What You Didn't Know About Phoebe Bridgers

Phoebe Bridgers is one of the most fascinating and mysterious songwriters of her generation. According to Billboard, Bridger's 2020 release, "Punisher," was critically acclaimed and sold well for the musician, earning her four Grammy nods. She was born in 1994 in Southern California, played music as a teenager, and busked for money at the Pasadena Farmers Market. She also lived for a time in Ukiah, California, and she dropped out of Berklee College of Music without ever really attending the school. She did, however, earn diplomas from both the Sequoyah School in Pasadena and Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.

At this point, Bridgers has only two full-length album releases to her credit, as well as a handful of EPs, according to AllMusic. That's definitely not much for a songwriter of her stature. The truth is, though, there's more to Phoebe Bridgers than it might at first seem.

She's a serial collaborator

Although Phoebe Bridgers' own catalog is relatively limited, she's been described as a "serial collaborator," according to Opoyi. The full picture of Bridgers' output, though, includes numerous collaborative projects with diverse sets of artists, including Kid Cudi, Fiona Apple, and Matt Berninger from The National. One of her most successful side projects is Boygenius, an acclaimed indie rock project with one EP to its credit that also features musicians Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker — two popular songwriters in their own right (via Rolling Stone). The next most well-known collaborative project from Phoebe Bridgers is Better Oblivion Community Center, a full-length album released with Conor Oberst, who also performs as Bright Eyes (via GQ).

In 2021, the music world was shaken up when it was announced Bridgers would soon be collaborating with Taylor Swift (via Vogue). So, fans of Phoebe Bridgers should know that even if they've worn out her only two full-length releases so far, there's a lot more to hear — you just have to know where to look.

She accused Ryan Adams of abuse

Phoebe Bridgers doesn't hesitate to stand up for her beliefs. Early in her career, she dated the popular indie-folk and alternative country artist Ryan Adams when she was only 20. In 2019, Bridgers, along with several other women, accused Adams of abuse. According to The New York Times, Adams had a pattern of luring young musicians into relationships with him, promising fame and fortune in return.

Bridgers said that Adams told her mother that it was a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" for someone like Adams to be in a relationship with her daughter and that he promised to get her music released. He also said he'd help her gain exposure with an opening slot for him on a European tour. That relationship soon turned rocky, however, and Bridgers said Adams was abusive, manipulating, and controlling. When she finally broke up with Adams, his interest in releasing her music waned, and the European tour he promised never materialized. Adams' record label Pax-Am would go on to release Bridgers' music in 2015, however, giving what many say is undue credit to Adams for Bridgers' success.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Phoebe Bridgers experiences anxiety and depression

Phoebe Bridgers writes deeply personal and highly emotional music that draws from her real life. In 2021, in fact, she revealed in a conversation with Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich that she has major depressive disorder and anxiety, for which she has sought therapy (via Rolling Stone). In a 2018 interview for NME, she also touched on the topic of mental health and vulnerability in music. "People are realizing that vulnerability isn't a weakness," she said, "and the rise of mental health-related humor is making vulnerability feel like a strength."

Bridgers has also spoken openly about her respect for the singer-songwriter Elliott Smith, who committed suicide in 2003. Indeed, her passion for the work of Smith led to Bridgers' collaboration with Conor Oberst. In fact, the first time Oberst heard Bridgers play, she caught his attention with an Elliott Smith cover, as she revealed to Far Out Magazine.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

She runs her own record label

In 2020, Phoebe Bridgers struck out on her own, launching a record label called Saddest Factory in collaboration with the taste-making indie record label Dead Oceans — the imprint on which Bridgers releases her own music. With her label, Bridgers said she hopes to release new and interesting music. Since the label was launched in 2020, Bridgers has already signed several groundbreaking artists, including Claud, an American bedroom pop singer-songwriter known for positive LGBTQ+ representation (via Ones to Watch).

On owning and operating her own record label, Bridgers said, "It's always been a dream of mine to have a label, because I'm also such a music fan. I felt like if there's cool stuff, I want to get it going and get it out to people as fast as possible." And the vision for the label is simple: "Good songs, regardless of genre" (via Pitchfork).

She's being sued

In 2021, record producer Chris Nelson brought a lawsuit against Phoebe Bridgers for statements she made about sexually predatory behavior, including grooming, stealing, and violence, according to People. Bridgers — who is openly bisexual — was in a consensual polyamorous relationship with Nelson's then-girlfriend, Emily Bannon. In addition, Bannon also accused Nelson of "racially-motivated hate crimes" (via NME) and said he has a habit of hacking women's emails and other forms of shady activity.

Nelson — who never worked professionally with Bridgers — said these accusations are false and misleading, and has brought a $3.8 million defamation lawsuit. He says the claims are malicious and part of a vendetta on the part of Bridgers and his then-girlfriend. In 2019, Nelson also sued the musician Noël Wells for defamation after she, too, claimed he engaged in sexually predatory behaviors toward young women in the music industry, according to Pitchfork.

Seemingly overnight, Phoebe has become a superstar. Examining the untold truth of Phoebe Bridgers, like this article has done, proves that her road to success is far longer and much more complicated than that.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).