Betty Who talks supporting Panic! at the Disco and her new single 'Between You & Me'
16 November 2018, 17:46 | Updated: 2 November 2020, 17:33
The 'Ignore Me' singer also opens up about everything from industry politics to recording the 'Queer Eye' theme song...
Betty Who is thriving right now. After spending several years signed to RCA, she went independent last autumn and hasn't looked back. Since then she's released a critically acclaimed new EP (Betty, Pt. 1) and worked with everyone from Cher to the cast of Queer Eye. The 'Somebody Loves You' star is currently putting the finishing touches on her third album and released her beautiful new single 'Between You & Me' on Wednesday.
We caught up with Betty this week to discuss 'Between You & Me' and find out what's next for the Australian artist.
'Between You & Me’ is stunning. Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind it?
I have had multiple instances in my life where you wish that you could have this really candid conversation with the person you have feelings for but it just goes unsaid and nobody can stand up and say 'hey I like you, do you like me too?'. 'Between You & Me' is sort of like this inner monologue of me talking to myself about things that I wish that I could say in those moments. When we were writing it it was such a universal feeling to everybody else in that session and we were all talking about how everyone feels that way.
Very relatable. Do you find that you are usually the one to let your guard down in a relationship or vice versa?
I'm like so vulnerable and I'm also really happy to be that way. I'm a dive in head first, heart open kind of person which freaks out the people that it freaks out, but then those are the people that are not meant to be in my life anyway. It's served as a very successful weeding out process. (laughs)
'Between You & Me' is more stripped back than the singles you’ve released in the past. Was that on purpose?
A little bit. We were kind of deciding between singles but the other song sounds like a summer song so I was like no let's save it and do this. It feels kind of moody. It feels like Christmas to me. Like you wanna cuddle up on the couch and drink a really dark red wine to it.
The perfect combination.
For anything really.
Listen to Betty's new single 'Between You & Me' below.
We’ve obviously heard the Betty, Pt. 1 EP but how does the rest of the album compare to that and 'Between You & Me'?
We're finishing it up as we speak. I think no two songs on the record are the same. I think that each song really stands on its own in this kind of really spectacular way. My songs are like my children to me. They're my babies. When I write a song that I think is really strong, by the time I'm finishing the record, I'm such a stage mom like "go out there and get 'em sweetie". It's coming together in a way that I'm really proud of.
You left RCA and became independent last fall. Was that scary or liberating?
Absolutely both. My mantra when I was leaving my record deal was I'm happy to succeed or fail if it means I'm doing it the way that I want to. I don't mind if everyone thinks my music sucks, if it's the music I want to make. There's so much fun that gets taken out of it on a label. At least in my experience. I wanted to inject a lot of that back in. I wanted to just make it about the music that I was super excited about and do it exactly how I've always wanted to do it. I'm very headstrong, as my fiancé will always tell you, and very stubborn. I don't like to be told what to do so a multi-million dollar institution trying to tell me what to do didn't work well for me.
Have you found that the way that you're actually making music has changed now that you're independent?
10,000 percent it's changed. When you are making a record, a lot of the time on a major label, you write and you write and you write for three, four months and then you turn in all the music and you're like 'cool the record's finished' and they go 'no it's not. keep writing'. And then you just do that for a year (or two, or three) longer until they think it's done. And I don't think that that makes any sense given that we live in such an immediate consumer culture. I don't want to spend two years writing when I wrote for a month and a half and I love these 10 songs. Let's put it out because I can put out another album in another six months. I can just put it on Spotify and Apple Music and everyone can listen to it.
It sounds reinvigorating.
Completely. On the label I was tired of other people determining my worth. I knew what songs I liked. I knew that what was good and I wanted to put it out and share it and keep moving. I didn't get to do that so now that's my goal. I get to go 'this is good, let's finish it, let's put it out' because what have I got to lose? I want to make music that impact people's lives. I want to make music that my fans can get married to or cry in the shower with if someone breaks up with them. I can't do that if I'm sitting in a studio for two and a half years thinking that it's not good enough. I'm psyched about everything. I just want to be able to bet on myself.
Talking about the industry in general, more and more female artists are speaking up about sexism in the music industry. Are there any negative or positive experiences you’ve had that you’d like to speak up about?
I will say that I've had some shocking experiences not only because I'm a woman but because I was young and told that I don't know anything. I got a lot of 'listen kid we've been in this business for longer than you' and I think it's a through line between whether it's government trying to decide what we can do with our bodies or someone sitting in a record executive chair telling you that you can't make the songs you want to make. There were so many times where I have left a meeting feeling disrespected. Luckily for me, nobody has been inappropriate sexually with me. People tell me all the time that I'm very intimidating. I'm very tall. It's horrible to say but I think I don't get fucked with as much because I look like I will beat your ass because I will.
Thank you for being so candid about that. On the lighter side of things, you were in Cher’s video for 'SOS' recently. What was that experience like and how did it happen?
What a dream, right? The director of the video was Jake Wilson who's the most talented. He's actually directing all the videos for my album. He called me saying 'Can you come be in this?' so I said "yes" obviously. It was in this gorgeous house in the Hollywood Hills and it was pretty insane. It was so fun to just be up there with girls all day and meeting people that I've loved from afar for such a long time like Rumer Willis who I think is so beautiful and strong and wonderful. It was such a pleasure and also Cher.
Favourite Cher song?
I mean 'Believe' right? I can't not have it be 'Believe'. I was thinking of deep cuts but who am I kidding?
Watch Betty in Cher's 'SOS' music video below.
You did the Queer Eye theme song this year too. Who approached who?
Netflix approached me and the second I got the call I was like "yes immediately, tell them I'll do whatever they want". And the video was actually really a surprise to me. I didn't really realise how fun and cute it was gonna be. I didn't realise we were all gonna be together 'cause you know it could have been something where I went into the studio in my basement and made the track and that was it. Also the show is so important. Especially for gay culture. I think the way that they talk about things, the way that they challenge not only each other but the guests they have on the show, is huge. With queer culture being normalised on television and to see all of the people they're making over being so warm and open to it and ready. it's so special.
Which Fab Five member do you need the most?
It's such a hard question because I need all of them but in the last year I moved to a new house and I keep threatening Bobby that he's gonna have to come over and help me feng shui it.
Back in 2015, you worked with Troye Sivan on his debut. Would you collaborate again?
In a heartbeat. I'm obsessed with him. He's such a beautiful spirit and so talented and I'm so proud of how far he's come. I met him when he was 17 and had never recorded a song before. It's so rare to watch somebody go 'this is where I'm going' and then it just happens for them in the way that they really want it to. He is a very powerful creator.
And you are about to head out on tour with Panic! At the Disco. What are you looking forward to most about it?
I can't honestly wait to be front of house every night and just watch the show. I love sing Brendon do his thing. I think they're all so gifted and he's such a great performer. I just want to learn a bunch of stuff from him and just be a fly on the wall for as much as I can. I have been listening to them since I was like 14 so this is a bucket list opportunity.
It's going to be such an amazing show with you both.
Oh my God. We're going to be so crazy.