What Phoebe Bridgers is looking forward to at the Grammys
Until this year, the Grammys had never nominated a female-only slate in one of its rock categories. But it’s no surprise to Phoebe Bridgers that she’s surrounded by women — and only women — as a nominee for Best Rock Performance at the 2021 ceremony.
“It makes sense to me!” she says when asked about this year’s rock performance race. “This is f---ed up, maybe, but I don’t know of a man’s rock album that really touched me this year, so I’m glad.”
Bridgers’ Best Rock Performance nod is for the jubilant, brutally honest “Kyoto,” the lead single off Punisher, her critically adored 2020 sophomore album that soared on the strength of Bridgers’ visceral songwriting, which reads like an open book yet sounds like a rock festival jammed into a single verse. In addition to performance, Bridgers is up for Best New Artist, Best Rock Song ("Kyoto”), and Best Alternative Music Album (“Punisher”).
She spoke to EW about why the women in this year’s Best Rock Performance category are so special to her, who she’s hoping to befriend at the ceremony, and which female rapper — and fellow nominee — she worships.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where were you when you heard about your nominations?
PHOEBE BRIDGERS: In bed. I slept through it, kind of on purpose — I was like, you know, I don't want to get my hopes up; I don't want to watch and be disappointed. I woke up to all these texts. That's my favorite way to find out about things. Did I buy a burrito? I think I bought a breakfast burrito as a celebration.
What’s something you appreciate about each of your fellow nominees in the Best Rock Performance category?
Well I went to high school with Haim! Alana was a senior when I was a freshman, so that feels very victorious. I’ve heard some songs that ended up on their first record at random school performances, so that’s super sick. I love everything Fiona Apple’s ever done. I think my favorite thing about these nominations is that most people in the rock category, I like played some of their recordings while making my record. Blake Mills, who works in the same studio that I produced my records in, produced some stuff with Brittany Howard, and I’ll be like, “How did you get this sound?!” and try to copy it. I definitely played “Not” by Big Thief in the studio, so it’s just cool to be in the same group as people who super inspired the record.
This is an overdue, historic moment for the Grammys in terms of its recognition of female talent, too. How do you feel about the representation as far as the rock categories are concerned?
If social pressure made it so that more women are being represented, then that’s exactly what social pressure is for. I don’t really give a s--t who’s pandering to who. I think it’s about time, and it’s just cool that it’s happening. It’s nice to have genuinely connected with every single person that I’m nominated with in a real way. Looking to any award show to be representative of all music is unfair, but I think that this year definitely, I’m so stoked to be in a group with these people.
You’re also up for Best New Artist, and there’s a ton of variety in this particular group of nominees.
There are some people that I’ve never heard of, but also, I’ve been a Chika fan since she made a viral video a couple years ago. I’m f---ing obsessed with Megan Thee Stallion. I just think she’s not really riding a wave; she’s her own universe. I feel like she reinvented the way to be a rockstar, basically. She has a super positive attitude, and that’s what's so badass and revolutionary. Instead of talking s--t on people or whatever, it’s all just positivity.
I’m curious about your connection to Punisher and “Kyoto,” specifically. Has your relationship with this body of work changed since you’ve released it?
It’s just nice that anybody likes it. I’ve always felt this about my career, that every level felt like I could never have expected it. I thought success was playing to 100 people who came to my show on purpose in London — and it was, so it’s nice that I only used my compass of what is good and bad to make something, and the fact that so many people like it is just very validating.
What was your reaction to “Kyoto” being recognized as a rock banger, and to be the song off Punisher that’s getting shine at the Grammys?
It’s funny, you know — it’s about inherited trauma and resentment and anger, and it’s cool. It’s the best form of therapy for it to be taken so well. [Laughs]
What are you most looking forward to when it comes to the awards ceremony itself?
I wish it was real life so I could party with Post Malone afterwards or something, but I am just happy to be going through this time; it’s weirder than ever, but maybe that will be what brings the nominees together, to be like, “Holy s--t, what a weird year! You put out a record this year too?! Who the f--k in their right mind!” I’m looking forward to a sense of community, I guess.
Do you think this year signals progress at the Recording Academy in terms of their work to diversify? Do you feel hopeful about where the music industry is at, and how it’s reflected in these nominations?
Yeah. I think that it’s about time that the tide of music shined a light more specifically on different types of people. I also just think that visibility is, in general, so, so productive. Seeing somebody who looks like you get a bunch of awards makes you think that it’s possible to make stuff, and that doesn’t mean that everybody’s goal is to get a f---ing Grammy. Even just going to the guitar shop and seeing someone in a guitar ad who looks like you makes a big difference.
Is there anything you’re hoping to see at the Grammys?
I think Haim are incredibly compelling performers. I would love it if Fiona played, that would be amazing. Who knows? Brittany Howard is one of my favorite guitar players ever. Big Thief, too. Everything I’m a fan of at the Grammys, which is a lot — they can’t really go wrong.