Under The Influence: Beyond Any Doubt Billie Bodega Pursues Her Alt R&B Passion
Billie Bodega is making a name for herself as a multi-talented artist of Dark-Pop and Alternative R&B. The Los Angeles native has been a creator all her life, gravitating toward the self-expressive pathways of the arts. She writes, acts, and of course, she sings. Her interest in music developed in her childhood, listening to her mother’s extensive music collection and partaking in the school choir. She was exposed to the likes of Led Zepplin and since then her love of new music and eclectic sounds expanded. Even though music is in her veins, Bodega shares with Steereo that singing wasn’t always the clearest path for her. It was a vulnerable position and an ability she had to embrace.
After several years of developing original songs that reflect the diverse music she grew up listening to, Billie Bodega released her debut single, “Ocean Blues.” Following the single, she recently dropped her stellar EP, “Koo da Ta” in November of 2018. It seems the artist has truly embraced her musical journey, having amassed a steady listenership. Another jam from her EP, “Ode to A Dead Princess” even reached over 45,000 streams on Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music. The rising star stated “Koo da Ta” is my story, it’s my highlights reel.” The EP is surely a tender entryway to Bodega’s thoughts, emotions, pain, and aspirations. Her music will move you into a trance that you’ll never want to wake from. In this exclusive interview, Bodega discusses her influences, insights into pivotal songs from her EP, and what pushes her to create.
You definitely have a soulful and amazing voice. How long have you been singing and what does music mean to you?
Such kind words, thank you so much! I’ve sung my whole life, but it took me a long time to share my voice with even my closest of family and friends. I am most vulnerable when I sing, so music for me is a certain embodiment of strength and freedom.
Was there a specific moment in your life that made you realize music was all you wanted to do? Can you share the moment with us?
Music is actually not all I want to do, there is so much more. When I arrived at music I had already creatively explored quite a bit; I grew up constantly engaging in some form of creative expression, be it dance, drawing and painting, ceramics, orchestra, creative writing, or photography. I don’t like to put myself in boxes, the world already does enough of that for us.
That being said, I finally landed on creating my own music after I realized that I was running out of artistic endeavors. I didn’t like the fear I had allowed to fester around sharing my voice, and I recently had seen a quote on a grocery bag that said: “do one thing a day that scares you.” It became clear to me in that moment that the one thing I was avoiding, was the one thing I absolutely had to confront. The first time I entered a recording booth, I had to be physically dragged in by two of my friends. The next morning, I heard the rough vocals, and nothing was ever the same.
What artists or groups inspire you and do they have an impact on your music (sound, message etc.)? If so, how?
I don’t really look to other people for inspiration, I draw my inspiration from the environment around me. It can be immediate, such as the lighting in a room, the colors on a wall, ambient noises and sounds, or it can be related to the world at large: current events, headlines, stories I hear about, and of course my own stories as well.
Your new EP “Koo da Ta” is a beautiful collection of songs and has a narrative quality. What inspired you to create it and what was your creative process like?
Thank you! “Koo da Ta” is my story, it’s my highlights reel. It’s an expression of some of the darker feelings and thoughts I’ve had to grapple with throughout life; it’s a manifestation of pain, melancholy, frustration, escapism, pride, anger, confidence. These are all parts of me, and chapters of my life.
The creative process on this was a dream. I worked with my dedicated production team, and no decision was made without all of our heads pressed together. It went by lightning quick; I think we wrote and recorded each song, with the exception of “Stop Sign,” in one night.
‘’Koo da Ta” definitely has a range of songs from Hip-Hop like ‘Dm’s’ to more R&B songs, how do you describe your sound?
It’s very funny, that’s the one question from people I dread, because the longer you take to describe your sound, the more they doubt that you actually make music. I would say it’s a cross between dark pop, chill-hop and alternative R&B.
Can you share why it was so important for you to create the song “Ode To A Dead Princess”? What do you want listeners to take away from the song?
I had a pretty turbulent childhood. There were many times that I was just consumed by frustration because I didn’t understand why I had to experience such turmoil at my age. It felt unfair, and I felt severely wronged. Having prevailed in spite of my experiences, “Ode to a Dead Princess” is the reassurance I needed at the time. Not only that but also the acknowledgment that my pain was real and justified. Everyone’s turmoil assumes a different shape, but I want people to listen to the song and know that no matter how difficult it is, it does get better. That’s the one benefit of being at rock bottom; the only remaining direction is up.
Listen to “Ode to a Dead Princess” by Billie Bodega
Your “Ocean Blues” is another stand out track, can you share with us what went into the song and why you released it as a single before your EP?
For a rather difficult subject matter, “Ocean Blues” was one of the most fluid songs to record. I’m not sure why that was, but it just rolled. I’ve had more than one friend attempt suicide, one of whom was successful. “Ocean Blues” is a testament to them, and anyone else who struggles with thoughts of self-harm. We decided to release it as a single before the EP because it deserved the attention and the nod to stand on its own. It’s an important story, and even more important conversations take place as a result.
You have striking lyrics in your EP, can you share with us some intentional and meaningful lyrics from one (or more) of your songs that stick out to you the most?
I suppose my most personal lyrics come from “Ode to a Dead Princess.” I adapted a lot of the lyrics from a poem I wrote as a young girl. My mother always encouraged me to channel my feelings into something constructive and creative. In the second verse, “all those letters you wrote, unanswered in fear” refers to handwritten notes I used to write to the people I held accountable for my pain. I believe I was seven or eight when I began doing this. I still have the letters. I also wrote a few letters voicing my grievances to God, and one to Santa Claus as well (no, not a wishlist, but an actual complaint). Naturally, these physical letters were unanswered. However, in time, the answers made their way to me regardless.
Are you working on any new projects or have upcoming performances?
Why I certainly am. Stay tuned!
Is there anything else you would like to share about your career, music or yourself?
Yes, both my music and I are vegan.
Watch The Official Music Video For “Ocean Blues” by Billie Bodega