Sea of Bees is the stage name of indie-folk singer and multi-instrumentalist Julie Ann Bee, whose recent release, Orangefarben, immediately made it to my list of 2012’s top albums of the year. The album was written following a year filled with major highs and major lows. After building up the courage to come out to her family, friends and listeners, Julie, was able to freely enter a relationship with her first love. As with most first loves, the relationship didn’t last and Bee poured herself into her songwriting. What she came up with was crafted with such sincerity, it’s almost impossible not to relate.
We got to speak with Julie while she was away on her first European tour. If you’ve been following her on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr, it’s been apparent that any clouds that were once following her are now very far away. She shared her coming out process with us and also filled us in on what has been making her so happy these days.
AfterEllen.com: I’ve been a fan of your music since first hearing your single “Marmalade” back in 2010 and I was really struck by how unique your voice is. How did you first get into making music?
AE: So, whether you knew it or not, you’ve been musically inclined from a very young age.
AE: Ha, happy clouds!
AE: Well you’ve got a really great voice for storytelling and this last album, Orangefarben, is really heart-breaking. I know that a lot has been going on for you in the past year and a half or so and, I assume, a lot of it culminated in the making of this album — would you be comfortable talking about your coming out process?
It wasn’t that I didn’t like men, I just knew that I liked these women. I loved thinking about them and my teachers growing up in elementary school — I would be loving Miss Jones and Miss McCarthy. I just really had love for these women and I didn’t understand why. In kindergarten, (my classmate) Benjamin kissed me on the mouth and I remember thinking, “I don’t really like that.” [Laughs]
Then there was my first love, Orangefarben. I had always dreamed of being with women but everyone I liked either was straight or wasn’t comfortable enough with themselves in terms of who they wanted to be. So, my first love — I was working in a coffee shop and making her drink. She came in with her dad and I remember the way she stared at me was not like any girl had ever stared at me. It was like I was attractive or something. I just wanted to circle around her and know what she was thinking. So she kept coming after me and seeking me out. Texting me things when she got the job at my coffee shop —
AE: Oh, wow! [Nervous laughter and thoughts of Glenn Close]
Coming out, though, was really hard because most of my family is very Christian and I never really believed in Jesus. I think there’s something bigger than me — I just feel like it’s love. That sounds really f–king hippie, but that’s just what it is.
AE: Nah, I wouldn’t call it hippie. How else are you going to describe it? So, I’m glad to hear that it was a — well, it sounds like it was a good coming out process. A lot of people that I know have had some really bad experiences.