A year ago, Berlin-born artist and musician Bibi Bourelly was on the verge of failing out of high school. Confident in her creative abilities, she said “fuck it,” packed her bags, and moved to LA. A year later, she had a Rihanna single. To my delight, the indomitable “Bitch Better Have My Money” composer allowed me to pick her brain. Read our conversation below, teeming with precocious wisdom and unadulterated badass-bitch-dom. Dare I say I have a new BFF? Okay fine, maybe just in my head…
First off, you're a goddess. Thanks so much for agreeing to an interview.
Thank you. Love you.
I thought your interview with Noisey was inspiring. I loved the part where you talk about how people say that "doing music or art is an unrealistic goal," but that it's your "reality" and it's about "trusting yourself enough to be yourself." These are things that I'm just now learning at 28 - how do you have so much insight at 20?
I've lost a lot of people in my life, you know? I've experienced how fragile it is and how important it is to cherish the things that you love. It’s so urgently important to embrace yourself and to do and say the things that you feel in your heart because in the last three minutes of your life, your last questions to yourself will be "did I live my life right? Did I do what I loved to do? Did I enjoy myself? Do I have anything left to say? Did I leave anything behind?” I want to be able to be happy about those answers.
You say in the interview: "Berlin is who I am." But you left. How does LA compare? Do you see yourself staying in LA?
When I was younger, much like every girl, I dreamt of coming to LA. When I moved out here last year was the first time I'd actually ever been here. I knew one day I would have to live out here in order to do what I loved. LA is different for me. I haven't really gotten a chance to see LA or hang out with a lot of people outside of the music industry over here. But I like the cute skateboard kids that ride around on the sidewalks and shit. It’s really laid back. I think if I weren't so deep in the entertainment industry I’d enjoy it a bit more though.
Was Rihanna big in Berlin? What music was big when you left? (I see Berlin as the epitome of cool from my uninformed perspective, so I'm partially asking for selfish reasons.)
Of course Rihanna was big in Berlin. It’s Rihanna! Rihanna is big all over the world. But other than that, Berlin is really good with underground music. Like, they really give it a chance. A lot of cool underground artists would play at the house parties. Or fuckin ...the edm, dubstep, house shit at the time I was there. But I was like 16. I can’t wait to go back this month so my city can get me hip on what’s gonna be poppin next. Berlin is super diverse in music. From 90s rap music, to alternative rock to fuckin house or edm shit, to like singer/songwriter folks music.
You in say in the Noisey interview that Rihanna was the only person you cared about writing for. I mean I get it because if I were a songwriter Rihanna would be the ultimate. What about Rihanna connected with you personally?
She’s just so fuckin awesome, dude. It’s Rih. She really paved the way for a lot of the other female artists right now. Plus, she’s the youngest female legend right now, in my opinion, so I connected to her the most. Love her.
What inspires you?
Everyday people, man. My neighbor, a single mother with two kids, who comes home from work at about 12 a.m every night but still makes sure her children are up and ready for school at 6. The delivery guy who always used to carry my packages upstairs if he saw them at the door. The fuckin 11-year-old kid, who might be tone deaf right now and won’t shut the fuck up, but in a few years will the most eloquent and prestigious vocalist the world has ever seen. People are so inspiring. The way we love, the way we hate...the shit we go through. Hahaha. Corny?
Not at all. Who are your musical influences?
JEAN PAUL BOURELLY. Look him up.
Aside from Rihanna, who is your dream collaboration?
If Stevie Wonder ever sang one of my songs.... oh my god. I think I’d bawl.
What music is on heavy rotation for you right now?
Is it fucked up that I don't really listen to a lot of music like that? I guess I’m so focused on creating new music that I just can’t find the time to like, listen to much. But I love Chance the Rapper, and like Azaelia Banks, and Daughter and shit.
Whose career do you want?
I want my own, you know? I’m not really aspiring to be like anybody other than myself. And if people like it, cool. And if they don't, cool.
What is your favorite song you've written?
"Higher" is a really dear song to me.
Do you blast your own music?
Hahaha, I do. But it’s because I’m constantly trying to figure out how to make a song better.
I think often about the 10,000 hours framework. Do you think you've hit 10,000?
Ha. I gotta be at like 100,000 hours by now. My whole life. Every day. Every hour, at least once. For 16 years. Since I was 4.
I think that's all for now. Thank you so much, Queen!
Love youuu annnaaa bannaannanannananana. Thank you for taking the time to write me <3
Interview by Anna Dorn
Photo courtesy of noisey.vice.com