Bea Miller Talks Debut LP ‘Not An Apology,’ Gay Marriage & Her First Love Song: Idolator Interview
It’s not a coincidence that Bea Miller named her debut album Not An Apology. The title encapsulates the 16-year-old’s gutsy attitude and refusal to be molded into something she’s not. It’s that defiance (not to mention those raspy vocals) that separate the “Fire N Gold” hitmaker from all the other teen starlets with a record deal. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and wants inspire other girls to be just as bold through her music.
I interviewed the rising star for the second time on June 27. (You can read our first chat here). That was also the date that the US Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage was legal across the United States, which meant that Bea was in the mood to celebrate. She spoke about her reaction to the ruling as well as her experience growing up with two moms. She also talked about the highlights of her album (due July 24) as well as being given a song by Demi Lovato and touring with Fifth Harmony. Read more below.
It’s a historic day. How do you feel about the ruling?
I have two moms. Today is especially important for me because my moms were never allowed to get married. They’re separated now, but growing up… we had a little fake wedding. They had been together for eighteen years or so already, and my sisters and I got all dressed up as flower girls, my parents both put on white. We had a little makeshift wedding. My sisters and I were the ones who were like, “Come on, guys, let’s do it. It will be fun.”
I also have other family members who are lesbian and they had to drive to somewhere where it was legal to get married. This was probably two years ago. I hated that. It made me really upset that they had to go out of their way in order to be allowed to be married. That just seemed insane to me. This is a really good day for me and for my family, and for a lot of family friends, and just a lot of people around America.
Can you talk about growing up with two moms?
I grew up in a house of all girls, which was interesting. I think it made me a lot less catty because a lot of girls, especially who are around my age, are very catty and very mean to each other. A lot of girls don’t know how to get along, and they’re always constantly in competition with each other, and everything is a huge fight. Every girl just wants to be better than every other girl.
I have never been like that, nor have my sisters ever been like that. You just get adjusted to girls and don’t feel the need to be better than everyone else in your house — so why would you feel the need to be better than every other girl outside of it? I feel like maybe that has something to do with why I am not the average mean girl, which I’m very proud of. I feel like it’s really hard to be friends with a lot of girls sometimes because they can be so mean to each other.
Also, they were amazing parents. They still are amazing parents to me. Outside of the fact that I have two moms, I have two great parents.
If someone asked you to sing at a wedding, what would you choose?
I actually have sang at a wedding before! My old hairdresser from New Jersey, I sang at her wedding. I sang “Kiss Me,” which is also the song that my bassist used to propose to his now-fiance. I feel like that’s a good song to use. I feel like regardless of the fact that I already have sang that song at a wedding, I would do it again. That would be the one I would choose.
It’s been a year since we last caught up. What’s different for Bea Miller in 2015?
2015 Bea Miller can actually tell you when her album is coming out because she actually knows! I know my album is coming out on July 24 and I’m going to be on tour with Fifth Harmony this summer. I have actual things I can tell you about that are really exciting for me and for my career. I’m very excited mainly about those two things. I’ve also grown a lot in the last year, as an artist and as a person.
The album has been finished for a while. How do you feel about people finally getting to hear it?
I’m 98 percent excited. I’ve been wanting to share this with my fans for so long. Even though I haven’t been able to release anything since my EP over a year ago, they’ve stuck by me and supported me. I’ve always felt almost kind of guilty that I haven’t been giving them as much music as they deserve. It’s mostly this excitement that they’re finally going to get the music they’ve been waiting for this entire time.
Then it’s two percent like, “Oh, no. What if they don’t like it? What if they’ve been waiting this whole time, then they think the album sucks?” I don’t think the album sucks. I love the album. I hope they love it, too.
I love the album too. Can we talk about some of the songs? “Paper Doll” really stands out.
“Paper Doll” is probably my second favorite on the album. My favorite would be “Force of Nature,” but “Paper Doll” is a really important song and I think it’s probably the song on the album that will speak to the largest number of people. “Paper Doll” is about being bullied, and about having someone in your life who is constantly trying to put you down, and trying to make you feel like you are not good enough being who you are.
I feel like that’s something that a lot of people can relate to. I know it’s something a lot of my fans can relate to, because I know my fans relate to me, and I relate to that song. I think that’ll probably be a favorite for a lot of people. I cried when I was in the studio singing and writing that song. I’m hoping that it will inspire a lot of people who are having a tough time.
Did you draw on personal experience when writing that song?
Yeah, I did. I would never write something that I couldn’t relate to. I would never sing something I couldn’t relate to.
Tell us about “We’re Taking Over.” Didn’t Demi Lovato co-write that one?
That song is really awesome. Demi Lovato wrote it. I think she was originally just writing it because she felt it. That’s why the lyrics really relate to her. I don’t know if it was ever meant for her album. I just know that she wrote it from her heart. That it was a very important song for her. She personally told me that I could have that song if I wanted it.
That was really powerful for me because I knew that it was important to her. I thought it was really awesome that she allowed me to put that on my album. I listen to that song and I think it’s amazing. I relate to it and I love the message of it. It’s a really well-written song. It’s a really fun song. It’s empowering and it’s a very bright, perky song but when you pay attention to the lyrics, it has a deeper meaning.
Now we have to talk about “Force of Nature,” because it’s your favorite.
I’m not usually a love song type of person. For a while I couldn’t really be a love song type of person because I didn’t have anyone to write love songs about. I really love “Force of Nature” because it’s not a typical tacky love song. I think there’s a very fine line when you’re writing a love song between it being brilliant and being like every other love song you ever heard.
When you’re writing a love song, you have to try to find a very original way to say something that’s been said a thousand times. I think “Force of Nature” is really cool because I personally have never heard a love song that was comparing someone to a force of nature and saying that they just have this overall quality that draws you toward them. The way it describes love is really interesting. I also love that the song is so different musically from every other song on my album.
I just love the way it sounds. I like that I can show a softer side on that song, because my fans very rarely get to hear that softer side. I just love it. I actually did not write “Force of Nature.” I heard it, and it really spoke to me. I loved that it was an interesting way to grasp how a lot of people feel about someone else.
One last song that I just need to know more about is “Rich Kids,” which I think the Madden brothers had a hand in writing.
Yeah. That was the Madden brothers and Matt Squire, who are all really awesome writers. They’re also super cool guys. The Madden brothers wrote that originally for Good Charlotte, and it just never got used. My old manager was friends with Benji, and was like, “They have this song. If you want it, I’ve heard you talk about this before and kind of complain about this same thing before.”
I heard it and I was like, “This is awesome!” Originally, it was written from a guy’s perspective. We went into the studio and changed the whole thing to my perspective. It was super cool because I don’t hate rich kids. I don’t have a problem with rich kids. It’s not your fault if you’re born into money. I can’t not like you for that. It’s just that I have a problem with the kids that I used to go to school with who had a lot of money and were not grateful for it.
They didn’t recognize that not everyone is as lucky as they are. I would go to school in my leggings from Target, my hand-me-down T-shirt from my next door neighbor, the same shoes that I’d had for the entire year and the backpack that I had gotten in fourth grade. Then there’d be kids that would show up with their cool designer clothes, designer backpack, designer belt and everything. They would just act like they were better than everyone else for it.
Why did you call the album Not an Apology?
We were going back and forth amongst everyone on my team for a long time about what we could call the album that would capture “Bea Miller” in a few short words, which I think is a very hard thing to do. For a long time, I didn’t want to name the album after a song on the album. One of the songs on the album is called “This is Not an Apology.” When you shorten that to just “Not an Apology,” it can mean so many different things.
It’s entirely different from the actual song, so it’s not like we’re naming it after a song, because the idea behind the song was kind of like an “Eff You” break-up song. It has nothing to do with the actual title itself. I just think Not an Apology is a good title because I would never, and have never, allowed someone to make me feel like I’m at fault for things I know I could not have prevented. I don’t let people belittle me or make me feel like I’m less than they are.
When I am very firm with someone and speak to them in a way that lets them know I don’t like how they’re treating me, I don’t feel bad for it. I don’t feel like I need to apologize for standing up for myself, and speaking up for myself, and saying what I want to say. A lot of young girls especially have trouble with that. I’m not afraid to speak my mind and to say a lot of the things that a lot of especially young girls would hold back on saying because they’re worried about what people will think of them.
Since finishing the album, have you been in the studio at all?
I actually have. Yes, on my own time. I have been writing a lot of songs by myself for when we start working on the next album, which I know is very far away. I shouldn’t even be talking about it. For the future music we release, I’m going to bring it to other writers and get their input on it, because I’ve been writing it alone in my room. When you’re an artist, you don’t ever really stop just because you have something that’s on the way already.
There’s one song particularly that’s completely finished that I’m really excited about that I actually think I’m going to perform on tour this summer. I’m not going to give you any more details. [Laughs]. But yeah, I have been working on stuff.
Will you be performing all your new sings on the Reflection Tour?
I’ll be performing all the songs from the album on the Reflection Tour. Because my album isn’t released until July 24, and Fifth Harmony tour starts July 15, there’ll be multiple shows where people get to hear music that isn’t even released yet, so that’s cool for them.
Are you nervous to see how the songs translate live?
I have done three shows at this point with new music, some of the songs or all of them. Reactions have been pretty good for the most part. I was doing shows that were in front of people that weren’t necessarily my fans, so I couldn’t really tell what their reaction was. In terms of my fans, they’re all really excited. They already know the words from the two or three shows I’ve done. They spent so much time on Twitter and on YouTube watching the clips that someone else got on their iPhone, which I think is really cool and really shows how excited they are about these songs.
Are you excited to tour with Fifth Harmony? Do you like their music?
I love Fifth Harmony. I am so excited to tour with them because I was on their same season of X Factor. We all met each other when we didn’t have any careers at all. It’s really cool. If you had told me three years ago that we would all be going on tour together, I would have never believed you. I think it’s really interesting to see how that all played out. I love them. They’re like sisters to me because I’ve known them for so long.
You also toured with Demi last year. What was like that?
That was amazing. Demi’s amazing. When I was younger, I used to listen to her music. I tweeted about this when it was first announced that I was going on tour with her. I used to blast her music in my bedroom and sing into my hairbrush. I would dance around my room and look in the mirror and act like I was in the music video. I would listen to her music all the time. I used to tell my mom that I wanted to be just like her someday.
Then I ended up going on tour with her. If you had told eight-year-old me that I’d be on tour with Demi some day, I would have cried. I would have been so emotional. It would just have blown my mind. It still blows my mind that I did that. Demi’s an amazing person and an incredibly talented artist.
Have you settled on the single after “Fire N Gold”?
We do know what the next single is, but we’re mainly just focusing on “Fire and Gold” right now. It’s not even certain… we just briefly discussed it when we were picking out “Young Blood” and “Fire and Gold.” We were discussing what the potential ones could be. I think we know, but we’re not even really thinking about it at this point because we’re just trying to push “Fire and Gold” as much as we can.
“Fire N Gold” is doing really well on radio and iTunes.
Yes. Oh, my God. I see my fans tweeting that it’s on the radio all the time, and it gets me so pumped. It gets played a lot. Sirius XM especially plays it a lot. I’m getting excited because I feel like this is going to be a really good summer for me and I hope that I can spread my message with “Fire and Gold” to as many people as I possibly can.
I’ve got one last question for you. What’s your song of the summer?
I always get really, really excited when Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar come on the radio. I get really pumped, because I love Kendrick Lamar, and I love the new version of “Bad Blood.” It’s different with Kendrick on it, the actual music is different. The video is so cool. I think of the video every time I hear the song. I get all pumped, and I’m like, “Yes!” It just sounds like such a basic 16-year-old girl thing to say, but it’s true.