After a year’s break, which for many fans felt like a decade Bea Miller is back with her brand new album elated!. After taking some much needed time for herself, Bea continued to write her softmore record which had already been a year in the making. She tells us how after time promoting her previous album she felt less stress about creating for at least a little while before an all very familiar desire to start working again kicked in.
“It was just the natural order of things. It just felt like the right time to start making music for the next project. I also was very inspired. We started writing maybe two years ago, and I was very inspired at the time that we originally started writing because I had a lot going on in my life.”
Bea explains how making LA her permanent home, getting out of the four walls of the recording studio and attending writing camps refuelled her inspiration.
“I had started to find my people and I was finding my creative inspirations within other people who I felt really understood me and the way that I like to communicate. I had finally found people who wanted to support me and help me to say the things that I actually wanted to say in my music whilst not being afraid of how other people might perceive things.”
As Bea talks about finding her stride, you can really see the “magic” she describes from being able to work with people who truly understand her and how honing in on “her people” has truly helped her hone in on her art. To fans this resonates in her new album with personal touches and experiences running throughout most, if not every song. ‘hallelujah’, a personal favourite, opens with a darker focus which I can only imagine must have felt at least slightly daunting writing, let alone releasing.
“I played hallelujah for a lot of people in my personal life, before I felt comfortable releasing it. I definitely make a comparison in that song for which I didn’t want to offend anybody. I didn’t care about offending Trump supporters because f*ck them, but I didn’t want to offend anybody by making a comparison between people in the White House and The Nazis, as I didn’t want to seem insensitive.
“I didn’t want comparing one group to lessen the horrible things that another group has done, I never wanted that comparison to seem tasteless or offensive. The people in the White House have done so many horrendously terrible things that are just inhumane and awful and disgusting. They’re essentially promoting discrimination against anybody who isn’t a straight white cis, man. So I think the only comparison I could possibly think of was The Nazis, I just, I felt so strongly about the negative effects not only on our country, but on the entire world to have, you know, people in office who are so open in supporting such negative behaviours, such harmful behaviours was really, really scary for me.”
It’s easy to understand why Bea would worry over the initial response to the lyrics which reference the White House. The Trump administration has consistently divided society, not just in the states but globally, and social media has become an increasingly nasty place for artists who express their political viewpoint so openly.
“I touched upon a lot of other things in the lyrics where I didn’t really like the way that sounded when I’d say it out loud, but then it was too late. I originally thought when I wrote it, that maybe it was just me and the people I was writing the song with and that there was something wrong with us. But upon releasing it, I realised that most of us have these dark thoughts and opinions that we are afraid to share with other people because we think that they’ll think that we’re insane that there’s something wrong with us, when the reality is that most of us have these dark thoughts. It’s really important for me, especially now after seeing how people are reacting to ‘elated!’, to continue to be brutally honest, even if it sometimes can feel embarrassing or, or just like a little much.”
Maintaining that theme of honest vulnerability, ‘self crucify’ is a painstakingly personal track making another nod at the importance of finding and living in better spaces for mental wellbeing.
“I surprised myself, by writing that song, you know. I remember going into the studio that day, not knowing what I wanted to talk about. It came very naturally and completely by accident. And I think sometimes we don’t want to say certain things out loud to anybody because once we do they’re real and you have to face it, instead of just burying it somewhere. But once I started, I couldn’t stop. As much as it was really scary and daunting to face those things, I felt freed by it. I felt a huge weight off of my shoulders. I didn’t even necessarily realise why I had forgiven this person until I wrote it down and, and spoke about it out loud. I definitely hold a lot of resentment, or at least used to hold a lot of resentment for this person for many, many years.”
“Holding resentment doesn’t do anything for anybody. It doesn’t solve the problem. It definitely doesn’t make you feel any better about what has happened. It’s really important to allow yourself to feel even negative emotions, and to work your way through it. I realised that by holding on to that negative emotion and energy, it wasn’t hurting them, it was hurting me. And I think that I didn’t want to forgive her because I thought that that somehow would like make her feel better about the situation when the reality they didn’t even know. I realised that without forgiving anybody who has hurt me, caused me pain or trauma in my life, I can’t ever escape it. People make mistakes, and not everything was meant to hurt me. And even if it was, it already happened, it’s already done, and I’ve learned from it. You have to forgive mostly for yourself and not for the other person.”
“Once I wrote these things down and I admitted them to my co writer I felt this relief but I was scared to release the songs because I didn’t want to hurt anybody, I just knew that I needed to admit these things to everyone in order to feel free from them. That was my own personal journey”
Honesty is something that Bea has never been shy or afraid of when it comes to her work, life or relationships being candid is part of who she is.
“That’s how I am as a person sometimes to a point where I think it might drive people crazy. I’m very bad at hiding my emotions. If I am upset about something no matter how much I try to keep it together it’s very obvious that I am upset about it. I have always set out to be that way in my music too.”
Having experienced severe anxiety for years and facing the real control it had over her life, Bea also opened up about the overwhelming feeling of numbness and the making of ‘Feel Something’.
“It’s scary to step out of your comfort zone and to talk about things that are difficult for you to face on your own. I had never felt nothing before, I had never felt such a lack of emotion in my entire life as I did when I originally wrote the track. I want to say it scared me, but I couldn’t even feel that fear. I have been depressed before but it wasn’t like that. I didn’t feel like I was succumbing to a depression, I just wasn’t connecting. It should have been sad, it should have been so many things, but it wasn’t to me. I felt very alone in that, because I would watch all of my friends laugh and cry and I felt like I was watching them on a TV screen right in front of me. I couldn’t listen to music anymore, I couldn’t watch movies, I couldn’t go out and be around people because I just felt so disconnected. It reached this point where I thought to myself that I would rather be immensely sad than be immensely nothing. I had never experienced anything quite like that before.
“I’m sure that in some ways, it was connected to my own mental health and things that I have faced throughout my life. But it just felt like nothing I had ever experienced before. It was really alienating. I was scared it would never go away. But I couldn’t even feel that fear deeply. After releasing that song, I realised that I’m not even close to being the only one who has experienced something along those lines. And that made me feel good. I mean, it made me feel sad because I hated this knowledge that so many people have to face that experience but at the same time so relieved that I could open that door for people.”
Having spoken out about her anxiety, Bea tells us about finding outlets that have worked and helped her when it comes to living with these feelings.
“I feel lucky to be able to write songs, I was very lost before I attempted to do that before I found my own creative outlet. I used to write a lot of poetry, and that would help me sometimes, but I think I was so focused on making something beautiful when I was writing poems that I wasn’t actually focused on saying everything I needed to say. It took me a long time to figure out exactly what my outlet was, in terms of which one will be the most helpful for me.”
“I was experiencing really horrible panic attacks. To the point that I felt afraid to leave my house. I didn’t want to hang out with anybody, I didn’t want to go anywhere I had experienced a panic attack, including sometimes places in my own house. Eventually, I started to some kind of forum where I could read other people’s experiences with panic attacks. Where people experienced the same and I’d be like, oh okay I’m not alone in this.. These are other people who have experiences, they’ve all survived, they’ve lived to tell the tale, you’ve lived through every single one of these that you’ve had, like, it’s going to be fine. I took a lot of steps. But eventually I started realising what worked for me. Yeah. And now Luckily, I have really gotten a grasp on at least the panic attack aspect of some mental health issues. Knock on wood”
“I never thought that I would reach that point. I felt like I was living this double life because I would go on my social media or go on stage and it almost felt like I was I was putting on this facade, which I wasn’t doing on purpose, because that was still me It sometimes feels like you are living two lives. I almost mourned myself at certain times, because I’ve just, I wasn’t the same person. When I was having these really bad panic attacks, I wasn’t the same person, I wasn’t as fun as I used to be. I literally mourned my own personality for a very long time until eventually, you know, I did find ways to recover. I’ll probably write about at some point. It was a long journey to figure out what helped me as I think it is for everyone.”
One new social issue effecting our of mental health that is being seen more often is anxiety relted to climate change with Bea not being the first to experience such anxiety surrounding the future of our planet.
“What I feel real anxiety of is the World as we know disappearing in our lifetime. That is one of the most horrifying things that lives in my mind. I have not gone a single day in years, without at least once having this overwhelming momentary fear of climate change killing us all. I try to go out of my way not to buy water bottles when I’m out and use a reusable one or have one trash bags worth of garbage every week and I try to recycle even though that really doesn’t do anything. I know that realistically, it doesn’t help. We try to do all these things to minimise our impact. But unfortunately, we live in a capitalist society where it is next to impossible to actually make a difference. That is really, really scary and really detrimental not only to our physical health, but to our mental health. All we can do is try to stay on our activism. I don’t want to encourage anybody focusing more on it than they need to, if that’s detrimental to their mental health ultimately it’s a hard thing to balance.
I’m sure Bea isn’t the only one currently feeling overwhelmed about what we can do to help, especially in a world also struggling with a global pandemic. But she does bring to light an important factor that there is only so much we can do. Being a successful activist requires us to stay healthy not only physically but mentally, when we are sacrificing too much of our well-being we are doing a disservice to the cause. Sometimes taking a break really is the best thing to do.
Words: Alice Gee