by Alex Teitz
Photo by Kanya Iwana
Bets first caught our attention with the release of “Don’t Give a F#ck” 3 years ago. This NYC singer-songwriter surprised everyone with her release of Project Violet Femmes
, a cover album of the Violent Femmes first album. Now she is working on a new album called Future Color
. Bets is an artist willing to take risks. It makes her an artist to watch. FEMMUSIC was able to do an e-mail interview with her about everything that is going on. Bets is coming to the Underground Music Showcase in July 2018. For info visit http://www.betsmusic.com/
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Project Violent Femmes?
B: I had sort of a mental block because I had never recorded a cover song before. I wanted to do this out of my love for the record but also wanted to make it true to myself..so finding the balance was a challenge. It’s basically a love letter to the Violent Femmes and to the memories this album holds for me. When I was growing up my brothers introduced me to this record, and so something about it will always make me feel super young.
FEMMUSIC: I understand that the decision to make the album was spontaneous. What challenges did that create for you?
B: Yes, it was completely spontaneous. And not a part of my original plan at all. I was following my gut and not my sense of logic. I had to make it very quickly, that was probably the biggest challenge of all. Usually when I make music, everything takes longer than I think it will, and I let the music decide when it’s done. But with this project there was a timeline that I couldn’t go over because I had scheduled recording sessions on my original album that I was making…which comes out soon!!
FEMMUSIC: The obvious question. Why the Violent Femmes? Are there any other artists or albums you would cover?
B: I love this particular album of theirs, I really love every song on it and think every song is solid. One day I was geeking out over the album and then made a joke about doing a cover of the whole thing. Then it just dawned on me that it was actually a great idea and that I had to do it. I love the fact that the content of the lyrics in these songs are such a contrast to the sound of my voice. At the moment I’m so deep in my own music I can’t imagine doing another cover album, but you never know!
FEMMUSIC: How do you approach a cover album vs an album of original material?
B: It’s not that different, other than the starting point is different, of course. Both carry their own pressures, though I try not to focus on that. It’s cool to inhabit someone else’s lyrics for a while and really go inside this world someone else created. With my own stuff it’s more like creating a world for myself.
FEMMUSIC: I understand you are working on another album of original music. Is your approach to it any different after doing Project Violent Femmes? What else can you tell me about it?
B: My new album is called Future Color
and is coming out this fall! First single will come out in July, which is when I’ll be playing at Underground Music Showcase in Denver – so, ideal timing! I love this record. I intentionally focused on making an album that would be really fun to perform live. When I first started recording music in LA I had never played live before, so I wasn’t really taking that aspect into consideration. Now that I know what’s fun to do on stage, that’s really important to me. I can’t wait to play this record for you all. Stay in touch here: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1UKb8fKzb3cCbapXoaMbqH
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
B: Songwriting just happens to me rather than me having a formula, really. Songs come to me often. Like in the bathtub, car, subway, anywhere and all the time. So I just write and record the ideas and then let it grow from there. It feels very natural, just the way my brain works. I also love writing with other people, collaborating and expanding on each other’s ideas is always a good time.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
B: This choice feels impossible…every aspect of my life has different answers to this question but here are two. The song “Metal Heart” by Cat Power has had a huge impact on me because it’s just so incredible, so sad but so beautiful at the same time. Everyone should listen to this song. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough sticks with me from my early years, I just remember my mom dancing around with cans of tomatoes to that song and it made me happy that music could make her so happy.
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry have you been discriminated against?
B: Well, I laughed when I read this question. I guess because, of course, the answer is yes. And I can’t imagine you’d find a woman who wouldn’t say the same. Although, I’m hopeful that will change, and I believe things are changing and it won’t be like this for future generations.
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
B: At the moment I’d love to collaborate/tour with St Vincent, Alvvays, Middle Kids, Warpaint and Angel Olsen. Because I love what they’re creating, and that’s what I want to be around and creating with.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
B: Well, this is really just about society as a whole – but you can see it reflected in the music industry – I would change the way that art and music are appreciated in our society if I could. From the largest level down to the smallest. You can see how they are not appreciated in the music industry by how little artists get paid on streaming platforms. Or how music/arts programs are the first ones cut in our schools. It just doesn’t feel like a system that is valuing music, and I find that heartbreaking because I feel music is essential to humankind.