Bebe Rexha Talks Overcoming Insecurities — and Teases New, Britney Spears-Inspired Music
Earlier this month, the Grammy-nominated singer, 31, kicked off her next era with the Doja Cat collaboration "Baby I'm Jealous." The funky track is a sonic departure for Rexha, who broke records with her country crossover "Meant to Be" (with Florida Georgia Line) and found mainstream solo success with her electro-pop hit "I'm a Mess."
Here, Rexha opens up about tackling insecurities, her upcoming album, and her steamy new romance with filmmaker Keyan Safyari.
You address insecurities in a past relationship on "Baby I'm Jealous." What did you want to say with the song?
It was based on a real-life story that I was going through, and all the lyrics are based off of my life. It was one of those days where I wanted to go and do a little deep dive on Instagram, then I just saw some things I did not like, and I was so unhappy. I was dating this guy, and I was like, "Listen, I think it's really disrespectful if you are liking other girl's photos. Especially if they're half-naked, and you're talking to me, I don't appreciate that." He just didn't seem to understand what I was saying. And I thought it was really rude. Then I just kept seeing the same kind of girl; he just kept on liking the same kind of girl: same hair, same skinny, tall, beachy, blonde, blue eyes, everything that I'm not. And it got to me a little bit. I love myself, and I work really hard at self-love. I was kind of like, "Wait, am I not this guy's type?" and "Why am I even feeling this way?"
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Justin Tranter, who's one of the executive producers of this album, was like, "We just need to write about this because it's going on a lot in relationships, and actually writing about it makes it empowering." I got embarrassed to say that I was embarrassed, that I'm jealous of other girls on Instagram or get caught up and I'm insecure myself and my looks sometimes. I think it's very empowering, and it's made me feel better writing about it and kind of laughing at the situation. It normalized it for me.
You've been open about dealing with body image issues. How do you confront those?
The best thing that helps me with my body image is when I take good care of myself. When I have a bad week of eating, I feel so nasty — like when I eat tons of chips or croissants and whatever. When I eat healthier and I drink more water and then I do even a little exercising or just try to live a little bit more actively, I feel so much better: I feel so much healthier, I feel so much sexier, and it's for myself. So I feel like that's a really important thing for me, to stay active and eat well.
Doja Cat has had a huge year. Tell me about working with her.
I just loved everything that Doja was doing musically. I thought that all her music was really hot, her imagery, her fashion. She's really killing the game. I started the song, and I was like, "Hey, I have this song. I want to send it to you. I want to know what you think. No pressure if you don't like it, but if you do, I would love for you to jump on it." And then she just literally sent her verse over to me, and it was amazing. She's been the sweetest person ever, and working with her has been fun. And she's funny as f—.
You're kicking off a new era with "Baby I'm Jealous." How does it fit in with your next album?
The whole album is based off of actual insecurity. My mental health, self-love, me sabotaging everything in my life, am I good enough for this relationship? [Justin Tranter] helped me take all my insecurities and make them empowering; he does it in a way that I feel so safe in the studio with him. It was really just taking the real-life stuff that I'm going through, which is really important for me to write about; I just love writing about real stuff.
Your last album, Expectations, had a lot of guitar anthems and big vocals. What can we expect next?
There's still guitar, but there's a lot of hip-hop in it, but it's still pop. And there are some really pop records. Like this one song reminds me of some old-school Britney stuff, which I love, but that's not the whole album. But it's just really a mix of all the stuff that I love — and I love pure pop. It's not really dance music, but you can bop to it. It's really sexy and badass. There's some songs that have super Nirvana-esque guitar, and then there are some songs that are really flirty and pop and have some amazing electronic sounds. But when you listen to it, it's really a body of work. And we worked really hard sonically to make sure that everything leads into one another, and it sounds like a body of work instead of just having a playlist.
When do you think we’ll be hearing the new album?
I think it's not far off. We've been working really hard on the new music, and I just really want to give fans a really beautiful visual album. And, to be honest, "Jealous" is amazing, but there are songs on the album that blow people away when I play them the album, and even me, that are my true favorites and this is not even my favorite, favorite song off the album. There's a lot more coming. I really love [my fans] for their patience.
You're a redhead now. How'd you choose the fiery new 'do?
I was just, honestly, so over my blonde hair. I was so bored of myself. So I decided to go Jessica Rabbit, Ginger Spice, f—ing Ariel and just take over the red. And to me, it's like, there's a fiery piece... and there's a fiery part in me. And I feel like that's what it definitely represents. It's that fiery Bebe that I had kind of withheld and is sometimes misunderstood, but really she's just a loving bad bitch, waiting to come out. It makes me feel really powerful.
New single, new era, new hair color — and you have a new boyfriend!
Yeah, he's really sweet and so supportive; he's just really awesome. He's in entertainment, but he's on the other side of it, so he gets it, you know? He's there for me. I don't mind my fans knowing about it and people knowing about it, but I'm more of the person who — I don't want to be known for my relationships, I want to be known for the art. But I think I've really found somebody who's truly special and really makes me happy. So I'm really lucky right now. And he's lucky — he's luckier!
Is this relationship inspiring new music?
You know what? I have a really hard time writing songs about love and stuff. I feel like it always disgusts me. So I've been actually having a hard time writing about being in a relationship and lovey-dovey things. It's kind of inspiring, I'm trying my best, but it's kind of hard, to be honest.
What makes this relationship work?
Understanding and communication is super, super important. And I'm really transparent. So I think what's important for a relationship is transparency and communication. That's something that's important for life and friendships.
You've been quarantining in L.A. through the pandemic. How have you been keeping busy?
Cooking, eating ... and lots of sex!
You have had a quarantine companion, after all.
Yeah. Let's just hope his mom doesn't read this because she hates when I talk about stuff like this in the media.
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