7 Questions With Bebe Rexha: “I Can’t Stop Drinking About You,” Her Debut Album And The State Of Pop
Bebe Rexha’s no stranger to a mean pop hook: The burgeoning singer-songwriter is most famously responsible for penning Eminem and Rihanna’s hit “The Monster” among other pop gems, as well as supplying her distinctive vocals on Cash Cash’s inescapably catchy club smash, “Take Me Home.”
But Bebe’s got even more exciting things still hiding up her sleeves with her own upcoming debut LP, as evidenced by her crushing new single “I Can’t Stop Drinking About You,” a dark, devastating (and autobiographical!) heartbreak anthem.
We sat down with Bebe in our office to talk about her Melancholia-inspired “I Can’t Stop Drinking About You” video (out today!), the story behind the song, her upcoming album and the state of pop music today. With collaborations and co-writes alongside everyone from Max Martin to David Guetta to Usher coming down the pipeline soon, Bebe had plenty to tell us about what’s coming next — and we’re more than excited to watch it all unfold. Read on!
We’ve loved “I Can’t Stop Drinking About You” for a while. Can you tell us something about the new video?
BEBE REXHA: It was directed by Michael Mihail, who directed [Kendrick Lamar’s] “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” video as well. So yeah, super cinematic. It’s definitely a new character in pop culture. Definitely not colorful. It’s a little bit more alternative and dark. I was very inspired by Girl Interrupted and the movie Melancholia. We use this slow-mo camera. It’s painfully slow, and you see me drinking a cup tea, and you can actually see the drops of water falling out from my mouth. So, Melancholia, that whole movie is like a 10-15 minute movie that they slow down. They stretch it so painfully slow, but it’s so stunningly beautiful.
Now, as far as the song, was that inspired by a certain event? Was it autobiographical?
BR: Yeah, it was definitely real. The idea actually came when I was in New York City. Have you ever been to Johnny Utah’s? It’s right here on 48th Street. I was in a relationship, and the guy was kind of playing with my mind. He didn’t know if he wanted to be with me or another girl. He was like, “I just broke up with my ex and I feel like I should be with her, but then I love you, but…” I’m sitting there thinking: “You should never be an option.” There’s a quote: “If someone treats you like an option, then leave them like a choice.” So I went out that night with my friend to Johnny Utah’s. I was super bummed, and we were obviously drinking a lot. I was actually riding the bull, and they were giving me shots because I was so angry that I did not fall off the bull. They were trying to get me to fall off! But I got a call from the guy, and he was like, “ I didn’t mean to tell you all this stuff, I’m sorry.” He was back-pedaling, and it pissed me off. That made me really angry, so I basically was like “Fuck you, I’m drinking about you. Leave me alone. Don’t ever call me again!” So yeah, that song is based off of a true story, which I think is really important with my music.
What do you think about the state of pop today?
BR: I think with pop music now, we’ve gone through that colorful phase. I really love grunge glamour. I love the alternative stuff, so I feel like we’re in a little bit of gray area now, which is cooler with pop music because that’s personally where I’m at. You know, I don’t wear much color, you know, in my music or in my style. It’s dark-esque, so it’s really cool that people are open to that. But there is also a realness to that too. When you do all the colorful and happy stuff, I know we all kind of want to step away from our worries, but sometimes you need a little bit of that realness. We all kind of live this little lie sometimes. We lie to ourselves to make us feel better. I think with “Drinking About You,” it’s just a moment, and a feeling — that exact moment when you feel like somebody really breaks your heart. You don’t know what’s in the future. You don’t care what’s happened in the past. You’re just at this moment, and you’re like “…fuck.” I don’t know if I can curse…
You totally can! Can you also tell us about your upcoming debut album?
BR: Well, I worked with so many different people. I’ve worked with big producers, I’ve worked with up-and-coming producers, and I have to say I love them all equally. They’re all really incredible. I’ve worked with Max Martin and Martin Solveig, Fraser T Smith, who did the Sam Smith album, and Michael Busbee, who did “Try” by Pink. I also worked with a lot of up-and-coming producers like The Monsters and The Strangerz and Jon Levine. I wanted to find producers that were a little bit more up-and-coming, who would kind of accept me, instead of being like “No, we have hits on the radio now, so you’re going to do exactly what we tell you to do.” It’s a little bit of a factory, you know? A lot of the big producers are amazing, I love them, but they have somewhat of a template, they really do. And when you are a new artist, I feel like it’s really important to put a stamp on who you truly are and create a sound. So, my album is a lot of new producers that a lot of people haven’t really heard of. And, then, we also have a have sprinkles of some bigger producers, like Fraser. The album is kind of like me…and the mess that I am. I have this song called “I’m Going To Show You Crazy.” I think it’s me, stripped down, and not so scared anymore. I think that’s really important because I’m so scared of everything, so I’m like “I’m doing this. This is who I am.”
You’ve also written for a bunch of other artists. I saw you have a co-writing credit on one of Madonna’s MDNA tracks, “Some Girls”?
BR: It’s wrong. That’s wrong…I didn’t write that. So, what happened with that was that I was in another band, and they had me cut that song. The label had me cut that song because I didn’t really have a voice. They were just like “Do this.” It’s a great song, but not my writing style.
You should leak your version! Who else have you been writing for?
BR: I have an Usher thing, I have a Tinashe thing coming out. I’m working on David Guetta stuff. We’re working on a song that’s really amazing about gay marriage, so it’s a really strong song. I love it. I’m actually taking it for my album. We did three songs together. Then, I have something else in the works that’s really big, but I can’t talk about it because I’m a feature on it. So there’s a lot of stuff kind of happening all at once, which is exciting. To me, it’s like, I love what the Pharrells do, I love Janis Joplin and Amy Winehouse, and all of the real artists who wrote their own stuff and also part of other things that were happening, like Bruno Mars. Like Ed Sheeran. Sam Smith. So, I kind of just want to flood the market with Bebe Rexha.
That’s a good strategy! And have you done any live performances recently?
BR: I did Usher at Summerfest. I did Bruno in Montreal, which was crazy because Pharell was supposed to be on all the Canadian tour dates and he cancelled, so of course, you’re going to be a bit scared. Oh my God, they want Pharell, and here I show up on stage! [Laughs] But, it was actually amazing. And then Lollapalooza was amazing, so everything’s been going really well. That never really happens to me…and I’m just like “Thank you God!”
Here’s to many, many more good things happening to Ms. Rexha. Watch the video for “I Can’t Stop Drinking About You” below!