She may have co-written “BBHMM”, but Bibi Bourelly admits the best songs she’s written haven’t even been heard yet. If that’s true, we’ve got a lot to look forward to.
Berlin born and raised and now living in LA (via Maryland), Bourelly has been thinking about the future – a lot. Although she doesn’t know what it holds, her track record so far gives us an idea. Collaborations with Lil Wayne, Usher and Nas, Little Simz and Nick Brewer all came in 2015, while her own singles found favour, particularly when satisfyingly honest, ‘Ego’ hit Spotify’s Top 10 Viral Tracks.
But beyond collaborators and numbers, she’s creative and levelheaded, with more to say than the powers that be would prefer. She’s shy, but not enough to do what you want and her refusal to be perfect from the word go is refreshing. We spoke to Bibi Bourelly about her writing process, working with Little Simz, and learning the skill of honesty.
It seems like you always knew that this was going to work for you, but has anything surprised you so far?
The only thing that really surprised me and caught me off guard was the behind the scenes stuff. The industry definitely wasn’t what I thought it would be in terms of artistry. I think that whenever lifestyles begin to change it kinda catches us off guard but I don’t know if I can say that it all caught me so much off guard to where I didn’t see any of it coming.
People always say that fame doesn’t change you, but the people around you. Has your success changed your friends and family’s opinion of you?
I think so, definitely. I don’t think its all malicious though. We live in a world where if you reach a certain point of societal “success” you are considered one of the “enlightened” ones to the public. You are looked at as though you have the answer to some kind of mysterious question that the majority of people don’t have the answer to, which isn’t true at all. I still don’t know anything spectacular. I just have the genuine desire to live my life happily. I have seen how feeble life is, so my conscious forces me to try my hardest to be a good person cuz I don’t want to leave any situation knowing that I didn’t do everything in my power to be as good as I can be.
I think it definitely can change people negatively as well, for obvious reasons. People become overly analytical and critical about your every move when the fact is, I am just a person. A human being who does all the same things you do and who makes mistakes sometimes and I won’t let any fuckin’ body try to take my right to be flawed away from me, because that’s my human right. Perfection doesn’t exist and I am not one of the people who will try to trick you guys into believing it does… it’s literally a lie.
What place does your writing come from. Is it ‘I need to express this exact thing I’m feeling’, or a release that makes sense once it’s out?
I think its a little bit of both. I go in the booth or begin to write with a subconscious urge. The same way someone wants to scratch their throat when there’s something in it. I am very emotional so I usually start writing when I am feeling an abundance of emotions that I can’t detect or define clearly because when I don’t, I just harp on my emotions and become destructive or overwhelmed. So in that sense, it’s a release. But I’ve noticed that I never really fully understand where my songs come from until I hear them about a year later, where I can look at my life objectively and the feelings that used to hurt so bad, don’t hurt anymore. I am not too afraid to analyze myself at the point because the old emotions have become muted enough for me to handle head on and that’s when the song’s inspiration becomes pretty obvious to me.
Can you tell us about how your collaboration with Little Simz came about?
My best friend, Libell, was a big Little Simz supporter and would always talk about her music to me. I never really fully paid attention until Libell moved in with me for a couple of months in LA and she would play her shit around the house. I thought it was so heartfelt and phenomenal. I found her on Instagram and Wondagurl was sleeping at my house for like a week at the time too. Wondagurl knew Simz and I begged her to introduce us and the rest was history. The first time ‘Simbi’ and I met we clicked and talked for like 2 hours before we even started creating. Libell was like a little fly on the wall in the back of the room snapping pictures we didn’t even know she took until we left. We ended up writing a super honest song for her project called “Interlude” based off of the conversation we had in the studio prior. We were talking about the struggles she faced and the ones I was going through at the time as well… with men of course.
Little Simz is one of the main artists from London making waves. Out of Berlin, DMV and LA, are there any musicians or movements we should know about?
There definitely are in Berlin! Too early to share though. My homies and I got the most ill shit in the works. I just recently was introduced to Jungle Pu$$y and Princess Nokia in New York. I think their super dope female artists. Simz and I went to a Rat King show in LA as well which was insanely lit. I’m really into the NYC scene right now tbh. I feel like they know whats up.
You were at the Grammys (with Diplo, Skrillex and Dillon Francis). Was it frustrating that that BBHMM didn’t get nominated for a Grammy?
Nah 🙂 I got time.
Admit all the industry stuff, how much do you get to party with friends and do the mundane stuff that the average person does?
I make sure I do the shit regularly. Maybe too often cuz I be hungover for my shows the next morning.
You’re 21. People still bring up age as if it’s a barrier, but does your age or the years ahead ever cross your mind?
ALL the time. Doesn’t it cross everyone’s mind? I’m very future oriented. I think about the past and the future a little too much!
You released ‘Ego’ and ‘Sally’, which are at both ends of the spectrum sonically. What’s the uniting factor between your songs?
I’m empowering myself in both. I am telling myself and the world, that I know what’s best for me and I will not allow myself to be dragged down by naysayers just because they do not understand my nature. I am not hurting anybody, I am not being hateful, I am not doing anything wrong other than being who the f I am… and it’s sad that, that’s perceived as wrong.
In Ego you say: I cuss when I talk / And I lean when I walk / And I been through some shit / And I’ve gained and I’ve lost. For young people now, it’s obvious that we say it exactly like it is. Was there ever a time you weren’t this honest?
Being honest is a skill, I think. And depending on your personality, the easier it is to learn. I have always been expressive and outspoken. I am shy, sometimes but not shy enough to conform. To answer your question; of course, growing up there were times where I caught myself trying to fit it, but I always caught myself and had the desire to be happy more than I had the desire to be accepted. Being myself made me peaceful. I always knew I wasn’t bad or wrong. I just felt like the world didn’t.
You’ve got producer credits on the [Ego] video. Is there any aside from singing and songwriting that you want to explore?
I want to direct and act and make movies and paint and do a bunch of cool shit.
There’s an element of Rock n Roll when you perform. Is that something you make a point to reference?
Nah man. I’m not doing anything intentionally, I’m just up there being me.
BBHMM is the most recognised track you’ve worked on, but what’s your favourite to date?
Cant tell you 😉 They re not released yet.
Idk, ask God.
FOR MORE INFO CLICK HERE: Bibi Bourelly
Interview : Grace Shutti
Illustration: James Wilson