Betta Lemme has already made a name for herself in the music world — and she doesn't intend on stopping here. Born and raised in Montreal, the Canadian singer-songwriter has been active in the music scene for the past five years, performing alongside artists such as Sofi Tukker and breaking preconceived notions of artistry.
A native French, English, and Italian speaker, Lemme's multicultural identity and experiences add a level of depth and authenticity to her art. Blending elements of pop and dance, her music is as striking as her personality — magnetic and electrifying.
Lemme's sophomore E.P., Ready For The Weekend, is no different. Part confessional, part empowering, this new piece of work reveals a raw vulnerability that will inspire you to reconnect with your authentic self.
Lemme's art revolves around self-care and connection, two concepts that she believes are intrinsically linked.
In an exclusive interview with Global Citizen, the artist highlighted the power of the human voice through vulnerability, its relevance in society, and her mission to offer support to others. She also discussed the need for self-care and the importance of changing the conversation regarding mental health — especially in the face of daunting global challenges such as climate change and COVID-19.
Can you tell us about what inspired you to pursue music and how your career kicked off?
My career began when I had the courage to move to New York. I was rejected from music schools, and I was really tired of not doing what I truly dreamed of. On a whim, I went to New York and said, "I'm going to find people to make music with," and that's how I met [my producer and friend] Rick.
We started writing my first E.P. after a very difficult time, and it was honest and beautiful. He helped me have the courage to put all of those emotions out, and that's how it started. I came to New York with no friends and a knapsack. I jumped into music because I thought of myself growing older, if I even have the privilege to grow old, and I would've been horrified if I hadn't at least tried to follow my heart and make music.
What was stopping you from giving it a shot up until that point?
I think it was an internal dialogue based on external beliefs that were instilled in me, like: "People in music can't make a living," or "If you want to be a musician, you have to read notes." These statements made me feel an immense amount of self doubt because I couldn't read a single note. But if you were to put any song in front of me, I was able to play it by ear. When I'm playing, I feel very connected.
I feel like I exist when I have my hands on the piano. My world could be falling apart but my internal chatter stops as soon as I am connected to something that feels as powerful as music. Growing up, being told that you could only pursue music by being classically trained was stifling. Eventually, I found out Paul McCartney couldn't always read music and Karl Lagerfeld didn't always sew, and yet they were both masters of their trade. I had a lot to learn, and I'm still learning, but knowing it was possible at all gave me hope.
What's your process when creating music?
It's rarely the same process. For instance, the song "I'm Good" that was released last month, but it was actually written nearly a decade ago when I had woken up in the middle of the night and jotted the song down in my diary. Then there are other moments when you're sitting in a studio with another writer and you can bounce off each other's energy and experiences that materialize into a piece of music.
When I'm writing music, 90% of the time it starts by sitting by the piano. The other 10% is having some loop what they're playing on guitar.
The creative process is intuitive, just like many things in life are. Intuition is the most powerful gift. As kids, we are often taught to ignore our intuition but then we end up spending our entire adult life trying to hear it again. That's the beautiful thing about music: you get to follow that intuition.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your creative process, if at all?
Looking back, as weird as it may sound, I feel grateful to have been hit with such personal challenges because it forced me to take a step back from creating and put me in a position to feel, grieve, and reflect. And ultimately, being so immersed in that process is what allows me to create from a place of honesty and vulnerability. Nothing should be forced.
It's okay to take a little break and come back knowing exactly what you want to say, how you want to say it, and who you want to say it to — but something rushed doesn't make any sense. And people have a hard time relating to what's not real.
What advice would you give to people who are struggling with mental health and self-care in the face of global changes like climate change and COVID-19?
Taking a step back and taking the time to heal is a privilege and many people don't always have the resources to do so. But it's important to allow yourself to feel what you're going through and remember that mental health dips are often environmental, things can change and the first step is talking about it.
Often when struggling with mental health, things that seem basic are difficult. Like making a meal or even having the resources to do so. So when I feel my feet dragging or notice a friend might need a boost, my favourite way to support someone who's struggling is to cook them a meal, or send them one with a simple supportive note. If you're nourished and feel support, chances are that you'll have the courage and strength to get up and start your day.
It's also important to check in on your really strong friends because not everyone is vocal about their personal struggles.
This is why I've partnered with Global Citizen — normalizing conversations around mental health is what breaks down the stigma about mental health. We're all going through it at one point or another and that's okay! The personal is universal. And by having these conversations and realizing we aren't alone, it makes us strong enough to tackle the big things that might have seemed daunting before.
You talked about being there for others, but how do you surround yourself with energy and people that are beneficial to you and your art?
It's very important for me to have people who have seen me at my absolute best and my absolute worst. In other words, it's of the utmost importance to surround myself with people who can be themselves around me and who I can be myself around. You attract what you put out.
[Finding these people] starts by putting yourself out there very honestly. I like talking to random strangers and asking questions that you wouldn't normally ask them right off the bat. Being ridiculously transparent and making yourself vulnerable so you actually connect: Tell me about your life. What's your karaoke story? How did you grow up? I want to know who I'm speaking to. You get these people by cutting through this massive social ice with your vulnerability and getting to the core of it. That's how I find beautiful humans, Rick included.
Authenticity is hard to catch because so many people are putting on a face, and I think that's what causes a fire within everyone.
You're Canadian, you speak three languages, and you have this multicultural identity. How do you navigate that through your art?
How do I navigate identity? I don't. I just am. How do I navigate identity through my art? I don't. It just is what it is.
What's next for you?
This Friday, I'm releasing a project with Global Citizen just in time for World Kindness weekend, which features a new song called "I Love the Weekend" — which is about listening to yourself and celebrating not wanting to pretend anymore. Because after all, being kind to yourself is the first step in the direction towards being kind to others.
We admire Betta’s confidence to break barriers and dedication to evolving and experimenting, it’s what makes her an incredible artist and Global Citizen. You can stream Betta’s sophomore E.P. Ready For The Weekendhere. To hear more from Betta and see what actions she is taking as a Global Citizen, be sure to follow her on TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.