Breaking up is hard to do. Making a break-up album might be even harder. Bitch is a musician whose performances have always been more well known than her personal life, until she began dating Daniela Sea. The L Word actress joined Bitch on stage on occasion and even appeared on magazine covers and in the movie Shortbus alongside her.
Now that they’ve broken up, it was destined to become public knowledge. How public is really up to Bitch. Her songwriting is poetic and personal, and her new album, Blasted, is no different. We talked with Bitch about the process of writing the new album, what inspires her and why she finally shed herself of her famous dreads.
AfterEllen.com: Do you ever get sick of being called, “Hey, Bitch!”
Bitch: [laughs] No! You know what? I love it. I love the awkwardness of it.
AE: Is anybody ever like, “Is that really what you want me to call you?”
B: Oh God, yeah. I hear that like twenty times a week.
AE: I was listening to some of your new tracks on your album, and one of the first things I thought was it seems like it’s almost upbeat in a way, but at the same time it’s almost more of a sad album. Is that something you would say is true?
B:Yeah. I definitely would. I definitely think that Blasted has more songs that are a little more upbeat or structured than other stuff I’ve released in the past. Places of change are the best places to write from.
AE: You went through a breakup. What was inspiring for you about breaking up with someone that would then turn into songs? Is it cathartic for you? Was it the first time you’ve gone through something like this while writing an album?
B:This was a gnarly one. I’ve rarely written songs that are from a happy place. Actually, that’s not true. I feel like in my Bitch & Animal days I wrote a lot of songs from a happy place. For some reason, you get me alone and I just get morose.
AE: Were you writing that album before you broke up?
B:It’s hard to define writing because sometimes the lyrics come to me first. I keep journals all the time and I write every day. I was definitely writing a lot of what ended up being the songs during the whole fiasco. By the time I was recording it, everything was, well, mostly in the past, so it was easier to get clarity on the actual songs instead of just the feelings.
AE: Is there a reason you decided to do this as Bitch instead of Bitch and the Exciting Conclusion this time around?
B:Yeah, the Exciting Conclusion just had different goals for this album. We decided to work on other projects for this time around. The whole experience was really empowering for me, feeling like it could just be Bitch, me out there in the world in my big, bold, bitchy way. [laughs]
AE: Would you say over all that Blasted has a concept or a theme? Or did it just come out of all the feelings and things you were going through?
B:No. There’s some songs on there like “Punctuation,” that’s a song about an old, old girlfriend that’s just been in my head for years. Things are definitely coming from different places. Besides that one though, all the songs were written in the same sort of period of time. When I started recording, I didn’t approach it as, “OK, I’m going to do this thing.” I just started recording and all of a sudden I realized I was making another album.
AE: Is there ever anything off limits or too personal when it comes to your songwriting?
B:Good question! There are a couple of poems that I’ve not turned into songs because of risqué lyrics. [laughs] That is something hard to deal with. Would I want to share this with the world, or should I just keep this one until after I die? [laughs]
AE: You were dating someone a little more well-known, someone famous. You were a well-known couple. Is there anything in that regard that would make your nervous about putting something out there?
B: Yeah, I do want to respect her, and both of us.
AE: Do you think she was worried at all? You’re a very personal songwriter.
B: I know, right? I do think when you date me, that’s a little what you sign up for. We always had an agreement that we would never block each other’s creative expression, no matter what.
AE: So what’s behind the name Blasted?
B: There’s many entendres in that word. There’s a song on the album called “Blasted,” so I wrote the song, and what I meant by the word in that song was feeling devastated. I was going to name the album Please Don’t Ever Let Me Do That Again, and then I decided on something short and sweet: Blasted.
AE: Would have really used that as the title? It would have been funny, but you would have been forever been asked in interviews what the hell it was you never wanted to do again.
B: I know. I thought that could be neat. I could figure out all sorts of different things to say. “Don’t give away that awesome cat!”
AE: Is it inspiring to get out of Brooklyn? Is it easier to write when you’re out of your own element?
B: Songwriting, no. I feel like I’m writing all the time. Like I just wrote a new song this week that I’m really excited about. Getting out of my element is good for me to record. I feel like the recording part is hard for me if I’m trying to juggle other things. I like to just have a block of time and that’s all I’m doing.
AE: I noticed you had people donating money to help fund your new album. Was that successful? How did you feel about the campaign for that?
B:Yeah, it was awesome. It was kind of an experiment for me in the whole phenomenon of social networking and being in direct contact with your fans. I really felt like it was the first part of the process of the new record. I wrote it in total solitude, then I came back to Brooklyn and opened it up to my friends and collaborators to finish it. For me, it was like that was the first part, opening it up to people who love me and love my work, and just saying, “Hey, do you want this? Do you want to support me in this endeavor?” And they did. It was totally successful. I felt very backed.
AE: I notice you have sort of a new look going on. You look drastically different, your hair first of all. Can you talk about that? What brought the change?
B: It was definitely a shedding of my old self. I did that around the woodstove at Ferron’s place in the middle of a snowy winter. I guess any time somebody changes their whole image it’s like a symbol of rebirth in away, if that doesn’t sound too gay.
AE: Do people still recognize you? It must be weird after people have known you for so long looking a certain way.
B: People have huge reactions to it.
AE: Do you find most of them are positive?
B: Yeah, mostly. I think so. I think people in general are supportive of change, even though they’re horrified by it at the same time.
AE: I had a couple of fan questions. Somebody wants to know if you still keep in touch with Animal.
B: Yes, we do.
AE: Do you think you’ll ever collaborate again?
B: We’ve talked about it. We’re trying to get to that place again. We have this awesome live recording from our last show in Brooklyn, and I’d love to release that at some point, but yeah, we’ve definitely talked about it.
AE: What else do you have planned in terms of this album? You’re going on tour right?
B: Yeah, I’m going on a huge tour starting in March and April.
AE: You just released a music video too, for your single “Kitchen.”
B: Yes! Did you see it yet?
AE: Yes, I did. It’s very cool. I likde all your videos. I love the tap dancing one.
B: Oh God! Me and my crazy antics. [laughs]
AE: Do you find the internet is a great way to reach out to your fans?
B: Definitely! I’m really into it. I’m planning on filming the whole tour, as much as I can, and piecing together some fun “On the Road with Bitch” videos. But it’s so wild. I’ve lived this whole life and before this age of ubiquitous filming and posting of everything. It’s an amazing change, and it’s an amazing way for us to document ourselves.
AE: Will you have a full band with you on tour?
B: I will. I’m touring with this awesome band out of Miami called The State Of. It’s two women, one plays keyboard and sings and the other plays drums and sings. I’m just about to release a “Meet the Band” video too.
AE: Is there anything you want people to know about the album or your tour or just you?
B: I did a mini-album called Soundbites this winter. It’s 39 mini-poems and orchestra. They are designed to shuffle into people’s iPods, 20 to 30 seconds or less. They’re just kind of little blips to come up between your songs. I like to say, “Picture them squished between your Beyonce and Bach.” Those are pretty fun.
What else do people not know about me? I did classical violin my whole life, and my mom’s a tap dancer as you saw in that video. That was my only experience of working with drummers, my mom teaching tap dancing class in our basement.
AE: Do you think there are any misconceptions people have about you?
B: I don’t know. I wonder. Sometimes, I’ve heard from people that they’re shocked that I’m funny, either in real life or on stage. I’ve always loved comedy, and definitely my Bitch & Animal material was very comedic, but a lot of times people say, “I can’t believe how funny you are!” And I’m just like, “What did you think I was?”
AE: Maybe people have a tendency to think that people who like poetry are very serious and don’t have a sense of humor.
B: Yeah, I think that’s it. [laughs] Definitely with Blasted, that’s what I mean by the songs being more formed. I’m taking the poetry and making it into a more song kind of structure.
AE: Do you think some people get turned off by poetry in music?
B: Probably. The dumbasses. [laughs] I mean, all songs are poetry, right? That all song lyrics are. I think I got the poetry side with my last full-length record Make This/Break This because a lot of them were spoken. That’s what I did a little differently on Blasted. I focused more on my singing, which turns out, is my favorite thing in the world to do, so why not sing?
Blasted comes out on Bitch’s own Short Story Records on March 23.