Interview by: Maegan Grendell | October 29, 2022
MAEGAN: Do you want to introduce yourself?
BER: My name is Ber. It's short for Berit. I live in Minnesota and I grew up here. I actually grew up in rural Minnesota, but I currently live in the Twin Cities. I just grew up with music. I was really lucky to be put in music lessons by my parents when I was super young. I just basically took guitar lessons every week throughout elementary school and middle school, and then started doing a lot of musical theater. And I think that kind of got me into this world of performing, and I wanted to focus on that in college. But I also really wanted to get out of Minnesota, so I took a gap year and went to Norway where I started writing music and playing guitar and doing things more from a songwriter perspective as opposed to playing Peter Pan on a stage. I ended up in England after that year to kind of pursue the whole vocal performance and like songwriter thing. But I didn't think I wanted to be an artist until I moved back home during the pandemic. And I finally had some songs where I was like, "these are for me. This is cool". But during college I spent like three years just learning and studying how to write songs and write them for other people. And I just really wanted to be a songwriter for other people. I have a K-pop cut and a couple other cuts with people and that was really fun. And I thought that that could be a really cool avenue. And then all of a sudden I was putting out music for myself and it was really weird. But I've loved it so far. It's been very spontaneous. We're taking everything day by day and just winging it. And it's been great just seeing what happened.
MAEGAN: Where'd you go to college?
BER: I went to Leeds College of Music in the UK, which is now called Leeds Conservatory.
MAEGAN: How was your time in the UK?
BER: I really liked it only after about halfway through my degree. I hated it for the first year and a half. Not because the school or anything was wrong, I just hadn't met the right people yet. I think as soon as everything kind of clicked into place, I just fell in love with it and I miss it so much. I feel like I'm at home when I'm in the UK. I definitely became a person there. I think people do that in college and so it was definitely very formative for me.
MAEGAN: Do you get to go back there often?
BER: I do. Which is the best part of all of this. I can afford to be there and here. My management is there, lots of my friends are there. I look forward to every time I get to go back. It feels like a big social gathering. I was there for the month of July. Doing festivals and a headline and lots of writing and stuff. It felt like a mental health month.
MAEGAN: Is it very different from where you're living now?
BER: So different. In every way. It's a big hub. It's a big city. Minneapolis is that to an extent. I mean, getting out of the Midwestern culture thing as well is always very fun and very refreshing. It is just a big melting pot in London, I would say. And everything's very cluttered and busy and rainy and I love it. Things move a little slower here, which I do like to be able to sit back into something. I could see myself living in London again.
MAEGAN: What have you been working at or working on lately?
BER: I just put out 'Superspreader' and the music video for it as well. It's been very fun. A long process. 'Superspreader' is the first single off my upcoming EP. I've been really excited about that. We're still working on the final touches, but it's fun to start to get some of these newer things out and sort of welcome people into like the next version of this, whatever it is. I have a lot of songs that I've just been sitting on for a little bit that I'm really excited to show some people and play live on this next tour that I'm going on. I think they'll be really fun to trial 'em out a little bit. It feels like an elevated version of the first EP. I did that whole EP on Zoom. This next one I've just been doing in person with my friends here in Minneapolis. We're trying a lot of new things which has been cool. I think I got in a habit for sure of the writing process and how things sound. It's fun to pull myself out of that box and work with people who do that with me. It's been really fun. We have a banjo in every song and it's great.
MAEGAN: Do you wanna tell us what 'Superspreader' is about?
BER: It's a funny one for me to talk about. I was in a very low place when I wrote it. I think the best way to describe it is like, it's a little time capsule for a lot of really complex emotions that I had at that time. But at that time I was living in my uncle's basement working two part-time jobs, and I had just been kicked out of England, back into Minnesota. I'd just been ghosted by someone that I lived with and was so head over heels in love with. it sucked ass and it was fuel for sure for a lot of things, including that whole first EP. But 'Superspreader' kind of came in that same timeframe, it's just that it felt a little bit more Angry and misunderstood. Equally just me trying to figure out my own thoughts and distract myself. So the verses are really just about trying to distract myself from thinking about that whole situation and how horrible it felt to be in it. That lyric in the chorus, " you still ruin my life even though we don't talk anymore"... that's something that sat in my notes for a year. It's an interesting one too because that's a song that I came back to and I haven't done a lot of that. But I ended up writing the bridge about six months after we wrote the rest of the song. It's been a journey with 'Superspreader' , so it's fun to have that out. But it definitely is about me just trying. I felt very desperate to move on from something that I just could not. I was very stuck in it. Then the super spreader line just had to be the title because it's kind of relevant to the time. I think it confuses everybody on social media, but it's fine.
MAEGAN: How does it feel to release your own music and songs that are so personal to you versus writing for other people?
BER: It's a double edged sword. I love it because it's very cathartic, but then I have to talk about it and relive it and constantly be in that. So it's fun when fun songs come out, it feels so easy. I've released a lot of happy stuff. But then when it comes to my sadder things like 'Same Effect' or 'Meant To Be' or 'Superspreader'. I feel so validated when people say that they can relate and they've been there. Those songs just hit you differently when you're the person that they're coming from too. I mean, it's like reliving your old memories. It's a really weird thing. I won't lie, but I have found it to be really therapeutic. It's given me a lot of confidence, putting music out. Which I think is not an experience that a lot of new artists have. It's a really scary thing to put yourself out there like that. So to have had the warm welcome that I have is priceless. I feel really lucky. I never thought I was gonna do it. It's been a really wild year, that's for sure. We started putting stuff out in June last year, so to see this like happen in that small amount of time.
MAEGAN: What are some of your goals?
BER: I try to avoid long term goals just because I think I'm really good at setting myself up for failure. Not on purpose. Expectations are something that are hard. . I'm really happy to have short term goals. Those include touring. I love it. Touring is my favorite part of this and I'm really excited to be going on this tour in the fall. I think that'll be really fun. If I'm being completely honest with myself, do I want to play Red Rocks someday? Yes, absolutely. And would I kill to do a Madison Square Garden gig? Yeah, that'd be amazing. I have no idea how and when or why that will ever happen, but it would be very cool.
MAEGAN: What's something you've learned from playing live shows or touring?
BER: That's a really good question actually. I love telling the stories behind songs when I'm playing live. I think that's been something really fun to explore and I try to make them quite funny anecdotes because I usually write about really dramatic stuff. It's nice to have it sort of feel like a comedy act. I've learned that if something goes wrong, it's fine because it's just something that's gone wrong and then Just Start over. Anytime I've ever had a tech difficulty or something, audiences don't care. They're amazing. We expect it to be the end of the world when a guitar's unplugged or the battery dies or something like that happens. But usually there's a quick solution and I think I try not to put too much pressure on myself when I go out on stage because I really want to enjoy it. And when I enjoy it, it's very obvious to me that everyone else does.
MAEGAN: Who are your musical inspirations? Who do you listen to?
BER: Right now I'm listening to a lot of Lennon Stella, Jeremy Zucker. Sigrid is someone I've always sort of labeled as an inspiration or someone that I take influence from. Julia Michaels and JP Saxe and that world of like really conversational pop music I adore. I think Holly Humberstone is a genius. I really love the new Sabrina Carpenter album. I think for a long time I detested pop music because I thought it was cool to be like, "Yeah, I don't listen to the radio". But I think I got over myself a little bit and I totally get it. I buy into it now. I think I've learned a lot from releasing music and being in these playlists with people and meeting people who are writing so much too. You get to a point where if you like something, you like it. I grew up on like Twenty One pilots and Maggie Rogers and lots of seventies music. Like Earth, Wind and Fire, and the Spandau Ballet and the Beatles. Those were the only three things that were happening in my household. So when I got to college, I was like, "cool... Taylor Swift". It's been fun to fall in love with pop music as an adult. I think that's been really great.
MAEGAN: How would you describe your music to new listeners?
BER: It's internalized indie pop, is what I tell people. I had to think about that one once. I write really autobiographical songs. It's all about me or boys I've been on hinge dates with, or this person that ghosted me. It's very internalized and it's me explaining those situations to myself. That's what my songs do for me. So it's always funny when people can relate and. I'm always shocked every single time. I recently found out that I'm labeled as indie pop, so I like that. I'll go with it. I'm here for it, and I think it's just very wordy and internalized and hopefully relatable.