Jon Ali is In The Know’s music contributor. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram for more.
It’s time to get into Almondmilkhunni, the girl who makes you want to get a little mean.
The singer-songwriter-producer has been making waves within the indie pop scene, on the streaming services, on social media and beyond over the past year – and she’s only just begun having her fun.
The artist, whose real name is Brandy Schwechler, comes from humble beginnings in Philadelphia, PA, and got her start in music as a kid. Raised in a devoutly religious Latinx family, she was influenced by her father, who kept their home lively with music, and she began singing in the church choir at the age of 13. With a basic understanding of guitar and piano, but no formal vocal training, Brandy took it upon herself to learn how to sing by harmonizing with the music of the late Aaliyah, who serves as the main source of inspiration in her music crafting.
However, the birth of Almondmilkhunni wouldn’t happen until college, when she was working as both a dancer and as a Starbucks barista to pay her tuition. What started as an inside joke would later become the pseudonym she uses for her music career.
“It originally started as a funny username because I’d always drink almond milk in my lattes when I worked at Starbucks. I thought it was stupid, I didn’t even think it was a cute name,” she said. “I’m like, ‘This is funny, whatever.’ Making fun of myself. Over time, my Twitter started blowing up. People would see me on the street and call me Almondmilkhunni, it just stuck.”
After making the decision to drop out of college to pursue music — and many months of quietly working on her craft later — Almondmilkhunni’s debut, “Grapefruit,” would be independently released, and the rest is basically history.
“Music was always in the background, but I was always really self-conscious, and that’s what prevented me from pursuing it. I’ve had a lot of friends pass away very young and around the time that I dropped out, I was dealing with some feelings about grief. Short way to describe it, I was going through a midlife crisis, questioning if this was the right path for me,” Almondmilkhunni said in a statement. “This was something that was very present for me in starting the musical journey. I’m the type of person where I need to feel like what I’m doing has a purpose or I just won’t do it.”
Good thing she paid attention to her intuition. “Grapefruit,” a chilled-out ‘90’s-leaning “bad b****h” anthem, would quickly catapult the young starlet’s name into the mainstream, organically accumulating thousands of streams, catching the attention of industry elites and eventually landing her a deal with Electric Feel Records.
Since then, Almondmilkhunni has kept us plenty fed in her 2020 debut year with her self-titled EP, which she released earlier this year and includes “Grapefruit” and other standout singles “Henni Heartbreak” and “Cherry,” which later spawned a remix with fellow up-and-comer Flo Milli.
Over the summer, she continued to build momentum with the thoroughly nostalgic yet modern R&B throb “damnboy,” a critically adored look at her experience as a bisexual woman, presenting lyrics about the men she’s dated while the accompanying visual featured a woman as her love interest.
“‘damnboy’ is just my experience as a bisexual woman, and I thought it was cool to have lyrics about a boy but to make the video with a female love interest,” she said about “damnboy.” “As an artist, I want to show more about who I actually am in my personal life, and I can love a person no matter their gender identity.”
And now, to round out a year chock-full of impressive output, Almondmilkhunni has dropped “Mean To You” off her upcoming EP, Enjoy The Ride, due out early next year.
The track showcases the more sensual and mature side of her sound, as she sweetly croons some playful come-on’s to her special someone: “And I could be sweet, but you like when I’m mean to you/ yeah you like when I’m mean to you,” she confesses across the tripping beats.
The lo-fi video comes studded with Easter eggs that wink at Almondmilkhunni’s prior relationships, allowing for eager fans to dissect every scene. Can you catch them all?
Though she’s only been releasing music for a year, Almondmilkhunni is already making her potential known with a collection of impressive bops and her clear artistic vision. As long as she keeps the goods coming, she can be mean all she wants.
If you enjoyed this story, check out Jon Ali’s spotlight on Claud, the first artist signed to Phoebe Bridgers’ music label!
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