Rebecca Black Opens The Gate To A Digital Inferno with Debut Album Let Her Burn
By Michelle Rose @heymichellerose
Rebecca Black’s highly anticipated debut album Let Her Burn, out today, arrives just in time for our pre-Valentine’s day emotional jitters.
The carefully crafted brutally honest alternative pop record offers up dirty Y2K pop hooks, with expansive pulsating beats that will guide you through the gates of a digital inferno to infinity and beyond. Think 80s’ underworld dream sequence, an electronic explosion on the dancefloor – faux leather, faux lashes, oxblood boas, tooth gems and body glitter – lots and lots of body glitter. Fusing her love for the loosely defined genre of Hyperpop, Let Her Burn bridges the gap between lyrically self reflective bedroom pop, and addictive radio ready club bangers.
As Gen Z and Zillenials reclaim cringe, and the indie sleaze era makes a comeback, Let Her Burn reminds us that – indie sleaze 2.0 may be a more emotionally mature counter culture. Oozing the melodrama of Robyn’s period piece “Dancing on My Own”, Let Her Burn explores musical motifs of self acceptance that empower and energize.
Rebecca Black has officially reclaimed her throne as pop’s reigning internet queen. I caught up with the LA based artist on her creative album making process, reclaiming the cringe of her viral internet meme stardom, and what’s coming up for 2023.
Interview: Michelle Rose @heymichellerose
How did it feel to rerelease Friday via the remix featuring your all star collaborators Dorian Electra, Big Freedia, and 3OH!3 and 100 Gecs?
I got to take this thing that I had no control over, reclaim it, and do it my own way. It felt redeeming, because now the song is a good song. Having Dorian Electra and Big Freedia feature on a track that Dylan from 100 Gecs produced felt so special. The remix celebrates the people who have championed me, and stuck by me. It felt like a moment of time was repositioned, and in some capacity it’s become on
The year has come for your debut album! How does it feel to finally arrive at this point of your career?
It feels crazy. All people have these pinnacle moments in our lives that we dream will come one day. These projects that we build and hope will be finished, can just feel like they’re perpetually never coming. Literally, today is the first day where I’ve been like “Okay, it’s happening, we’re talking about it, it’s not just existing on the internet, I’m having conversations outside of the people who I’ve made it with, it’s real and it’s really exciting. It’s scary to hear feedback for the first time, though so far it’s been good! I’ve always known how much these songs meant to me, but hearing people reference them (especially the ones that haven’t come out yet) is an amazing new emotional experience. So it feels like it’s finally happening, which is a good feeling.
It must feel like a dream sequence! What was the creative process and timeline for creating the record?
I never really sat up and said “Today, I’m going to start the album.” I have been writing this album for what feels like a very long time. My last project, which was called Rebecca Black Was Here, came out in 2021. I thought that that was going to be the album, but I just wasn’t ready. I’m so happy I took the time, and it worked out that way. Through that process, we started to make songs that felt really aligned. The first song on the album “Erase You” was one of the first to be written, and one of the last to be done. That was the first track that felt sonically like the true start of the album. Even though we had started it before the EP came out, I walked away from the session feeling like there was something magical to it. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and what it could become. The song ended up sounding so different from the snippet I posted back in July of 2021, but it really drove the momentum for the album.
Creative breakthroughs, inspiration and building momentum are so key to culminating an album. For a pop record, your experiment with a lot of ethereal electronic textures, modern soundscapes, and retro nostalgic beats on Let Her Burn. How do you feel about the current landscape of pop music?
One of my favorite things about being an artist at this moment is that the idea of pop is finally being accepted, but not as one specific sound. One of the most exciting things for me as a fan of other pop artists is how it’s being limitlessly redefined. Artists like Sophie, and Charli XCX, and 100 Gecs are iconic because they’re stretching and expanding the genre. That’s always what I hope to do with my music. Pop music referencing things that you would never expect keeps it interesting. I remember the day Addison Rae, a pop icon of our time, iconically posted a Burial track on her Instagram story. I would love to hear Addison Rae’s beautiful voice over an ethereal drum and bass track. That excites me so much more than the traditional formulaic pop structure. Burial was actually a sonic influence for creating my sound, and I think more than anything it’s what makes this album have so many different fields to it sonically.
What’s your relationship to social media?
That’s such a big question. My own relationship with social media (outside of what I do) is a completely different answer. I talk about how social media affects me just as a participant, and a viewer. It’s like that meme that has buccal fat removal and gimp and all these different images everywhere. All of this stuff that we intake affects the way we process our thoughts, talk to each other, how we view ourselves. I’m equally impacted by the overload , and think about deleting Instagram every day. I think that what has helped me is coming to a place where I’ve found my own voice on the platforms. There’s at least some freedom in knowing that people respond to my thoughts when I’m sharing straight from my honest core. If I think something dumb is funny, people respond to that. It’s taught me not to overthink. Which is hard when you’re creating an experience for other people. It’s the same for creating my music and live performances. We all struggle with knowing how much social media owns our lives. Being online has become a place I can sometimes feel the most myself. I feel like I’ve carved out my own little corner, and it’s not until somebody brings up that they saw something I posted that I even remember what I shared. I’ll just be on my couch alone, and the internet sees a part of me that a lot of my friends don’t even see. I think there’s something really interesting about finding comfort online, versus how we show up in our real life relationships. I think that piece of me has always existed. Before Friday ever even existed, I spent all of my time online. I lived more freely there, than in my little Orange County middle school group. I didn’t know what that meant at the time, but as an artist I’m learning to be an active participant of pop culture – although confusing, it’s really fun! I don’t know a more eloquent way to put it.
If you could time travel to 2011 and speak to this version of yourself what would you say?
I really do wish I could do this. I wish I could tell myself, you already have it within you. You don’t have to spend any time doubting yourself. All that matters is that you take whatever is inside and you put it into physical form. Whether it’s song production, video, photos, or anything creative – it’s already there. Any external search that you do, as far as looking online, (everyone is saving inspiration because it’s how we tap into our inner beauty) don’t waste time second guessing yourself. Don’t convince yourself that you’re capable, because you are. Anyone can make meaningful art, even if it’s just important to you, and the people that matter to you, just focus on that. Let your creativity shine, because that’s the work (and also the fun part) so enjoy it!
Lyrically the album takes you on the full spectrum of human emotion – tapping into the feelings we’re not always proud to feel in both romantic and platonic relationships. Can you talk about the song “Look at you”?
“Look At You” is a song I wrote about one of my best friends. It’s been really interesting to experience how it’s been perceived and interpreted without knowing that. I don’t think we’re accustomed to hearing songs about friends. It’s a shame because they’re some of the most important relationships in our lives. I wrote that song with Amy Allen and Gian Stone. They’re insane writers, and they really taught me about specificity. It’s so important to be intentional, accurate, and specific about what we want to say in a song. You can write a million songs about hating someone, or loving someone. Writing about a personal experience in a universal and relatable way isn’t easy. I wanted to write a song about showing someone how good they are. With this particular friendship, I explored my own complex feelings I had within the friendship. Being close with such a beautiful person, sometimes I just wanted to be mad at them, and I hated it. I would feel jealous because they’ve harnessed things that I haven’t yet. It was a really important thing for me to say to my friend. My friend knows the song is about her, and that was really scary. The story wouldn’t have been complete if I hadn’t put in how I was feeling, even if it wasn’t pretty. I did have fears about showing the ugly side of emotions, but they’re moments we all have to work through. I find it so much easier to work through those feelings through music. I would never actually tell my ex I hate her girlfriend because she’s over me now. But they’re real human feelings, and they deserve to be shared. As a listener exploring and experiencing honesty and vulnerability hits the hardest.
The nostalgic retro sci influenced “Sick To My Stomach” leans into the realm of 80s r&b. Who are your biggest influences from this era?
My parents did listen to a lot of 80s music while I was growing up in the 90s. I’d say Tears for Fears, Phil Collins, Depeche Mode, and George Michael. I love artists like Prince, Blood Orange, and Sky Ferreira’s album Night Time, My Time is one of my favorites. I love the largeness of the 80s era. I like my music loud, harsh, and intense. I’ve been trying to find a way to use big 80s drums for a while. I wanted to write a song called “Sick To My Stomach” after I went through that moment with my ex. I felt fucking sick, and the song just flew out of me. I was writing with one of my main collaborators DCF over Zoom while I was in the studio. We had the drumline that we were kind of riding over and we created this Prince-like flow that felt very campy, and smooth. We just kind of just ran with it, and that ended up being the song. I really wanted to lean into that kind of 80s dream sequence fantasy for the video.
How did the video come together?
It was directed by Christina Bryson who I met at a Blu DeTiger video shoot she was directing. I love Blu, she asked me to be in this video, and I just really liked the way Christina worked. She was really sweet, fun, and uplifting. I’ve been familiar with her style for a while, and have been dying to lean into this 80s moment visually. I knew that I wanted the video to be really simple and dance inspired. I had just met with this choreographer Richie Jackson, who is incredible and choreographed the video. Being an independent artist, there’s only so much room that you have to make things work. Christina and started talking right before Christmas, and we were able to make it happen literally out of thin air.
What’s your advice for other independent artists?
I’ve really tried to harness my agency, and true decision making power as an independent artist. You have to work extra hard, but the payoff is extra rewarding. That’s the positive part. You get to learn every aspect of the creative process, and it’s important to remember and value that importance. As an independent artist, you’re the one that gets to be number one at the end of the day. You make the calls, you call the shots, and you’re able to tap into your own information to make important decisions. Seeing the outcome is really cool. Being an independent artist is very educational. As somebody who grew up as a child in this industry, I used to feel like I was the person with the least amount of information and knowledge in the room. Finally, I’ve grown into my own shoes and it’s been really beneficial. Independent artists should enjoy the fact that they’re driving the boat. You know best, and it’s easy to spend time being blocked by other people because of a deal where other people are making the executive decisions. Being independent, it’s your art, you own it, and you get to run with it. While I do think there are benefits to being with a major label, there are also huge advantages as an independent artist.
What are you most looking forward to for the whirlwind of 2023?
Oh my god, I’m really looking forward to just having it exist in the world because I made it to share it. I’m really excited for bigger shows, and to embody the songs in a way that’s never been done before. Stylistically I’ve been putting visual ideas together for a long time. I’m really excited to bring the characters to life with costumes. Dance and movement are a huge part of the new live shows. I don’t want to give too much away, but you got a little taste of it in “Sick To My Stomach.”
Rebecca Black, debut album Let Her Burn, out everywhere today; and catch her on the Let Her Burn North America tour this coming May.
Thursday, May 4, 2023 – Boston, MA – The Sinclair
Friday, May 5, 2023 – Philadelphia, PA – The Foundry
Saturday, May 6, 2023 – Brooklyn, NY – Elsewhere Hall
Tuesday, May 9, 2023 – Montreal, QC – Theatre Fairmount
Wednesday, May 10, 2023 – Toronto, ON – Axis Club
Friday, May 12, 2023 – Chicago, IL – Bottom Lounge
Sunday, May 14, 2023 – St. Paul, MN – Amsterdam
Tuesday, May 16, 2023 – Denver, CO – Marquis Theater
Wednesday, May 17, 2023 – Salt Lake City, UT – Soundwell
Friday, May 19, 2023 – San Francisco, CA – The Independent
Saturday, May 20, 2023 – Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre
Features Editor: Shirley Reynozo @moyamusic_
Galore Art Director: Perrin Johnson @editsbyperry
Photographer/Creative Director: Carianne Older @peggyshootsfilm
Set Design: Drip Dome – Patricia & Diana Kwiatkowski, Matt Haines @dripdome
Makeup: Ashley Simmons @makeupbyashsimmons
Hair: Rachel Lita @rachellitahair
Stylist: Branden Ruiz @branden.ruiz
Lighting Design/Videographer: Kevin Sikorski @escaperealife
Assist: Paulina Older @polderexpress
Interview: Michelle Rose @heymichellerose
PR + Creative: Jordan Frazes @frazescreative
EIC: Prince Chenoa @princechenoastudio