Bean Talks New Single “Wildfire,” Finding Her Sound & Proving People Wrong: Idolator Interview
Bean has finally found her sound. Arriving on the scene in 2012 with retro-pop anthem “Cops And Robbers,” the Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter soon moved on to teen-friendly pop (2014’s “Rollercoaster”) before realizing that she really wanted to make something with an edge. The result is punchy indie-pop anthem “Wildfire,” which documents her journey of musical discovery and general life philosophy — while still being universally relatable and catchy as hell.
“It’s an anthem for the underdogs and vagabonds and wanderers of the world out there who are still trying to figure out what to do, but aren’t mad it,” the 23-year-old revealed when I caught up with her late last month. Bean also spoke about the evolution of her sound, the satisfaction she gets from proving naysayers wrong and even opened up about a studio session with an A-List collaborator. Find out more about the rising pop star below.
The first time I heard your music was back in 2012 when you released “Cops And Robbers.” Your sound has evolved a lot since then.
It’s been a long journey for me. For the past four years I’ve been trying to figure out my sound and, overall, just the genre I want to pursue. Going from learning how to play the guitar by myself and then being put in my first ever writing session with two amazing producers, right off the bat I was given opinions about how I should sound.
Up until this point, with my song “Wildfire,” I hadn’t found the sound that explained me. With that being said, I wrote “Wildfire” about being on this journey, as a vagabond hippie, just going through life day-by-day. Not trying to force or figure anything out. I just let things happen naturally and this sound kind of came together.
I was asked by the two producers that co-wrote “Wildfire”… they were like “What do you like to listen to in your spare time?” I was like MGMT, Foster The People, anything that’s considered indie or alternative. They said, “Well, let’s put that in the song. Let’s do what you love to listen to.” So that’s why we’re doing the indie-pop route right now.
It’s been such a breath of fresh air to finally say I am confident in my music 100 percent. It’s well-rounded to the point where every sound, even from the synth sample, is me. I’m so excited.
How do you feel about the old stuff now?
My manager’s like, “You can’t be mad it because that was you at one point.” He made such a good point by saying that.
There’s even a noticeable change in sound from last year’s “Rollercoaster.” How have fans reacted?
My demo up until “Wildfire” has been very young. Anywhere from five years old to probably 16, 17 that kind of age. I’ve noticed a lot more of the 18 to mid-20s fan base developing with the release of “Wildfire.” And that’s exactly what I was going for. I love my little fans, my young ones, but I think it so cool to be on the same level and the same age as the people who love my music.
You mentioned writing the song with two producers.
Steve Solomon and Jake Newton.
How did you meet those guys?
We were put together. I’ve been so fortunate to have a bunch of believers who have orchestrated getting me in the room with certain people. So far my manager has been the one who has kind of hooked it up with all the sessions.
Was there a chemistry straight off the bat?
It was kind of like how it is with finding the person you would consider your soul mate. It was right off the bat. Before they even played me the track that we were going to write, I was like, “Oh my god I’m in love!” Because they are such cool dudes.
Did you write more songs with them? Is “Wildfire” part of an EP or an album?
We’re getting ready to package the whole record. I’m working on probably five or six more songs right now to finish the whole thing. I recorded two more songs with those guys. Hopefully, you’ll hear them soon.
Who else have you worked with?
I got to leave some kind of surprise… I’m just going to mention Toby Gad.
I love his stuff.
He was so amazing. Whenever you go to that level, of somebody who’s that accomplished in the business, it shows you the difference between writing with somebody of that status compared to a free session. You know? Granted I love them both, the free ones and people like Toby Gad. It was surreal. I was pinching myself every five minutes writing with him.
I always think of him as the king of ballads.
It was actually 100 percent the opposite. I don’t even know how to describe it to you because I was thinking the same. He wrote “If I Were a Boy” for Beyonce.
And Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry (Personal)”…
I know. I was thinking I was going to get something more along those lines. He started playing the Steinway in his studio. He started playing this pretty upbeat tempo and I was like, “Oh my god. I have the perfect song to go with this track right now!” It was just another one of those love at first sight kind of things.
Let’s go back to “Wildfire.” Can your elaborate on the lyrics?
Yeah. Like I said, for the past four years I’ve been trying to figure out my sound. And I’ve been judged up until this point by people saying, big business people saying, “I don’t think you’re ready because you don’t know who you are as far as your sound goes. You change your look every other week.” So “Wildfire” is basically saying you can have any kind of opinion about me, but at the end of the day I’m going to come back 10 times stronger and prove to you that the underdog can come back and win.
Hopefully it proves that, because I would love to say my peace. So it’s like an anthem for the underdogs and vagabonds and wanderers of the world out there who are still trying to figure out what to do, but aren’t mad it. Like everyday is a lesson.
Does that explain your response to hearing the song on radio for the first time?
Oh my god. So JoJo Wright from KISS FM out here called my manager and he was like, “Do you think we could get Bean to come into the studio tonight? We want to debut ‘Wildfire’ and be the first to play it on radio.” I was in a writing session. My manager tries calling me like 15 times. My phone was off because I was in writing mode.
He sent an email to the producer I was working with and he was like, “Please have Bean call me ASAP.” I was like, “Oh my god. Did somebody die? Why is he trying to get a hold of me so bad?” I got on the phone with him and he was like, “I need you to call Uber in five minutes.” He told me that JoJo wanted to play “Wildfire” on KISS FM. And I just melted. Literally as soon as he told me that I wanted to jump on a bed and blast the song and just scream at the top of my lungs from excitement.
so, I got in the car with JoJo. He interviewed me, then played “Wildfire.” It shone a whole new light on the song. It gave a different sense of it to me because you can listen to a song on iTunes but hearing it through the radio waves… the fact that they believed in me enough to debut it for me, just on a whim. I was honored. It was so cool.
Is that why you said “I just proved so many people wrong” after he played it?
You were listening. I love you. Yeah I did, I was like, “the biggest station is playing this right now.” I got so much flack for wanting to go with “Wildfire” as my next single because obviously “Rollercoaster” is so different from Wildfire.
Flack from whom?
Oh just like, from everybody. As far as the business goes. My record label was kind of like, “Huh? This is so left field. How does this work?” I was like, “I’m just going with my gut. Please trust me on this one.” So after Jo Jo played it, he asked how I felt And I was like, “I just proved so many people wrong.” And then I was like, “Oh shit is that a bad thing to say?”
I don’t think so.
I was just so excited because for the first time — God knows I’ve been wrong more than not — but for the first time, I had finally been right and hit the nail on the head with my sound. I felt like I could pat myself on the back for it. It was such a surreal moment, it was so cool.
Can you sense the momentum building around the song?
Yes. I have little girls that tag me on Instagram everyday covering the song. Literally 20 mentions a day. God willing I would love for it to keep going so I don’t want to jinx myself, but I have these girls saying, “I love your song.” They sing to it or lip synch to it. We have like 4,000 cover videos of it on YouTube right now.
Yeah. I wasn’t expecting that. When I was writing “Wildfire” I was just going with my gut.
What’s happening with the video?
We shot the video in Joshua Tree. Me and my boyfriend, we were up until like 3am one night looking for different locations to shoot. So went on to AirBnB and found this really dope piece of property. Six acres of desert with an Air stream trailer and this really cool artsy house. So this lady came back to us and she was like, “I would love to have you shoot your video here. I would be honored.” We drove out there. Shot the video. All I can say is that there’s a surprise ending — it’s a twist that you’re not going to be expecting.
When does it arrive?
End of June.
Are there any kind of plans to join a tour?
Right now it’s kind of up in the air. I know that we have a lot of people coming at us with different options and things like that. I think were just waiting to see how it goes on radio. We’ll see what offers we get from that because I want everything to all make sense as far as who I’m opening up for or things of that nature on tour.
One last question. If you could achieve any goal this year, what would it be?
I need a genie in a bottle! Where’s Christina Aguilera? I would love so much — it doesn’t matter if it’s not “Wildfire” — to have one song from the album blow up big enough that I can do a world tour. That would be my biggest wish. To play in front of massive crowds.
Do you love Bean’s new sound? Let us know in the comments below.
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