Glenside’s very own Gianna Branca released her debut single “conversation” in July. Now 21 years old, the pop singer-songwriter, actor, and performer launched her own independent label, Gianna Branca Music, at age 20.
Music has long been an outlet for her feelings and thoughts, and she makes a point of being unapologetically honest in her songwriting. Her hope is that people will not only connect with the melodies in her music, but also with the story it tells.
“I think of all my songs as journal entries, and I always try to make them personal and specific,” Gianna said. “I think there is something so cool about a song’s ability to let a stranger into your heart or into a specific moment in your life. My debut single, ‘conversation’ is hopefully one of those songs.”
Her first single “conversation” tells a story of first love and the longing for closure that comes with heartbreak.
“I wrote it in my dorm room during my freshman year of college, and I was thinking about an ex-boyfriend, my first serious relationship. It ended pretty badly, but I felt like I was over it,” Gianna said. “I was in a new place, a new state, but I had a lot of questions, and I so badly wanted to ask them. I gave myself permission to write about what would happen if I saw my ex and the questions I wanted to ask to get closure. The curiosity was eating at me. Over the course of writing it I realized I didn’t have to ask those questions. So the song became about the things we don’t say, and the idea of small-talk and not saying what you actually want to say. It was important to me to be as specific as possible.”
Her second single, titled “Self-Sabotage,” is set for release next month. To Gianna, the track is for people who like the way she tells a story, and its production elements reached another level for her music.
“The feedback has been so great and it’s made me so happy to have others hear something that I wrote and relate to it. It’s been so exciting,” she said.
To Gianna, owning her own label “means creative control and ownership of my work. Having your own label is important as a new artist. If you create your own label it protects you and it helps you release music under the company that you own. Someone always has to own your music, and so you want a LLC to own that music. I’m not signed to a major label and I think that’s great because I can pick the path that I want. Labels get the final say on singles and music you put out. I’m not against it down the road, but for now I think it’s important to put out music and own it and work hard at it.”
Her artist development partners, DNT Entertainment and OC Hit, both of Orange County, California, have been crucial to her ascent in the industry. “I was connected to them through a friend who’s interning there,” she said. “I recorded a few songs in L.A. and I learned a lot about the music scene and the steps it takes to produce a song. They help with consulting and branding through social media, and they’re just the best. They’re a sounding board for questions, and they’ve helped my education on the business side.”
A denizen of the stage, Gianna appeared in her first musical when she was 3, and started writing lyrics in middle school. “That’s sort of when I combined the two things that I liked,” she said. “My biggest writing influence is probably Taylor Swift. She knows how to make every lyric matter and she’s great at telling stories. The way that she’s reinvented herself so many times as she’s grown, it’s an impressive thing that not every artist can do,” Gianna said.
“I love reading, writing, I love poetry, and I care about lyrics that create very specific images that evoke something in someone. I listen to so many artists. I love Lizzy McAlpine who’s also from Philly. I think everything she touches turns to gold. I study her music, and I’ll listen to it over and over and over,” she said.
The youngest of four siblings, each of whom were athletically active, the singer/actress learned the meaning of competition at an early age. “I used to be a competitive ski racer, and I was nicknamed ‘the singing skier’. I had no idea I was singing going down the mountain,” Gianna said, laughing.
“My parents really believe in the idea that if you’re willing to work for it, go for it. Careers in the arts are very competitive, so I know that I have to keep going, pushing, growing and learning. My parents are definitely my biggest fans. They sent my song to just about every single person they know. They see me through the good days and the bad days, and it’s nice to have parents who agree that you’ve found the thing that you’re supposed to do. They believe that I know what I want.”
Gianna’s goals, dreams, and ambitions are already coming into fruition, but she’s not about to take her foot off the gas pedal.
“I want to be able to write and perform my own music. I’m also an actress, and I want to be in television and theater. I want to do a little bit of all of it. Those are the careers that I really admire. Selina Gomez is a great example of a cross-disciplinary career. I think singing and acting help each other. I’m just going to keep working hard at both things and see what sticks.”
Gianna attended Mount Saint Joseph Academy in Flourtown, and is currently pursuing a degree in Musical Theater Performance at Shenandoah Conservatory in Virginia. Now a junior, she’s elated to be able to focus on her passions in college. “I went to a very academic high school, and I had to find free time to sing, write, and act. It’s crazy to go to school and take classes on the things that I’m passionate about. I feel like I’m really getting better because I can spend so much time on it.”
Gianna’s music can be found on Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify, and Youtube. Fans can additionally follow her on Instagram, TikTok, and through her website.
Despite living in Virginia for the moment, Gianna still thinks of Glenside every chance she gets. “I can’t wait to be home,” she said. “I’m excited to see Glenside in all of its glory.”
The article’s featured image is courtesy of Dani Thompson, DNT Entertainment.