Be The Bear is back with another indie pop hit. Mermaid is a honest love song for her friend who was going through a difficult time. This song was a way to tell her friend they have someone who cares and are not alone. By releasing during Mental Health Awareness month, Be The Bear hopes it will help erase the stigma surrounding mental illness and act as a hug for those who need it. We chatted about how her music journey began from recording on a tape recorder to having her song being used in a commercial and the power of connecting through music.
Where in the world are you right now?
I’m up on a mountain in Spain, with an eagle hovering just 100 yards away from me, the Rift Mountains of Africa across the sea on the horizon. No kidding.
How are you feeling about the release of Mermaid?
I’m excited, it’s my baby! It’s been a really slow process too, so it’s huge that it’s finally going to be out there. I hope people are going to love it as much as I do. That’s the thing with creating music, or art of any kind, as soon as you put it out there it starts living its own life and you immediately start focusing on the next project. I’m writing so much at the moment, new songs are just pouring out into the vacuum after the release. I can’t wait to be back in the studio to finish my debut album.
What’s the story behind this song?
It’s a love song for someone I care about. My friend was checked into a psychiatric hospital when I wrote it, and I was finding it really difficult – not being able to be there except from during visiting hours. It was terrifying, and I so much wanted to be able to say: you’re not alone, you have me, and that everything would be alright. I wasn’t sleeping well from being worried, and one night ‘Mermaid’ started playing in my head, so I just got up, grabbed my guitar and started singing it. It was my declaration of love. I didn’t record it until much later.
What was the recording process like? Who did you work with?
We recorded and produced it in my music studio in Gothenburg, Sweden. I kind of knew what I wanted as soon as the song popped into my head, but it was finding the right soundscapes. Both my guitarist at the time, Mattias Bolin, and my friend who I share my studio with, Unne Liljeblad were part of the production process. I even got Claes Björklund of iamamiwhoami to contribute with some beautiful synths. He’s wonderful, I love working with him. So it’s a mix of great minds really. Unne and I spent forever with it afterwards, adding and removing different parts, finding out what the song wanted, and then mixing and mastering it. Unne is an amazing mix-engineer and I’m lucky to have spent a lot of time working with him, we’re the best team.
What’s your earliest memory of creating music? How did it all begin?
I spent a lot of time walking around in nature as a child, on my own. Growing up on the West coast of Sweden means you’re surrounded by woods and water. My earliest memory of creating music was when I was probably around ten, playing with an old tape recorder. I used to improvise vocals, tell stories, and it would go on for hours and hours. Usually at night time. That part of my creativity has never gone away – my phone is full of recordings of ideas for songs, string arrangements, bass lines, harmonies, everything. I’ve had to make a system of how I name them and organize my material, otherwise I would lose track and just keep drifting around in a constant flow of new inspiration.
Do you remember the first time you heard your music being played somewhere? What happened/ How did you feel?
The first time I heard my music being played anywhere was in a SAAB commercial on TV. Which was a huge thing for me. All my family and friends were calling me, shouting that they’d heard my song on TV, they couldn’t believe it. A lot of people who knew I was doing music but hadn’t heard me sing yet were quite surprised, being on TV kind of confirmed that it was a serious thing. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to get quite a lot of sync opportunities, and that has really been a huge help in getting my music heard all across the world, this early on. Suddenly I was getting beautiful messages from someone in South Korea who heard my song at the cinema, or from a whole family in Greece who were eating dinner but had to run over to the TV to Shazam my song. One of my favorites was when I was sent a video of thirty ballet dancers in Spain, dancing to ‘Erupt’ on a huge theatre stage. Those are the moments that you really feel in awe of the power of music and art and how it can travel the world and connect with strangers in such an intimate way.
Who are some artists you’ve been listening to recently?
I’m kind of collecting songs rather than following specific artists at the moment, but I do listen a lot to Kishi Bashi, Florence and the Machine, Tom Odell – and I recently found this band called FLYTE, they’re great. Mostly though I collect all my favorite songs – a lot of them from smaller, up and coming artists, in playlists on Spotify. I have a playlist with thousands of amazing songs I call my Masterplaylist, and I have several smaller mood based ones too, on my Spotify profile. I love making playlists, there are so many amazing artists out there.
What do you want people to feel when they listen to your music?
That’s the beauty of it, you never know what people will feel. I hope it comes across that I am in love with what I do, that I put my heart and soul into every song. I’m brutally honest when I write, it’s all very personal, I write about whatever I’m dealing with at the time, experiences, memories, people I love. I have this idea that if I’m just really open and honest about what I’m going through, people will be able to feel it, and we can connect through the music.