YouTube is one of the most popular and most valuable websites in history. On average, 4 billion videos are viewed every day, featuring anything from car videos to parenting tips, pandas sneezing to football blunders, and almost every genre of music known to man. Since its creation in February of 2005 it has made celebrities from everyday people, giving them their moment to bask in the limelight of attention (and more often than not, the laughter) of the world. Throughout YouTube, the tag “Music” is by far the most popular. Almost from the beginning, musicians realized the potential for YouTube to bring their music across the world, and to make it accessible to everyone, and it’s through Youtube views and subscribers that record companies find new talent. If a musician has one million subscribers, and every video they upload has over 500,000 views, then record labels will see that as the potential for 500,000 sales. At this moment in time, no record company would turn down 500,000 sales. YouTube has springboarded the careers of numerous acts, including Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, Carly Rae Jepsen, The Weeknd, Ed Sheeran and, most recently, Irish act Brian O’Reilly, also known as Bry.
Sat in a cramped backstage area at The Academy, two hours before his headline show is set to start, Bry is trying to keep busy, making sure everything is in check. Following a gig in Galway the night before, tiredness is beginning to show but he’s nonetheless in a joyous mood. Bry was born and raised in Malahide in Dublin to Mary and Joseph O’Reilly who, he says through laughter, “are shite when it comes to music.” His Dad “only likes catchy songs” and his Mum had very little interest in music. It’s safe to say his musical talent isn’t passed down through generations. Writing poetry was Brian’s first method of expression, but he quickly realized that putting music on top of lyrics was more effective to wooing girls in his primary school class. Life in Malahide rambled on, Brian sat the Leaving Certificate at a young age and was very soon facing the prospect of finishing college. It was around this time that he started to have doubts about the direction his life was taking, and he attempted to slow everything down. In an effort to take control of his life, he wrote a bucket list of things he wanted to achieve before settling into a job. It was at this point that he started his YouTube channel, ‘Things To Do Before You Die’: “I’d just finished University and all my friends were getting jobs,” Brian recalls, thinking back on the early days of his channel, “I’d studied teaching and I decided to not get a serious job like my friends until I finished this ridiculous bucket list, so I made a big list of things and then I decided I want to go to every country in the world, and I decided I won’t think about getting a normal job – but as soon as I started getting a following online, that’s when music happened.” Since that moment, music was all he could think about.
Around 2011, Bry began uploading covers of other artist’s songs, and also originals. Prior to that, he had released an EP, Swings, featuring music he now describes as “childish.” In 2012 he supported Pixie Lott in what was then the O2 Arena. As an independent artist, while travelling the world for his YouTube channel, he would tweet his whereabouts, bringing his guitar to play for whoever arrived. People came in their droves, with 150 appearing in Estonia. Off the success of these impromptu gigs, he toured Ireland, the UK and Australia almost non-stop for four years. Looking back on the time, he remembers that “as I’d done five Australian tours in two years and tickets literally went down because people were sick of me.” Bry was signed to Polar Patrol publishing, run by members of Snow Patrol, but there was even a point after this that he didn’t feel like things were progressing fast enough, and in an attempt to push things on he auditioned for the X- Factor, a decision he has regretted ever since. Grimacing, he recalls “It was the worst experience of my life. It knocked my confidence afterwards because it’s such a piece of shit.” Since then, however, things have been on the up.
Bry had the basis of the album for almost a year, but it wasn’t until 2015 that he was given the chance to work on it. He was sent by his label to record an album with Greg Wells, a producer who’s worked with the likes of Twenty–One pilots, Adele, Katy Perry and Mika. Fondly recalling his time in L.A. he smiles, saying: “It was very nice, I’d like to live there; but my wife won’t go near it because she thinks it’s very superficial. But that’s what I love about it, that everyone’s superficial, and then if you’re Irish they’re like ‘damn, you’re so honest all the time’. But it was amazing. I spent five weeks there in an Airbnb and I worked with my favourite producer ever, so it was great.” He described Greg Wells as “the weirdest person that I’ve ever met, he’s a very, very strange man” but said that “he’s one of those people like me where after an hour we’re like your best bud.”
The album’s release was delayed in order to organize a promotional plan. Things looked like they were slowing down once more, and Bry’s confidence was falling with every week he wasn’t working – then a very unexpected call came through. Bry was selected as the supporting act for Twenty-One Pilots’ European tour. Bry was taken all over Europe, playing to thousands of potential fans every night, and the crowd loved him. He, in turn, loved the crowd. “It was the best thing that’s ever happened to me, without any doubt. I managed to sell more tickets in European countries than I do in Ireland or the UK now because of it.” As soon as the tour was announced, the album was available to pre-order, and was released on November 11th. Was he happy with its reception? “Overall there was none that said it was crap, everything was seven or eight out of ten,” he says, content but wanting more.
There’s a voice calling out front and Bry is required just to double check that everything is in order for tonight’s show. Later that evening, hundreds of people (mostly teenage girls) are piled in, awaiting their hero. As the lights dim and the screaming starts, you can see Bry side stage, smiling exuberantly. Another crowd to please, another checkpoint in the already bumpy journey, another thing to tick off the bucket list.
Bry’s debut eponymous album is out now, check out BryOnTour.com for more info. You can follow Bry’s travels on his YouTube and Twitter, @BryOnTour.