Bryce McCann — originally from Vancouver, Washington — is not only a devoted Urban Studies student at UW Tacoma, but also an accomplished musician. Under the stage name “Coleman John,” McCann has been writing, recording and producing his own songs since 2015. Most recently, “Coleman John” released the album “Nobody Cares,” which can be found on Soundcloud, Spotify, and Apple Music. McCann had the chance to sit down with the Ledger and talk more about his music, inspiration and future goals.
Q: When did you start rapping?
A: I really started when I was 13, but I didn’t have any concept of how to put words together or anything. I had one line where it was, “when I rhyme, I want it to be sour like a lime,” and then I realized that wasn’t going to cut it. Then, there was a summer program I went to before my 8th
grade year called The Biz Program, where I began learning stuff about production and I also learned how to write raps and how to count bars. But it wasn’t until the past couple years until I started taking rapping really seriously. In high school, I goofed around and made joke songs, put out two mixtapes that were kind of making a mockery of the current state of rap, and then I just realized that this isn’t sustainable — I don’t want to be a gimmick. So, that’s when I really had to find a way to take this more seriously while also staying true to myself; Still being goofy, but in a serious context.
Q: Where does the name ‘Coleman John’ come from?
A: Those are my two middle names. My full name is Bryce Coleman John McCann. I was in Seattle visiting my brother and I was talking music with him and I brought up my favorite artists — James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, Isaiah Rashad — they use their first and middle names, and I was like Bryce Coleman … nah … Bryce John … nah… And my brother was like, “dude, Coleman John, that’s it.” So ever since I was 15, I’ve been rolling with that. Plus it’s a way of honoring both of my grandfathers, who had passed away before I was born. It’s cool to show my music to my family and they see “Coleman John” and know exactly who I’m paying tribute to. It’s kind of like they’re still here in a way. I’m sort of the vessel that they exist in.
Q: Does being from Vancouver influence your music?
A: I think it kind of does. You know, hip-hop is a very regional sound. When you look at L.A. hip-hop, it has this specific sound — the Bay Area has this specific sound, and then you know, Atlanta is completely different than Houston, and Florida, New York, Memphis, all that … but then when you look at Washington hip-hop, you got Macklemore and then you got Sir Mix-a-Lot. So, I didn’t have a distinct style to base my sound on, which gives me more opportunity to kind of do my own thing without being held to this regional expectation.
Q: Are there any particular artists that influence your music?
A: I remember when Tyler the Creator won VMA for best artist and he got up on stage and said “If you’re a kid at home and you’re watching this, you can do this.” And ever since then, that’s stayed in my head. I think Pharrell is probably my biggest influence production-wise, because he recently had this crazy resurgence as an artist after all these hits in the 2000s. He continues to make music with no boundaries. I appreciate his will to try new things and color outside the lines. MF Doom is one of my favorite rappers and he has these hilariously clever, dry, witty lines, but he delivers them so seriously, where on the surface you don’t catch it. Those subtleties are something I’ve started to pick up on. And Prince, definitely Prince. I appreciate how he didn’t confine to the role of a pop artist of being safe and sanitized. He was never afraid to take risks, even when he was at his most popular. Prince was just so prolific, and I really appreciate that.
Q: What does your album ‘Nobody Cares’ mean?
A: “Nobody Cares” is kind of like a double-entendre because it was written at a time when I felt nobody was really caring what I was going through, and also just (sic) [that] nobody cares as much as you think they do. I feel like with art in general, and life in general, we just become concerned with how other people think of us. I remember being a little kid, writing movie ideas and [I] had such a huge imagination. At that point in time, I would just create things without any idea of what people’s opinions even meant. I’m working to find the balance of people’s feedback — both positive and negative — because at the end of the day, only I know my intention and direction of my music.
Q: Do you see yourself still rapping five years from now?
A: Yes, I’m never giving up. I’ll be 80-years-old rapping. I think, ultimately, I want to be more than just a rapper, but hip-hop will always be my first love and the foundation of what I do. I want to do all kinds of different stuff — there’s so much you can do with R&B that people haven’t even done yet, but I’m trying to find the medium of being both experimental and accessible.
Shoutout to everybody making art and being creative. Don’t give up. Always keep going, keep trying to improve.