Bebe Rexha taps into her roots as MTV Europe host

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

The force be­hind a string of hits for other artists, pop singer Bebe Rexha was named the host of the MTV Europe Mu­sic Awards on Mon­day be­fore her first al­bum has even been re­leased. The honor re­flects the 27year-old’s fast-grow­ing star­dom and the con­nec­tion she feels to Europe. Born in New York to Al­ba­nian par­ents, Rexha will take cen­ter-stage on Novem­ber 6 in the Dutch city of Rot­ter­dam for a gala geared to a more global au­di­ence than MTV’s sig­na­ture Video Mu­sic Awards. With a siz­able fan base in parts of Europe as well as Mex­ico, Rexha said she al­ways im­merses her­self in lo­cal mu­sic scenes when trav­el­ing.

In Europe, “it kind of feels that some­times they’re a step ahead, and I think they’re open to dif­fer­ent-sound­ing mu­sic, and I like that,” she told AFP. The singer said with a mis­chievous look that she was prac­tic­ing pranks for the in­ter­na­tion­ally tele­vised awards night, whose per­form­ers will in­clude Bruno Mars and Shawn Men­des. “I just want to be my­self and be real and be funny,” she said. Part of be­ing true to her­self is ex­press­ing her Al­ba­nian her­itage. While her sound is con­sis­tent with R&B-tinged main­stream pop, she said there are un­der­ly­ing Al­ba­nian in­flu­ences, in­clud­ing sounds she heard at wed­dings. “When I was first start­ing out, I didn’t know how to grasp that, how to in­ter­twine that in my mu­sic,” she said. But she even­tu­ally re­al­ized that “the more real you are” the bet­ter. “I want to show ev­ery part of me, and ev­ery color of me,” she said. “And I think, grow­ing up Al­ba­nian, I wanted to bring that to light.”

Young vet­eran song­writer

Rexha’s next sin­gle will fea­ture a “big drum that has a very sexy feel to it,” she said, adding that she sees it as an in­her­i­tance from Al­ba­nian mu­sic. The song comes out ahead of her de­but full-length al­bum, the cryp­ti­cally ti­tled “A.Y.F.,” which will be re­leased in Jan­uary. Rexha en­tered the Top 10 in the United States and sev­eral Euro­pean coun­tries last year with “Me, My­self &I,” a col­lab­o­ra­tion with rap­per G-Eazy. She has al­ready en­joyed a pro­lific ca­reer as a song­writer at her young age. She was dis­cov­ered after she won a na­tional con­test for teenage song­writ­ers run by the Record­ing Academy, which ad­min­is­ters the Grammy Awards.

Rexha co-wrote “The Mon­ster,” the chart-top­ping 2013 hit by Eminem and Ri­hanna, as well as songs for Se­lena Gomez, Iggy Aza­lea and Nick Jonas. Blessed with a voice that can go into high so­prano range yet main­tain a soul­ful tex­ture, Rexha said record­ing her own al­bum was a new ex­pe­ri­ence. “You need to know when to sur­ren­der the al­bum,” she said. “It’s very nerve-rack­ing be­cause you want peo­ple to like it and you want to like it, and some­times you have to put your foot down and say this is what it’s go­ing to be,” she added. “I can’t sit here for­ever-for an­other 10 years-do­ing this al­bum.”

Reach­ing into emo­tions

The al­bum was also highly per­sonal for Rexha, who poured emo­tion into songs about a breakup. “The writ­ing process was very tough,” she said. “What you start learn­ing is that to get over a breakup, you kind of have to live through the emo­tions and not run away from it be­cause then it lasts longer.” But the ap­proach is not al­ways cathar­tic. Per­form­ing her early sin­gle “I Can’t Stop Drink­ing About You” a year later when an­other boyfriend split with her, Rexha said she would cry on stage. “I feel weird-you don’t want to cry on stage!” she said with a laugh. “The fans are like-what’s hap­pen­ing? But it’s life and I can’t be per­fect ev­ery day.” — AFP

Pop singer Bebe Rexha poses for a photo at the MTV head­quar­ters in New York. — AFP

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