'I'm a Mess' singer Bebe Rexha on working with superstars, her unconventional entry into singing, and mental health awareness

'I'm a Mess' singer Bebe Rexha on working with superstars, her unconventional entry into singing, and mental health awareness

Bebe Rexha might be at the peak of her career, but success didn’t come overnight for the singer

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Bebe Rexha hopes her music makes her fans feel less alone.
Photo: Warner Music Hong Kong

Bebe Rexha started her path to stardom quite differently to other artists, from a behind-the-scenes songwriter to chart-topping popstar. “I knew that music was a part of me and I wouldn’t want to do anything else,” the American singer told Young Post during a recent Skype interview.

Before stepping into the spotlight as a solo artist, she had written songs and collaborated with artists like Nicki Minaj, Louis Tomlinson and David Guetta. “Each one of them taught me one thing,” she said. “Louis Tomlinson taught me how to be kind and humble, and Nicki taught me how to work hard and be respectful but to go for what you want. The artists I’ve worked with are all driven and passionate.”

Despite spending so long writing songs for other recording artists before becoming one herself, Rexha never doubted that it would happen one day. Now, she’s grateful for the time spent honing her skills as a songwriter, because being able to write her own music is what helps her fans connect to her on a deeper level.

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“Everything I write is something I go through personally and I think this creates more of a bond between me and my fans, since they can relate to my music.”

The 29-year-old is also lucky to have a strong support network; her family, she says, have always encouraged her to pursue a career in music. “It’s important to have people around you that love you and watch your back no matter what. My family have been my backbone and I wouldn’t have gotten this far without them.”

While Rexha doesn't care much for fame, she is grateful that her growing success has allowed her music to reach more people. “When I go places, people sometimes recognise me, and the one great thing is that I can feel that connection now with my fans.”

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It’s a bond the singer only further cemented during each night of her first solo tour, when she would bring fans on stage to sing with her, or get the crowd to cheer for a newly married couple. “I like interacting with my fans and you don’t know what’s gonna happen,” she said, while describing performing on stage as “the best feeling in the world”.

Rexha’s latest song, I’m a Mess, which touches on mental illness, is also likely to resonate with many listeners. Rexha told Young Post how important it is to her to raise awareness about mental health, and to reach out to anyone dealing with feelings of anxiety or insecurity. “That was how it was for me and that’s how I feel connected to the song. I just want fans to not feel alone and know that they are not the only ones that are going through this.”

Rexha described her own experience of anxiety and depression as “a battle within yourself”. However, her message for anyone in need of help is to tell someone you trust.

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“Seeing a therapist also helps,” she added. “I know a lot of people look down on that, but that truly helps. Sometimes you want to talk to somebody who isn’t your mum or your friends – I mean it’s good to do that too, but therapists are unbiased, and they are not going to judge you.

“But ultimately, it’s important to talk to somebody, and it’s important to know it’s okay to feel that way.”

Rexha also noted that going through different emotions is part of being human. “In life, you cannot be happy all the time, and there are moments you’re going to feel sad, anxious or angry.” Her favourite form of stress-relief, she revealed, is putting in her headphones and heading out for a run to blow off stream.

There are parallels between Rexha’s journey to success in her music career and to better mental health. In both cases, her motto is to “keep fighting and never give up because at a certain moment your time will come”. “It’s not always dark outside and the rain never lasts for that long. Have hope and faith and never give up.”

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Writing from experience

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