Bibi Bourelly On How High School English Helped Her Become A Better Songwriter
Bibi Bourelly, the 21-year-old singer/songwriter behind Rih Rih’s, “Bitch Better Have My Money,” says she’s been put on earth to make music, but concedes that high school still made her a better songwriter. How? During the week leading up to the release of her debut EP, Free The Real, the German 21-year-old stopped by Galore to get hang out, play dress up, take photos, and chat with us about the upcoming project (out May 6), music videos, and why aspiring singer-girls can stay in school and still be as badass as Bibi.
How’d you come up with the title for your EP? What about the cover artwork?
Bibi Bourelly: I was tweeting shit — I like to talk to shit on Twitter, as you may know— and Lil Simz tweeted me back, saying, #freethereal. I just thought that was so cool, I was like, yeah, free the real! So that’s where the comes from. The EP cover, my friend Rocky did, she’s from Sweden. It’s me as a baby, like a weird, grown-up version of baby me. There’s an alien flying on a cigarette…and a hand with a blunt coming out of me. There’s a fuckin’ random ass bunny. It’s so weird, it’s awesome.
And what was your favorite song that you wrote for this project?
I really liked “Guitar” because it has my dad on it. I wrote it when I was 19, like before anybody knew me. The vibe of when I wrote it was awesome, and it reminds me of Berlin. My dad is American-Haitian, but he lives in Germany. She’s Moroccan.
Has your process of writing songs changed since you were 19?
Yes, I’ve become a lot quicker. I’ve become a lot more fluent. I know what I like and don’t like. I’ve become a professional, you know what I mean?
When you wrote your first song, what was that like?
Oh, I don’t know. I’ve been writing songs since I was a toddler. I’m a very intuitive writer. I just go with whatever comes to my head first. I don’t like to focus on what I’m doing for too long because I don’t want it to sound contrived. My style is very conversational, and the reason it sounds “raw,” because it’s me just going in and just doing it. It’s very bare.
What’s influenced your songwriting style the most?
My high school English teacher, Dr. Daniels, actually. I hated school, but I just had this one class that I looked forward to, and it was my creative writing class. He taught me how to get to the point. He showed me how poetic lines sometimes don’t really matter, and just because something sounds cute, doesn’t mean you need it in there. He taught me to say the most important things in the shortest amount of time. That’s how I come up with my hooks.
Did it help you with writing melodies?
Melodies are the kind of thing I think you just need to be born with. I just hear music. I was just born approaching melodies and music as a language. That, you just to have maybe have within you. I don’t think people can really help you come up with melodies. The English classes are different. I would write pages of poetry, and Dr. Daniels would take my paper and cross everything out with a big-ass red pen, and I’d be like, what the fuck?, and he’d be like, this is all unnecessary. I mean, listen, my purpose in life is to make music, and I live every single day of my life, and everything I experience is for me to write a song. And to somehow translate into music, or into something. Or music videos.
What’s your favorite music video?
Out right now? I really love Ibiye’s “Mama Says.” Those girls are dope.
Lastly, how do you translate something really intuitive into something that’s marketable?
That’s the hardest part about it, you know. I also think that my music exists to move humanity into some sort of direction. I don’t know if it’s good or bad. It’s not me, it’s not my own personal desires. It’s not like, I just want to get money, and I want to get famous. I’m doing it because of all the people I could potentially inspire and help out. So you have to help the people more than think about yourself. It’s not about you.
Shot by Amber Asaly