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We Are Story Tellers

Today our Spotlight – Bex. The indie-pop artist Rebecca Madamba, better known as BEX is here with us today to talk about her release Feelings. We spoke just before the holidays started but make sure you don’t miss out!

Spotlight – Bex
Thank you for joining us. How would you describe your image and style to our newer fans?

Thanks for having me! I’d describe my music style as a mix of indie-pop and early 2000s female pop-punk/rock.

How did BEX become your stage name? What’s the story there?

Even though music is my passion, I like the idea of keeping at least a bit of a separation between my personal life and my work. Being a music artist requires you to put yourself out there in a vulnerable way. As someone who is pretty reserved in their day to day, I knew if I wanted my music to reach more people and to fully embrace what I love to do, I needed to embody someone who is not afraid of putting themselves out there. That’s Bex. A childhood nickname, but also a part of me that embodies my inner rockstar.

How did your early life set you up with the tools and drive needed to pursue music?

My family is a major part of setting me up in this direction. I was lucky enough to grow up with parents that weren’t afraid to take risks, jumping in and running an Apple Orchard for over 10 years to live out their country life dreams. This set me up with a drive and mindset that I can pursue whatever I set my mind to. My parents enrolled me in singing lessons at the age of 11, and by 17 I was gifted an acoustic guitar where the songwriter in me started to take root. I didn’t end up pursuing music right away but found my way back into the industry in 2014 after finishing up a post-grad program in Ryerson in Photography. It took 6 years of exploration and study in other fields of art before I really started to pursue music as a profession.

Now that, “Feelings” has dropped! How does it feel? What excited you the most about putting this song out? What scared you the most?

It feels amazing! I’m so proud of this song. I was really excited for people to hear and feel the early 2000s pop punk rhythms, and hopefully relate to the theme as much as I do. I didn’t really have any fears about releasing this one, I was all around excited.

We know that you touched base with a local producer, James McLeod on this track. How did the two of you work together?

James and I actually worked on an entire album together since February 2020 when we first connected. So by the time we got to this track (recorded in the summer of 2021) our rhythm of working together was really smooth. This track was added onto the album pretty last minute, but I had been fine tuning it’s melody and composition for over a year, so I took it into the studio just to see what we could create, and our shared love of pop punk started taking root right away. James worked his production magic, and I laid down my vocals, tweaking my melody and delivery, and we would just work until we were both happy, losing track of time like I think a lot of musicians can relate to. When you’re on a roll with a song, you just don’t want to stop! The fact that we were both excited and believed in each of the songs made working with James really great.

This new single was the product of a self-challenge you did in April last year. A song was written every day of the month. Out of all the songs you wrote, how did this one stand out?

I was really proud of the composition for this one. The message is always important to me in every song, but I remember just being really satisfied with the structure and felt the potential to develop it into something really catchy and just enjoyable to listen to.

How did that plunge help you grow as an artist? Would you recommend completing a challenge like that to your fellow musicians/writers?

It helped me improve my songwriting so much! I started experimenting with new styles and sounds, and really playing with my vocals and melody, I needed the dedicated time and structure to really grow and find my own unique voice as an artist. 30 days is just a really great amount of time to dedicate to focusing on one thing, and from this experience, I was able to explore more of what I liked and start letting go of old habits or styles that I had outgrown. I would highly recommend this to fellow musicians/writers! My only advice is to find a place to put it in your routine so you don’t feel like it’s a chore or added stress. This will be different for everybody, but I feel like adding the challenge element just helped keep me accountable to the daily practice. The next step, I would love this to be a daily practice, even if it’s not a full song every day.

How many instruments do you play? Do you do all of your own instrumentals?

I play guitar, where I do most of my songwriting, and this past year I’ve taken piano lessons to keep growing as a musician. The instruments on this album were beautifully done by James McLeod. I tried to do my own guitar for “Here for You” and I just wasn’t happy with it in relation to the full production, so we took a different route. Now that I’m focusing more time on my craft, I would love to expand in other areas of the songwriting process. I have plans to eventually do a more stripped-down album where I do my own guitar and keys, so excited to see where that takes me!

This single is setting up fans perfectly for your upcoming album “Startrails.” How does the single stand to the rest of the tracks? Any themes or moods we can expect?

“Feelings” marks the end of the more high-energy and optimistic side of the album, before the rest dips into some heavier emotions and themes of inner conflict, fear, and anxiety. It ultimately ends on an uplifting note, but the album shows the ebbs and flows of life while painting a picture of how it all connects, and the beauty of that (like a Star trail). The imagery of nature, moons, and stars is something I weaved throughout each song to really create a world and almost mystical journey for the listeners.

Given that this is your first major project having gone all-in on music, what are your hopes for the album?

I really want to establish my voice and place in the Canadian music scene with this one. I would absolutely love to perform this album live across Ontario for as many people as possible! And if we’re thinking bigger dreams, to open for some of my favorite artists like LIGHTS.

The cover art is beautiful, could you tell us about it? There seems to be a story there.

The cover art was created by my very talented friend (and also my tattoo artist!) Raintree O’Flaherty Chan. A local Toronto artist, whose delicate, clean and stunning art felt like it would fit the mystical and outer space themes. I based the inspiration on the image off of one of her tattoos, and she redesigned it to reflect a bit more of my personality. When I was growing up people would often joke about me being a space cadet and drifting off into “Rebecca world.” The album is a bit of going into that world, and I wanted the artwork to reflect that.

Coming from the country down in Colborne, to now playing stages in the biggest city in Ontario. How much of a culture shock was it coming to Toronto? Do you ever miss back home?

I fell in love with the big city pretty fast. I grew up traveling a lot (Philippines, Germany, France, Italy, etc.), so maybe that had an effect on my adventurous side and tackling new spaces and cities. I was mostly just scared of getting lost. Which happens, and occasionally still happens! But as much as my country girl soul still takes me out of the city from time to time to reflect and get out of the noise, I keep getting drawn back into the vibrancy, art, culture, and life that exists here.

This past year has been a rough one for live music. How did you keep yourself relevant? Got into any virtual shows or social media?

I was really lucky to find and stay active with the streaming community over the pandemic. One particular platform that I am still streaming on called “Volume” has been a huge life saver and a way for me to connect with music fans from all over the world.

I am sure, with the brink of the album’s release it has taken up all of your headspaces. Have you thought about your next project after the drop?

I have a lot of ideas swimming around in my head right now, and lots of new songs in the works! I want every project to keep improving, so for now I’m still in the songwriting stages waiting for a theme to emerge. After spending so much time in the streaming community, I’ve met so many artists that I would love to collaborate with, so I have a feeling the next project will include more features. Nothing concrete yet, but always creating!

Thank you for joining us today, before you go would you like to give a shoutout to any person, organization, or charity of your choice?

I’d love to give a shout-out to SKETCH Toronto. They’re doing really great things to help youth across Canada who is homeless or on the margins to be empowered through the arts, building future arts leaders and creators. I just love what they stand for, and am also a huge believer that art and music can help change the world.

Spotlight – Bex is officially in the books. We want to send a big thanks to Bex for taking the time to chat

Check out Feelings right now!

Keep up with Bex right here

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