Bryana Salaz brings a ton of moxie and charm to the stage. Part of the 17-year-old’s confidence stems from being raised in a military family and adapting to a plethora of new scenarios. Having Gwen Stefani as a coach has also nurtured Salaz’s skills, and their close knit bond has been evident throughout the season.
During our talk, Salaz was extremely humble and excited about her success on the show (she survived the Battle and Knockout rounds and is headed for the live shows), and though she has made her share of friends on The Voice, she also understands that this is a competition.
Check out our Q&A below as the ebullient (and seemingly fearless) artist talks about her relationship with Gwen Stefani, being raised in a military family, and her love for performing on stage.
How does it feel to advance to the live rounds?
Gosh, it’s been awesome. It’s so hard for me to put into words how I feel or how amazing and phenomenal it feels to be able to advance. And to have my family and friends supporting me is so awesome. The amount of support I’m getting on Twitter and Instagram and being able to share this experience with them and have them follow me like every step of the way almost is also incredibly awesome. I hope to keep moving forward and working hard because that’s what I’m here to do.
I’m very excited and blessed.
Has constantly moving with your family to different environments give you certain skill sets in adapting to The Voice?
Totally. Moving around almost every two years – it’s a lot, especially at my age. I’ve been to four different high schools and who wants to start a new high school their senior year. It’s actually pretty scary.
Moving around all the time and having to adapt to different cultures and styles – having to meet new people constantly, I think it’s given me an edge and advantage to this competition. It’s really hard number one even if you’re not a shy person. I’m not shy – I love meeting people.
But if you’re shy, I can’t imagine how much harder it is. Especially when you’re on the stage. Moving around has given me the ability to be really okay and get good at meeting new people and adapting to different environments. I’ve never been in an environment as fast paced as The Voice so it’s helped me change – It’s been just so helpful in this competition in ways that really only (having a) military perspective could understand. It’s been an honor to be in a military family as well – it’s an honor to have a soldier as a dad.
You have a powerful voice, so working with such different singers like Gwen Stefani and Taylor Swift must really help in your growth.
Totally. Gwen Stefani, of course, she’s the queen of pop. It’s so different from what I want to pursue and it’s the same with Taylor Swift. They’re completely different artists and I’m a completely different artist from them. But to get their advice and their experience – they are some of the biggest names in the music industry.
I’m still finding out who I am as an artist. To get their help in molding me and helping me find myself is just a huge blessing. How many people can say that they’ve worked with Gwen Stefani and Taylor Swift – at the same time even! (laughs)
They helped take my song to the next level and that is why I was able to advance in the competition. I’m super excited to see what Gwen has in store and what song she picks for me!
I’m sure you’ve made lifelong friends from The Voice. Plus, it seems that Gwen Stefani really cares about you (note – Stefani jokingly told Bryana that she has “mommy issues” with her). From those two aspects, how amazing has this experience been for you?
It’s indescribable, really. I’ve made the best friends. It’s really so heartbreaking because you see some of your closest friends go home. Even my battle partner (Gianna Salvato) – we were best friends. To see her go home it’s like “I want you to do good, but I want to win.”
It’s so stressful and it was amazing because I got super close to Sugar Joans and I love her. It was such a great feeling to not have to go through that again and for us to still be in the competition (Joans, who lost to Salaz in Monday’s Knockouts round, is now part of team Pharrell).
Working with Gwen – she really is very, very good at connecting with her artists. She really puts a lot of time into us and breaks down what she wants from us and what we need to improve on. She doesn’t sugar coat anything, but she’s nice the way she does it. The bond that I have with her now – sometimes it doesn’t even register that I’m working with Gwen Stefani because we’ve gotten so close.
She really wants the best for every artist and it’s amazing how she can connect to each artist in a different way. I feel like we’ve formed this bond and connection that I trust that she is going to do awesome things for the live playoffs. She’s going to pick a great song. I trust her opinion because she really knows me as an artist. That’s something crazy to say that Gwen Stefani knows me. Oh my gosh, that’s so unreal! (laughs)
You tackle really big songs and you seem to have a strong sense of self-confidence? Where does that come from?
I think the confidence just comes from being onstage. Moving around all the time – it’s hard for me to say I have a home. I don’t have a home. If someone were to say, “let’s go visit (your) home,” where would I go?
When I’m on stage, I feel like I’m at home. I feel like that’s where I belong and that’s just where I was made to be. That really helps with my performing – I love being on stage. I love entertaining people. I love connecting to music. It’s been the only thing I’ve stuck with every time I’ve moved.
I want people to see that this is where I belong and that I will compete and I’ll work my butt off to stay on this stage. This is my home and I don’t want to leave it.
Is it still surreal to watch yourself on TV?
(laughs) Yes, oh my goodness it’s so weird. I never even got used to watching videos of me on YouTube. My parents would put videos of me on YouTube and I hated watching myself. Now I’m on national television and it’s like ten times worse! (laughs)
With being on TV, you’re going to get comparisons and people who don’t like certain things. That just comes with it and you just have to be able to just look past it. (Singing) is what I love to do and no matter what anybody says – you can’t bring me down!
This whole experience has been so hard to describe. All I can say is that it’s a blessing.