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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Getting the 'what' on Betty Who
NUNN ON ONE: MUSIC Special to the online edition of Windy City Time
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2014-04-09

This article shared 15246 times since Wed Apr 9, 2014
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Mix pop singers like Robyn and Katy Perry with a pinch of Pink, and there's Betty Who. Born in Sydney, Australia, the blonde bombshell moved to the United States to study music and make it big in 2007.

Her song "Somebody Loves You" was featured in a Home Depot wedding proposal video featuring gay couple Spencer Stout and Dustin Reeser; millions viewed it.

Her latest EP, Slow Dancing, debuts this month, bringing her back to Chicago on tour.

Find out who Betty Who is in this fun interview over the phone.

Windy City Times: Hi, Betty. Where in the world are you?

Betty Who: We are currently on the road to Portland, Ore., and still in Californi,a I believe. We are just a few hours north of San Francisco.

WCT: You are a New Yorker these days?

Betty Who: I am and I love it.

WCT: How was [the festival] South by Southwest?

Betty Who: It was incredibly hectic, amazing and so much fun. It was also a lot of work. [Laughs]

WCT: Did you bump into a band that you loved?

Betty Who: I really wanted to see The 1975 but I didn't get to see them because my schedule was so hectic. I was really bummed about it. I did meet a lot of really cool people when I was doing the Andy Cohen show on Bravo.

WCT: I watched you perform every night on Watch What Happens Live.

Betty Who: I'm so glad. We got to hang out a little bit with everyone that came on the show.

WCT: What a great thing that Andy heard of your music.

Betty Who: Oh my God, he's the best. The first time I met Andy I was playing this LGBT event he was hosting [that] The Hetrick-Martin Institute Foundation [hosted]. It was the annual ball fundraiser and I playing at it. I went up to Andy and he called me an icon and said that he loved me already. I was like, "Andy!" I was blushing.

WCT: You do have a lot of gay fans.

Betty Who: Yes, I do.

WCT: Tell me about the experience with the gay marriage proposal at Home Depot that your song was featured in.

Betty Who: They are great boys. I got to meet them when it all happened. I feel very lucky to be a part of it.

WCT: I got emotional watching the video.

Betty Who: Everyone gets emotional. Every time I watch it I cry.

WCT: You went to their wedding?

Betty Who: I did. I sang at their wedding.

WCT: Where is the couple from?

Betty Who: They are from Salt Lake City. So me and my boyfriend went to Salt Lake and their wedding.

WCT: That must have been huge, with Salt Lake being so conservative.

Betty Who: Yeah, and a lot of their family members were Mormons. It was cool to see no matter what religion or background that you come from when you love someone you support them. You love them for who they are. That was the theme of the wedding at the event and it was really beautiful.

WCT: Let's talk about your background. You are from Australia and always wanted to be a musician?

Betty Who: I grew up as a cellist. I was playing cello since I was four so I grew up around music always.

WCT: I read you attended some excellent schools.

Betty Who: I did. I was lucky enough to go to Interlochen Center for the Arts, which was amazing. After that I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston for songwriting.

WCT: So you are a trained artist. This career is not just for kicks.

Betty Who: I was classically trained since I was little. Playing cello when you are a baby means you don't really know what is going on but when I hit 11 or 12, I seriously got into music. I was trained classically because I wanted to be a professional cello player for awhile. Then I realized I definitely did not want to do that. I seriously started songwriting when I was around 14 when I wrote my first song. I kept doing it and found out what I loved about it and how to do it. I taught myself piano and guitar.

By the time I was graduating Interlochen I told my family and friends that I didn't want to be doing it anymore. I really wanted to be a songwriter so I applied to Berklee. I applied for a summer program there and by the time I left it I knew that is what I wanted to do.

WCT: How did you go from Jessica Newham to Betty Who?

Betty Who: I actually wrote a song when I was in high school and I named it "Betty Who." A couple of years later I was talking about a stage name that was the name I immediately thought of. It kind of worked.

WCT: It's catchy.

Betty Who: Thank you.

WCT: Do you know who Courtney Act is on RuPaul's Drag Race?

Betty Who: I don't think so. What season?

WCT: The current one. She is from Australia.

Betty Who: I haven't seen the new season yet. I'm behind! One of my dreams is to be a guest judge on RuPaul's Drag Race.

WCT: Courtney just performed in Sydney. Do you go home very often?

Betty Who: No; I haven't been home in a couple of years actually. It has been too crazy.

WCT: You just performed in Chicago recently and now you are coming back.

Betty Who: I can't wait. Chicago is one of my favorite places in the whole world. I was just there in January with my last show. Lincoln Hall is a cool, iconic venue and I'm really excited about everything.

My band and I were talking about Chicago last night and thinking Chicago might be the most fun show of the tour so the expectations are high.

WCT: Are you going to do a big selfie like you just did in San Francisco?

Betty Who: The crowd was so rowdy we had to do it there. It just depends on how Chicago turns out but I hope so.

WCT: We better get that crowd going!

Betty Who: Yes, absolutely.

WCT: The exciting thing is each time you come to Chicago the venue gets bigger so people need to catch you when they can.

Betty Who: Right. That has been the really sweet and beautiful thing. All the people I have been meeting at these shows have been saying that they were glad they got to see me at a small venue because I know it's not going to be that way for a long time. It's nice that so many people believe in me and my project.

WCT: Do you perform cover songs in your live show?

Betty Who: There may or may not be one surprise cover in there, but the entire set is mostly made up of my first EP and the new material for my second EP.

WCT: So The Movement, your first EP, was about two relationships. What inspired Slow Dancing?

Betty Who: Funnily enough, it's about men again. It is about a couple of different people with different vibes. It was written over a long period of time. I think a had a year and half to write this. I started writing it before my first EP was even out.

There's been a revolution of relationships in my life. There are a couple of songs on this EP that are the same people that the first EP were written about. It is still rooted in some of the same emotions from before but more solid and deep.

WCT: How does your current relationship feel about you singing songs about past lovers?

Betty Who: It is actually really easy because we have talked about it a lot. People ask me all the time if it is hard to write sad songs now that I am in a healthy relationship. The truth is yes it is. I was writing songs about being heartbroken and figuring that out. So I have written a couple of love songs that are really simple my-boyfriend-is-really-good-to-me songs!

I still draw from past relationships that I remember how they felt and put myself back in those places. I remember being on my shower floor crying about this one person six months ago and that is where I wrote several songs from. The songs from the EP and several songs I am writing for an album range from my relationship now to my friend's relationships that I watch and see happen.

WCT: I heard a little '80s in "Giving Me Away."

Betty Who: There is definitely a little of the '80s in a lot of my music.

WCT: Do you have a favorite '80s artist?

Betty Who: Is it too easy to say Michael Jackson? He is so much a part of the reason why I make the music that I make. I'm also very excited to hear his new album. I'm not sure what to expect.

WCT: So they went in the archives and dug up music of his?

Betty Who: I guess that's what happening.

WCT: Are you all about the dance moves then?

Betty Who: Oh, yeah. You can expect lots of dance moves at the show.

WCT: The current single is "Heartbreak Dream." Is there a video for it yet?

Betty Who: The video just came out yesterday.

WCT: How was making the video?

Betty Who: It was funny because we made this video as a live tour video. We were going to put it out as the live version to "Heartbreak Dream" later. When things shaped up for a live tour in the summer then it didn't make sense to release two videos for it. We loved the tour video. It turned out so much better than we expected it to. We decided to then make it the official video. We thought it showed a different side of me. You get to see a little more of what I am like on an everyday basis. That was important to me that people feel like they know me.

Betty Who sings Saturday, April 12, at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave. Visit lincolnhallchicago.com for more information on this sold-out show.

For more on this emerging artist, visit bettywhomusic.com .


This article shared 15246 times since Wed Apr 9, 2014
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