’ve learned that songwriting doesn’t have to be a certain way,” Eubanks says. “It doesn't have to fit what other artists do. It’s what you are and what you wanna say.”

Eubanks started working with Sundholm to sharpen her own songwriting skills. One piece of advice she’s received is to try to condense a lot of thought into one concise line or sentence, breaking it down and working it out lyrically. Since, Eubanks has began to feel more and more comfortable with her own writing.

“It’s really strange, because now I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and think, ‘Oh my gosh, this would be great for a song lyric,’” she says. “I write all the time. My brain’s always thinking about lyrics.”

Many great artists give one piece of advice when it comes to writing: Write what you know. Being in high school, it’s easy to figure where much of her music’s inspiration may arise.

“You have to write about relationships if you’re gonna sell,” Eubanks admits. “But I really want to write inspirationally. You can be yourself, and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something.”

This stance is rare and much needed in today’s music, and Eubanks knows this. “I want to be able to write music people can relate to. I know things that nobody has sung about, and they should be. I wanna be that voice.”

But as she says, you need to write about relationships in some way if you really want to sell. Eubanks has taken this to heart, and like many artists, used it in a way to help her cope with emotional drama and heartbreak.

“Writing is helpful when you’re trying to escape a situation,” she says. “It helps lessen the burn when you don’t know how to say how you feel. When you have a feeling, it’s bundled up inside, but you can’t say it—writing about it helps.”

Though much of the work Eubanks has written is about relationships and her emotions, she’s not sure how much of it she wants to put out there just yet. “I’ve written a lot, but I probably won’t use some of it. Those songs are just me trying to get things out of my system. The songs people will hear are also personal, but they’re ones I know they’ll feel the same way about.”

It seems we’ll just have to wait to see what she decides to put out there when her original music is finally released. At the moment, Eubanks and Sundholm are aiming for a release date of summer 2016.

Looking to the future, Eubanks is hoping to line up more local gigs, hopefully as a way to test the waters with her own original pieces. For now, it’s more writing to get a catalogue built up for a set.

But where does she see herself in five year’s time?

“That’s a hard question, you know,” she replies. “I definitely know no matter what I’ll be involved with music in five years. I don't want to switch my career path, and I don’t want to be one hit and done. It’s something I want to do full-time. I guess in five years, I’ll have an album out, we’ve toured, and hopefully we’re starting a new one.”

She laughs. “And hopefully I’m signed. I would like that.”

Watch the new music video for “Love Me Like You Do” below.

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