Bebe Rexha Talks Inspiration Behind Upcoming Album Better Mistakes: 'It's OK to Be F—ed Up'

Pop star Bebe Rexha will release her sophomore album, Better Mistakes, on May 7

Bebe Rexha's next era is upon us!

On Wednesday, the Grammy-nominated pop star, 31, announced that her sophomore album, Better Mistakes, will drop on May 7. Rexha also shared the trippy album art, shot by photographer Brian Ziff — and she actually gave PEOPLE a behind-the-scenes peek at the photoshoot over Zoom.

Better Mistakes comes nearly three years after the "Meant to Be" singer released her debut album Expectations, which featured the hit single "I'm a Mess." Rexha promises that the next project will span genres, and the singles she's released thus far illustrate that: "Baby I'm Jealous" (feat. Doja Cat) was funky fun, while she hit the dance floor on "Sacrifice."

Here, Rexha opens up about how she got in the zone for her album cover shoot, inspirations behind the album — and who she collaborates with on Better Mistakes.

On the vibe of the album...

This album is super vulnerable and honest, and I've been working on it for about two years. I have been such a big fan of Brian Ziff's photography, and I wanted more of a grunge, gritty [look]. I wanted to really go back to my roots of when I was in Warped Tour and had my dark hair and just showing the real side of me. I always love No Doubt, and I loved alt-rock, and pop-rock, but I still have love for Britney [Spears]. So I just wanted to take everything that I've ever loved that's been part of me and put it into this album, visually and musically. So that's exactly what I did. Here we are.

On what she hopes fans take away from her new music...

It's OK to be f—ed up, because we all are. And some of us just hide it better than others, and that is the truth, and it's OK, and to feel alone and that we all have our moments, we sabotage things that we love, we do things that we don't know why we do them, it's just human nature — and that's just the way that we are, we're built this way. So it's OK if you are not perfect, none of us are. And that's the truth.

There's songs that talk about not needing a man, because I'm strong just the way that I am and learning the hard way. There's songs that talk about sabotaging relationships, and songs that talk about my overthinking and my mental health and everything that I'd ever been insecure about, and kind of turning them into empowering songs. Because I feel like when you actually speak about your fears and your issues, it kind of is empowering in a sense.

On her impressive roster of collaborators...

I have some really incredible collaborators on there. I have a song with Lil Uzi Vert, which is amazing. Travis Barker playing drums, which is amazing to me because I've always been a very big fan of his band and his playing.

On addressing her insecurities...

This album was really important, because I wanted to make sure that there was an overall theme musically and lyrically. I started with [songwriter] Justin Tranter and you see, it was a very tight team and we just started out building the identity of the album, of what it is. And then Justin gave me this incredible confidence. Just say things that you would never say to anybody or ever put in a song. We did, "I'm a Mess" together, that was our first song. And that was the moment we really sparked, I showed up into this studio crying, and he's like, "Let's write about this. What's going on?" And I'm like, "I feel like a mess. I just feel like I'm messing everything up in my life. And I just feel like I'm this, this, this, and this." He was like, "Wait let's put it in a song."

Ever since then, it's been love at first sight. And I go into a room with him, and I feel so comfortable. I can talk to him about feeling, I don't know, being a female and, feeling like I'm too fat sometimes, and not fit enough compared to other celebrities and other singers, and I just don't feel good enough. And I can tell him that. And then he'll be like, "Let's figure out a way to put this in a song," and then I can go and have a little mini breakdown the day before and be like, "I don't feel good. I had a fight with my boyfriend. I had this and that." He made me feel like it's OK to be vulnerable and to talk about those things.

Bebe Rexha
Bebe Rexha, Better Mistakes. Warner Records

On how she got pumped up for the cover shoot...

I play the album. I like to play the album and listen to it and get into the vibe and get into the world. I play it really loud. Actually, I even had my assistant go and get my speaker at home — I have this massive JBL speaker; it's ridiculous, like a party box — and I was like, "This speaker at the studio is not cutting it. Go get my speaker." Everyone already thought I was crazy, but I don't care. I like my music loud. Like it needs to be bumping. I want to play my jams, I want to play what I like and vibe out.

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