Viral YouTube Star Rebecca Black Talks Growing Up and Finding Her Voice
An aesthetic and sonic refresh from a household name
An aesthetic and sonic refresh from a household name
Text: Ian David Monroe
As the girl behind 2011’s viral “Friday” music video (you know the one), Rebecca Black has had to grow up under the scrutiny of the masses. At a time when most teens are finding their identity, and praying to go unnoticed, the now 19-year-old was navigating a whole new world.
Like most of her generation looking for guidance, she turned to YouTube. There she’s posted some 160 videos, gaining over a million subscribers and millions more on her social channels. For every negative comment on YouTube, there is an equally positive one, making a confidence-building incubator (of sorts) for new talent. One need only look to Troye Sivan and Shawn Mendes for proof of this potential making.
Now, post-High School graduation, Black is returning to music. Her debut reintroduction “The Great Divide” hears her take on anthemic EDM. The track is a promising start for an artist that readily admits she’s still learning. For now, she’s comfortable with her sound, and she should be. For the first time, she’s fully in control of her music.
With that, we checked in with Black to find out more about continuing to pursue music, finding confidence in the studio, and letting go of toxic friendships in a social media age.
Let’s start with your new track “The Great Divide.” Tell me everything from the beginning.
RB About a year ago I just decided to start fresh and go into the studio and write a ton of things. Probably about three months into the process is when I started getting comfortable with writing with other people and starting to feel like I really have a place in the room.
Was there a particular inspiration behind the track?
RB Basically, I ended a friendship very soon before I went in. I had found myself surrounded by people that tore me down and weren’t the best of friends to me even though I called them my best friends. To me, this song is symbolic of moving on from those kinds of people and actually taking care of myself and surrounding myself with people that make me feel good. “The Great Divide” is about being okay with moving on from people who aren’t good for you.
I think there are a lot of people who are probably feeling like that.
RB Growing up, it’s so easy to feel like you have to keep someone in your life because you don’t want to hurt feelings. But at the same time you have to take care of yourself. That’s what this song and whole year is about for. Learning to finally giving myself a moment to love myself.
Do you find it hard to separate yourself from those people with so many forms of communication?
RB The weird thing about friendship now is that you can’t just block their number. You have to unfollow them on every social media or at least mute them or whatever. There is politics with that kind of stuff. I find it’s healthy to let myself take a breath from them. So, if that means unfollowing them on certain medias, even though that sounds so weird and trivial and so dramatic, it really needs to be done.
How did you settle on the sound you have on “The Great Divide”? Are you perfectly comfortable with that sound or is it something you are still testing the waters in?
RB I mean, I’ll constantly be morphing and growing and my taste will be changing. Something that took awhile was finding something that felt like me, an extension of myself. The way “The Great Divide” even happened was at first it was almost this ballad. And it was really cool and emotional as a ballad, but it got mixed in a certain way and everyone on my team including myself heard it and we knew that was it. It felt right, it was so exciting.
You said you got to a place mentally where you could walk into a room feeling comfortable dictating certain things in the studio. How did you get to that place?
RB It is definitely something that takes months. Especially being younger, when you walk into a room full of people that you know are talented, it’s easy to think you are the least talented in the room. But I think what I had to be comfortable with was giving myself credibility and trusting myself and knowing that this is going to be great. My feeling comfortable is again—like it got really easy for me to make up all these things in my head. Like, oh they already think they are better than me. But really they don’t, it was all in my head. Learning to wash that out and clear that out so I could go in a room and just know that like, I got this. It took many years, it took a lot of being honest with myself and open with myself. But in the end, its helped me so much more.
What do your parents think about you being a social personality and moving into music?
RB Being that my parents are in the medicine world, it was definitely weird for them at first that I wasn’t going to be a vet or lawyer or something like that. I’m lucky that they have been super supportive, though. They let me move out at 18 and they trust me to support myself, which is amazing. I used to be so scared of letting them down. My mom always tries to make it to every performance. My dad comes to rehearsal before I go on tour. It’s definitely a new world for them.
When you moved out at 18, was that when you decided to take this music thing seriously again?
RB For so long I wanted to take it seriously and I did take it seriously, but again, my parents are supportive, but they did really care about education. They wanted me to finish high school and have some normalcy in my life. But when I turned 18, I basically made a deal with them like hey, I did what I needed to do, I took the AP classes I excelled in high school and now its time for me to really, I really need to do this for myself.