Prior to all of this happening, Barrie built up his name and music by himself through the wonders of the internet. He explained how he built up SayWeCanFly and how he reached countless fans.
“In 2009, I decided I wanted to start a YouTube channel, which was the beginning of SayWeCanFly. I don’t remember the day but it’s near my birthday I’m sure,” he said, about his early years.
He placed a lot of energy into learning about how to use the internet, especially the various social media platforms, which is now commonly used (and not always properly) by many musicians in recent years.
“Social media has been my biggest tool. So I think for the first couple of years of Saywecanfly, when I didn’t really leave my house, I would literally come home from school every day, learn about social media and how to use it, and about the algorhythms and what works and what doesn’t. That was my version of college I guess? I knew that everyone, when they had a minute would go and check their Facebook. I always wanted to capture as many people as I could at the right time. I always wanted to bring people along on my journey and post stuff up every single day,” he said.
“There’s a website called PureVolume I used to use. I started posting stuff on there and kids started asking me for more. I started recording in my bedroom. As Saywecanfly grew I started working with other people. I’ve self released all of my albums. Between The Roses is my first full length that I just put out. It’s all been a learning process. I’ve had some offers from labels but I’ve always felt there’s more I’ve wanted to learn on my own, and there’s more I want to accomplish by myself before I possibly take that step. It’s definitely been a conscious decision and a really tough one. That’s what I’ve wanted to do.”
While he has built up quite the extensive following, especially on YouTube and Facebook, his fan base has come from some of the most unexpected places in the world. Aside from his recently discovered fans on the Vans Warped Tour stops and his previous tour supporting Metro Station, he shared some of the other areas he discovered to fans in.
“I have a huge following in Brazil, which is something I never expected and judging off of Facebook stats. Places like that and are way far away like New Zealand. It’s so cool to see how people across the globe have found my music, even if it’s small pockets of people. I think the strangest place is Poland. I have a small following there, which is cool. My grandparents were from there. I’ve never been there.”
“Just where people can’t speak English, it’s crazy that they listen to my music. It blows my mind.”
SayWeCanFly has self-released music since 2009 and seen social numbers climb into the millions. Barrie’s huge social media presence has created a bond withSayWeCanFly’s fans that goes beyond the music alone, creating a family-like relationship between the artist and fans. Barrie recently formed his own label in PureWolf Records.
Within the lineup of each year’s Vans Warped Tour, there is often a hidden gem amongst the crowd of names who perform amongst their multiple stages. On the Full Sail University Acoustic Basement tent each day, Canadian artist Braden Barrie’s one man act SayWeCanFly is getting heard each day in front of curious fans. He is enjoying his time playing for new fans and has had this moment as a goal of his since his teenage years.
“Literally Warped Tour’s been my dream for a long time. Since I’ve been doing this more and more, I try to think past that and set higher goals, but it’s cool that I’m finally meeting a goal I’ve had forever. I’m so excited just to be there and be in that world,” he says, thinking about the opportunity on the tour.
Much of this year has been a growing process for Barrie, as he spent time touring with Metro Station across North America, promoting his album Between The Roses, as well as reaching fans on his various social media pages through a variety of YouTube videos and fans discovering his recordings on Bandcamp. This was all done by himself and without the assistance of a record label or distribution companies.
He talked about some of his favorite artists who helped shape his sound. “My first album I ever bought was by Relient K, which is kind of a Christian band. I grew up listening to a lot of Christian music, kind of like rock stuff. I think the first album that caused me to start writing was Awake by Second Hand Serenade, which was the first acoustic artist I got into.”
“After I found him I started listening to a lot of indie acoustic artists that literally play with their acoustic and sing. So that was just seeing that other people had done it and was possible to have a good song with just your voice and a guitar.”
“For some reason acoustic guitar has been my favorite sound. I feel so free when I play it. Just seeing other people do it inspired me to start writing it and realized it was possible.”
Actually this is his second time on the Warped Tour, following his brief stint appearing on one date in Toronto, ON on a prior year. “I’ve had a small, small taste. The first year I did the Acoustic Basement Tent and the second year I did the Ernie Ball Stage, which was a little bigger. It will be cool doing the tent the whole entire summer.”
So what was it that attracted him towards doing the Warped Tour? ”It was amazing because a lot of my fans end up going. A lot of times they can’t go to my shows on school nights but I know they always go to Warped Tour. I get to meet most of them.”
“I got to see most of the excitement. When the doors open, it’s a stampede of kids. It’s crazy how much passion is in the air. It’s really, really cool.”
Unlike many of his fellow tour mates, Barrie originates from a small town in the Ontario province in Canada. He talked about where he is from and how that affected his work ethics towards getting his music heard.
“I grew up in a place called Lindsay, Ontario. I didn’t realize how out in the middle of nowhere it was until I drove there from Pennsylvania. It was a 13 hour car drive and seeing how much distance it actually takes to get there. I think there’s like 25,000 people there. It’s actually really a nice little town. They have everything that you need. It always looks really nice. At first it was really hard to think past it and realize there’s more to the world. That was what drove me. I just wanted to get out of here. Everyone around me has this small town mindset and they’re going to stay there their whole lives. That didn’t feel ok to me.”
“I’m thankful to have grown up in such a small place. Everything I’ve experienced outside of that is amazing.”
Unlike many acoustic acts that perform on the live circuit, Barrie has mostly performed solo and without a backing band. He has devised a strategy on how to craft his music without the assistance of a backing band and has won over fans on each stop of a tour.
“I’ve jammed with my friends for fun, but Saywecanfly has always been me. When I record albums, I’ll have people come in and play. I had a guy come in and play cello and electric guitars. The live shows have always been me.”
The idea of a backing band has crossed his mind at times, as this scenario has been presented before. But he has reiterated that it may be a possibility at a later time, once he feels ready to do so.
“I’ve thought about the whole band thing but I want to get as good as I can on my own before I do that and before I take that step. I have a long way to go with that still. I feel like I want to get as amazing at playing solo so I feel super comfortable. It’s a process. I used to be super shy. I had a hard time playing for ten people. Every show I learn to be a little more comfortable, so I want to get way better at that.”
While his sound leans upon the singer-songwriter side, being around the Warped Tour has attracted him to some heavier sounds as well. But finding him in the mosh pit may not happen right away. “I love hardcore music. Underoath is my favorite band. No I wasn’t scared of mosh pits. I tried it once and got injured so bad. So I always stuck to the acoustic side. “
“When I started playing guitar, I started on electric guitar and I learned a lot of blues. I was listening to Stevie Ray Vaughn, BB King and stuff like that. So that was before I started singing. So I had those roots too.”
Lastly, he shared some of the artists on the Warped Tour he is excited to see while on the tour. “Definitely Pierce The Veil. I love Pierce The Veil. I love them because they incorporate so many different instruments in their songs. Their songs are so complex. This band called This Wild Life – these two dudes who play acoustic music. I’ve been listening to them a lot lately. A band called Pvris. They just put out an album. They’re kind of like Paramore and Lights. The girl who sings for them is super talented. Never Shout Never is one of my influences way back in the day. It will be cool to hang with him too. I’m excited to hang with everyone. I don’t listen to a whole lot of music, which is weird, so I don’t know a whole lot of the bands playing. But it will be cool to discover a lot of the bands playing and make friends.”
MTVU is viewed at over 802 college campuses, where it plays commons areas, dorms and libraries. MTVU also reaches 55 million homes.
“It’s amazing to see a platform like MTV still caring about up and coming artists,” SayWeCanFly’s Braden Barrie said. “It takes a lot of work to move forward in the music industry, and I can honestly say this has given me new perspective. MTV is clearly alive and well and I think really helps everyone connect and feel like family.”
Barrie, who is the artist behind the SayWeCanFly moniker, has built his career through personal connections with fans through social media and live performances. With the release of his debut full-length, Between The Roses, those dedicated fans have shown undying support while helping to spread the word about SayWeCanFly.
“It means the world to me that everyone cared so much to make this happen,” Barrie said. “It’s moments like these when I think we all feel and understand how each of us plays such an important role in helping SayWeCanFly grow, and I hope everyone knows this was our win, not mine.”