Ryn Weaver is sprawled out on the bed inside the cluttered makeshift studio in the Manhattan apartment of superstar songwriter-producer Benny Blanco (Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars). The San Diego-raised singer became a music-blog obsession in June when her out-of-nowhere single “OctaHate” scooped up 1 million SoundCloud plays in little more than a week. More recently, Weaver, 22, has been working on her debut album and rehearsing for her first live shows in New York with Blanco, who’s currently in his living room tinkering with a springy electro-pop beat on his MacBook. When asked where she’s living, Weaver shifts in her off-white tutu and points down at the bed she’s sitting on, surrounded by synths and laptops. “I don’t have money to put myself up — I’d have to get a day job,” she says. “This is where I need to be: The rest of the year I’m working on other people’s albums and on my own, so I’m posted in this little bed.”
It all started in June, when Weaver uploaded her debut track, “OctaHate” — a gleaming alt-pop kiss-off Blanco created with pals Charli XCX, Passion Pit‘s Michael Angelakos and Norwegian DJ-producer Cashmere Cat — to SoundCloud. “I threw up twice that day,” she recalls with a laugh. Weaver’s collaborators (and their promotion of the song on Twitter) picked up the notice of tastemaking sites like Stereogum, and the song quickly hit No. 1 on Billboard‘s Emerging Artists chart.
Blanco — who has hits like Maroon 5‘s “Animals,” Iggy Azalea‘s “Black Widow” and Ed Sheeran‘s “Don’t” at top 40 radio — is betting big on his new roommate, who produced her own material until the two met. “She’s the most talented artist I’ve ever worked with,” says Blanco. “We’ll be working on a song, and I can leave the studio. When I come back, the song’s done. She’s like, ‘Oh, I just wrote a 15-part harmony. That’s OK with you, right?’ Few artists understand the art of making music like her.”
Weaver dabbled in musical theater at a San Diego arts school before attending New York University and bumping into Blanco at a Halloween party four years ago. Months later, Weaver had dropped out of college and was roaming the West Coast when she showed up at Blanco’s birthday party in Los Angeles plugging her SoundCloud. After pestering him over email, Weaver finally got the producer to listen – and Blanco liked what he heard so much, he signed her to his new label, Friends Keep Secrets, a subsidiary of Interscope Records. Then the cavalcade of collaborators started to form: Blanco worked with Angelakos for the first time on Weaver’s material, then brought in Cashmere Cat and Charli XCX, whose sophomore album he was helping to produce.
With Weaver’s debut EP, Promises, released in August, and her first official show, a headlining slot at New York’s Bowery Ballroom on Oct. 22, in the books, the singer is focused on finishing her debut LP, which will likely arrive in the first quarter. She’s also writing with Charli XCX for a top-secret project: “It’s someone else’s album who’s a very sassy lady. That’s all I can say,” teases Weaver.
Considering collaborations like this, some have speculated Weaver’s out-of-nowhere success is a product of her backers, not her talent. Weaver blames sexism for that line of thinking. “The second a new female artist puts something out and it’s poppy, people chalk it up to all the people she works with,” she says. “I read all these articles that are like ‘how to create a pop star.’ People can speculate as much as they want, but I don’t really give a f—.”