Becky and The Birds who is also known as the 21-year-old artist, Thea Gustafsson from Örebro, Sweden has released a brand new self-titled EP.
Growing up, she was surrounded in music by her accordion and flute-playing father who introduced her to some of the greats. “I love Ella Fitzgerald,” she says, “I remember singing ‘All Of Me’—and the whole scat solo—on tour with him when I was four or five.” At the age of eight, she picked up the violin, which she’d use to compose her own music.
After leaving high school, Thea enrolled at the Musikmakarna Songwriters Academy of Sweden, the prestigious place which kickstarted the careers of LÉON and Skott. But there, worlds away from the diet of soul and jazz she’d grown up on, she decided the whole pop thing wasn’t really for her.
The school began to separate its students into two distinct camps; topliners and producers, and she didn’t slot neatly into just one of those. “I was like, I just make music! I’m a creator…?”
Undertaking an internship at what was then Avicii’s label, she found that the worlds of house and EDM weren’t where she belonged, either. Entering into the music business as a topline vocalist, she achieved high profile collaborations under a separate name—and millions of streams in the process.
But the relentless sessions with all-male producers began to grate on her. She knew she was capable of both the production and the vocals. “I was like, I can’t do this anymore—having all these dudes mansplaining, sitting with their spread legs,” she says. “I was just so frustrated. When you have a really clear vision yourself, it’s difficult to compromise.”
“I always had this voice inside me—society’s voice—that was like ‘No, you can’t, ‘cos you’re a girl, that’s for the boys’.” One particularly bad session with a producer (“I felt the whole panic that you feel when you think you’re not good enough“) led her to develop a whole new guise; Becky and the Birds.
Where pop tends to value visibility, Becky and the Birds favors obscurity. Her moniker of choice came about through writing her debut EP, an experience that dredged up some dark emotions, leaving her battling depression. “I felt like I really needed someone to project these emotions onto—like Sasha Fierce! Because otherwise it was all on me—Thea Gustafsson, and it became really heavy. As soon as I decided to change my name it just felt so good.”
Into that EP, she’s decanted her prior frustrations with the music business, as well as the darkness of her depressive period. The result; a genre-spanning blend of lush electronics, nods to trip-hop and ‘90s R&B, stitched together with soul-stirring spoken word vocal samples and noises plucked from nature.
This quest to tell stories, and her will to express her own unique, genuine experiences, is the essence of Becky and the Birds. Though her initial journey through the industry may not have been plain sailing, at least some positive has come of it. “Since I started I’ve actually had so many female friends who’ve started producing—proving it’s possible is important,” she says.
With the incredible background of Thea’s process into finding her sound and creating this EP, it has helped more women producers to confidently make music that they enjoy. The EDM scene is not just for men, but for women just as equal. Make sure to follow her on social media and give her a like on Facebook. She’s an artist you’ll be hearing more from in the future!