Interview by Jyoti Matoo
Bebe Rexha has a particular way of owning a room the moment she steps into it. She’s a boss, and she knows what she wants. Anyone who marches into a shoot, greeting the stylist with a loud: “Are you dressing me? Oh my god, you’re hot!” is someone we’ve got time for here at Voir.
Sexy. Unapologetic. Honest. Bebe Rexha’s choice of adjectives when asked to describe herself in 3 words unintentionally recapitulate the way she enters the room in which we meet. Full ofthat American confidence, Bebe waltzes in, withnearly the entirety of her face covered by a pair of black sunglasses. Decked out in a patent puffer coat and leggings, she epitomises that cool, off-duty look we all strive for. She’s not off duty though, she’s got a packed day of shooting,filming and interviewing – and she’s full to thebrim with enthusiasm for it.
Bebe’s anthemic single, ‘Last Hurrah’ (inspired by a fellow songwriter’s personal experience – involving a sugar-free diet and a slice of chocolate cake) was released mid-February, and wholly summarises a mindset that all of us are guilty of. “If that’s not me, I don’t know what is,” she explains of the concept behind the track. “It’s just so relatable: drinking, smoking, going back to an ex… we all have these vices.” And she’s not wrong. Ever found yourself vowing never to drink again the hazy morning after a heavy night? Us, too. And if you’re wondering what Bebe’s best hangover advice is: Carbs
“She’s not off duty though, she’s got a packed day of shooting f.ilming and interviewing -and she’s full to the brim with enthusiasm for it”
Of her song writing process, Bebe describes how inspiration is key, and creatively, ideas can often spring to mind at the most inconvenient of times. “I could be in the bathtub… and something might just hit me. Just recently, I was on a plane when I had an idea that I just had to get down. I was literally recording things on my phone, hoping people wouldn’t think I was crazy. I think I got away with it.” If hits like ‘Last Hurrah’ and ‘I’m a Mess’ are anything to go on, it’s working for Bebe; crazy or not. After all, they’ve earned her a Grammy nomination and the means to buyherself her very first house; two things she countsamongst her biggest achievements to date.
But it’s not all awards shows and ‘last hurrah’s’. An issue close to Bebe’s heart is the representa- tion and backing of women, particularly within the judgemental, competitive environment that is the music industry. She credits her mum for helping her navigate this throughout her career,but admits that she would have benefitted fromsome other sort of support system when she was starting out. In true Bebe style (undeniably no-nonsense, always), she found a way to over- come this for today’s female artists and creators– in the form of Women in Harmony. She setup the Women in Harmony initiative in order to unite female creatives in the music industry in a space where they are able to talk to each other, share experiences and give and receive advice. Past attendees include Rita Ora, Charli XCX and JoJo – so it’s safe to say the whole thing has been something of a success.
“An issue close to Bebe’s heart is the representation and backing of women, particularly within the judgmental, competitive environment that is the music industry”
“Whitout my fans, i wouldn’t be in the position that I’m in. They are the most important things.” She gushes, “They keep me afloat.”
Still, Bebe’s social focus doesn’t lie solely with the other industry top dogs. In fact, she’s been known to call up fans for a chat live on her Instagram before. “Why do I do that?” She asks, perhaps nodding towards the fact that the answer is quite obvious: “Without my fans, I wouldn’t be in the position that I’m in. They are the most important thing.” She gushes, “Theykeep me afloat.”. It’s true that much of Bebe’ssuccess can be put down to a loyal worldwide fanbase, but she confesses that her favourite city to perform in is still her home turf, New York, where she grew as an artist and developed that unique Bebe panache we know and love.
Style-wise, her muses include the likes of Gwen Stefani, Madonna, Debbie Harry (“She was just always incredible”) and even, if slightly less directly, Marilyn Monroe. To summarise: “Anybody who is loud and kind of…themselves.”.Of course, Bebe fits this brief perfectly herself,fearlessly throwing her own ideas into the mix when it comes to our cover shoot. Owning every look we capture, she assertively introduces her own choice of poses, angles and concepts in a visual dialogue that harnesses her personal style, and a self-assurance that underscores her route to success.
In terms of a second album, Bebe hints that we can expect one towards the end of the summer, having just released the single ‘Call You Mine’ with The Chainsmokers. “I’ve been working hard on it [the album], and I’m very proud!”Bebe has previously clarified that her poorestpersonality trait is impatience (her New Year’s Resolution this year was to improve on that; “It hasn’t worked!”), it’s clear that Bebe is about as itching to get the album out there as herfanbase are to hear it – and rightly so.
Most of us can divulge aimingfor a level of cool confidencecomparable to Bebe’s. She’s thedefinition of sassy, and part of
a generation of talent offering their audience a more positive,inclusive influence; be it in theform of Women in Harmony, or of yelling “You wish you’d dressed my fat ass!” at the throng of designers who refused to clotheher US size 8 figure for theGrammy’s, labelling her ‘too big’. Either way: Bebe’s got feist, and she’s not afraid to use it.
VOIR – SUMMER 2019
Styling & Concept: Jyoti Matoo
Art Director/Photographer: Luke Walwyn
Production Manager:Veronica Wong Diffa