Rising star Brittany McDonald has turned a lot of heads in all the right ways with her new single “Notice Me” about the struggle of women to get noticed in music.
After six years in the business, Brittany McDonald is one of the best unsigned singers in today’s music landscape. A former member of the the acclaimed SoCal VoCals a cappella group at USC, Brittany has been carving out her own unique and uncompromising path to success not only as a singer/songwriter but as a strong, savvy, and confident young woman.
With “Notice Me”, a song about the struggle female singers face to make it in music without taking their clothes off, McDonald teamed with renowned producer Peter Rafelson, who has produced hits for Madonna, Stevie Nicks, Britney Spears and many more. The powerful message of “Notice Me” also caught the attention of Arianna Huffington, who personally gave Brittany her own blog on the Huffington Post.
With “Notice Me” doing well on YouTube and iTunes, The Deadbolt went one-on-one with Brittany McDonald to learn more about the song’s message, the battle women face in today’s music world, and how women can feel empowered rather than a need to take off their clothes to be noticed.
THE DEADBOLT: Based on your experience, how hard is it for female singers to get noticed these days?
BRITTANY MCDONALD: Well, it’s been five or six years that I’ve been doing this. You get noticed, but you only get noticed so far. Looks are very important and you have to do something dramatic to get noticed.
Nobody really pays attention to the content of your music until you do something dramatic. It’s really tough for girls out there to try and do music without using the sex to get attention. There is a fine line but it’s tough. It’s really, really hard.
THE DEADBOLT: What’s the difference between who you were with “Boy Basher” and “Another Wannabe” and who you are now with “Notice Me”?
MCDONALD: There’s definitely not a difference. “Notice Me” was written a couple of years ago. It was never produced because I didn’t think much of it. But I brought it to a guy that I was working with and he said, “No, this is really great!” I was surprised because I thought it was just a singer-songwriter song that no one wanted to hear. I’m very much a pop writer, I love pop music, and it just seemed out of my character.
It’s a part of me that’s been there but more of an emotional side. It’s a more mature way of looking at the world rather than trying to be so against it all of the time or going against the grain.
This is just how it is. It’s just the sadness of how it is. I’m going to use what I need to use to get there without totally disrespecting myself.
THE DEADBOLT: In the song, you say “Isn’t it a shame that we’re still so far away.” At what point did you realize that it was still a reality for women?
MCDONALD: When I started going to my first label meetings. It was really tough. I met with a lot of great industry people but the focus always came down to these dumbed-down ideas. It was like, “Wait a second! The music says so much more. The concept says so much more. The message I’m sending says so much more. What happened? Does that not count?”
So, when I started to realize that it doesn’t count when it comes to actually getting your music heard, it was disappointing. It was almost heartbreaking. You work so hard to make the world better or make change for the better and someone just goes, “Oh, well, that’s not that important. What’s really important is what your face looks like on the cover.”
I’m here for the music and you’re not even paying attention to that. It’s a constant battle.
THE DEADBOLT: Do you think the response to “Notice Me” is proof that you can get noticed without taking your clothes off?
MCDONALD: I do. It’s really tough for people to take out five minutes and listen to things. Once you actually get them to listen, it matters to them.
I’m sure you probably come across this with your website where you write something of substance and it’s hard to get people to pay attention to the substance instead of the crap. It’s seems that there’s just so much bullshit out there that people gravitate toward because they’re so used to it. Sometimes the substance is a little too much for people or too heavy that day.
I think once people get hold of it, it will take off. Right now it’s just tough enough to get people to pay attention.
THE DEADBOLT: In your view, what’s the difference between attention and empowerment?
MCDONALD: I think there are ways to get attention for just attention sake versus attention to draw someone into a message that’s powerful. If you’re using your body to get attention and send a different message, I’m all for it. Use what your mama gave you.
But if you’re just using your body, or using something else – whatever the media says that you should use to get attention to your dumb reality TV shows, which isn’t worth much in substance – that’s when I feel it’s just attention for attention sake rather than attention for empowerment.
THE DEADBOLT: Do you feel yourself going in that direction?
MCDONALD: I really love the empowerment direction because it’s just getting tougher and tougher and young girls need it. With all of the social media, it’s getting tougher for people to feel good about themselves.
It’s tough right now. I feel bad for some kids growing up to have their whole lives posted on Facebook. When I was young I didn’t have to worry about being made fun of on Facebook AND at school. It’s tough for young people right now.
THE DEADBOLT: It’s funny, I felt more connected to people when social media wasn’t around.
MCDONALD: Right! You almost feel like some weird stalker type of person peeking in on other people’s lives. It’s like, I don’t want to know. I’d rather talk to you in person. Now I know and it’s like I didn’t want to know.
THE DEADBOLT: What’s been most rewarding for you about the reaction to the song?
MCDONALD: I think the amount of people that relate to it. I think mostly it was about me sending the message that you’re not alone. Everyone feels this way no matter who you are. That’s why I wanted to include the artists in the video, because I wanted to humanize them. No matter what it looks like on the outside, we all have these feelings.
For people to come up to me and say that they totally understand or it moved them, that’s what you want out of art. You want it to create a response.
THE DEADBOLT: In your opinion, whatever happened to mystery as a the device to entice?
MCDONALD: You know, I’m not sure. It’s funny, because I actually came up with that bridge after watching an Audrey Hepburn movie, Paris When It Sizzles. It’s about this screenwriter and he’s talking about the process of leaving it to the imagination and cutting from a scene to another scene.
I was like, “Wait a second! That makes so much sense.” For me, as a creative person, I love it when people leave things up to the imagination because it means I can create something else. I think that a lot of music listeners love music because they can make their own interpretation of it.
When you’re not leaving something to someone’s imagination, you’re not actually empowering them. You’re just telling them what to do.
THE DEADBOLT: So, in your view, what makes a respectable, modern day woman?
MCDONALD: I think someone who’s confident. It’s tough being a woman and it’s hard to explain to men, especially in America, that women are still a minority. All over the planet they’re still a minority. It’s about empowerment and confidence and using that to your advantage rather than simply getting attention. If you’re getting attention for attention sake, that’s an insecurity that you’re filling, a hole.
But if you learn to be confident with what you have, and appreciate what you have, I think that’s what will make a movement instead of aspiring to be bar stars and booze whores. You have girls growing up seeing that freedom is partying and wearing whatever I want. But that’s not necessarily what it is, the idea of being a woman and I do whatever I want. That’s not even being an ethical human, you have to respect people.
So you have to start by respecting yourself. Everybody’s respect line is different but I do think it’s being confident with what you have.
How do you feel about “Notice Me” or the struggle women face to get noticed in music without taking their clothes off?