From the very beginning of “The Bachelor Presents: Listen To Your Heart,” Bri Stauss and Chris Watson were clearly the couple to beat. Their romantic connection was seemingly instantaneous, and their performances were unfailingly flawless. For a show that posited that the truest love and the strongest musical partnership would go hand in hand, Bri and Chris were more than front-runners: They were proof of concept.
After taking the “LTYH” crown with a chill-inducing final performance, Bri and Chris started working on an album and continued their romance. Not that it’s been easy. For most of their post-show relationship, the couple has been separated by hundreds of miles and a raging pandemic, circumstances that have indefinitely postponed the joint tour they were awarded.
For now, there’s an album ― “Chris and Bri,” released Monday night ― written via FaceTime and recorded in separate states.
HuffPost’s Emma Gray, Leigh Blickley and Claire Fallon caught up with the duo via video chat this week to discuss forgoing the fantasy suite, the behind-the-scenes highlights of their love, and the travails of writing and recording an album via FaceTime.
So we see you guys are not appearing on video together. Where are you both quarantining?
Chris: I’m quarantining in Los Angeles.
Bri: I’m in Utah with family right now.
Have you guys been apart for the whole duration of this lockdown period?
Bri: Basically. We did have two weekends where I was able to go to Los Angeles and start to work a little bit on our album. And then when I flew back [to Utah], everything got shut down, and we were just kind of stuck where we were.
How has it been being apart as people are watching this whole journey unfold?
Chris: We’re able to count all the blessings. It would be terrible to be stuck in quarantine and have nobody to talk to. But I have the best person to talk to, and we talk all the time. And then we’re also healthy. So there’s just not a lot to complain about. So it’s great. But I mean, it’s definitely made our relationship stronger. We have to talk every single day.
Bri: Whether we like it or not. [Laughs, clearly joking.] But it is kind of a tease to see us on TV together and we’re not together. So that’s been difficult for us, but we’ll be together soon.
Let’s dive into the season. How did you guys hit it off that first night? We didn’t quite get to see your origin story. So can you tell us a little bit about what drew you guys to each other?
Chris: I mean, Bri is a gorgeous woman. That first night was an absolute earthquake, and you’re meeting a million different people. And then I saw Bri and I was like, “All right, well, let me make an impression. And then I’ll try to talk to her tomorrow. Because I know all the guys are going to try to hit on her.” So I’m like, “Let all of them make their pass. I’ll make my impression tomorrow.” I definitely played a game trying to get to her. It worked, obviously.
Bri: It was very smooth. But we really did have that instant connection. We became kitchen buddies, where he would always find me at the food table. We would tell stupid jokes and laugh. So within a short matter of time, we really did become friends first. And then we were just inseparable and started to fall in love. We had our moments that weren’t shown [where] we’re just being stupid. It felt like kids together.
Chris: Something that was cute that we tried to do [during] downtime [was] we would take those times and make it into a mini date. Like, if we’re going to have this time together, let’s talk about your family. What happened in high school? When did you start singing? And we would just use those times to really get to know each other a lot more.
You guys seemed like the most drama-free couple. Were there any bumps in the road for you two that we didn’t really see?
Chris: Yeah. I mean, Bri, she attacked me ― she threw a pack of M&Ms at me. And I thought it was over. [Laughing]
Bri: My blood sugar was low. OK. I have celiac disease, so I have a restricted diet. So he’s sitting there eating this full plate of food in front of me. And it had been after a performance, and I think I was waiting for my special meal or something. And we were all just ravenous. And he’s like, “Oh, here. I have these M&Ms. Here’s your dinner.” So I threw them at him. I guess that was our first fight. [Laughs]
Wow. I cannot believe we didn’t get to see M&M-gate.
Bri: I know, what the heck? These are the things you need to see.
What we saw in the finale at least, was you guys were offered a fantasy suite and you decided not to take it. Did you ever think about maybe just spending that time together in a nonphysical way to get to know each other more? Or did you feel like at that point you had spent enough quality time together that you didn’t really need it?
Bri: We really wanted that quality time together. But it was the night before the biggest performance of our lives. It’s a finale. We didn’t want to jeopardize that and we needed our sleep. I mean, we would’ve stayed up all night. And why would we do that to ourselves when we have two songs to sing and our future’s on the line?
Did it make you nervous at all when you realized that Trevor and Jamie had taken that time? Did you feel like you were at a disadvantage?
Chris: I felt like the only way that we were disadvantaged with anything was not having more time to rehearse. Bri and I were very into each other. But at the end of the day, we’re best at doing music. So it’s just like, let’s focus on what we’re best at and try to be the best at that. And then everything else will fall into line.
You both seemed a little psyched out coming up to that final performance in the finale episode. Watching, we were left kind of wondering, where did that wobble come from? Was there a reason for it? Was it just editing? Were they just trying to make us doubt that you would win?
Bri: For me, it was just all nerves. I was terrified that I was going to mess it up. And messing it up for me meant I was messing up for him, for us. And being an artist, you’re usually a perfectionist and you don’t want to mess up. And I genuinely love Chris and wanted to be the best for him. You always look back and you’re like, “I should cut myself slack and allow myself to be human.”
Matt and Rudi’s exit was heartbreaking. Was their early departure surprising? Did you assume like, “Oh, all three couples are going to go into that final performance?”
Bri: It was very upsetting. I was completely shocked. I was in an interview at the time and then they pulled me out and put us in the room with Matt and Rudi. And it felt like a death because we had all come together and we were going to cross the finish line together. So for them to just leave, it just felt like something had been ripped out. And then to just have to snap out of that and go put your game face on when you feel like they deserve to be part of all of that. It was really, really difficult.
Chris: There was a point in the show where I was like, “I’m not crying for anybody else who’s leaving. I’ll see you on the other side, blah, blah, blah.” A couple of days later, Matt and Rudi leave. I’m just shook ― and Bri, too. And Trevor and Jamie, too. So those last handful of days in Nashville, it was tough. We had to dig deep. The night before the finale, I really only had a couple hours of sleep. We had to lean on each other.
Did you guys sense that Matt was maybe a little behind in terms of the way he felt about Rudi?
Chris: Everybody has experienced a lot of things in life. And so it just takes people different amounts of time to be open and ready. A conversation that I had with Matt in Vegas was like, “Bro, literally like a year before this, I would’ve never been ready to fall in love with anybody or anything. It’s just the way that my life is working out right now, I’m completely ready and open to get myself completely free.” So I think more than anything, it was just taking him longer to get to where Rudi was. And it’s unfortunate that we had the time constraint because otherwise, they’d work out great, I think.
Bri: Just going off that, they were such a great example of being real and raw and vulnerable and continuing to try. We had our relationship, they had theirs. And it’s hard to compare, but every relationship is different and I’m just glad that we got to see theirs.
It seemed like there was a lot of camaraderie among the cast. And that was something that was really fun for us to watch. Who were you guys closest with?
Chris: I got to say my brother Gabe. Gabe’s a real good dude. Sheridan. [Pauses] Once I start naming them off, I’m going to name off everybody. Ryan, Trevor. Literally, I love all the dudes. I love all the girls. I don’t care how they all look on television. They were really all amazing women. I will say this. As the show changed and the performances, we definitely got different bonds. Having all been through the grueling, learning a song in a day and performing it the next night, those last couple groups of people were the closest.
Bri: With the people that left earlier, I was devastated. Even though we had known each other for three days, it felt like a year. And then toward the end, obviously going through all those things up until that point was just a different kind of bond. But yeah, honestly it sounds so dumb, but I love everyone. And we get to all be friends for life and it bonded us in a way that was so unique.
That’s so nice. Are you guys still in touch with most of the cast now?
Chris: Yeah. Definitely. I mean, I hit up Jack a few days ago. Sheridan and I FaceTimed a few days ago. We keep up.
Bri: Definitely Michael Todd.
Chris: I’m telling you, we all keep up. It’s a big family.
That’s really lovely to hear. So we did get the update and obviously we’re seeing now that you two are still together. Are there any other couples in the final four that you know are still dating?
Bri: I’ve got to find this out because I don’t know for sure. It’s so funny. We’re like, “Yeah, we talk to everyone.” But I actually don’t know where everyone’s at right now. I know what I’m hoping for, and that’s that they all do work out and they all continue to make music together.
Are you guys hoping for a reunion show or a way for you guys to all kind of connect and for us fans to see what’s been happening?
Chris: I mean, more than a reunion show, we’re musicians. We want a reunion tour. But I mean, if we had a reunion show, it would just be amazing. We just had some of the realest people. And so I just know that a reunion show, you would get to know your favorite characters a little bit better.
We need an update. Just get everyone on Zoom. Come on. We are all desperate for more content in quarantine. We will host it. Sorry, Chris Harrison.
Bri: [Laughs] Done. Well, now that everything is out, we’ve been freaking living in hiding for three months. I mean, everyone has.
Chris: Yeah. But us in added hiding. Where it’s like, “Oh, I was on the phone with my friend, [but] I can’t tell you actually what friends. So I’m going to make up a white lie about this person I was talking to. And this is what they said about their imaginary sister.” So it’s glad to be like, “I was talking about Bri.” It’s good to finally be able to say that.
Yeah, you don’t have to hide your relationship now! That must be a relief.
Chris: It’s great.
So touring is obviously on hold. So how are you guys dealing with that? And how do you see things progressing for your career while touring is not really an option?
Chris: Well, touring is not on the table, but there was another part of that that is. We got to make an album. And that’s just been the coolest thing. I mean, when we were going to go on tour, we were going to tour these songs anyway. So it’s such a blessing that we still were able to pull that off with the pandemic. We’re definitely touring [in the future]. So it’s just on pause.
Yeah, let’s talk a little bit about the process of making the album in quarantine. Explain to us how this worked.
Bri: You guys let us know based off of how it sounds if it worked. But yeah, I was supposed to go down to LA. We had it all scheduled out for the next few months of when I would go down and we would have writing sessions and we would record and do all these things. And then we ended up just doing it all through FaceTime. So we had millions of phone calls a day and writing sessions. And then I ended up recording in a studio here [in Utah], him there [in Los Angeles]. And I was wearing gloves. It was stressful to record in a studio during a lockdown and have to be super careful. But it was a really incredible experience. Because we’ll never get the opportunity like that again. I mean, we don’t want it again. But the fact that we did it was really cool that it worked out.
Do you guys have a favorite song that you guys wrote together? I did like “Found You” a lot. It felt very much like you guys.
Bri: Yeah. I think that’s our one most show-related. We really loved that one. What’s your favorite, Chris?
Chris: I just like the origin of “I Do.” That song was [written] literally over FaceTime call. And it’s just like, hold on, Bri. Get out your pen. You keep talking. I’m going to keep talking. You just start writing down stuff and I’ll just keep playing piano. And that was before really the whole quarantine happened. So it was just us being like, “OK, this is like a week or so after the show. We’re going to do this album together. How are we going to write these songs? I don’t even know. Let’s try.” And it was just, we tried and it worked out. beanie baAnd I feel like that’s just been the story of our relationship: trying it, trusting, and it just works out.
That’s beautiful. So speaking of, what are your plans going forward? Is there a move in the future? What are your plans as a couple?
Bri: I was planning on being in LA soon, either going back and forth a lot or moving there. But obviously now I don’t know. So we’re just kind of taking it a day at a time. But the soonest we’re able to be together, we are going to. And I’m going to attach myself to his arm like a sloth and I’m not going to let go. And we’re just going to keep working on music and live happily ever after.
Did you imagine that this would end up this way for you when you first went on the show?
Bri: Nope. I remember one of the producers, like before the show. She’s like, “You could come back with a new Valentine.” And I was like, “That is absolutely not going to happen.” And sure enough… Valentine’s Day was the day after we got home. And [Chris] sent me a little Beanie Baby llama, which was so random. But I really loved it.
Chris: I was like, the last thing I’m going to do is buy her a rose. We’re done with roses for a long time.
Bri: Yeah. Roses were a little traumatizing by the end. And I usually hate Valentine’s Day, so it was great.
Chris: Right before I left, I saw my roommate. And he’s like, “Yo, Chris, you might be in love [when you come back].” And brushed it off and laughed it off. And then I’m riding away and I’m like, “Maybe I will.” And then I get a text from my mom, “Don’t trust anybody.” [Laughs] As they say, moms know best. So she was really shocked when I called her [at the end].
Bri: Yeah. She called me his TV girlfriend for a long time. And then finally it shifted, luckily.
Have you met each other’s families?
Chris: Over FaceTime. So at least we have that.
Watch our interview with Chris and Bri on “Here To Make Friends in Quarantine” on Wednesday.