Rebecca Black was one of the first true stars of the internet. The singer went viral back in 2011 at the age of 13 for her song “Friday,” an innocent celebration of end-of-week joy that saw her shot into the public eye and heavily scrutinized at such a young age. 10 years later, Rebecca Black has proved her staying power with the release of her new EP Rebecca Black Was Here, a collection of songs that stand as a declaration of independence and queer pride. The EP headlines a period of reinvention for Black, who has revolutionized both her sound and her image. 2021 also saw her release the “Friday (Remix)” of her original hit with a flurry of hyperpop artists, including frequent collaborator Dorian Electra, 100gecs member Dylan Brady, rapper Big Freeda, and electronic duo 3OH!3.
This year, on the heels of her latest single from December 2021 “Read My Mind,” Black embarked on the US leg of her national headlining “Rebecca Black Was Here” tour, hitting major US cities with support from Alice Longyu Gao (the UK leg is coming this May). Read the full interview from The Untitled Magazine‘s latest print edition, The “INNOVATE” Issue, where she discusses how far she has come since her humble viral hit.
After more than 10 years in the music industry and notable changes in your sound throughout, how heavily has artistic reinvention played into the new Rebecca Black?
I have to imagine that some sort of natural reinvention would happen to anyone over the course of 10 years. I think these past 10 years being really the first time I’ve ever grown into myself has sparked a lot of my own experimenting with what feels right – and even learning how to pick up on what “feels right” is a learning curve within itself. Now that I’ve gotten more of a grasp on my own relationship with myself, it’s allowed me to become more intentional with my choices in everything.
You have embraced and become a key member in the rising tide that is the hyperpop genre. What attracted you most to this style of music and the wider scene?
I think once I finally felt some sort of self certainty, and was able to let go of my own fears, it dawned on me that not only could I make whatever I really wanted, but that more than anything else, I better make what I want vs. what someone else does if I want to ever feel proud of the music I’m putting out. I’ve always been inspired by a much more vast cloud of music than maybe what some would think of me. I love intensity and darkness and have grown up in a time with artists like Grimes, SOPHIE, and so many people who only inspire me to push my own box open and dig into the unexpected.
With collaboration being such an important facet of creating music and art, where do you find it most helpful, and where do you find yourself pushing for more independence in your work?
I’m nothing without the people who have helped me create and lay groundwork for my music. I really love to collaborate because I see so much value in putting multiple heads and perspectives together, both creatively and strategically, because one of the last things I’d like to be is stuck in any kind of narrow-mindedness. There is so much depth in community and I think it’s essential to so many iconic projects of our time. To answer your full question though: I also believe every artist should feel independence of choice. Too often have I let myself feel like someone else knows better, or should decide something for me because of that – but that has only given me regret that I didn’t speak up.
How has your identity as a queer woman, and the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, influenced your new work?
For so long I felt like I didn’t really know myself. I couldn’t really grasp the whole picture of myself; it felt almost like I was lying to myself a lot of the time, and locked behind a gate in my own body. Now that I’ve been able to discover so much more of myself, the creativity I feel is unmatched to before. Finally I can see something in me that feels like mine and no one else’s, and I finally feel joy in creating, because there is so much more free flowing.
What has given you the confidence to embark down new avenues both sonically and visually, and where do you see it leading you next?
I definitely have to keep finding the confidence in myself as I continue, and that journey never really ends. But one other really integral piece is the people I have around me. I for so long felt so not believed in, I guess. Even by those closest to me. And that really only broke me down further. I’m in a place of really crafting what’s next right now, and I definitely will continue to push my own boundaries of what I thought I could ever do or be.
Given your storied ties to the platform, what are your current thoughts on YouTube, especially with the rise of TikTok and other competing video sharing platforms?
In a lot of ways, I don’t recognize YouTube at all as the same platform I knew in 2011, for better and for worse. But that was only bound to happen due the unbelievable growth of the internet as a whole over the years. I do think YouTube is still so cemented in its place and will be for a long time, even with the rise of TikTok, etc – those platforms have different niches that allow different creators to have multiple platforms as options to express themselves in the ways they want to, which I really enjoy to see.
What aspects of live performance are you most looking forward to with your upcoming 2022 headline tour with Alice Longyu Gao?
This is my first time really getting to have total control of the experience. I have a lot of experience playing shows as an opener and I have really loved that in itself, but I’m really looking forward to getting to give the FULL experiences I’ve dreamed of for years.
Can you give us any hints of what the new Rebecca Black live show might look like?
Well, I’m definitely somewhat of a maximalist at this stage, and I want every single person each night to feel like a part of the show.
“Cringe” culture has never been more ubiquitous these days, with social media giving it even more of a platform. What are your thoughts on its evolution and legitimization 11 years after arguably kickstarting the modern genre?
It’s interesting to see the conversation shift around cringe culture as a whole – and I’ve noticed a change in the way people even talk about “Friday” over the years; what was the elephant in every room for me for years is now something so many refer to as this iconic cultural moment, something to embrace or appreciate in some way. The conversation will only continue to develop and though I can’t really predict it, I’m curious to see how it will.
With this project, I was never really set on making it sound like one thing in particular or another. It really was a culmination of experimenting, and I think that landed this kind of balance between sounds. It honestly in some ways really emulates the different ways I embrace music as a listener. Some days I need to validate my own vulnerability in lyrics, other days I’m super interested in pushing sonic boundaries, and in what I’m currently working on, I’m finding new ways to meld the two further.
Are there any stigmas about you from your earlier days that you feel you need to continuously dispel?
I had to start to let go of concerning myself so much about what others thought of me in order to find my own peace, and to understand how I thought about myself. There will always be something I’m sure, and while I definitely am not immune to the feelings that come with that, I’ve learned to just accept it and focus on other aspects of life. Otherwise I’d be stuck in a dangerous loop of over-self-analysis eternally.
What else do Rebecca Black fans have to look forward to in the near future?
I feel more creative than ever and I hope to keep surprising. I really hope to see everyone at my debut headline tour in the US in January aaaaand finally for the European leg of the tour in May!