Bea Miller Interview Issue 2

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

Harry Styles Golden Review Issue 2

‘Golden’  is the  fifth single from Harry Styles’ second studio album ‘Fine Line’. With fans avidly waiting for more from since ‘Watermelon Sugar’ it’s no surprise that within hours of releasing the video ‘Golden’ was all everyone was talking about.

The new single pays homage to 70s Southern California, from the light summery vibe of the track to to the visual aesthetics of the video. Styles wears a vintage baby blue suit jacket, drives a vintage car and even a vintage speed boat. ‘Golden’ is the perfect Pacific Coast song. Every inch of it radiates warmth as if you were driving down the coast under west coast sun. Even the bridge musically emulates the effect when the suns rays hit and their very own serenity.

The video, set on the Amalfi coast, is just what the doctor ordered for many in lockdown from Corona Virus. Although it doesn’t follow a strict narrative as such, it follows suit on that feeling of  excitement mixed with confusion at the beginning of a new relationship.

The opening track to Fine Line perfectly ecapsulates the start of  a tale of a budding relationship, capturing that ‘honeymoon phase’ of a new relationship. Gold which is itself precious, may be the perfect metaphor for Styles and how he’s found comfort in his relationship with himself. Although the song at times adresses notions of fear and anxiety in the relationship, as Styles sings, “I don’t wanna be alone, I don’t wanna be alone when it ends” this is again a nod to himself, those moments when self doubt can overtake. Whilst the rest of the songs tracks back to positive connatations and shows him enjoying himself clearly indicating “loving is the antidote’.

The simplicity of the video adds to the allure and mystery of some of the tracks lyrics with them being more than meets the ear. Styles has graced us with yet another song that’s hook will be in your head for the foreseeable future.

Words: Eloise Adger

Spring Time In Brooklyn Issue 1

As we join Zoey Tzfanya over Zoom in the midst of lockdown we are met warmly by her and her two children in the background. It appears to us that power mum Zoey is one brave woman to juggle not only two small children and her company but make time to host us whilst there boasts 5 hour time difference between Florida and the UK. Whilst we set up for our interview, Zoey beams making her day to day look meticulously smooth. With both countries in lock down and both of us being opposite sides of The North Atlantic Ocean, Zoom makes the distance feel minimal and within close proximity, something we are all relying upon more than ever.  

Zoey having started Spring Time In Brooklyn 7 weeks prior to the loss of her husband and being mother to her two young children has just relaunched the company. Zoey is a simple breath of fresh air and on face value oozes taking things in her stride when really she is balancing about 100 spinning plates. We have been following Spring Time In Brooklyn for quite some time with it being impossible to not have the graceful, elegant and timeless dresses on our radar. Although simple the light weight dresses are timely with it possible to wear them at any occasion and frankly we’d make and find time to wear them all year round. Zoey designs the clothes with a personal touch,  “I do everything  personally with most dresses custom made” and takes real pride in the relationships she builds with each client. Spring Time In Brooklyn originally evolved from Zoey’s original company Disco Pony which launched in 2011, which focused on pointers where the dresses made out of sequins could be worn time and time again without the worry of them creasing or wearing. After living in Spain with a partner Zoey moved to Hong Kong where she experienced the fabric markets after her partner at the times mother noticed her love for everything fashion. “She took me to the markets. You go over the borders and there’s all these markets and it’s paradise. So from my designs I had the pieces made up. At the time I wasn’t ready for it as I had them just drawn on pieces of paper, like on napkins. I showed them to this tailor and she sent them back 5 days later with these stunning creations”.   

“My friend Natalie Suarez was coming to Barcelona to do a shoot, so she came to stay at our old house. I had bought back my samples and she saw one in the closet and was like “what is that?” It was one of my dresses . She asked if she could wear it on her blog and I was like sure! So she put it on and everybody went nuts and everyone wanted that dress, so really the business was born overnight and that business was called Disco Pony. 

I came to Brooklyn, New York, to do a shoot with Natalie for the next collection. I stayed at a friends and met my husband and we fell in love and fell immediately pregnant. So I put the company aside and spent the next 7 years raising my babies. Last June I decided to start again as the kids were both going to be in school in September and I was itching to get back into it.”  

“Seven weeks later is when my 

husband passed away so I closed.” 

 We sit and talk briefly about the difficulties not only losing the love of your life but how over night she then had two young children to also bring up. As we sit there talking, my heart weighs heavy not truly being able to image how one even approaches this mentally. Zoey moves forward expressing her grief all whilst explaining the changes and how she had to take charge, and in that decided to put the remaining stock online for her company. As I sit and imagine how anyone wouldn’t be interested in Zoey designs I can almost see the surprise on her face when she explained people became really interested in the designs and her stock sold out extremely quickly. She explains that she then decided to start to make a new collection and that’s where the company was born. There was something truly humbling seeing her light up remembering how much people love her work and how she takes such personal pride it in all whilst hearing the its origins. 

“Spring Time In Brooklyn is the best month. There’s no other time where it’s that gorgeous.” 

Before her relentless creations and bringing up two young children Zoey opens up about her struggles with her mental health. “I think I was always really susceptible to depression because my family all have experience. I also feel like creative types are really susceptible.” She says “I had a pretty traumatic experience as a child which kind of started to gnaw away at my mental health, and by the time I got my period when I was 14 that’s when the PMDD decline started to happen” She pauses  “which I had no idea about and the connection. It took me a couple of years”. 

I got diagnosed with depression at 16 and they tried to put me on medication but I said no as I didn’t feel it was right for me. I wanted to know when I felt happy. So I struggled with it forever, I just didn’t realise for so many years it was coinciding with my period. It would  literally start 10 to 12 days before and decline. Slowly downward and it was miserable.”  

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is similar to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) which many experience but is in cases more serious. PMDD causes severe irritability, depression, or anxiety in the week or two before your period starts. 

Symptoms usually go away two to three days after your period starts. It can be crippling and can be difficult to diagnose with many not noticing how the symptoms tie in with their menstrual cycle. 

“It still happens. It did stop, I had a nice two year break from it when I had my second child. After Benny, my first child I got postpartum depression really badly and really quickly, I just wanted to die. But I didn’t recognise that. At the time, I just thought I was a new mum and I was struggling. Living in New York I was on my own but by the time I had my second child we were in a different position, much more comfortable. It was a lot more settled and a lot happier. I then had my second baby and felt amazing.” 

“Last year we were in Israel with my husband for a month and I remember sitting on the beach. There should have been nothing wrong, there was nothing bad about the situation we were in and I remember just thinking ‘I want to die’ and ‘I don’t want to live’ and I was thinking oh no it’s coming back. I’d had literally 2 years off of PMDD and that’s just hormone related. Then it came back and then he died. So that really added to the stress of it all.”  

Coping as many know is difficult. Learning that you have to just ‘cope’ with something let alone actually doing it is beyond difficult and at the time crippling. Our day to day lives are hard work once again let alone having your whole world change overnight, then you add the struggles of mental health and it’s no surprise the world gets a little darker. I sat with Zoey, feeling nothing but awe so when I asked Zoey what tips for coping does she have and she replied that she wasn’t too sure she had any. I was taken back. So we approached the question a different way, instead of asking what advice would she give, I flipped it on it’s head and asked what does she do on the daily that keeps her going. 

“Well I have to say and I hear my husband’s voice telling me all the time ‘Zoey take your Ashwagandha’. I took it every single day after my second child and I was on cloud 9. It’s a health product and it tastes awful but is so worth it. That really helps me. In terms of PMDD as you may know (aware of my diagnosis of PMDD) you forget once it’s over and you stop researching and thinking about it and you get on with your life as fast as you can for those next two weeks. I hurry to get it all done in that time. So I haven’t yet found a good middle ground yet. I’m an Aries as well so I’m all or nothing.” 

“I think that in some way doing what I love to do helps. In terms of the question, for me for a very long time I was being a mother and I was feeling really frustrated that I couldn’t sing, create or design. In terms of trying to find myself again after having being in a marriage and being in a certain way for so many years. The only thing I could do was to dive straight back in as quickly as I could to doing things that made me feel like me again and almost as a kind of salvation. So in terms of it it’s my salvation to be able to connect back with people and to have something that makes other people feel so good and to do it so personally. I feel like I’m providing for my children, which is the best thing and at the same time my children are learning that their mother is a strong woman who is going to get through this and that she’s making her own way. It’s a good example to set with them.”  

“I think for me, I don’t have any time off, especially with this pandemic there is no ok Zoey go and get yourself a coffee for an hour, there is nothing, there is no school, like I had one week where the kids were in school and it was barely even a week. In terms of for me I know everyone says you have to take the time out for yourself, but mine is to be able to zone out in particular moments.” 

“I try and implement my own taking care of myself. Even through lockdown I get up every day unless I’m crippled with grief and anxiety, which does happen. I still get up and dressed and put on some make up. I get dressed in something cute and if I don’t do that I’m a wreck. If I get dressed and look ready for the day I can handle it. I need to be able to put on that strong exterior to be strong inside and I think that’s a cliché but very true.” 

Hearing Zoey highlight that it’s for her about “carving out miniature moments” is a eureka moment. There are so many different ways of approaching mental health, never mind coping with it but I really do think she’s onto something, with the main need being to find these little moments, whether they be moments of relief, happiness of even peace. Our mental health is a daily endurance with many even not finding solace in sleep. For those out there with a full on life, especially where mental health is involved it can be impossible to find peace in our minds. So “carving out miniature moments” for whatever reason is like winning a war. You can’t always win every battle but you can still win the war. 

Words: Alice Gee

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