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Interview: Betty Who Chats About Her New Album, ‘Big’

Australian-American pop trailblazer, Betty Who, has today released her stellar fourth studio album ‘BIG!‘ – co-produced by the artist herself, and the team of Martin JohnsonDanen Reed Rector and Brandon Paddock (Ariana GrandeAvril LavigneJason Derulo). We sat down with Betty Who to find out about the new album, future plans and more!

It’s incredible to know that your fourth studio album ‘Big’ was written with inspiration from your own stories. What are some themes and topics you explore in your writing?

While all the stories and themes on this record are my own and deeply personal, I did not write it by myself! I was lucky enough to have an incredible team of collaborators who helped pull these stories out of me with so much patience and grace. I knew I wanted to talk about my life and my experience growing up. It’s been a tough couple of years, and I’ve had a lot of time to think about mistakes I’ve made along the way. I wanted to honour them in these songs. Acknowledge them. Then try to figure out where to go from here.

Continuing from that, what song do you hope translates to your fans yet another Betty Who powerful queer anthem for them to connect to?

“The Hard Way” is a song about figuring out who you are and hurting people by accident along the road to self-discovery, so I hope that one resonates with queer people. Also, “I Can Be Your Man” is my queer anthem because I always tell all my girlfriends how I’d date them if they’d let me.

I know that in this album you’ve spoken about those experiences of failings and triumphs that create paths, what are some experiences during the two years of lockdown that carved your own path into the artist you are today?

I spent my time in lockdown trying to pull apart the aspects of performing and pop culture that I love as a consumer vs what is the right path for me as a performer. I have so many different interests and want to prove that I can do so many things that I think I’ve slowed myself down. Jack of all trades, master of none energy. So now I’m trying to get specific about what I do, what I am best at instead of looking around at what everyone else is doing and thinking I have to compete with it.

Has becoming an independent artist allowed you to feel more freedom in the stories and messages you can explore in your music and how do you think this has allowed you to create deeper connections to your fans?

Definitely. Speaking of figuring out who you are vs who you’re not, my experience in the “major label machine” helped teach me about what I wanted (and more usefully what I did not want). It’s a lot scarier in so many ways, but I can finally say all these years later that I am on my own path. No one has gone where I am going. no one ever will again. I’m not trying to slide into the mould of another artist. I’m building a world that only I can occupy and flourish in. I’m willing to take the risk of feeling “different” or like an “outsider” to build a career and path that I can whole heartedly say I am proud of.

What are some LGBTQIA+ role models that inspire you now and when you first started creating music?

There are so many incredibly talented queer artists that get to be themselves in this day and age. When I was growing up there was a lot less space for queer people to thrive and be themselves. My mum took me to see the ‘Boy From Oz’ when I was a kid – the musical about the Australian artist and songwriter Peter Allen. I remember thinking about how much he had to hide himself, to pretend to be something less “other”. But I think the part of him that was the most special and had the most to say was his queerness, his otherness. I think I see that in myself – the parts of me that are the most confrontational and unusual are the parts of me that sparkle and have something to say.

What is the best piece of advice you can share to another artist in the LGBTIQIA+ Community who is emerging in the music industry?

To quote Dr Seuss, “There is no one alive who is youer than you.” It’s easy to get distracted by what everyone else is doing but no one can be you.

What are some plans fans can expect from Betty Who in 2023?

TOUR BABY! It’s my favourite thing in the world – I would venture to say it’s what I’m the best at also. It’s been four years since I’ve been on a headlining tour so let’s just say the anticipation is killing me. Please come see us! Support live music! We have so much to give!

Written by John Zebra