Sunday, 31 May 2015

DIGITAL WORDS / Bebe Rexha Interview

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Think you don’t know Bebe Rexha? Think again.

She co-wrote ‘The Monster’ and gifted it to Eminem and Rihanna – which is one of the Slim Shady rapper’s best-selling No. 1 hits of his career, just FYI. And you will also be familiar with her roaring vocals on the chorus of David Guetta and Nicki Minaj’s latest radio banger ‘Hey Mama’, as well as Cash Cash’s ‘Take Me Home’.

The 25-year-old New Yorker is a huge pop star just waiting to explode. Her edgy look is a refreshing antidote to pop’s overtly bubblegum flavour at the moment, and she writes songs that every girl can relate to (please see ‘I Don’t Wanna Grow Up’ and ‘I Can’t Stop Drinking About You’).

Bebe grew up watching TRL, checking her local Toys R Us on the daily in the vain hope that the Baby Spice doll would be back in stock, and freaking out about seeing the video for ‘…Baby One More Time’. Essentially, she’s just like us!

We caught up with  Ms Rexha backstage at a recent live showin Shoreditch, London where she tore the joint up. In between sips of herbal tea to soothe her vocal chords and showing us the eclectic collection of jewellery she had packed in her luggage – a scented coin necklace from Turkey, a gifted necklace from her record label, a body chain, statement earrings and shell rings from Israel –  Bebe chatted to My Flash Trash about her musical upbringing, fashion and beauty tips, life advice and gave us some preview info on her upcoming debut album…

Hey Bebe! Let’s get straight to it. You’ve described your look before as “grunge glamour”. How can we emulate your look?
Mix cool expensive stuff with cheap shit. I’ve got Doc Martens on today but I have a pair of Vesaces that I travel with too. A really good leather jacket is essential. I recently bought a real leather motorcycle jacket, it’s so heavy, it’s about 20 pounds. Tons of jewellery is good too, as well as jeans and lots of t-shirts to switch up underneath. Layer shit – layering is key. Get the basics together and then add to it.

How about your makeup? Your eyeliner is always perfect.
I’m very simple. I bounce between two classic looks. One is clean winged eyeliner and really pretty lashes, and a red lip. The other is a smoky eye and nude lip. Sometimes I just take an eyeliner and smudge it, lashes on and apply a bit of bronzer.

So how has your European tour been going so far?
The crowds have been very respectful and listen to everything I say. In the US they’ll be a little more crazy, but I’ll get to a slow song and I’m like, “Shut the fuck up!” That happened once. I told everyone to shut up and they wouldn’t listen. I was being dead serious but they just kept cheering me on. In Finland yesterday I cried. It was the first time there has been an audience that knew every word to all my songs. I got emotional. There was a little nine year old girl there, crying, she was singing every word, including all the swear words! She had a little leather jacket on and she said, “I’m wearing my leather jacket for you.” It was the cutest thing in the world. Playing my own smaller shows but to people who know all the words is way better than bigger shows supporting someone else. These people are coming to see me – it’s amazing.

Do you like London?
Everybody dresses so cool here. The fashion here is ridiculous. It sucks to say but you cannot compare London fashion to New York. Europe is so much cooler. I wore some creepers in my video and you can’t do that in L.A. or New York, they don’t think it’s cute at all.

You’ve already filmed some epic music videos. Did you grow up watching a lot of MTV?
Yes, TRL! And I will always remember seeing Britney Spears’ first music video. I haven’t had that same feeling since.. All her videos are insane and I’ve never had that strong feeling for anyone other than Britney. I want to make bigger videos in the future. I wanna burn shit down!

You’ve previously cited Alanis Morrissette as a key influence for you…
Once we were blasting her CD at the studio and Glen Ballard was there – he produced Jagged Little Pill. That album is insane, and even though she had the songs she refused to be the fashion girl and didn’t fit the mold. You can do whatever the fuck you want!

Who else did you grow up listening to?
I only started liking the Kanyes and Lauryn Hills, or Tracey Chapman – all these more credible artists as I’m getting older because I can see what they’re saying and it means more to me. But when I was little I was listening to Destiny’s Child and Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. I was a total pop junkie. I liked ‘80s stuff too, like Madonna and Duran Duran. My aunt bought me my first tape, it was ‘Genie In A Bottle’.

You’ve worked with Max Martin already… Can you tell us something about him that no one knows?
He’s very nice but also very gangster. When I was working with him he had two sessions going on at the same time, he would come in, doctor the melody, do it himself. Oh, and he has a great voice! A really fucking good voice. Like, superstar voice! His ear is incredible. When he listens to a song it’s  mathematical to him. It was very different working with him because I just do what I feel.

How does it compare hearing other artists’ recordings of your songs to listening back to one of your own releases?
Hearing your own song is more epic. I can see Eminem and Rihanna perform my song in front of a million people and it feels awesome but if I see 200 people singing the words to my own song, that’s incredible. When you write a song it’s like part of your soul. You put your spirit, soul and energy into creating a song from thin air.

The songs on your EP are very relatable. Is that something you aim for?
In the end I ultimately want that but it usually starts out as just therapy for myself. But when I try to help myself as a form of therapy it does help others too. I do take it into consideration and I’ve been writing about women and empowerment recently – a song called ‘24/7’. It’s about letting a girl have her moment. If she wants to cry, or put her lipstick on,  or go dancing and feel sexy… It’s not easy being a girl or a woman.

You’ve spoken really openly about losing your first record deal. You’ve written about the negativity that followed it too. What advice do you have for anyone feeling knocked down?

There’s this saying I like: “In the end it will be okay. And if it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.” I tell myself that. You have to remember that things will get better. I wrote a song called ‘Die A Little’ – a line of it says, “You have to die a little to know what it’s like to be alive.” And if you ever feel down, go for a walk. Walk for miles – that’s what I do – it clears your head. 

Written for MY FLASH TRASH

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