Rebecca Black has reintroduced herself as one of pop music’s most compelling talents. Last year, the 24-year-old singer-songwriter defied all expectations of her artistry with the release of her critically-acclaimed EP, Rebecca Black Was Here, a six-track collection of hyperpop-influenced bangers that saw her embrace her queerness and finally shed the persona listeners associated with her as a result of her iconic 2011 anthem Friday.
“Rebecca Black Was Here, definitely to me, felt like a launching point for me to explore… the multiverse,” she explains. “Now I finally feel like I can do this, and I’ve proven to myself that I can do this, where do we go from there? And now I’ve introduced myself as a queer artist, where we do we go from here?”
Ahead of her headline set at The Great Escape in Brighton, where GAY TIMES will present the festival’s first ever LGBTQ+ stage, we caught up with Rebecca to discuss her upcoming debut album, how coming out as queer has impacted her music and why it was important for her to “reclaim” Friday with its star-studded 10th anniversary remix.
Rebecca, how excited are you for The Great Escape?!
Yes! I’m so excited. It’s my first festival.
It’s GAY TIMES’ first stage at the festival so we’ll be doing this together!
Love it! I’m honoured to do it together.
What can we expect from your set?
This is my first time overseas. Being able to do my own show – and it’s a part of my first headline tour this year – I’ve learned so much about what is important to me within the show. I’m someone who goes to shows so many times, and I’m such a big fan of the live music experience. I think, with this particular Europe tour and my set at The Great Escape, it’s the most I’ve pushed myself, in terms of the performances that I give. That has been so much fun. It’s going to be a fucking rave. Come ready to dance. Come ready to jump, because I will tell you to many times.
I’m curious, which song gets the biggest reaction from the crowd?
Which song do you think it is?
Let me rephrase! What song, other than the song, gets the biggest reaction?
Oh my gosh. I really appreciate how big of a fucking party Friday is on this tour. I don’t think I would’ve ever expected that – even watching videos back, it blows my mind how people respond to it and know every word. Other than that, NGL and Personal goes crazy. Yeah, it blows me away how people know the words to everything – especially over here in Europe and the UK, people know everything when it comes to my music.
I know you’ve spoken about Friday extensively throughout your career, and the tribulations that came after releasing the song, but it feels like LGBTQ+ people have always stood behind it…
Before I ever knew my own peace to the queer community and how involved I would be in it in my own life, I’ve always had so much respect for the way they’ve treated me and the song when no one else would give me the time of day. It’s always meant so much to me. The way they do that with so many people in that same regard is really special and I’ve definitely bonded with a lot of queer people, even outside of my own queer experience.
Female artists making pop music will always be championed by LGBTQ+ community. Even if you just released Friday and called it a day, queer people would still hail you as a gay and pop icon..
You’re so right. There’s something about every gay person’s internal encyclopedia… It needs to be dived into from a research perspective because gay people know things and see things and I feel like their radar on culture and what’s considered iconic is something I really respect.
Rebecca Black Was Here was released last year to praise from pop music fanatics. How do you think the project impacted how fans perceive you and your artistry?
That is such a good question. I think that, in a lot of ways, it was the first opportunity that I took a hold of to do things the way I really wanted to do them. Looking back at it almost a year after, and having finished it, it really is something that I take so much pride in because I didn’t sacrifice anything that I necessarily wanted. I did that because I finally felt like I had enough belief in myself to do so. So, I hope that my audience resonates with that project most out of anything I’ve ever done because of the attention to detail and the risks that were taken creatively. It felt like such a good base point to really continue to push myself and make the art that I love to see as a fan and a stan of so many other people.
I assume that coming out as queer influenced the creative process of that project? It’s gay as hell!
So gay! Definitely. I think that, finally, I was able to grab hold of the connection that I had with so many people in my audience. It was always there, it just wasn’t necessarily something that was obvious, I guess. That’s very special to me.
You commemorated the 10th anniversary of Friday last year with a hyperpop remix featuring 3OH!3, Big Freedia and Dorian Electra. Did coming out impact your reinvention of the song?
It was an idea that I had long before coming out and long before I had even come out to myself. It stemmed from my own need to personally reclaim that song, in a lot of ways. Throughout the entire creation of it, people like Dorian, Nat [Motte] from 3OH!3 and Dylan [Brady] were all really important people to me as friends in putting the remix together and helping me find confidence within myself. Nat was one of the first people to really take me seriously as a producer before we ever worked on that song together. Dorian has always been someone who has been there for me and so welcoming to me as an artist. Freedia, as well. All these people who were part of that are so important to me and I think that’s what made that remix the thing that it was. It came about really naturally and I put a lot of trust in people who were part of that project. Even Weston Allen, who directed the video, it felt like a very collaborative process.
Why do you think queer people have such an affinity for hyperpop music?
I think that queer people have a lot of love and passion for pop music and hyperpop is one fragment of that that’s become a massive thing over the last few years. It’s existed for a long time, but also a large part of the hyperpop community is made up of queer artists who have been a fan of pop music for a long time. It’s been a huge piece of underground queer scenes that came out of a rebellion for where queer people weren’t necessarily welcomed. You have queer parties all around New York that have existed for so long, that people are just finally becoming more aware of hyperpop. There’s so many of these niche genres that may or may not become as much of a thing as hyperpop because they were bred from queer ideals, communities and artists.
Let’s talk about Read My Mind with Slayyyter, which is, without-a-doubt, one of my favourite pop songs of the past year. Can you talk to me about how the song came to be and the visuals? Oh my god, the visuals! Were you inspired by The Cock Destroyers?
[Laughs] I met Slayyyter through a producer that I work with a lot, his name is Micah Jasper and he produced Girlfriend, Read My Mind and Personal. We’ve worked on a lot of others together. He and I had met a few years ago and he met Slayyyter after. One day he was randomly like, ‘Hey! We should all hang out and try something, I feel like you guys would get along.’ I’ve been a huge Slayyyter fan for a very long time and so I was like, ‘YES! PLEASE!’ We hung out at his house one day and started writing this song. It took us about a year to finish the song, just going back and reimagining it. I cared so much about this song and I wanted it to be perfect because it’s with an artist that I have respected for so long. We finished the song and she was just a fucking angel the entire time. When it came down to the video and visuals, I wanted it to be… I’ve had a lot of fun playing with people’s expectations of me and what they think I will or won’t do. That was a big part of my last project and my MO, which is what I’m learning about myself. Were we inspired by The Cock Destroyers? I will or will not confirm that they were on a moodboard or two… How could they not be? They’re fucking icons…
I met Sophie Anderson at DragCon a couple years ago, and she is the sweetest, kindest, loveliest soul in the world…
Amazing! That’s what I’ve heard. They were so cool, engaging with some of our stuff as it came out. Weston had this idea of imagining these alternate reality versions of Slayyyter and I that could exist in some other world in Middle America as gas station employees. It was super inspired by those movies that were a big part of my childhood for better or for worse; those big, campy and insane glamorisation of Hollywood-type movies that were kind of trashy. You think back to the garbage, trash magazines that me as a 10-year-old thought were the most glamorous things in the world, things like Playboy. So, very inspired by that and just bringing this slightly grotesque version of ourselves to life and letting that fantasy play out, because the song itself is fantastical-like.
This is your multiverse.
This is my multiverse! Welcome.
Doctor Strange… who? You have a full-length album coming this year. Is Read My Mind the lead single or is it standalone?
As of now, no. It’s a standalone thing that was created before the album was done. I didn’t know, honestly, for a long time and even now I can change my mind. But as of now, there’s a whole new thing coming.
Rebecca Black Was Here explored hyperpop while delving into heartbreak, while also serving as a reintroduction to your artistry. What can we expect from the new album?
You’ll hear a few new songs within the set at The Great Escape. I actually play a lot of new music in this current tour, which is always a fun thing! Rebecca Black Was Here, definitely to me, felt like a launching point for me to explore… the multiverse. Now I finally feel like I can do this, and I’ve proven to myself that I can do this, where do we go from there? And now I’ve introduced myself as a queer artist, where we do we go from here? There’s so much more to talk about other than heartbreak. That’s still a big part of my projects because I spend half of my fucking life being heartbroken! Don’t we all?! But, we’re currently mixing the album on the road and as I’ve been listening to these songs be fully formed, the album is a lot more introspective than my last project. It has more to do with me and my perspective on myself more than trying to blame so much on the other person. That being said, I’m not a perfect human. That’s what is to be expected and, sound wise… I think it will continue to surprise people in hopefully a positive way.