“I have got a problem with saying how I really feel;
apart from in song, those melodies make me strong;
harmonies make me strong.
They make me strong, they make me strong!”
I was recently lucky enough to come across indie folk rock/ alt country artist Bianca Meier who goes by the name Rita B. I was immediately struck by her honesty and I know that word is bandied around quite a bit but have a listen, Bianca really rips to the heart of some topics few dare to tread especially when it comes to exposing their own experiences and emotions. Coupled with her assured musicianship I’m taking a punt that this girl will capture more than my heart….and already has with her most recent release, ‘With Pockets Empty and Glass Almost Full” being warmly received and added to Sydney’s FBi 94.5fm play list.
She’s busy too with more than one project on the go…you might want to also check out her other band DANDE AND THE LION. Their new single “Audley’s Talking” will be released February 7th 2018.
After her upcoming Melbourne tour (for Melbournians that’s; March 1st at Old Bar with Full band, March 2nd Open Studio Solo, March 3rd in workshop with Jen Cloher), Bianca will be back in Sydney working on more good things to come as well as a performance at Red Dog Studio Session XVII on June 2nd.
I was able to have a chat with her about her thoughts on songwriting…I hope you enjoy and take as much inspiration from this exciting up and coming songwriter as I do.
“Make mistakes, expose yourself and learn and converse with
others who are doing what you want to do.”
Do you have any strong writing influences?
Absolutely. In terms of humans that influence my writing, I grew up with my parents’ musical tastes. Luckily, my parents, not being musicians themselves, but being avid listeners of a lot of different styles of music, is essentially the root of what shapes my musical output today. That in itself is the strongest influence on my writing because it is constant. Osibisa, Beethoven, The Fugees, Gypsey Kings, The Beetles, Yothu Hindi to name but a few of the sounds getting spun on the home record player (where I remember my sisters and I were constantly being reminded to dance softly in an attempt to not interfere with the record player’s functioning capacity.)
To be honest, there was never a practicing musician that I aspired to be whilst growing into music, however, there is one artist that I always find myself reverting back to in musical moments of thought and that is Janis Joplin. I think simply because she was a female making music in such a masculine heavy, drug-infused and politically and socially unstable environment.
Where do you find your lyrics?
I always struggle answering this! They just come to me! If I am to take my album for example, I didn’t go all in with an idea. I let the words come to me as I created each song as an individual idea. I don’t usually sit down and think “right! I’m gonna write a song about pirates”. My method is not forced. Essentially because it doesn’t have to be. I think that is what influences my lyrical content in the sense that I am trying to be truthful; with myself initially, by not putting any pressure on the way in which I write. The result, I suppose, is the honest unfolding of contexts and stories in which I personally experience or perceive. I try to let the words find me.
What does song writing mean to you? How far would you like to take it?
Songwriting means the reason why I drink 4 cups of coffee in a day – I want to take it far but reduce if not eliminate the amount of coffees currently drunk in order to get me there. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but I’d like to make financial profit from songwriting without the elements of business hindering my creativity and mission. Although, I really enjoy my cuppas, and either way, I just really enjoy writing music.
Do you have any special tools you use to write?
I usually use writing as a meditational tool and then I use that I guess as a tool to write. I record my feelings either melodically by speaking or singing how I currently feel (I’d generally record this process on my phone) or I’d write down words or phrases in one of my millions of disordered notebooks and come back at a later time to decipher a song from my various scrawlings.
What instrument/s do you use to write?
Acoustic guitar most of the time, occasionally the piano.
Tell us about your most memorable childhood connection to music
Aside from my little dancing sessions at home to the music mum and dad played with my sisters which I mentioned briefly before, I was about 13 or 14 years old and it was the summer break. My family, mum, dad and my 2 sisters would usually go on an extended camping trip somewhere. We were in Brooms Head one year. One evening I stumbled across one of our camping neighbours singing and strumming some lovely sounds. I was in awe because everybody on the campsite seemed to gravitate towards the music and he had a crowd of people just listen as he sang.
I consider this memorable because I think it was what I needed to give me that extra push to want songwriting on a performance level. I wanted to share my voice and my lyrics to not just the Backstreet Boys and Five posters in my bedroom.
What is your favourite song that you’ve written and could you tell us about it?
I don’t have a favourite if I am completely honest, I’m super proud of what I have produced so far. However, I do connect with certain songs more than others depending on the context and my mindset at the time.
Have you written “that” break-though song yet ?…if not tell us a bit about what that song would be like?
I’m not sure. I don’t think so. However, the first single I released off my Rita B record ‘To Be Loved By A Bottle of Scotch Whisky’, was the first song I wrote that confronted myself and my way of being; how I deal with social and emotional reality, reflecting on both personal and observational characteristics and my place within the world. It kind of naturally inspired the lyrical content for the album as a result and encouraged me to continue to write in this way because it was received so well by myself, in the sense that it opened up something inside me that wasn’t afraid of being truthful and honest. I’ve just finished writing a new song. This lyric sums up what I’m trying to say here right now:
I have got a problem with saying how I really feel;
apart from in song, those melodies make me strong;
harmonies make me strong.
They make me strong, they make me strong.
So that ‘breakthrough’ is purely an emotional one within myself.
Do you have any tips for other song writers? Any secrets of the trade?
The secret is that there are no secrets. Be comfortable with yourself, don’t be afraid of feeling vulnerable and expressing yourself, that is how you learn and find your creative path – have faith in your musical and lyrical ability, don’t compare yourselves to others, express yourself to your fullest capacity all of the time (everyone is different and it won’t always be the same, you’ll have your days). The rest will follow naturally. And then from there it’s persistence and patience. There is a level of mental strength you need to fulfill these things, but let yourself find that strength. Make mistakes, expose yourself and learn and converse with others who are doing what you want to do. The amount of knowledge I gained by asking questions and asking for help is invaluable.
This is the only area of my life that I fully apply what I am preaching – you’ve got to want to do it.
How long have you been penning tunes and at what point did you feel ready to record?
I have been writing songs since around about the 13-14 mark. I wrote my first EP when I was 20 in 2010. Afterwards, I had writers block and lost all compositional motivation – that lasted for 4 years. I started writing again and recorded my first album last year.
If I compare the two, they were 2 completely different stages of my life. In 2010 I was excited, sheltered and a little naive. In 2017 I experienced more of real life and thus my songwriting became more complex.
Both times I consider separate projects and ultimately, I think your first time you are never ready. I just did my best and gave myself deadlines.
My next recording should hopefully see that answer in a clearer light. It’s all a learning process in the end, other wise how do you know?
Tell us about your biggest highlight of 2107 and what’s on the horizon for 2018?
The biggest highlight for 2017 was, not only the recording of my debut album titled ‘With Pockets Nearly Empty and A Glass Almost Full’, but also the many talented people I got to work with and who encouraged and inspired me in both critical and supportive ways to give what I had to give and say what I had to say through my music. I feel very privileged to have such an honest and genuine bunch of people now forever a part of my life.
The fact that some of my songs got played on FBi radio 94.5FM was a super overwhelming moment – I drive a lot and I listen to FBi and it is such a strange but satisfying moment to unexpectedly hear your music on the airwaves. ‘Miss Brown’ was the most well received song. I loved observing the crowd every time I played a gig and seeing the new faces. I enjoyed having conversations with people and connecting with them as a product of my songwriting. It’s really satisfying seeing the progress unfold and I look forward to more.
2018 will see me play the album and gig on a more national level – I have Melbourne and Brisbane on the cards. I want to work on my performance; there are a few things I need to overcome on that front. I have a lot of material and I am constantly writing, so I’d like to get organised and prepare content for my next recording. If there’s one thing I learned from 2017, it’s to not rush processes.
Click HERE for more on Rita B and to check out her shows