Rebecca Black burst into the music scene at the age of 13 with her viral hit ‘Friday’. The intense obsession with the track brought trouble into the teen’s life, including cyber bullying and death threats. Despite the negative feedback she received, Rebecca has been determined to follow her musical dream and is now ready to jump back into the industry. We caught up to discuss how her life took a turn after the release of ‘Friday’, as well as how she plans on breaking back into the charts…
Hi Rebecca Black! Thanks for taking the time to speak to us.
Well, thank you very much for inviting me!
Q1. What have you been up to this past year?
It has been a really busy couple of years. I recorded and released my first EP “RE / BL” (pronounced Rebel), which came out at the end of last year. I then went on a US & Canada tour called “Love is Love”, where I was able to perform my new music and was lucky enough to meet some of my fans. A few weeks ago, I appeared on the Season 2 premier of ‘The Four’ – a singing competition show over here in the US. I released another single separate from the EP called “Scream” with Sondrey, an incredibly talented Norwegian artist. I’ve also covered quite a few songs on my YouTube channel, and have been writing in the studio – starting to work on new songs, doing some acting in several films and travelling to beautiful Europe – the UK, Norway and Italy!
But even prior to that, one of the first things I did was start a YouTube channel; I was there in the early days of that budding platform! It was a bit of a no man’s land in those days, and many of us were doing it just as friends having fun. But I have to say, I never expected it to grow to the massively influential social medium platform that it is today. I really love the power of the Internet now. And I see how much good it can do, as well as bad.
Rebecca Black’s audition on American singing competition ‘The Four’
Q2. For those who don’t know how you first came into the public eye with ‘Friday’, how did this come about?
When I was little, I really wanted to be in the performing arts, and, like so many people, I really derived fun, joy and a huge sense of creativity from being involved in music and theatre. I was always performing and loving it, so in order to help me get practice and experience my parents helped me by organising for me to have a ‘studio session’ and invite some friends to make a music video. There was no intention of releasing anything as a serious single! My parents are in veterinary medicine; they’ve never been the pushy stage parents type. They really just wanted to help me build up my resume to get into drama school of some sort, potentially in the future. Next thing we knew was the company that made it had put it online, and the first time I saw it myself was on the Internet. About a month after it was uploaded it all went crazy.
Rebecca Black’s viral hit ‘Friday’
Q3. What do you think of it all this time later?
Mixed emotions… because of the hate that I, as a child, received due to Friday. But, you know, I do have affection for that song because it has given so much to me which is wonderful and exciting.
Q4. What was the initial aftermath of ‘Friday’?
As soon as it started taking off, it was absolute madness. There was rarely ever a moment to stop and breathe, to really digest what was happening to me and to my life at the time. Immediately almost everything in my life changed, I went from spending my days in musical theatre classes and doing homework to constantly crazy schedules, events, studio sessions, performances, you name it. On top of that, of course, were the waves of cyberbullying I was facing every day… any time I turned on my phone, looked online, or even sometimes just being out in public. I was most definitely overwhelmed by it all, no matter how hard I tried to convince myself I wasn’t.
Q5. Were there any consequences of this cyber bullying on your life growing up?
Oh yes – for sure. Anyone who has been bullied, in any way, feels the consequences. And I even think that the bullies themselves feel the consequences too. Deep inside, we all know it is not the essence of humanity to do this. It hurts. It weakens. It confuses. So yes, emotional consequences are real and take a lot of work to recover from. But there were other aspects too. Having actual death threats meant I had to have protection, police support, and I even had to be home-schooled for a while to keep me safe. Recently, I have seen a lot of people on social media commenting that no 13 year old should go through such harshness just for singing a song. I would take that even further. No one should go through bullying for anything.
Q6. How did you overcome these, was there a certain point or age you got to that you just decided enough was enough?
I don’t think I can put my finger on a certain moment that I changed my approach to start to get over what had happened to me. It has been a gradual shift, with the help of some very supportive people around me, to start to recover from what happened.
Q7. Do you have any advice for those out there going through any kind of bullying?
I think my number one piece of advice is: share the situation with others who you can trust. There must be one person around in your life who is gentle and understanding. Don’t suffer in silence, share your troubles with this person and ask them to help you in some way. And another aspect to think about is, following on from your previous question, starting to feel better about what has happened can be a slow process. So take your time and be really patient with yourself.
Q9. Who influences you or your music?
I am always, always listening to music – whether it be classics, the new and noteworthy, songs from my childhood… anything! But I don’t know if there’s one person I could say influences my sound, I try to be as open to anything as possible every time I start to write a song. Something I’m so inspired by in music right now are the emerging female pop artists who are unashamedly themselves in their music, like Tove Lo, King Princess, and Sigrid to name a few!
Q10. What’s life been like growing up in the public eye?
I guess I honestly don’t really have anything else in my personal experience to compare it to… but something I’ve struggled with is developing my own sense of self while constantly having to hear everyone else’s opinions. Being so young I was highly impressionable, especially when it came to hearing such harsh opinions – it’s taken a lot of hard work to take that part of myself back, and to own who I am.
Q11. I really love your latest EP ‘RE/BL’. Can you tell us a bit about the creation process and the meaning behind it?
Well it is actually special to me because putting out a collection of music such as an EP has a lot of pressure attached to it, and with RE/BL I wanted to make sure it was a reflection of all those things I was experiencing as I went from teenage into adulthood.
Q12. How has your music developed since you started out?
Considering I started at 13 there is really nothing that is the same! I have been growing up throughout this entire experience, so I guess each year of my music shows new tastes from a teenager onward. But nowadays what I admire is when artists are not afraid to take a risk, and I love to see when people re-imagine classic sounds into something modern for today.
Q13. Since your music career started, you probably get approached a lot on the street. Do you have any bizarre fan stories you can share with us?
You know, a lot of people tell me I look a lot like Rebecca Black.
Q14. Should we be expecting a gig from Rebecca Black in the UK soon?
I don’t have solid plans right now but I would absolutely love to visit again soon!
Q15. What are your plans for the rest of 2018, should we be expecting more music from Rebecca Black?
Over the summer I have multiple performances lined up including in Australia, New York, Indiana and this week at VidCon in California. You know what is amazing? I’m 21 now and it is such an interesting time for me because I am developing a new understanding of myself, and life, every day it seems. And with that I feel so much more free. So I am looking forward to more music writing and in addition I have other projects to do with YouTube and acting.
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Interview By Lucy Rix